Don't expect Calhoun's leave to be anything more than temporary
While UConn practiced on Tuesday afternoon in Storrs,
A program source told SI.com that Calhoun's issue, this time, is stress-related, and that he needed time away from basketball for his health to stabilize. He'll miss Wednesday's game against St. John's, with associate head
Tuesday's news brought to mind a column the
Earlier in the day, three hours before tip-off, Calhoun had apparently remarked, "I've just never gotten to the point where a loss doesn't tear me up."
That loss to the Hoyas was only the beginning of a miserable three-game stretch. On Jan. 13, UConn lost to Pittsburgh at home by 10, and fell to 2-3 in the Big East. On Jan. 17, the Huskies lost by five at Michigan, and fell to 11-6 on the season -- a record that, combined with their resume's lack of a marquee victory, makes them look like a team in danger of being on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Calhoun's '09-10 squad has been confounding: They're long on talent, with a lineup of three (and maybe four) future NBA Draft picks; and they were capable of going toe-to-toe with Kentucky, the nation's only remaining undefeated, in December at Madison Square Garden. But in Big East play, they've hardly looked like one of the nation's elite, and that had to have tormented their coach. The Huskies could very well use this as a rallying point to upset the Longhorns on Saturday and regain some momentum, but they have some deeper offensive issues (especially with three-point shooting) that one win won't fix.
Calhoun also said in that
The matter of his contract looms: Entering the '09-10 season, Calhoun was in the strange position -- particularly for a Hall of Famer who's been on the sidelines for more games than any other active D-I coach -- of being in the final year of an agreement with the school. Typically, for recruiting purposes, successful coaches enjoy a 4-5 year buffer, and Calhoun said he was in the process of finalizing a new, five-year deal with UConn athletic director
At some point, when it comes to his health, Calhoun may have to decide enough is enough, but it would be surprising if this week's medical leave is anything more than what his doctor said it is: temporary. Calhoun has a reputation as a stubborn fighter. One would expect him to return and try to salvage the '09-10 campaign. As stressful as this season has been, he still has the personnel to make the Huskies a decent NCAA Tournament team -- one that could, in March, look back at Jan. 19 as its nadir.