How Jim Calhoun made the University of Connecticut a basketball powerhouse and became the greatest coach of his generation
After the 2012 season, the UConn basketball program appeared to be on the decline. Several high-profile players departed early and the NCAA confirmed that it would ban the Huskies from the 2013 NCAA tournament. But Jim Calhoun—the man who built the program in the first place—still reigned in Storrs and vowed not to leave his team in disarray.
Could Calhoun save UConn basketball? He has done it before. In twenty-five years at UConn, coach Jim Calhoun changed a team, a university, a state, and college basketball. Shock the World is a riveting season-by-season, game-by-game, and player-by-player biography of Jim Calhoun’s winning program. It paints a vivid portrait of college basketball in the last twenty-five years, and highlights the challenges Calhoun overcame to become the best program builder of all time and the greatest coach of his generation. Until March 2011 only four coaches had ever won the NCAA men’s basketball championship three times or more. That month, with the culmination of the famous “March Madness,” the University of Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun became the fifth. Calhoun’s Huskies show that spirit, fortitude, and perseverance are keys to winning in modern collegiate sports, just as they are the keys to overcoming challenges off the court.
At the end of the 2010 season an NCAA investigation, penalties, and the small number of returning players threatened to end the Calhoun era. Despite these obstacles, Calhoun, point guard Kemba Walker, and a group of freshmen led UConn to a win at the Maui Invitational in November, and UConn became the first team to capture its conference tournament by winning five games in five days. They went on to a thrilling win in the championship, making this period in the Calhoun era one of great resilience, and an enduring monument to Husky pride.
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PETER F. BURNS, JR., was born and raised in Connecticut and educated at UConn. In 2002 the University of Connecticut Alumni Association named him as its outstanding young alumnus of the year. He is a professor of political science at Loyola University New Orleans.