It’s all so vivid. Tyler Olander running off the bench screaming, Kemba Walker crying, and a school rejoicing over the biggest accomplishment in college basketball: winning the NCAA Tournament.
That was only 12 short months ago, and in that time the UConn Huskies have gone from on top of the basketball world to, well, dust in the wind. They capped off a disappointing 20-14 season by falling to the #8 seeded Iowa State Cyclones. What once looked like an exciting season has ended in the most painful way for Jim Calhoun’s squad, with a first-round (second-round technically) exit.
The Huskies were hyped at the beginning of the season, earning a top-5 ranking in Sports Illustrated’s preseason Top 25. Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier were supposed to lead a team full of useful returning players to another impressive tournament performance. It looked that way from the start, too. A team that started 13-1 proceeded to leave their fans in despair just two months later.
From Jim Calhoun’s health issues to a roster of underachieving talent, the Huskies let themselves down, and now one is left to wonder what will be left of this basketball program. The Huskies will not be allowed into the 2013 NCAA Tournament due to academic issues, and this may prompt NBA prospects Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb to enter the draft. These issues, combined with a coach who’s health issues have become a trend may lead some high school players to commit to other schools.
Next year will be bad for the Huskies, sure, but what is to come for this school? Who knows how long Calhoun will be coaching this team for, and what the roster will look like in 2014. A few years of disappointment could start to lead to years more of it.
This is not to scare the UConn fan, but rather warn them that their program must work to rebound from this year and not let it take the program under. The loss they suffered tonight just adds to the pain, and it’s a huge missed opportunity for PR, as a win could have set up an intriguing Connecticut-Kentucky match-up. Picture the defending national champs against the 2012 favorites. It’s a game that, simply due to anticipation, may have pushed the Huskies to perform at the level they are capable of. Instead, Jim Calhoun will lead a team back on a plane to Storrs, CT, hanging their heads thinking what could have been.