Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tim Welsh, Scott Burrell on Jim Calhoun's Retirement

Former Providence coach Tim Welsh:

"He was always one of the fiercest competitors from afar. When you were toe-to-toe against him, he was not only one of the top coaches but one of the toughest guys on the sidelines.You always knew when you played his team, it was going to be a streetfight, and it was also going to be a track meet as well. They were street-tough, but they also played a game you liked to play and watch: uptempo and fast, but you knew you were going to have to play tough to win."

In my career as a sports writer, I can say I've never seen a worse loser than Jim Calhoun -- in the sense that he hated it so much. Refused to accept it, and a long-winded diatribe aimed largely at his players, sometimes at the media, usually followed. But Welsh came from a different point of view.

"When we were fortunate to beat him, he was always very gracious in defeat. He respected the other coach. He was trying to beat their brains in, but he knew their job was on the line and they were trying to do the same thing he was doing. He never showed another coach up. His sideline antics -- they were never against another coach, maybe the refs, but not a coach."

"The game will thoroughly miss him," Welsh continuted. "He's one of the personalities of the game you don't see. A lot of the great personalities are out of the game. Coaches now are more robotic, but he had that Boston, streetfighter mentalith, 'I'm the underdog.'"

Case in point: After Calhoun won his third national title, Welsh saw him at the after-party. Calhoun still had some nasty comments for certain media types who picked against his team in that game.

"That irked him," Welsh said with a laugh. "That's why he was so successful."

Here's what Scott Burrell had to say about Calhoun's retirement (colleague Bill Cloutier got the quotes):

"It’s a sad day for UConn basketball but he built a great legacy at UConn. He left on top no matter what the record says last year.

He’s going out as one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time.

He’s won three national championships and there’s not many coaches you can say that about.

I’m sure he’s happy with what he’s accomplished. I know his hip’s a little sore but I know deep down he’s happy."

Burrell said that he knew that Calhoun was going to retire he just didn’t know the timing of it.

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