Two off-season hip surgeries and a season-long sophomore slump were distance memories when Omar Calhoun stood smiling on the court at AT&T Stadium with his UConn teammates celebrating the program’s fourth title since 1999. Calhoun didn’t play in the Final Four, but was that didn’t matter either after UConn’s 60-54 victory over Kentucky.
“This is crazy,” Calhoun said. “A lot of ups and downs, but an ending like this, to cut down the nets at the end, it just blocks everything away. I’m just living in the moment, nobody gets to do this, and I’m just living in the moment and enjoying this right now.”
The 6-foot-5 guards would like his next two seasons to end the same way, and with Calhoun being an active participant for the Huskies again.
“I’m going to train, work hard and come back a monster,” he said. “We are going to do it again. We’re just going to keep doing it.
‘We know what it takes to get here and we’re going to keep doing it.”
After a breakout freshman campaign, Calhoun opened the season as a starter and with three straight games scoring in double figures. But things went downhill from there. Calhoun scored two points at Cincinnati on Feb. 6, but didn’t produce a single point in the final 11 games he appeared in. He logged just four minutes in six NCAA games, not playing in the final three.
“It’s been tough for me coming from two off-season surgeries just bouncing back,” he said. “But everyone stepped up and it’s a team win. Everyone stepped up. They knew I wasn’t at my best and the next man stepped up. I kept doing what I could on the side just to help everyone out and we got it down. I’m just happy for everyone.”
Calhoun finished the season averaging 3.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 32 games, which included 11 starts. With the uncertain future of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier expected to graduate in May, the Huskies could use a healthy Calhoun next season in the backcourt along with Terrence Samuel and Rodney Purvis, who sat out the year after transferring from North Carolina State.
UConn also has Sam Cassell Jr., from the JUCO route, and top recruit Daniel Hamilton coming in to help the backcourt.