HARTFORD, CT - FEBRUARY 13: Coach Jim Calhoun of the Connecticut Huskies chats with assistant coach George Blaney during a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at the XL Center on February 13, 2010 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jim Calhoun;George Blaney
Longtime UConn assistant coach George Blaney announced his retirement on Thursday, the university announced. Blaney, 73, spent the last 12 seasons on the Huskies' staff and has 43 years of college coaching experience.
“I always said I would know when it would be the right time to go,” Blaney said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my years at UConn, but I think for me, this is the right time.
“Coaching with Jim has been so special for me. We have always been such great friends and that just made for a wonderful working relationship. His passion for the game, for the kids, and for UConn is what made him such a special coach.
“And I am just so excited about Kevin. I said right from the get-go that Kevin Ollie is a superstar coach and he certainly showed it last year. And I think this year’s team is going to be terrific.”
Blaney also served as the interim coach when Calhoun was unable to be on the bench. The Hall of Fame coach missed time while battling health issues, and he served a three-game suspension during the 2011-2012 season for recruiting violations (Blaney went 3-0 during that stretch). That loyalty didn't go unrecognized on Thursday.
“I’ve known George for 40-plus years, and he is not only one of the best basketball coaches, but also one of the finest people, I’ve ever been around,” Calhoun said. “When he joined me at UConn, I think it was a great marriage of perhaps two very different personalities, but two people who were very similar in our feelings about the game of basketball and the kids who played for us.
“George had an awful lot to do with all that we were able to accomplish here and I will cherish the time we had working together," Calhoun continued. "He will always be very special to me and I’m proud to call him my friend.”
Ollie, the man hand-picked by Calhoun to succeed him, offered this:
“Coach Blaney is just a great basketball coach … just the way he puts basketball and life in perspective,” Ollie said. “He’s been somebody I can confide in, no matter what the situation. Not only was Coach Blaney a great help to me last year through the transition to head coach, but he helped me when I was an assistant, helped me in my whole path to becoming a college coach. And of course, his decades of coaching experience have been invaluable to me on the bench.”
Blaney leaves basketball with a career 461-383 record, including 357 wins and eight postseason appearances as the head coach at Holy Cross. Now, however, it's time to write a new chapter.
“We’ve enjoyed some great success at UConn, and throughout my career, I’ve had the chance to coach some great players here and everywhere I’ve coached,” Blaney said. “I’m very thankful that I was able to be a part of it.”