It was one of the worst kept secrets in all of sports, but earlier today Connecticut announced that Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun would be returning for his 26th season as head coach at the school. While there were some questions late last season as to whether Calhoun would return and serve his suspension (missing the first three games of Big East play this season) as the Huskies progressed through the NCAA Tournament those thoughts diminished although there was a sizable minority that felt that he still might retire at the top of college basketball following the Huskies’ improbable run to the NCAA title.
As the summer wore on it became increasingly clear that Calhoun was coming back based on what UConn recruits were saying and when Calhoun reportedly won an well-publicized albeit behind-the-scenes power struggle that led to Jeff Hathaway’s dismissal as athletic director at the school nearly every college basketball pundit assumed that Calhoun was coming back. Friday’s night surprise announcement by Andre Drummond that he would be going to UConn this year was viewed as icing on the cake. As we said the night that Drummond committed the Huskies are far from prohibitive favorites to repeat as they will have to learn to adapt to playing without Kemba Walker, but rising sophomore Jeremy Lamb has shown flashes of star potential last year as a freshman and over the summer playing for the US National Team and they will have one of the best interior defenses the country to go along with a handful of talented supporting players.
While Calhoun has a few more obstacles to overcome (like his suspension for the first three games of the Big East season–against South Florida, St. John’s, and Seton Hall) he has the Huskies in position to contend for another national title although UNC, Kentucky, and a handful of other teams all appear to be legitimate contenders. If Calhoun is able to get this new team to mesh and integrate a dominant big man to replace a dominant perimeter player, we may find ourselves in a similar situation next April as to whether or not Calhoun will return to defend another championship.