HOUSTON -- Joey Calcaterra (Cont.'s aggressive, sharpshooting guard) made a 3-pointer late Saturday in the first quarter, making a Miami player pay for an ill-advised bet. He then slapped his hands with Coach Dan Hurley.
Calcaterra went downcourt barking at his opponent, the crowd, and the moon.
Sam Scholl was unable to help but smile as he watched Joey California's entire experience unfold.
Scholl and Calcaterra shared uncertain futures a year ago.
Scholl was just fired from his position as University of San Diego coach. He had been a basketball walkon in the late 1990s. Calcaterra had just entered the transfer portal after four seasons playing for the Toreros. He was sure there was more.
They will now share the biggest stage in men's college basketball: Calcaterra will be on the bench to provide immediate offense (and some attitude) for the Huskies. Scholl, who is a member the San Diego State coaching team, is trying to stop Calcaterra when their teams face off for the national title Monday night in Houston.
Calcaterra and Scholl are perhaps the best examples of this chaotic, upside-down Division I men’s tournament with its many upsets and unpredictable ends. Calcaterra was invited to Scholl's graduation celebration last May by Calcaterra. It wasn't the best path they could have imagined.
Scholl stated that she had experienced many emotional moments in the past three weeks. She went from the lowest point of my life to the highest, and it took her a year to recover. "You cannot get higher than what you're going get a chance."
Calcaterra said, "It's amazing to see how the universe works." He posed with Scholl in Scholl's new gear, near a large Calcaterra image on a wall outside UConn’s locker room.
Calcaterra entered the transfer portal three days after Scholl was fired on March 9, 2022. Calcaterra met Steve Lavin, San Diego's new coach but decided not to return. He received information from Weber State University, U.C. He heard from Weber State, U.C. He waited. He waited.
Calcaterra stated that it was difficult for her to remember the past few months. "My parents thought that I should be committed to certain places at times. I knew something inside me said, "Don't do that." You can wait a while longer.
Vanderbilt finally called in June as the rosters were almost full. Then Connecticut called. Hurley was offered one scholarship and was looking for someone who could play without fear and shoot well. Calcaterra asked him if he was sure he was good enough for the court.
Calcaterra got on board a plane immediately.
He said, "I knew that I had the ability to play at this level and I wanted to find out what it was all about." Although I only spent one night there I was able to see everything I needed. I was able to see the intensity of one workout. There was no time for rest or recovery. I was determined to maximize my potential.
The next day, he committed.
Calcaterra said, "But he kept saying and repeating it."
Social media quickly took hold and there's now a Joey California line T-shirts and hoodies. According to The New Haven Register, friends and neighbors from Novato, Calif. north of San Francisco have started calling Richie's parents Wendy and Wendy.
Hurley said that Calcaterra is the type of player you would want from a guard perspective -- confident, gunslinger and Maverick with a 'Top Gun' mentality.
Scholl provided a report on Calcaterra when San Diego State's coaches presented scouting reports on their Huskies players. The Aztecs were informed by Scholl of Calcaterra’s deadeye shooting, which is an impressive 44 percent for the team from behind the 3-point line. He also stated that he is not shy, even though he plays a role, with an average of 14 minutes per game.
Scholl stated that Joey was going to make the big shot. He's not afraid. He has never been afraid of the present.
Scholl learned to value his self-confidence more over the past 12 months than in the eight years prior, when he first saw a high-energy, rail-thin high school sophomore at an Atlanta travel tournament.
After he was fired, Scholl's confidence was shaken. Scholl lost his job after the phone calls and hang-ins there texts stopped. The days became weeks, then weeks, then months. He owed his final year of his contract but money wasn't an issue. But his faith in his work was.
In July, San Diego State Coach Brian Dutcher called Scholl and suggested that Scholl be hired as a basketball performance advisor', a position created by the school for $37.440 per annum. It has been a lifeline.
Scholl stated that it is hard to accept being let go when you aren't good enough. You can learn a lot from the amazing coaches and it will help you to regain your confidence after it's a bit shaken.
Scholl was still buzzing from Lamont Butler's buzzer beating jumper that took the Aztecs to their title game. JayDee Luster, the assistant coach of the Aztecs, sat with Scholl on press row and helped them to find their next opponent.
Then he saw the familiar scene again: Calcaterra hitting a 3-pointer, and letting the rest of the world know. Calcaterra didn't say what he meant but understood why Scholl laughed. He had more technicals than he could count. Calcaterra stated, "I'm certain he had flashbacks."
Scholl was able to capture it as one of many this week.
Scholl stated that Joey was saying to his defender, "Don't gamble, because I'm going make you pay for it." "Joey is prone to have something to say at all times.