Calhoun called ‘the greatest coach of his generation’
A conversation with Peter Burns, author of ‘Shock the World: UConn Basketball in the Calhoun Era’
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 18:02
UConn alum and longtime UConn basketball fan Peter Burns Jr. spent Wednesday evening at the Co-op before the Senior Night Game to autograph his latest book, “Shock the World: UConn Basketball in the Calhoun Era” and converse with students and readers.
“The hardest part was to get the ‘so what?’ of the book out,” Burns said. “You’re given all of this information, but what does it mean? There’s got to be a message.”
“Shock the World” is a narrative of the Calhoun era of UConn basketball that unfolds chronologically and includes its ups and downs, both victories and scandals. The book also contains statistics on games and Burns’ personal opinions of the best players, the most underrated players and the best games.
Burns, who is a professor of political science at Loyola University, was named “Outstanding Young Alumnus of the Year” by the University of Connecticut Alumni Association in 2002, and his school spirit has not left him since he earned his masters in political science in 1994 from UConn. Already having earned a bachelor’s degree in the same field two years prior, Burns went onto the University of Maryland to pursue master’s degree in government and politics as well as a Ph.D. in the same subject.
“I’m really under the belief that your life goes up if you get a degree,” he said while sharing his academic experiences. He spoke about one of his greatest influences, J. Garry Clifford, a professor of political science at UConn, who encouraged Burns to pursue a master’s degree. After acquiring four degrees, Burns took a two-year position at Trinity College, and has been at Loyola University in New Orleans since 2001.
Burns has been a UConn basketball fan since his uncle graduated from the university in 1969. Burns recalled how, when he was a student back in the 1980s, the team was not as talented as they are now. However, Burns said he has always enjoyed rooting for the underdogs, such as the Boston Red Sox.
To complete the book, Burns pulled information about every game the team played, the statistics for the games, pictures courtesy of the Dodd Center and interviews he conducted himself. The book contains his beliefs that Jim Calhoun is the greatest coach of his generation and the best program builder of all time, having changed the face of UConn by giving it an identity and a sense of pride. He also stated that Geno Auriemma is the greatest women’s coach there ever was, leading the greatest women’s team that has ever competed on a college court.
He is currently working on another book about Hurricane Katrina, an event that deeply impacted his life and his students in Loyola. This will be his fourth book; the first two focused on the subjects of conditions under which white leaders represent minority interests and success in college. He hopes to write a movie script one day, and shared that his favorite player on the men’s team at the moment is Shabazz Napier.