We do like to make those Lowell connections. The starting center for the UConn Huskies – Sophomore and Lowell native – Alex Oriakhi was a critical player in last night’s win for the national chanpionship with his 11 points and 11 rebounds. Oriakhi played at both the Bailey and the Daley schools in Lowell’s Highlands. While Dick Howe was doing his regular Tuesday noontime stint on WCAP-980AM radio with host Jack Baldwin today – the UConn win was discussed along with foreclosures, mortagage rates, politics and a little history. While it was clear that Oriakhi had the “looked for” Lowell connections, Jack thought that the iconic coach of the team – Jim Calhoun has connections as well. Rumor has it that Calhoun spent some time at Lowell State – now UMass Lowell. On air – they both charged me to check it out. With a May, 1942 birthday, Jim could have been one of my classmates in the Lowell State Class of 1964. Here’s what I found about his early life and education:
Calhoun was born and raised in Braintree, Massachusetts, where he was a standout on the basketball, football and baseball teams at Braintree High School. After his father died of a heart attack when Calhoun was 15, he was left to watch over his large family that included five siblings.
Although he received a basketball scholarship to Lowell State (now UMass Lowell), he only attended the school for three months after which he returned home to help support his mother and siblings. He worked as a granite cutter, headstone engraver, scrapyard worker, shampoo factory worker, and gravedigger.
After a 20-month leave from higher education, Calhoun returned to college, this time at American International College n Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was given another basketball scholarship. He was the leading scorer on the team his junior and senior seasons, and captained the team in his final year, during which AIC advanced to the Division II playoffs. At the time he graduated, he was ranked as the fourth all-time scorer at AIC. Calhoun graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degreein sociology.
The win made Jim Calhoun – at 68 – the oldest coach to win a basketball title. Already a member of the Hall of Fame, Calhoun became one of only five coaches to win three or more national championships. There is lots of speculation about retirement. Stay tuned. Did you know Jim Calhoun at Lowell State?