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Jeff Eisenberg

Can UConn recover from looming NCAA sanctions?

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As painful as last season's unexpected foray into mediocrity was for a proud UConn program accustomed to competing for championships, this assessment of the future may sting a lot more.

It's probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Although Friday's release of the NCAA's notice of allegations didn't appear to contain any bombshells that might lead to a postseason ban, the fallout from the unseemly recruitment of Nate Miles will still be ugly for the Huskies. The uncertainty hanging over the program for the next six months and the ensuing penalties UConn will face will likely continue to hinder recruiting at a time when the Huskies badly need a talent influx.

Since UConn won't appear before the NCAA infractions committee until mid-October and may not receive its penalty until December, suspense surrounding the potential sanctions will linger through the entire early signing period. Then consider that the Huskies have already forced out two assistant coaches and will likely forfeit scholarships and face other restrictions before this is over, and it's easy to see how the recruiting may suffer.

The worst part for the Huskies is that they aren't in position to withstand another lean recruiting year, let alone several.

Instead of atoning for missing the NCAA tournament last season by bringing in a monster recruiting class, Jim Calhoun brought in a solid but unspectacular five-man group featuring only one player in Rivals.com's top 75. The Huskies fought hard to secure elite guard prospects Brandon Knight, Josh Selby, Cory Jospeh and Doron Lamb, but lost out on all of them to fellow elite programs that aren't currently in the NCAA's crosshairs.

The 68-year-old Calhoun has made a career of proving skeptics wrong, but the factors working against him right now make the off-recruiting year look more like a trend than an aberration.

The in-season leave of absence Calhoun took earlier this year for undisclosed health reasons heightened questions about how long he'll continue to run the program. He did finally sign a lucrative four-year extension this spring, but more than enough doubt remains about his long-term future for opposing coaches to use to scare off prospects when recruiting against him.

Calhoun does already have a longstanding commitment from talented small forward Maurice Harkless in the class of 2011, a good start in spite of all the questions surrounding the program.

Still, just 14 months removed from the Huskies' last Final Four appearance, it feels like it may be a while before they're in position to contend for another one.

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