Thursday , Sep , 13 , 2012 Matt Formica

Legendary UConn Coach Calhoun to retire

Jim Calhoun, head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut for the last 26 years, is retiring.

Hoopsvibe’s quick call:  Calhoun coached basketball for 40 years and left a huge mark on the game.

It was reported Wednesday that the legendary coach will announce his retirement from coaching Thursday. 

Former UCONN player and assistant coach for the past two years, Kevin Ollie, will replace him as head coach.

Calhoun will be remembered by many as the gritty coach from Boston, who demanded a strong work ethic from his players and fellow coaches.  He will be remembered as the guy who arrived at the University of Connecticut in 1986 when the school was nothing more than a regional program and 26 years later had turned it into a three-time National Champion basketball powerhouse. 

He will be remembered as a guy who did not shy away from his feelings with media personnel; a guy who coached his practices as hard as he coached his games.  (In fact it was known that Calhoun’s practices, especially after a loss due to poor performance and execution, were far from easy.)  He will also be remembered for perservering through cancer and various injuries, while coaching in the meantime, and never letting it interfere with his commitment to the game.  People will remember that he expected a lot, and gave even more. 

In his 2005 induction speech into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Calhoun said of the game of basketball, "It simply asks you to play; to compete; to lose with dignity and win with humility." 

I’m not sure many have said it better.

And while his final years as head coach were burdened with the numerous injuries he suffered and sanctions the school was given, Calhoun’s mark on the game is everlasting.  And the high level of respect he’s earned as a coach and person, is well-deserved.

A few facts about Jim Calhoun:

-Calhoun was born and raised in Braintree, MA, and would eventually attend Braintree High School and become a standout in basketball and football.

-His father died of a heart attack when he was 15 years old.

-Calhoun’s coaching career began at Lyme-Old Lyme High School in Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1968.  He coached there only one season.

-In 1972, he coached Dedham High School (MA) to an 18-0 season and a state championship.

-He won 3 National Titles at UCONN and went to 4 final-fours.

-He’s coached numerous players that would eventually play in the NBA, including the likes of Donny Marshall, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Emeka Okafur, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, Hasheem Thabeet, and Kemba Walker, among others.

-He had surgery in February due to spinal stenosis, broke his hip and five ribs falling off his bike (two separate incidents), beat prostate cancer once and skin cancer twice.  The man is a survivor.

-Calhoun and his wife, Pat, are known for their philanthropy, having raised a lot of money for cardiology and cancer research specifically.

-He finishes his college coaching career with 873 wins and 369 losses; a .701 career winning percentage.

Calhoun will make his retirement speech Thursday, as a coach and a man who’s gotten so much out of the game he’s put everything into.

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Image source:  blog.syracuse.com