From Comcast SportsNetSTORRS, Conn. (AP) -- As Jim Calhoun stood in his office at Gampel Pavilion, waiting for his final news conference as Connecticut's basketball coach, Pat Calhoun turned to her husband and gave him one final piece of advice."Don't change your mind," she said.Calhoun had stayed on at UConn through cancer and a recruiting scandal. He refused to retire after winning a third national championship in 2011 because he didn't want a new coach to serve his NCAA suspension. He came back again to finish last season after another absence, this one for spinal surgery.But on Thursday he finally retired -- on his own terms, with a hand-picked successor and no apologies."I never, ever, ever said that I was mistake free," Calhoun said. "But I was always trying to do the right thing. It didn't always work that way, but I was always trying to do the right thing."The 70-year-old Hall of Famer, on crutches after breaking a hip last month, made the announcement on the court in Storrs where he racked up many of his 873 total wins.He thanked everyone associated with the Huskies program -- administrators, players, fans and his family -- for his team's success, and played down both his health problems and troubles with the NCAA."There have been some bumps in the road," he said. "But we are headed in the right direction."Calhoun will take a transition appointment through next spring as a special assistant to athletic director Warde Manuel. When fully retired, he will become head coach emeritus.Calhoun has been slowed repeatedly by illness and accidents in recent years, including the fractured hip. He said the injury didn't cause him to retire, but gave him time to reflect on whether this would be a good time to leave."As I looked at everything. So many things are in place for us to even go farther that we have already," he said. "So I thought it was an excellent time."With just a month to go before the start of practice, there also was no time for a national search for a replacement. Assistant coach Kevin Ollie, who played point guard for Calhoun from 1991-95, but has never been a head coach at any level, will be the Huskies' new coach.Athletic director Warde Manual, who had balked at Calhoun's suggestions earlier this year to name Ollie as a coach in waiting, decided not to tag him with an "acting coach" label. He instead offered Ollie a contract that runs only through next April 4, with a pro-rated value of 384,615."I haven't seen him coach," Manuel said. "He's never been a head coach. This is a commitment to him to see what he is like as a head coach."Ollie, who played his way from the USBL to a 13-year NBA career, said he's not afraid of the challenge."I'm used to it," he said. "My first six years in the NBA, I didn't have no guaranteed contract. This is easy. This is exactly where I want to be at."Ollie takes over a team that returns only five players who saw significant playing time a year ago and failed to qualify academically for the 2013 NCAA tournament.Guard Ryan Boatright said the team didn't want to play for anyone other than Ollie, and will take it upon themselves to make sure his new coach gets to keep the job."He's a great person, and he loves us," Boatright said. "I wouldn't rather have nobody else than KO."Ollie is one of more than two dozen players whom Calhoun sent to the NBA, a list includes everyone from Reggie Lewis at Northeastern, to Cliff Robinson, Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, Rudy Gay, Ray Allen and Kemba Walker.Walker, who attended the news conference, said that will be a big part of Calhoun's legacy."He's showed us how to work," Walker said. "He's pushed me to be the best player and person I could be. He's one of the most special men in my life."Calhoun also will be remembered for turning a regional program into a national power -- winning an NIT championship in 1988, national titles in 1999, 2004 and 2001, 10 Big East regular-season championships and seven Big East Tournament titles."The thing that stands out to me is it's one thing to take over a Duke or a Kentucky and build it and win games and win championships," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who went into the Hall of Fame with Calhoun in 2005. "But 26 years ago Connecticut wasn't even thought of in the college basketball world. He's turned them into one of the top programs in the country. I think it's really, to me, the greatest building job that anybody's ever done."Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell, who played for Calhoun from 1987 to 1991 said his influence goes beyond the basketball program. Calhoun, he said, made people aware that there was a University of Connecticut."When I went here, the number-one question we got, everywhere, was: Where is UConn? Isn't that in Alaska?" he said. "Nobody asks that anymore."
If you have thought to yourself over the years that John Wall is very good at blocking shots for a point guard, then don't worry, he's fully aware. Wall, in fact, believes there has never been one better in the history of the game.
Seriously. Wall staked his claim after Friday night's win over the Pistons, one in which he had two jawdropping blocks; one against a power forward and the other with just 14 seconds left to help seal the victory.
"That's just me playing defense. I think I'm the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history. I'm trying to set records," he said.
First, let's look at the aforementioned blocks before we break down Wall's proclomation. The power forward who felt his wrath was Tobias Harris. Wall is 6-foot-4 and Harris is 6-foot-8:
yoooooooooooo John Wall is a point guard and just stuffed Tobias Harris, a power forward. pic.twitter.com/Amsb7KLzg2— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) October 21, 2017
The second block was as timely as it gets. If Wall doesn't swat this one away, who knows how the game turns out:
IT'S A NO FROM ME, REGGIE. pic.twitter.com/qyUFc6eXfO— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) October 21, 2017
Wall understandably got some serious praise for those plays.
"Those are blocks that point guards are not supposed to make, but he has a special ability to make those plays throughout the game," head coach Scott Brooks said.
"It's the will to win, man," Bradley Beal said. "It's a timing thing. A lot of his transition ones, I will cut the guy off just so he can go block it. It's all about timing. He has great timing and great athleticism."
Now, for Wall's claim itself. There certainly aren't many guards who come to mind for shot-blocking. Dwyane Wade is known as being one of the best, but he's a shooting guard.
Wade, in fact, has the most career blocks ever for a guard with 802. Wall, though, has the second-most among active players at the guard position with 326. He's already 10th in NBA history for guards. Here is the top 10:
1. Dwyane Wade - 802
2. Clyde Drexler - 719
3. Dennis Johnson - 675
4. Jason Kidd - 450
5. Kendall Gill - 432
6. Latrell Sprewell - 399
7. Jason Richardson - 367
8. Baron Davis - 360
9. Doc Rivers - 351
10. John Wall - 326*
(via Basketball Reference)
That's an excellent list of NBA names to be a part of. Only Johnson, Kidd, Davis and Wall are point guards, meaning Wall is already fourth all-time in career blocks at his position. And to set the record, he will need 350 more to pass Johnson. That won't be easy, but it's feasible based on his career numbers.
Wall averaged 46 blocks per year in his first seven seasons. He would have to keep going at that rate for more than 7 1/2 seasons to pass Johnson. Given Wall is 27, he would have to still be blocking shots in his mid-30s.
It is certainly possible. Wall has averaged 0.6 blocks per game in his career and Wade is still at that pace now at Age 35. Wade, however, was averaging over a block per game in his prime, when he was Wall's age.
Wall may need to pick up his pace a bit to back up the claim he made on Friday night, but there's no denying that he's on pace to at least make it interesting.
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After five straight defeats, the Eagles decided enough was enough and beat the Redskins on their home field in Week 1. In a bizarre turn of scheduling, Washington will face Philadelphia for the second time this season before playing any other NFC East opponent.
For the Redskins, that means the time for a win is now. Behind the arm of Carson Wentz, the Eagles have streaked out to a 5-1 record, not to mention 2-0 in the division. Jay Gruden's squad sits at 3-2 and 0-1 in the division. Another loss to the Eagles, even though it's still early in the year, would put a major dent in the Redskins hopes of a NFC East title.
"It’s a big game. The NFC East, they’re in the lead. They’re 5-1 and we’re 3-2. I mean, just do the math," Gruden explained this week. "If you look at 3-3 and 6-1 and we’ve lost twice to them, that’s a big difference. 4-2 and 5-2 and we’re right there in the thick of things as far as the NFC East is concerned."
The coach knows the stakes. Redskins fans certainly do, too. All the coverage starts at 7:30 on NBC Sports Washington with Redskins Kickoff, and here are three storylines to watch for the game:
- Blount force - In the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins defense did a fine job of stopping the Eagles rush attack. Zach Brown and the 'Skins held Philly to just 58 yards rushing. In that game, LeGarrette Blount rushed 14 times for only 46 yards, averaging less than 3.5 yards-per-carry. Well, Blount and the Eagles run game looks mighty different now. In their last four games, Blount is averaging more than 6 yards-per-carry and posted more than 330 yards. Known for his strength between the tackles, Blount will present a problem for the Burgundy and Gold playing their first game without rookie star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. The challenge will be real, and D-coordinator Greg Manusky knows it: "He does a great job of making people miss at the hole, in the hole. So we have got to make sure we get in his face and be able to get him down. He is a big-body guy."
- No wiggle room - For the most part, the Redskins defense did a solid job against Carson Wentz in the first matchup against the Eagles. Unfortunately, with a mobile QB like the 6-foot-5, 240 lb. Wentz, a few broken plays can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of the game. Think back to early in Week 1, the Redskins forced Wentz from the pocket and as he scrambled, he kept his eyes downfield and connected with WR Nelson Agholor for a long touchdown. On that play, two different 'Skins defenders nearly brought Wentz down in the backfield. But they didn't. And the 'Skins secondary did a good job in coverage for more than eight seconds. In that ninth second, however, Wentz struck. He's been doing it each game since, as he's emerged as an NFL MVP candidate with more than 1,300 pass yards to go with 13 TDs against just 3 INTs through six games. His ability to escape trouble must be incredibly frustrating for defenders, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson explained his passer's skill, saying, "He is strong in the pocket and usually the first guy, an arm-tackle guy, can’t bring him down. He usually sheds that block and can escape."
- 8 or more - Throughout the 2016 season, the Redskins frustrated their fans by getting out to slow starts. In 2017, the opposite has been true. In four straight games, Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins offense have scored a first quarter touchdown and taken early leads. In the second half, however, the offense has stagnated. While the Redskins average about 23 points-per-game, the team is only scoring about 8 points-per-game in the second half. Against a Philly team capable of scoring every time they touch the ball, Washington will likely have to score more in the second half to get a victory.
News & Notes
- This will mark the Redskins 70th game on Monday Night Football, and their ninth MNF matchup against Philadelphia.
- Kirk Cousins enters the game 3rd in NFL history in completion percentage (65.9) among players with at least 1,500 career attempts.
- With 100 yards receiving, Chris Thompson could break a tie with Dick James, Craig McEwen and Larry Brown (two each) for the most career 100-yard receiving games by a Redskins running back in records dating back to 1960.
- A win would snap a four game losing streak on Monday Night Football for the Redskins and give the Redskins their first Monday win since a 20-17 overtime win at Dallas on Oct. 27, 2014.
- The Redskins rank first in the NFL and the NFC in fewest penalty yards (204).
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