UNCASVILLE—On Friday night, decades worth of UConn basketball talent flocked to the Mohegan Sun Arena for the annual Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Game Classic. One theme was apparent – family. Many players brought their own families to enjoy a night benefiting the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health, with their UConn family.
“These guys have done so much for our program, for the school, for myself and for everybody,” Calhoun said prior to the game. “So, it’s a special, special night no question.”
Ray Allen, who will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September, said that he is proud to be able to take part in the charity game.
“This sums up how we all feel about the university,” Allen said. “What I love is that now the women are a part of this because UConn basketball is more than just men’s basketball. Obviously, the women have done some incredible, incredible things.”
Among the stars that played in the Blue vs. White game included Ray Allen, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Rudy Gay, Hilton Armstrong, Charlie Villanueva, Taliek Brown, Ryan Boatright, Danny Hamilton and DeAndre Daniels as well as women’s basketball greats Svetlana Abrosimova, Ashley Battle and Carla Berube.
UConn’s former head coach Kevin Ollie, who is currently in an ugly dispute with the University over his firing for “just cause,” was not in attendance and it did not go unnoticed.
“We keep going. We didn’t ask for it or cause it,” Calhoun said regarding Ollie. “But our best thing is to continue to work on the family, keep the family together. Is it easy all the time in a little bit of stress like this? Of course not, because everybody has a little different opinion on how they see things. But that’s not really our job, to tell people how they should look at the world. Our job is to say, this university, this basketball program, is a special thing and just keep going.”
Ollie’s successor, Danny Hurley was on hand along with some current Huskies including Jalen Adams, Christian Vital, Mamadou Diarra and Alterique Gilbert. Calhoun said that he expects Hurley to continue the UConn tradition.
“For the past 20 years, the guys that have been coming here, it’s UConn basketball,” Calhoun said. “Whether it be Danny (Hurley) running the show, Kevin (Ollie) running the show or Jim Calhoun running the show, it’s UConn basketball that is above the individual.”
Gay, who led the 2006 Huskies to the Elite Eight, said that Hurley will bring pride to the UConn campus.
“I know that he’s a hell of a recruiter,” Gay said of Hurley. “And I know that’s why he’s here. That’s one of the things we need. We need those recruits, we need those kids, we need those stars to come here because this is a big program and we need to keep that going.”
Gay said that nostalgia and appreciation step in when he is surrounded by his UConn family.
“Not too many coaches can have this kind of turnout,” Gay said of Calhoun. “So, it’s just great to be a part of it. It feels like yesterday we were all playing (together).”
Michael Logan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.