Cranky Calhoun Ready for Practice

By David Scott - January 11, 2007


STORRS, Conn. – Tom Crean and his Marquette Golden Eagles left Jim Calhoun muttering on Wednesday night. By the time the cranky Calhoun was finished dressing down his team (which barely showed up), his fandom (which showed up late and left early) and at least one reporter/sports editor (who cowered and whimpered), the only thing left for the 64-year-old task master to mutter was this: “We were God-awful offensively.”

Crean, on the other hand, was left to contemplate the difference between 0-3 in league play and the 1-2 his team’s 73-69, 31-game Husky home-winning streak-snapping win over UConn translated into.

“I hadn’t thought about that. Probably the (difference is) the way my stomach feels and the way everybody’s stomach feels,” said Crean who, in an effort to 'clear some heads', took his team and its traveling party to the nearby Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. “The greatest thing about this time of year is you don’t have a chance to get too high or too low – you have to move forward. I’m glad we’re playing Saturday just like I’m sure Jim’s glad he’s playing right away.”

Jim’s actually not glad about anything at this particular moment. “I’m disappointed and angry much more than you could ever realize,” said Calhoun somberly in a post-game presser that came about 45 minutes after he had some alone time with his team – and his thoughts. He then repeated, “Much more than you could ever realize.

“Wearing the Connecticut jersey isn’t being a Connecticut player,” he continued. “It just says you’re a Connecticut player. I got that from a pro scout today, who said that’s what he was seeing. It’s a good observation actually. We’re not near greatness.”

Two months hence, when the league’s title game is played in Madison Square Garden, we may all look back at this one night and marvel at how one (or both) team’s fortunes changed in a game that had such poor shooting that the teams combined for 89 rebounds (50 total for Marquette). Each team also committed 20-plus turnovers, seemingly always one after another during the sloppy, yet entertaining, contest.

Marquette would appear to have righted its ship. “The last few days have been a great re-awakening for our guys to really just get back to what we ARE and get back together,” said Crean, whose team is the first league opponent in 15 tries to win at Gampel in its initial visit to the building.

While at the other end of the court, UConn may have to get a bit of a straightening out from Captain Calhoun, at high noon on Thursday.

“I don’t feel bad for us a bit. They felt how I feel, in the locker room (after the game),” Calhoun said before ending his 10 minute rant, “and Goddamn it they’ll feel it (Thursday) when we practice, too.”

Posted by David Scott at 02:13 AM on January 11, 2007
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