NEW YORK -- When this year's Big East preseason coaches' poll was released, UConn found itself in unfamiliar territory - the league's bottom half. The Huskies, who have been the conference's dominant program for the last two decades, were picked to finish 10th in the league.
"Well, I got a chance to be coach of the year," head coach Jim joked about the Huskies' position, but he added that based on the available facts, 10th was about right for his Huskies. For now that is.
"We're the most unknown team in the league," he said, "I truly believe that."
Calhoun said he would have liked to see more respect for the name Connecticut, but understood why the team was picked so low, especially after last year's disappointing performance.
"I don't blame [voters] for saying that, because that is what it looks like," Calhoun said. "I don't think that's what it is, but that's what it looks like."
Calhoun added that based on what has been seen so far, a ranking as low as 12 wouldn't have been inaccurate. He said some of they young players, Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier in particular, would be key to elevating UConn above expectations.
As for the players, senior guard Donnell Beverly said he wasn't worried about the rankings and that the projections of the other coaches didn't have an impact on him.
Sophomore forward Alex Oriakhi had a different take and said the low ranking would motivate the team to work harder.
"When I'm in the gym, that's what I'm thinking about," he said.
Last year, UConn was projected to finish third in the league, a mark it fell well short of.
"We were a better team than what we played last year," Calhoun said. "We should have been fifth, we didn't play like that."
This year, the team will look to flip the script.
"It's not if you get knocked down, it's if you get up and how you do," Calhoun said.