Now that GW rookie head coach Karl Hobbs has defeated one of his former teams, he prepares for another: the University of Connecticut. The match-up, coming in the first-round game of this weekend’s BB&T Classic at the MCI Center, has been circled in red since the 2001-02 schedule was published.
“You never want to go to war against family,” Hobbs said, referring to the 12 years he spent both playing and coaching at UConn.
For the past eight seasons, Hobbs was an assistant to legendary head coach Jim Calhoun, whom Hobbs said taught him everything about coaching and winning.
“It’s a very emotional, very difficult game for me because I went to school there,” Hobbs said. “I just feel so close to so many people in that program.”
Hobbs said he has been in weekly contact with the UConn coaching staff since he departed in April. But not this week. The two sides aren’t speaking.
“Coach Calhoun didn’t call me this week,” he said. “Guess what? I didn’t call him either.”
Hobbs helped coach the Huskies to six NCAA Tournaments and one national championship. He recruited many of the current Huskies and even plucked a former UConn point guard, Steve Pikiell, to join him on the coaching staff.
Given the level of talent and depth on this year’s Huskies team, a GW win is unlikely. Against New Hampshire Nov 26, five Huskies scored in double figures. Hobbs said this year’s squad, which is unranked, might be one of the best in recent years.
But the Colonials have been known to upset at the BB&T Classic, which this year also includes the University of Maryland and Princeton. And this year’s game has a story line similar to last year.
Mike Jarvis, GW head coach from 1990-99, made his triumphant return to D.C. in last year’s BB&T Classic and found SirValiant Brown and Chris Monroe waiting for him. The two combined for 55 points in a stunning first-round upset of No. 19 St. John’s University. GW advanced and suffered a 71-63 defeat by Maryland in the championship round.
When asked how he’d feel if his Colonials pulled the upset against “family,” Hobbs hesitated and thought about it. He delayed, mentioned something about his principles, mentioned how winning is most important to him. Then he gave in.
“To answer your question,” he said taking another pause, “I’d be happy as hell.”