This sounds about right: there will be no getting rid of Jim Calhoun. Ever. We know this because the 70-year-old Hall of Famer said as much Monday during a Middlesex Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
Retelling a conversation he had with point guard Shabazz Napier recently, Calhoun said (via the Hartford Courant) “I’m sorry, you’re stuck with me for life. So, to the State of Connecticut: You have me for life.”
We're guessing they wouldn't want it any other way.
We're in the early stages of the transition from the man who had the job for 26 years and led the Huskies to three national titles to his hand-picked successor, assistant and former player Kevin Ollie. So far, so good.
“Kevin’s doing a great job,” Calhoun said. “You know how he is on the court, he’s demanding. He may not yell or [cuss] the way I would, but [the player] is going to do it. He’s going to demand they be the best they can be.”
And athletic director Warde Manuel, who made it clear over the summer that there wouldn't be a coach-in-waiting situation should Calhoun decide to retire, also sounded happy with how things were progressing.
“Kevin’s staff is connected, he’s working well with them,” Manuel said according to the Courant, “and the student-athletes are working hard in class, doing the things that Kevin is asking them to do, on the court and academically. There hasn’t been any tension in the transition, and that’s what I’m pleased about.”
All the metaphorical back-slapping and well-wishes don't mean much in early October. Ultimately, Ollie's fate will be decided by wins and losses. And given that he's working on a one-year deal, there won't be any rebuilding (even if this technically is a rebuilding year). But as Napier pointed out over the weekend, Ollie probably wouldn't have it any other way.
"He's used to circumstances like this (the one-year contract)," Napier said. "I think that's what makes him a better man and it's why he's so mentally strong. Coach says to understand that you have to be mentally strong no matter what the circumstances are. You can't change the circumstances. He'll be great because he has such a passion."