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Question of the Day: Which would you prefer -- Jim Calhoun coaching the UConn women or Geno Auriemma coaching the UConn men? [Updated]

March 28, 2011 |  8:55 am

Geno_240 Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

I’m sure there are at least one or two college basketball fans who would like to see Geno Auriemma get a shot at coaching a men’s basketball team, especially if it were the Huskies’ men’s program. The 57-year-old has won seven national championships and more than 700 games as head coach of the UConn women’s program. Many wonder, though, if he could translate that winning formula to the men’s side. Meanwhile, men’s coach Jim Calhoun is no slouch. He has won two national titles and amassed more than 600 wins during his 25 seasons in Storrs, Conn. Both coaches have been known to be cantankerous a time or two. But I think more people want to know if Auriemma could win at the men’s level or would fall flat on his face. With both programs deeply entrenched in this year’s NCAA tournament, it’s good to be a Connecticut basketball fan these days. 

[Updated at 9:38 a.m.

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma have transformed Storrs, Conn., from a rural campus into a hoops hotbed. Calhoun is back in the Final Four and has two NCAA tournament champions under his belt with the men’s team. Auriemma has been the king of women’s basketball with seven national titles and is the favorite to win the women’s NCAA tournament. Both coaches are renowned for their gusto, outspokenness and ability to squeeze every ounce of talent from their players. For female players, Connecticut is mecca. A far wider disparity exists between the handful of elite women’s teams and the rest of the nation. Calhoun must battle for recruits with players who believe it’s a toss-up when deciding between the Huskies and most of the other major-power teams. And most nights, Calhoun must compete against greater talent -- not because they’re men, but because of the parity among men’s teams. Because Calhoun has found success with greater challenges, he could succeed in the women’s game.]

[Updated at 12:34 p.m.

Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

It requires no stretch of the imagination to envision Geno Auriemma at the helm of any men's basketball team in the country. Auriemma's face adorns billboards all over Connecticut, and his brand is about as strong as any in the state, so we can easily picture Geno trading one office for another in Storrs without much of an uproar. And we have no doubt Auriemma would win as a men's coach at UConn or anywhere else.

Now the notion of Jim Calhoun coaching the UConn women is enough to shake the Land of Steady Habits at its core. The boisterous Calhoun stomping into the world of women's basketball could simultaneously be a sociological experiment, a train wreck and a hoot.

But here's the thing: Calhoun would ultimately succeed. That's why it would be so much fun to watch -– the irascible old basketball lifer ranting and raving, testing and teaching his players, and pushing them to a breaking point before eventually finding a flow. Despite all of his bluster and machismo, Calhoun is a basketball coach at his core and he would relish coaching the best players in the world — regardless of gender.

Baxter Holmes, Los Angeles Times

Both Connecticut coaches are among college basketball's best, and each would probably struggle at first if thrown into the other's shoes.

Still, it's hard to pick against Geno Auriemma to coach any group of basketball players. His resume speaks for itself, quite loudly.

When it comes to managing high-class talent and egos, and motivating players to keep pushing even when all they're competing against is record books, there have been few better.

Everyone can say a men's coach coaching women or a women's coach coaching men is a total apples-and-oranges situation, but coaching excellence in basketball is coaching excellence in basketball -– because it's still about putting an orange ball in an orange rim and stopping your opponent from doing the same.]


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Photo: Geno Auriemma. Credit: Barbara Johnston / Associated Press