Thursday, May 07, 2009

Into the Mystic

Jim Calhoun worked the room and addressed a crowd of about 100 people over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres at the Mystic Aquarium's main floor on Thursday night. He looked fit, content, even a little tan.

It was quite a juxtaposition from exactly a year and a day earlier, when he was having a cancerous mass removed from the right side of his neck.

We all know everything Calhoun and his program have been through over the ensuing year – both good and bad. Here's a bit of what Calhoun had to say on Thursday night.

***Neither he nor any of his assistants have been interviewed by the NCAA yet, though that's probably coming soon. About five players have been interviewd thus far, however, and at least another may still need to be interviewed. Calhoun is quick to point out that the NCAA is conducting a "review", not an investigation, at this point, and the program hasn't been cited for anything.

***Calhoun said he hasn't heard from many NBA teams about Ater Majok, who recently entered his name into the draft pool and whose relationship with Josh Nochimson (who Calhoun simply referred to as a "booster" on Thursday) could be a center of the NCAA's probe. But he has heard from a few.

"(They'll say) 'Tell us about this kid. We don't want to miss out on a 6-9 kid who can play,'" Calhoun said. "I think he's a player, without a position, but he can do things. I told him, right now you're not him because you can't do all the things he can do, but Paul Pierce doesn't really have a position. He's not a power forward or a three-man. So I don't have a problem with you working on your jump shot, but at 6-9, you have to be a power forward, too."

Calhoun added: "I never thought Andrew Bynum would go in the first round, I really didn't … but he was 7 feet, 300 pounds."

***Majok and his former Australian high school coach, Ed Smith, have both been interviewed by the NCAA. I spoke with Smith a couple of days ago, and he disputes an report that Nochimson shepherded Majok around a high school tournament in Kentucky last spring.

"I'm absolutely positive there's nothing Ater has to worry about," Smith said. "His contact with Josh Nochimson was limited to basically 30 seconds, if that. We meet so many people along this recruiting process, people want to meet you. Ater's very cordial, he'll say 'hi,' shake your hand and move on."

Smith claims that Nochimson had a special interest in helping Sudanese kids like Majok (and Luol Deng).

"He was never working in terms of UConn itself," Smith said. "He worked with other kids, for other schools. Luol went to Duke. That should tell you. You'd figure (if the reports were accurate) that he would push UConn."

*** Calhoun said there is no truth to the rumor about 7-foot senior-to-be Jonathan Mandeldove transferring. He had heard a rumor about freshman Scottie Haralson pondering a transfer, but he'll wait to talk about it with him until after exams are done this week.

"He didn't initiate it with me," said Calhoun. "I just said I heard something, he said someone talked to my dad or something."

***Kemba Walker will likely play with the USA Under-20 team this summer, and either Gavin Edwards or Charles Okwandu may play in the Bahamas.

***Apparently, Ben Gordon – whose summer workout regimen is legendary – and Kobe Bryant recently did some verbal sparring on the court, according to Calhoun.

"Kobe said, 'Hey Ben, I heard you had the hardest workout of the summer. Not as hard as mine.' They ended up arguing."

***While speaking to the well-heeled crowd on Thursday, Calhoun alluded to the Ken Krayeske affair.

"I shouldn't be talking about peoples' salaries … is YouTube here?"

***Music quiz time again: Who sang "Into the Mystic"?


Anonymous Dave said...

Van Morrison!

12:13 AM 
Blogger David Borges said...


5:43 PM 

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