A JERSEY GUY: Calhoun Is Doing it Again

Mark Blaudschun

Jim Calhoun is at it again. The Hall of Fame basketball coach who faded from the national spotlight 9 years ago is doing what he has always done best--coach basketball.

Only instead of the spotlight of a Final Four and national television, Calhoun is coaching a Division 3 school in West Hartford, Ct, the University of Saint Joseph's, running a men's program that is two years old.

And, as he did at Braintree (Ma.) High School, at Northeastern, where he is the winningest coach in the program's history, and later at UConn, where he transformed the Huskies from a small time New England basketball program into a national power, Calhoun's teams are winning.

In fact, that is all Blue Jays have done since November, compiling a 16-2 record, including 15 straight victories.

""We haven't lost since November,'' said Calhoun in a phone interview on Friday. ""So, yeah, it's going pretty good. We're a good, not great team, we work hard and we're having a good time.''

What makes it more amazing is that Calhoun is in his second term of coaching. He will be 78 in May, has had numerous physical issues over the years, been involved in controversies and has his critics over the way he conducts business.

What no one can dispute are his credentials as a coach.

He won at Northeastern, which was a Division 2 school when he arrived in 1971, who then proceeded to become the career leader in wins (248) before moving to UConn.

He also produced the greatest basketball player in Northeastern history, Reggie Lewis. He won national championships and produced All American players at UConn in a career that broke the 900 win level this season.

Amazingly and shamefully there is not any visible recognition of Calhoun's contribution on the Northeastern campus.

""I love the place,' said Calhoun on Friday. "It was great. I still contribute to the school each year. It's a great place.''

Calhoun says he is not phased by the switch from the bright lights of Division 1 to the relative obscurity of Division 3.

""A thousand people in the stands, 10,000 people,'' said Calhoun. ""It doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is going out and beating good teams. And we have done that. It's been fun.''


Mark Blaudschun