When it comes to UConn's win Monday night, the way we see it, there's a need to step back and separate the players from the program and maybe uncouple a few other things as well.
First:Â Jim Calhoun is an excellent coach.Â His best teams are really, really good, and they are extraordinarily sound: fundamentals are impeccable.Â Â And we're sure it was rewarding to see this very young group come together.
Yet as NCAA chief Mark Emmert stood up and celebrated UConn's win, he must have given some thought to his recent comments about cheaters: "We cannot have coaches, administrators, parents or student-athletes sitting out there deciding: 'Is this worth the risk? If I conduct myself in this fashion and I get caught, it's still worth the risk. We don't want those kinds of cost-benefit analyses going on."
There he was, standing next to one of the prime offenders.Â It must have rankled.Â We hope it did, anyway.
You might think the NCAA is a joke or an anachronism; Jay Bilas and Jason Whitlock both fall somewhere in this camp, for instance.
Yet when you agree to abide by an organization's rules, you're supposed to stick by them.Â It's the same thing at BYU: if you can't handle the honor code there, don't go.Â But if you do, live it.
It looks increasingly as if Calhoun not only knew about the situation with Nate Miles and Josh Nochimson but may have actively participated in the alleged payments and the coverup.
That's not to say his players are responsible. That's on the coach.
For their part, they played brilliantly and exceeded expectations.Â Kemba Walker is a walking advertisement for hard work and stick-to-it-iveness.Â His old roommate Miles could have learned a lesson.
That team came together and played superbly as a group. Nothing changes that.
But nothing changes this, either: on the first night of the new season, UConn should be hanging their banner.Â We're guessing they wait until Calhoun is there.Â And he won't be for three games, his minimalist NCAA suspension.
He'll go down in history as one of the best NCAA coaches, and his good qualities won't be forgotten.Â But like Adolph Rupp before him, his name will have a stigma attached to it: Jim Calhoun, cheater.
By the way, you'll recall that his assistants took the blame for the Miles mess and were forced out.Â Calhoun you'll also recall fought the whole thing tooth and nail, even threatening to sue the NCAA.
Yet, according to a Gary Parrish tweet, at the end of the game, who was on the court celebrating with UConn?
Fired assistant Patrick Sellers: "Patrick Sellers was forced to resign because of UConn's scandal. But, apparently, he can still celebrate on the court with the team."
Just one more way for Calhoun to give the world the finger.
There's been enough comparing and contrasting UConn and Butler and we don't want to do that anymore.Â But we would like to say a few words about Butler.Â Tough game for them of course, but talk about a brilliant run.Â These guys have something wonderful going.Â Brad Stevens is clearly a talented man; it may be some time before we know just how talented he is.Â Yet you get the feeling that if Butler hits a tough patch, he'll be just as even-keeled.
What they've done these last two years is as impressive as anything anyone has done in our memory.Â It's not like they're a Big Ten team with all the resources that would afford them.Â It's a modest program which is performing at the highest possible level.Â We hope it continues, and we hope Brad Stevens is willing to stay there and build, build, build.
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