Calhoun snipes at Cronin, Cronin fires back

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
9:02
PM ET
Jim Calhoun is not happy about the Big East All-Conference voting.

Kemba Walker
Tony Spinelli/ESPN.comKemba Walker's buzzer-beater sent UConn to the Big East tournament semifinals.
See, Kemba Walker was voted first team Big East all-conference, but he wasn't a unanimous selection. Notre Dame guard Ben Hansbrough was the only such selection. That is, well, curious. It's not that Hansbrough doesn't deserve the accolades, of course. But if Hansbrough deserved love from each and every Big East coach -- the coaches vote on the award -- then surely Walker did, too.

But there was one coach who didn't vote for Walker. Who was it? Jim Calhoun thinks he knows. After Walker's late-game heroics in Connecticut's thrilling win over Pittsburgh Thursday, Calhoun made it clear that he doesn't appreciate the haters. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun took a veiled shot at Mick Cronin during his press conference after the Huskies beat Georgetown in the Big East tournament Wednesday, suggesting that Cronin was the one coach who did not vote for Kemba Walker for first-team all-conference because he was upset that Walker picked UConn over UC.

"If anybody did it because they lost out on him recruiting-wise," Calhoun said, "which we went to one city this year and that was the story in the paper, something from three years ago."

Calhoun was referring to an Enquirer story previewing UConn's trip to Cincinnati Feb. 26. In the story, Cronin described how he thought he had Walker until "the last week" of Walker's recruitment -- Walker's parents told Cronin he was planning on coming to UC -- when the guard made a late decision to head to Storrs instead. But it should be noted that Cronin didn't exactly seem jilted. Rather, the Bearcats coach told the Enquirer he understood the decision, because UConn was rolling with Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien while Cincinnati was rebuilding and in 11th place in the Big East. "I don't think it was that hard a decision for him," Cronin said.

The quotes don't sound like someone who would later spurn a successful former recruit. So ... did Cronin leave Walker off his ballot?

The answer: No. And he's not too pleased at the suggestion:
"If he's got something to say, he needs to say it to me," Cronin said, "and you print that. How would he know who I voted for?" [...]

"I root for kids when I'm close to them and I like them," Cronin said. "That's unbelievable. I'd do anything for Kemba Walker. He's a class act. It's not me (who didn't vote for him) I can tell you that. If (Calhoun) wants to know who I voted for, he needs to ask me."

Remember when people used to spread rumors in high school? And the subjects of those rumors would always be really mad, not just because the rumor existed but because the offending party didn't "say it to my face!" Well, yeah. This is kind of like that. We're a half-step removed from someone making a burn book and passing it around to the other coaches in the Big East.

Unfortunately, these two won't be able to settle this little spat on the floor, at least not anytime soon. That was always unlikely; UConn and Cincy were seeded on opposite sides of the unwieldy Big East tournament bracket anyway. But thanks to Notre Dame's uber-efficient offense -- the Irish beat Cincinnati 89-51 (!) Thursday night -- this potentially heated title-game matchup is officially an impossibility.

Too bad. That postgame handshake had lots of promise.

Anyway, now we know Cronin didn't leave Walker off his ballot. So that's cleared up. Actually, no it's not: If Cronin voted for Walker, that means the culprit is still at large. One down, 15 to go.

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