Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is Omar Calhoun Poised to Break Out of Season-Long Slump?

Obviously, it's been a rough go for Omar Calhoun this season. Off-season surgery on both hips. An ankle injury and a concussion that's kept him out of three games. Tough shooting for most of the season (33 percent), including just 3-for-18 in his last seven games played, and dwindling minutes.

But perhaps Calhoun is prepped for a breakthrough, perhaps as soon as Wednesday night's battle at South Florida -- one the Huskies know won't necessarily be easy. Shabazz Napier said he like the way Calhoun has played in practice lately, including this morning.

"He looked like the old Omar," Napier said. "Sometimes, it happens in a game where, if he doesn’t get his shots up, it’s kind of tough for him to be strong. I tell him all the time, sometimes you’ve got to learn to search yourself on the defensive end that’s gonna help you on the offensive end. When I was a freshman, I had to do that. That’s the toughest thing I had to learn. Sometimes your offense isn’t going to be there, but your effort has to be there.”

We talked to Calhoun, Napier and coach Kevin Ollie about Calhoun's season-long struggles today. Whether or not he's about to break out of his slump, it seems evident that the sophomore is handling things about as well as can be expected.

He added:

“I feel pretty good, coming back from the concussion. I’ve had some other problems going on – my ankle and everything – but it’s starting to feel better.”

“I have a lot of pride. I’m still the kind of player that I’ve always been. There’s never adversity that I can’t get through. I always stay positive and keep pushing forward.”

Said Ollie: 

“I think he’s holding up great. I speak to Omar a lot. We talk about different things. For me, just watching him, as a coach, and being in his situation before – being hurt and not playing well, not playing at all sometimes – I know it wears on a person mentally. He’s been showing up every day in practice. He hasn’t given me any problems, he shows up in practice, he goes hard, he gives me full effort. I imagine he’s getting through it. But I know it’s tough when he gets to the dorm and he knows he can play better, shoot better, get more minutes. I know there are always outside influences. But, for him to come into practice each and every day and give me what he’s given me, it’s been great.”

And Napier added:

“I’ve talked to him plenty of times. He just wants to continue to get better. He understands this is a little slump that he’s in. All it takes is a few shots to go in for him to get out of it. At practice today, he did play well. It was kind of enlightening to see he’s kind of back to his old self again.”

“It definitely gives a big boost (if Calhoun returns to form), because he doesn’t fall short on confidence. Any shot he takes, he thinks he’s going to make. Any shot he has, he’s gonna shoot. We need that from a lot of guys. A lot of guys don’t understand that a lot of teams are going to be pinpointing on DeAndre, Boatright and myself, so we need other guys to make shots.”

(what's Calhoun been doing well in practice lately?)

“Shooting. I’m not so worried about his body language. Guys aren’t upset because they’re not playing. He’s more upset about himself that he’s not proving to himself he’s as good as he wants to be. He puts in the work. Sometimes, guys body language is all over the place. But it has nothing to do with coach not giving him minutes. It has nothing to do with anything but himself.”

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