Once 38th overall recruit in the class of 2012, Omar Calhoun has fallen off the map. Big time. And I miss him. It could be an injury that no one really knows about, or it could be because he has been anything but the player from last year. Using the word "slump" doesn't even really fully describe Calhoun's play, since all UConn fans know the potential he showed in his Freshman year.
I go into every game thinking this could be the one where Omar Calhoun breaks out. It hasn't happened yet but I'm still going to believe it, because I want him to succeed and I can tell that he wants it so bad. That desire goes a long way for me.
Last year, Calhoun averaged 11.1 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, and towards the end of the year, he was consistently pulling down 5+ rebounds. Currently, he is averaging 6.9 points and just 1.9 rebounds. We've needed him to contribute to rebounding, since obviously we never rebound, and he just hasn't, only recording more than 5 rebounds once, against Eastern Washington. But forget about the points and rebounds from last year, the kid from Brooklyn really played like he was from Brooklyn. He was tough and he was determined to succeed. He wanted the team to do well and he wanted to be a major part of them doing so. I'm sure he still wants that, but it's tough to have such strong feelings when you start to play so sparingly.
I'm not going to lie, at first, I hated him. I was thinking, who is this Freshman just coming in jacking up shots? He seemed like the typical Freshman who doesn't buy into the offense and plays like he's still a Senior in high school. But, then the Louisville game happened on January 14, 2013. 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks. I remember no one else really stepping up and playing that well, and Omar just kept getting to the hoop or knocking down a big shot to keep us in it, not to mention his defense. He played tough New York defense. And from then on, I was sold on Omar Calhoun. He then fought through his wrist injury, playing 38 minutes in a win against Cincinnati last year, even though he couldn't shoot because of the injury. Ollie kept him in because of his rebounding, defense, and will to win. Then, of course, there was the Georgetown shot to send it into overtime. He also pulled in 7 rebounds that game.
Now, it is just so different. Calhoun has scored 0 points in 4 of the last 7 games. 4 scoreless games!!! While he can contribute in so many different ways other than scoring, he hasn't. Last year, he didn't play under 20 minutes once because he rebounded and played defense so efficiently. This year, he has already played under 20 minutes 10 times. I understand that there are fewer minutes to have, with a much improved Neils Giffey, and Lasan Kromah, who has deserved to take all the minutes that Omar Calhoun once had. He hasn't even come close to deserving 20 minutes with the way he is playing, and it is very unfortunate because this team could be in a very different place if he was playing the way he played last year.
Unless there is a serious injury, I have no answer for why Calhoun is at where he's at. There is a possibility that his surgery on both hips could be catching up to him, but, even if that is the case, we already know that he is a tough enough kid to play through it.
I do believe, though, that he is starting to turn the corner and heading in the right direction as he has played somewhat quality minutes in the last 3 games. We saw Calhoun play 15 minutes against Memphis, his highest minute total since December 28th, and immediately take it to the hoop for a layup and then drain a 3. He finished with 7 points on 3-4 shooting making it easily his best game since Eastern Washington. In the next game against Louisville, despite the fact that he scored 0 points, he actually looked like he belonged on the court at times, and was able to be productive enough to give the starters some rest. Then there was last night's game against Temple. 14 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist. Not a stellar night by any means, but you could tell Calhoun was playing with a purpose. He was moving without the ball and going after loose balls and rebounds. While I thought he gave good minutes, I do not think Ollie agrees with me, as even though he put Calhoun in as the first guy off the bench in the 2nd half, he did not play for the last 10 minutes of the game.
Whether he may be turning the corner or not, this is the Omar I want back. Calling for the ball down 3 with time running out. And then draining it.
Calhoun Clutch 3 (via openSPORTtelevision)