Aug. 22, 2005
Following North Carolina's national championship victory in St. Louis, ESPN analysts were asked to project a favorite to win it all in 2006. At that point, my call was immediate -- the Huskies of Connecticut.
Look at the potential lineup for coach Jim Calhoun back then: Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay, Rashad Anderson, Marcus Williams, Josh Boone. The Huskies also had incoming diaper dandy Andrew Bynum, as well asEd Nelson, A.J. Price and Hilton Armstrong. It looked to be a very deep unit.
|Is Marcus Williams losing the grip on his UConn career? It all depends on a pending court case.|
A lot has happened since then, though. Villanueva and Bynum entered the NBA draft and both went in the top 10. Villanueva was a shocking pick for Toronto at No. 7, while Bynum's potential headed west to the Lakers at No. 10. There went two key interior components.
Still, Connecticut was one of the top five teams in America.
Then came news that had to shock Calhoun. The Hall of Famer has always reminded his players about being solid student-athletes and taking responsibility for their actions. Allegations against Williams, the starting point guard, and Price led to their arrests on charges of stealing laptop computers.
They are innocent until proven guilty, but it certainly doesn't look good based on the evidence. The two players are suspended from the team indefinitely until the matter is settled.
If these allegations prove true, you have to wonder why kids wearing a uniform they should be so proud of would head in that direction. Playing for a legendary coach, where the fans are so passionate ... if it's true, it would be hard to figure out. I can't comprehend any student-athlete who would take the risk of throwing it all away.
Hopefully, Williams and Price will learn from this situation and can move on with their lives in a positive way, whatever the outcome of the case. Connecticut has such a positive, special environment, and Calhoun is one of the great leaders in college basketball.
How quickly that lineup disappeared! With the possibility of Price and Williams being out for the season, Connecticut will have a real challenge putting the pieces back together. Calhoun is capable of getting it done, and this Huskies team still has lots of talent with Boone and Gay up front and Anderson in the backcourt.
It looks like UConn will have a bigger challenge than this Hall of Fame coach expected. Stay tuned.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.