Calhoun Responds to Pitino

College basketball season must be right around the corner if Louisville coach Rick Pitino and UConn coach Jim Calhoun are publicly exchanging barbs. It's a tradition that goes back to the early days of their careers, when Boston was barely big enough for both. And now they are exchanging "Wish You Were Here" postcards over conference realignment.

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Pitino commented last week on UConn's possible move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, a decision the UConn administration is openly considering after Syracuse and Pittsburgh departed the Big East for the ACC.

"Why would you want to leave?" Pitino told Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com. "They're leaving Camelot. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of."

Pitino was also quoted saying: "Did you ever think that it ever crossed the mind of John Wooden to go into the Atlantic Coast Conference because they were bigger than the Pac-10 when he was winning 11 championships? Do you ever think it crossed his mind? No when you're a great winner, those things don't cross your mind."

Calhoun used his annual appearance at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Cromwell to fire a salvo back at the Louisville coach. Calhoun said he was proud of where UConn is but "someone" had accused UConn of making a "dumb move."

"That same coach is probably talking to every conference in America," Calhoun said, generating a hearty laugh from the large gathering. And chances are good everyone at the event knew whom Calhoun was referring to when he later identified him as "Rick."

"They honestly didn't bother me," Calhoun said after his speech, when asked about Pitino's comments. "I was joking as much as anything else. Once again, everyone wants to be heard in this situation and everybody wants to do what's right for their university.

"Rick and I have a good relationship. Professionally, we've really changed our whole relationship. The things we both say, in the final analysis, aren't going to mean anything. It's really what happens at the end. To make an issue of it is just good copy and headlines. It doesn't make a difference."

LAMB, ORIAKHI MAKE WOODEN LIST

UConn guard Jeremy Lamb and forward Alex Oriakhi made the preseason top 50 list released Monday by the John R. Wooden Award, which goes to the college player of the year. The list is compiled by a preseason poll of national media members. The 50 players are chosen based on last season's individual performance and team records.

North Carolina recorded a first for the preseason poll with four players (Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller). Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Aaron Craft represent Ohio State. Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins and Jeffery Taylor form a preseason trio from Vanderbilt.

In addition to UConn, there were two players representing California, Memphis, Syracuse (Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph) and UCLA.

Other Big East players on the list include: Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame), Ashton Gibbs (Pitt), Danus Johnson-Odom (Marquette), Kevin Jones (West Virginia), Peyton Siva (Louisville), and Maalik Wayns (Villanova).

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW

Freshman Andre Drummond has no concern regarding his eligibility. The UConn compliance department has concluded its review of an Adidas shoe video that Drummond appeared in last summer.

UConn issued this statement Monday:

"UConn has officially concluded that no violation has occurred and that freshman Andre Drummond will suffer no eligibility consequence relative to the report last week about an online video."

The Norwich Bulletin reported last week that Drummond might have broken NCAA rules with the video endorsement. That turned out to be inaccurate since Drummond hadn't committed to UConn when the video was taped. UConn requested that the online video be taken down, and it was immediately.

ANSWER OF THE DAY

During the question-and-answer segment of the breakfast in Cromwell Monday, Calhoun was asked when he first thought the Huskies might have a chance to win the national championship last season.

Calhoun's answer was a bit surprising. He said it was "three minutes after the Pitt game," referring to the dramatic ending supplied by Kemba Walker's shot in the Big East tournament in Madison Square Garden.

Calhoun said he turned to Ollie and said, "We're going to win the whole damn thing."

"You mean the Big East?" Ollie said.

"No," Calhoun said. "The national championship."


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