Too Close to Jim Calhoun
At Saturday’s epic Gonzaga-UConn game, I was across the arena from Calhoun, but I still had a great view of him mugging for the referees all game long. Allow me to come clean: I am only a casual Gonzaga fan and rooted more for the impressive career-best performance by Bainbridge Island’s Steven Gray. But I am a slightly-more-than-casual University of Washington fan, and I’ve suffered two awful Husky-Husky losses, one rolling on my living room floor and one followed by throwing pillows around a hotel room before a Knowledge Bowl tournament. In other words, my beef is with UConn and I don’t love Gonzaga.
Calhoun first caught my eye with his championships, his sneers, his rosters full of prep-school athletes (presumably fifth-year players) and the occasional controversies surrounding his Huskies. Remember the Marcus Williams-A.J. Price laptop theivery? Well, Price figured pretty strongly in today’s game but I didn’t hear any “thief” chants. I guess I’m just being bitter here – I’m all for forgiveness, and I don’t want to bash the players.
It’s more about Calhoun. Almost every time a call went against his team, he berated the referees. Except he didn’t just yell. During one timeout he stood with his hands on his hips and just stared at a referee for about ten seconds. Another time he beckoned a ref with a dismissive hand motion that recalled a principal about to punish a wayward middle schooler. Consistently, though, when a referee explained the call or didn’t even respond to his antics, Calhoun would turn to the sycophantic suits on his bench, throw up his hands, and beg for affirmation. Am I right, guys? Aren’t these refs stupid?
It was so childish. Perhaps Calhoun has perfected this routine over the years to manipulate referees (after all, three Gonzaga players fouled out) or perhaps he’s just immature. To be fair, the referees missed some calls. On both sides. That happens in basketball – the game moves too quickly and referees too often have to react to the result of a play because they can’t see what actually happened.
Calhoun seems overwhelmingly arrogant and dramatic. This probably makes him a great college coach. Too bad.