Tag:Jim Calhoun
Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:55 pm

Calhoun set for back surgery; will miss next 2

By Jeff Goodman

UConn coach Jim Calhoun won't return this weekend for Saturday's home game against No. 2 Syracuse. 

Calhoun, 69, will have surgery Monday for his back injury, spinal stenosis, which has caused him to take his most recent medical leave of absence. 

Calhoun, according to the school, will be in the hospital for a night or two and will definitely miss Saturday's game and also next Tuesday's at Providence. 

His status will then be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. 

“I’m glad we have finally determined the best course of treatment to deal with the problem,” Calhoun said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to having the procedure done, hopefully recovering as quickly as possible, and putting it all in the past.”  

UConn's final regular-season contest is March 3 at home. The Big East tournament starts on March 6. 

Posted on: February 18, 2012 2:19 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 2:55 pm

Ready to throw in the towel with UConn Huskies

Connecticut missed out on a chance to get a marquee win today against Marquette. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

OK, I'm finally ready to give up on the UConn Huskies. It took me longer than most after watching the program rise from the dead a year ago and reel off 11 consecutive games to win the Big East tourney and national title. 

The Huskies' proverbial backs were against the wall on Saturday afternoon. Their 69-year-old coach, Jim Calhoun, remained on a medical leave of absence with a serious back injury.  

If there was ever a time to come out with a sense of urgency, this was it. Yet UConn came out flat, looked disinterested in the first half -- and it cost the Huskies yet again. 

This is a team that was picked in everyone's Preseason Top 10 -- even without Kemba Walker. The Huskies won it all and returned Jeremy Lamb, Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith and Tyler Olander from last year's improbable national championship team. 

Then Calboun added one of the nation's top recruiting classes in Andre Drummond, DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright. 

All the talk revolves around the lack of leadership -- and much of it is valid. Lamb and Drummond are too quiet, Oriakhi didn't play enough to be a viable candidate  and Napier just isn't ready to assume that role. But there are plenty of far less talented teams without great leaders who enjoy more success than this year's UConn team, one that has now fallen to 16-10 overall and 6-8 in Big East play. 

This team doesn't play smart. This team doesn't play together. They don't play with heart or intensity. 

They were outrebounded by a Marquette team that was without its top two post plays on Saturday on their own court. 

Now, with just four games remaining in the regular-season, the Huskies will have to reel off three of four to finish at .500 in conference play. The slate starts at Villanova, home against Syracuse, at Providence and concludes with a home contest against Pittsburgh. 

They all appear, on paper, to be winnable games. They also appear, on paper, to be losable ones for this group. 

I'd be more shocked if they went 4-0 than 0-4. 

No one knows when -- or even if -- Calhoun will return. I'm not sure it matters with this group. Lamb and Drummond -- two likely lottery picks -- look as though they are out for a walk in the park at times rather than playing Big East basketball. Boatright may be talented, but he appears more interested in getting his own numbers than winning ballgames. Oriakhi's confidence is like a see-saw after Calhoun tossed him in the doghouse early this year. Smith and Daniels have no understanding of their roles and we're nearing the end of the season. 

There's no shame in losing to a Marquette team that is in second place and within striking distance of Syracuse in the Big East standings -- even in Hartford. 

But what was shameful was the effort this UConn team displayed for much of the contest, the lack of fight and intensity. 

The Huskies miss Kemba and Calhoun, but more than anyone thing they miss a sense of toughness, intensity and pride. 

Posted on: February 7, 2012 10:10 am
Edited on: February 7, 2012 10:26 am

UConn may look it, but Huskies not dead yet

It's hard to figure that UConn could be this flat and uninspiring. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Jeff Goodman

UConn looks like a dead team -- and I know dead teams when I see them. 

I swear I saw one last March 5. That was Senior Night in Storrs, when Kemba Walker went through the festivities despite being a junior, when the Huskies couldn't beat a Notre Dame team without its best player on the floor for the final 8 minutes, 29 seconds. 

The Irish led, 60-52, when Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough went to the sidelines with his fifth foul. UConn regained the lead less than three minutes later, but the Huskies couldn't hold on for the win. The loss dropped Jim Calhoun's team to 9-9 in Big East play. 

That sure looked like a dead team. Dead and buried. At least that's what everyone thought. 

It was like a morgue in that locker room after the game. That was UConn's fourth loss in the past five games and every head on that team was down. No one had any answers, least of all Walker. 

"No clue," Walker said as he shook his head on that day when I asked him what was wrong. "I have no idea." 

Then came the magical, the unlikeliest of runs that started with five wins in five consecutive days to win the Big East tournament and concluded with six more to claim the national title. 

Do I think it will happen again with this team, which was obliterated in the Yum! Center last night by Louisville?  No. But I've also learned never to count anyone out after what happened a year ago. 

My colleague Gary Parrish made plenty of valid points in his column last night. This team doesn't have Kemba Walker. Right now, it also doesn't even have its Hall of Fame coach -- who is out with what appears to be a serious back injury. 

But many of these guys have dug out of the deepest possible hole. 

The Huskies are now 15-8 overall and 5-6 in Big East play with a road game against 23-1 Syracuse in the Carrier Dome up next. Freshman Andre Drummond was abysmal last night, Jeremy Lamb hasn't lived up to expectations some put on him prior to the season and Shabazz Napier has been an enigma. Alex Oriakhi was relegated to bench duty for much of the season, a move I still feel has hurt this team in a variety of ways.  

It certainly doesn't appear promising for this group of Huskies, but if there's one thing I learned last year is that some teams can come back from the dead. 

Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:10 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 4:55 pm

Chart: Calhoun's pattern of missing games

By Matt Norlander

If it seems to you like Jim Calhoun's been missing more and more games in recent years, you're right. The UConn coach has completely missed 21 games (23 if you count the upcoming two against Seton Hall and Louisville) during his time with the Huskies. Fifteen of those 23 games have come since 2008. To read that another way, 65 percent of the games Calhoun has been forced to sit out of have happened in the past four and a half seasons of his career (less than one-fifth of his tenure at the school).

Calhoun's even had instances where he's left in the middle of games due to illness and had George Blaney man the controls for the remainder of the night. His health remains a concern on many fronts at the school, and talk of his replacement has been speculated about for the past few years. This most recent health battle will only intensify the conversation of when/if/should Calhoun, nearly 70, should retire from coaching.

Here's a canonical list of every Connecticut game Calhoun didn't coach in, the reason why, the opponent and whether the Huskies won or lost. Overall, UConn is 11-10 when their chieftain watches them on television.

Source: UConn athletic department.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:38 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 2:41 pm

Have we seen the last of Jim Calhoun?

By Gary Parrish

People don't get healthier as they get older.

I'm not sure that's 100 percent true.

But it's mostly true.

And, either way, I always figured such would be the case with Jim Calhoun, which is why I thought it would've been wise for him to walk away after last season. Not only could he have gone out on top, but he could've avoided all this. And by this, I mean more NCAA issues (Ryan Boatright) and health issues (spinal stenosis) -- the kind that make running an elite college basketball program difficult to the point of being impossible.

Friday provided another chapter.

While most normal Americans were either going or coming from lunch, Connecticut announced that Calhoun is taking an indefinite leave of absence because of a "worsening" condition of "spinal stenosis, a lower back condition that causes him severe pain and hampers mobility." Translation: He's hurting like hell. So what we have here is a 69-year-old cancer survivor battling an incredibly painful condition that'll force him to miss games for what feels like the 107th consecutive season, and at what point is it wise to just walk away?

That's a question that was fair to ask last April and is even more fair to ask now.

Never mind when Calhoun might return.

I'm debating if he'll ever return.

I'm doubting he should.

Is it really rational to think next season will be smoother? Or the one after that? Or the one after that? Again, Calhoun is 69 and will be 70 next season, then 71, and you know how age works, right? I don't have to count for you. Calhoun will, like all of us, get older every year. And he will, like most of us, watch his health further deteriorate with time. If he couldn't make it through 2012 without a health issue, the smart money says he probably won't make it through 2013, either. And when you combine that with a struggling team and NCAA and APR concerns, well, it makes it reasonable to wonder if we've seen the last of Jim Calhoun.

He's a Hall of Fame coach and one of the all-time greats.

But he's also unhealthy and hurting and pushing 70 years old.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 1:55 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 7:52 pm

Calhoun takes medical leave from coaching

Calhoun has stepped aside from his coaching duty many times in the past decade. (Getty Images)
By Matt Norlander

UPDATE, 7:49 p.m.: Calhoun spoke over the phone to the Associated Press Friday night. Some of his quotes have been added to this article.

Jim Calhoun is temporarily and indefinitely taking another leave of absence as head coach of UConn, the school announced Friday afternoon. Calhoun's leave is medically related, as he's dealing with a "worsening" condition of "spinal stenosis, a lower back condition that causes him severe pain and hampers mobility."

That means Calhoun is out for Saturday's game against Seton Hall and will also definitively not coach in Monday's game at Louisville. George Blaney, associate head coach, will step in again as he's done many times before during previous hiatuses Calhoun has taken from the team.

The team's press release quotes Calhoun's doctor, Peter Schulman, saying this has been an ongoing issue for Calhoun for the past few months.

“Last summer, Jim had some significant back pain and has seen two excellent back specialists,” Schulman said in the release. “The initial approach recommended to him was stretching, physical therapy and exercise, and that was successful for several months. It turns out that there is some degenerative problem in the lumbar vertebrae and it’s impinging on the nerves. It has led to significant back pain and some symptoms in his lower extremities. Jim has been able to manage it with the physical therapy and stretching, but over the last several days, things have become worse and he is not able to deal with this on a day to day basis, so other options need to be considered. Right now, he is physically unable to coach.”

Calhoun told the AP Friday night he "couldn't even get up" after plane rides and that the pain had become more and more brutal. He was unable to get out of bed Friday morning, and that's when the decision apparently became final: he was missing the next immediate stretch of games.

"But it's just so bad, even getting through practice," Calhoun said. "Now I'm going to see what the next step is. The bottom line is I'm hurting. ... I had back pain like never before last summer, thought it was back spasms. I saw a neurologist and he told me about scoliosis, stenosis and other things and that there could be things like a bone spur and that I could probably need something done at some point. I went for the physical therapy and it worked, but it started to lock up sometimes recently and it was worse."

Calhoun will turn 70 in May.
Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:21 pm

Calhoun's vacation, um suspension, ends tonight

By Jeff Goodman

At times throughout UConn's last two games, Jim Calhoun has found himself yelling at the television -- at his players and also at his associate head coach George Blaney. 

"Then I realize it's not talking back and no one says a word," Calhoun said. "So I stop." 

Calhoun will serve the third and final game of his NCAA-mandated suspension tonight when the Huskies play at Seton Hall. He'll watch, as he has for the first two games, at home either by himself or with his wife. 

"It's frustrating," Calhoun admitted. "And it's different than when I've had to watch before when I had cancer. But it is what it is." 

"It's allowed me to get a different look at the team, though," he added.

Calhoun said he's been able to utilize his time away from the team -- The NCAA also didn't allow him to attend practice or any team-related activities -- to spend more time with his grandchildren and also catch-up with former players. 

"It's been nice in a way, but I don't recommend it -- at least not for me personally," he said. 

UConn won't practice tomorrow and Calhoun said he'll join the team at night in New Jersey, where he'll meet with the coaching staff and then go to dinner. His first game back comes Saturday night at Rutgers. 

Calhoun said he has jotted down plenty of notes watching the wins at South Florida and at home against St. John's. He wants to cut down on the turnovers, get veteran big man Alex Oriakhi back to how he was playing last season and also have Shabazz Napier defending with more consistency. Nothing, right now, rates higher than shoring up the defense. A year ago, UConn was 18-0 when it made three consecutive stops at least five times in a game. This year the Huskies have only done it twice -- and one came in the win over the Red Storm in the last game. 

"With as good of a shooting team we are this year, we could be really tough if we can get consistent stops," Calhoun said. 

The Huskies are shooting 50 percent from the field over the first 13 games of the season and 43 percent from beyond the arc. Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb are both at 42 percent and freshman Ryan Boatright has made 7-of-12 from deep since joining the team. 

Calhoun also said roles have been established. It's Napier and Lamb in the backcourt with Boatright coming off the bench. There's Andre Drummond, Tyler Olander and Oriakhi splitting minutes at the four and five spots. However, the one position that needs to become solidified soon is at the small forward spot where sophomore Roscoe Smith, freshman DeAndre Daniels and Niels Giffey have all taken turns and had their moments. 

"We need to figure that out," Calhoun said. 

Calhoun was also clear that Syracuse is a step ahead of everyone else in the Big East right now, and part of the reason is that Jim Boeheim has a veteran team while UConn often throws out a lineup that features all freshmen and sophomores. 

"We still haven't played anywhere close to where I think we can," Calhoun said. "We're still far away -- and we're 12-1." 

And Calhoun is almost done serving his time. 

Posted on: December 23, 2011 10:45 am

Podcast: The story of UConn's incredible 2011

By Matt Norlander

Fresh off winning the third national title in program history, Aaron Torres wasted no time writing the story of college basketball's most unlikely champion. Yeah, UConn's a national program with top-rated recruits coming in almost every year, but the 2010-11 team wasn't expected to make the NCAA tournament, let alone win the title, by some people.

Torres hops on to discuss his first book, "The Unlikeliest Champion," which chronicles all the details of the amazing run. Hear stories you've not yet been privy to, and see why last year's Huskies were so special beyond the obvious reasons. We also get into this year's team, which has more talent, but could very well fall short of doing what last season's squad accomplished.

Give Aaron a follow on Twitter, too. Consider it your stocking stuffer to him, and buying the book can be the Christmas gift.

What to hear where:
  • From the beginning: Holiday niceties and the story of how/why Torres wrote the book.
  • 9:00: The best and worst and non-existent interviews for this book.
  • 13:15: The process of writing a book so soon after an event like this. Most books about big seasons or teams come years after the fact. This is a different approach.
  • 18:58: Think about it: last year's Big East tournament could end up being the final great memory of the league's postseason bracket.
  • 21:00: The podcast talk shifts to UConn this year and comparing it to last year, plus what Calhoun's been frustrated with in the past six, seven years.
  • 27:01: Discussion of 2011-12 Huskies and the Big East race. Could be a great one! A lot of moving parts in the Big East right now, and UConn ... we're not sure what it's going to be, but it's starting to look very good, no matter if Calhoun is sour on his team's overall effort right now.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts are posted here and simultaneously through iTunes (link below). Each Wednesday CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish hop on to banter and bicker. Mondays and Fridays are reserved for the most prominent voices in and around the game. Here's the iTunes subcription link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. I don't believe they are making Zunes anymore, but nonetheless, I've been instructed to link you on how to listen via that device, too.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com