April 11, 2011

PHILIPPINES: One is old only when one says he is old

MANILA / Manila Standard Today / Sports / April 11, 2011

IT’S time once again to sing hosannas to our senior citizens. They are, to put it mildly, wizards of all time.

I say this in lieu of UConn’s recent victory in the US National Collegiate Athletic Association.

More to the point, this is for Jim Calhoun, 68, the UConn (University of Connecticut) coach, who coached the UConn Huskies past the Butler Bulldogs of Indiana.

It was as dramatic a win as it could be for the victors, as traumatic a loss as it could be for the losers.

Calhoun’s tormentors chased their tormented all the way to the showers and it couldn’t be as painful as this one.

To the vanquished, it hurts to the bone. They’ve worked so hard to get this far—only to get waylaid in the so-called moment of truth.

Blame it to Granddad: Jim Calhoun.

Once more, the 53-41 UConn triumph typified to the hilt the timeless power of defense. Plus, the always-timely infliction of ill-laden blast by the intrepid senior citizens of our time.

UConn’s suffocating defense, tirelessly devised by Calhoun, limited Butler to only 12 shots made out of 64 attempts for a low of only 18.8 percent shooting from the field.

“Without question, 41 points, 12 of 64, is not good enough to win any game, let alone the championship game,” said Butler coach Brad Stevens.

At 34 years of age, Stevens could be Jim Calhoun’s son already.

At 68 years of age, Calhoun, in winning his third NCAA crown after 1999 and 2004, became the oldest coach to win America’s most-coveted college title.

The way Calhoun defeated Stevens, he put across a message—emphatically: “Hey, kid, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!”

If I heard Calhoun shout, “Who said I’m old?” in a berating manner after the game, he’d be justified.

No one is really old, I tell you.

I remember one top gun in the PBA say, in response to my answer to his query if Robert Jaworski will be a good choice to coach Meralco, “Isn’t he too old to be still coaching?”

Again, I say, no one is old. Only the one who says he is old is old.

Jaworski turned 65 on March 8.

“Do you know he still does 100 push-ups right after rising from his bed in the morning?” a friend of Jaworski’s told me a while back.

I have openly professed faith in Ryan Gregorio’s ability to coach, but had MVP hired Jaworski instead as Meralco coach, the Bolts might be in a different plane by now.

Never will the job of coaching require an age limit, as proven again by Calhoun.

You are 25 or 85 years old, it doesn’t matter, for as long as you don’t have the Alzeihmer’s.

Coaching is never about playing anyways but rather, knowing about who your players are, mastering the art of shuffling your players, devising plays, motivating personnel from the water boy to the team’s star player.

In the NCAA, a coach is supposed to be young to be able to cope with the rigors of almost a year-long job of honing a crew into a championship team.

Not totally true.

Yes, Stevens is 34 and his youth had somehow pushed Butler to back-to-back NCAA Finals appearances. But, alas, both times, he was deflected by seasoned coaches—the first being authored last year by Duke’s Mike Zyrwski, who also coached the US to the Olympic gold medal in 2008.

Stevens had one big consolation: He defeated coach Shaka Smart of VCC in the semifinals. Shaka is 33.

But if Stevens—and the rest out there trying to build a career in coaching—wants to learn some more about honest-to-goodness coaching, he need not look far.

There’s always Jim Calhoun. At 68, coaching tips should be flowing out of Jim’s ears—as in water spurting out from a faucet.

Monuments are always like that.

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