There's been much discussion in recent days about what the Huskies' loss to Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament means for the future of the program. Things seem to be at a turning point; Jim Calhoun is 69 and has battled various health issues in recent years. He's also on the hook for the team's underwhelming academic record, one that cost them two scholarships this season and, as it stands, will keep them out of the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
There's also the chance that Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond and possibly Alex Oriakhi bolt for the NBA, leaving UConn without their best player and not much of a frontcourt.
The Hartford Courant's Dom Amore addresses all these issues, beginning with the Huskies' Academic Progress Rates (APR) which, as currently calculated, don't meet the minimum requirements for Big Dance eligibility. The NCAA will meet in April to examine if APRs should include the most recent scores (why they already don't is a mystery), in which case UConn would be free to play in the NCAA Tournament should they qualify.
As for Calhoun's future, Amore writes that "Calhoun made clear to WFAN on Tuesday that he intends to be involved with the program 'with or without a whistle,' but people who know him say it is very important for him to hand off the coaching role with the program in solid shape. That could mean, to him, seeing it through a potential season of NCAA Tournament ineligibility and guiding the Huskies back to March Madness in 2014 and watching over the building of the long-awaited basketball training center."
If the criteria for passing the torch was "leaving the program in solid shape," last year would've been the perfect time. Of course, the Huskies had just been sanctioned for low APR scores, and that came months after the NCAA slapped Calhoun on the wrist for recruiting violations. So while the national championship win mitigated some of the bad news, apparently, Calhoun felt like he still had work to do.
Meanwhile, Amore thinks it's "likely" Lamb will leave for the NBA but the decision facing Drummond is more complicated. "At 6-foot-10 and 275 pounds, he is a rare physical talent, but very raw, and nowhere near ready for the NBA. But that doesn't mean a team would not draft him — as high as No. 2 — and develop him from there. Drummond seems to love college life at UConn, and after a year of paying his own way he could go on scholarship next year. It sounds like he wants to stay, but if there is no tournament in 2013 it adds a layer to that decision."
A lot has changed in 12 months, mostly for the worst. That doesn't mean the program is doomed -- Calhoun has overcome bigger obstacles -- but it's still hard to imagine that the team would be in this situation given the national title and one of the country's best recruiting classes.