Monday, August 12, 2013

Roy Williams: "I Can't Even Fathom" Job Jim Calhoun Did at UConn

Jim Calhoun's Charity Golf Classic was held Monday at The Golf Club of Avon, and it brought out plenty of sports celebrities.



Roy Williams, Billy Packer, Kevin Ollie, Scott Burrell, Sterling Sharpe, Mark Schlereth, Glen Miller, Karl Hobbs, Tom Moore, Travis Knight and Patrick Sellers were among those playing. Caught up with Williams for a few moments before he teed off, and here's what he had to say.

"We do go back a long ways. Jimmy and his staff from Northeastern came to visit with Coach (Dean) Smith when I was an assistant at North Carolina about 100 years ago, it seems like. I got to know him then, then followed his career. We've been great friends when I was at Kansas and at North Carolina. We did a tour of duty for USA Basketball in Argentina one time. I just wanted to come up here and honor him and help him do what he wants to do."

(on if Calhoun appears happy in retirement)

"You never know with Jimmy. I thought it would take a forklift to get him off that bench. I think it's great. He had health concerns, but right now he appears to be great. He still talks a different language. I can't understand most things he says, he can't understand most things that I say, so we're OK."

(on the job Ollie did this past season)

"I recruited Kevin when coaching at Kansas. Kevin really did a nice job. He's gonna be fine."

(on how Calhoun built a program from nothing to national prominence at UConn)

"I can't speak to it. I've been very fortunate. I've coached at Kansas and at North Carolina. When I got to Kansas, we were on probation, when I got to North Carolina, they had had some problems, lost 37 games the two previous years. But ... Jimmy came to Connecticut, people knew where the state was but they didn't know if they played basketball or not. The job he's done at Connecticut -- and he did well at Northeastern, too -- to put this program where it went, to win three national championships ... I can't even fathom what he did."

(on scheduling UConn in the future)

"I've played everybody. We played UConn my first two years at North Carolina, we played UConn while I was at Kansas. I'll schedule anybody and everybody."

*** Ollie remembers being recruited by Williams. He cancelled that a recruiting visit to Kansas back in the early 1990's, however, and took trips to UConn and Arizona instead. Kansas wound up with another pretty good point guard out of L.A.: Jacque Vaughn.

“He’s always been a great friend of mine," Ollie said of Williams. "When I got my first assistant coaching job, he was right there on the recruiting trails, helping me out. He’s always had a special place in my heart. Great coach, and I can learn a lot from him.”

*** Calhoun just had knee replacement surgery six weeks ago. He wanted to play the tournament, but wound up deciding to only hit shots from 150 yards and in, not wanting to put any extra torque on his new right knee. (Calhoun's no longer bow-legged with his right leg; his left still is).

Calhoun noted that it's the respect he gets from opposing coaches that he treasures as much as anything (he also dropped hints that John Thompson, Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski may have some sort of contributions to the Sept. 22 event at Gampel Pavilion that will honor Calhoun).

“I never try to get love from a lot of other coaches, I try to get respect," Calhoun said. "If you can get friendship, that’s great. I have a lot of respect for Roy Williams. I think he’d probably want that from me. You don’t go into this to make friends. You make friends with your players -- eventually -- but you go in to get respect from people that you respect. That’s the most important thing.”

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