Even with the NCAA's investigation into recruiting violations lurching over them, Jim Calhoun and the Huskies, apparently, still aren't afraid to take a risk.
Two days after Michigan State senior guard Chris Allen was dismissed from the team, his phone has been "blowin' up" with interested schools, according to his mother. Representatives from Notre Dame, Memphis and South Florida have all dialed the Allen family residence, Allen's mother told the Detroit News. So too have the Huskies.
Allen, who averaged 8.2 points and 2 assists in 25.5 minutes a game last season, was dismissed Tuesday by coach Tom Izzo for failing to meet "several undisclosed team obligations." None of which have to do with academic requirements, his mother told the News.
Which makes UConn's involvement even more puzzling.
Although speculating about what, exactly, led to his dismissal can be a slippery slope, the fact that it wasn't simply skipping class, and therefore potentially something more serious, is a bit troubling. And the long, drawn-out events leading up to Izzo's verdict on the matter don't help ease the worriment, either.
Allen is a talent, for sure. He was a four-star prospect and the No. 5 2-guard coming out of high school in Georgia, per Rivals. And while his raw numbers aren't too impressive, Allen is a deft 3-point shooter (39.8% in '09-10, sixth-best in the Big Ten), a fantastic perimeter defender and a player with three seasons of major college basketball (sort of) under his belt -- three things the Huskies definitely want and need.
But is it worth the backlash?
Calhoun has constructed his empire by taking chances on players like Caron Butler, and to ask him to change his ways now would be tough. But the same type of player (Nate Miles) almost razed everything he's put 24 years into.
As I've mentioned before, when the Nochimson-related allegations first emerged, it seems that Calhoun and Co. may be trying to press too much in the coach's twilight years. It's possible Cal pulls a Paterno and drags out his swan song far longer than most expect. But most reasonable folk would agree that the end is near. Last season was proof of that -- even to him. And as result, he seems willing to do whatever it takes to string together one more five-year plan, or, worse, try to rush things and piece together a (gasp!) three-year plan.
However, now is not the time to be taking on any unnecessary risk. Not when recruits are decommiting and claiming the ongoing investigation is "a major factor." Not when your academic performance rate (APR) was the only below-average mark of the UConn sports programs chosen (a minor blotch on his record, but still another to add to the ever-growing list).
And especially not with the NCAA poised to drop a hammer of undetermined weight on the program.
Now is not the time to rock a boat already bowing at the seams. Not even for a player like Allen.
UPDATE: Mike Anthony is reporting that UConn is not, in fact, after Allen. "Nobody from the UConn staff called Chris Allen about transferring," a source told him.