Calhoun: Kids these days
Special to Page 2Jim Calhoun led the UConn men's basketball team to its first national title in 1999. After more than 30 years as a coach, Calhoun talked about the changes in college basketball with ESPN.com's Greg Garber.
When I started coaching in 1966 at my alma mater, American International College in Springfield, Mass., coaching was almost considered noble. It was seen as something of a sacrifice. I had been cut by the Celtics, and I was pursuing a graduate degree in psychology and -- voila! I could do this! People said, "You're never going to make any money," but that wasn't important to me.
People ask me this all the time, but I don't think your values change one iota. You're essentially repackaging it.
Instead of going off on the players in a meeting room, you say, "OK, guys, we're all business when we're here. Let's focus. Let's go to work." I've learned that I don't want to go in and start a meeting negatively. If your players are in there saying, "Oh, that son of a bitch, he's impossible," I'm not going to get my message across.
|Jim Calhoun says he's still "a romantic at heart" when it comes to making a difference as a coach.|
With things like hair and music, I've tempered things a bit. I'll kid guys now. Age does that to you. I mean, quite frankly, I tell the kids that rap music is five guys and a girl singing the same song over and over. Right? Well, that's what it sounds like to me. But then I remember that, to my parents, the Beatles and Elvis Presley were bad, really bad.
The thing I really believe in is that kids have to be held to a certain standard. There are values and principles that have to be accepted. Making a mistake is one thing, but making it twice is another. We had a guy, Doug Wrenn, who crossed a few of the lines, and we parted ways.
You have to earn the right to drive guys, on and off the court. I'm tough, but I'm fair. People are always surprised. They'll say, "Oh, Ray (Allen) sent you a note. You keep in touch?" Of course, you keep in touch. Coaches are the parents.
I'd say the guy that started out as a head coach in New England at the age of 28 isn't that much different today, 30 years later. I still believe you can make a difference in a kid's life. I'm a romantic at heart; I still have some Don Quixote in me. When I can't remember a kid's name and say, "Hey, you, No. 12, get over here," that's when I'll know I'm done.
||The Calhoun file
||Arriving 14 years ago from Northeastern, Jim Calhoun has built Connecticut into a national power, culminating with the program's first national title in 1999.
Calhoun is the only Division I coach ever to win 250 games at two different schools. He has won 582 games, ninth among active Division I coaches, and currently has eight players in the NBA.