Calhoun on His Rest ... and Refs
He's baaack, looking thinner (minus about 5 pounds) but sounding just as feisty -- maybe even more so -- as ever in practice. Pretty sure I heard an F-bomb in the 45 minutes or so of practice we witnessed.
Here's what Jim Calhoun had to say in a makeshift press conference inside his office this afternoon:
(On what his ailment was)
"Nothing that hasn't happened to a group of other people. If I thought that what happened to me would benefit other people, I'd be more than happy to talk about it. The only advice I would give you … if you're not feeling particularly well, you should probably go see a doctor. I did, and he was able to help a temporary condition. After about two weeks, it dissipated, and I was able to get back to my duties."
He did say that the health problem would not be a recurring one. Calhoun said his job was "as stressful as you make it. And I would make any job stressful."
(On watching the games on TV)
"It was painful to watch the games. It was exhilarating when we beat Texas, disappointing the last nine minutes against Providence, nervewracking against Marquette and DePaul, heartbreaking against Syracuse."
(Didn't think he wasn't gong to mention the officiating, did you?)
"I don't believe that any one single official has anything against us. You can show me all the stats you want. Last year, if you had us, we were 24-1 at this point … Every official that had us, only three were involved in a loss."
"I never really believed that any good official – and certainly the officials I'm talking about, generally speaking, are good – but you can't do what they're doing. I've been saying that for 15 years. You can't work the nights they're working and give you the best that they can give you. That's part of the sport, part of the game. It doesn't change our record."
"I have contacted the Big East officiating office three times and gotten no response back. But, when I get a response, it's not going to change our record. But I wouldn't be coaching if I thought somebody was out to get us. I think John Cahill is one of the best officials in the country. I don't agree with some of the calls we've had against us this year, but I can make that statement about a lot of officials."
Calhoun believes that NCAA refs should only work four days a week and have one day mandated to watch eight hours of game tape.
"I will bet you -- and I don't know this to be true, I could be 100-percent wrong -- that some guys in this league don't watch eight hours in a season."
(On the prospects of this team over its final seven regular-season games)
"I started with this team, and I want to finish with this team. We started something together, it's gone a little bit astray. I think the team has been somewhat snakebitten, and I think it hasn't taken advantage of everything it could have done.
"I'm not going to be Jim Mora and say, "Playoffs." But I will say that I'm not thinking about the NCAA, I'm thinking about the next game, and hopefully we can get enough wins to get us into postseason play."
(On whether this recent health situation made him wary of signing a long-term contract)
"I wouldn't be here if that was the case. I wanted to be back here 10 days ago. I don't think I've given any indication that I didn't want to be here coaching UConn basketball."
Calhoun noted that he announced his intention to return only a few weeks after last season ended, rather than his normal time around June or July.
"That was premature. By that I mean, I was being protective of something that I thought was being threatened. There was enough stuff going around that I thought UConn was being attacked, and I wanted to be there fighting for us."
(On the job George Blaney did in his stead)
"I think my voice is louder than George's. I did turn the TV sound down, which is always a good idea, and George has learned some new words over the last nine years, that are very apparent in the close-ups.
"George did a magnificent job, probably better than I could have done. I probably couldn't have beaten Texas or some of those other teams."
Calhoun said he was going to go away during his leave, but it was about "36 degrees in Hilton Head," where he has a home. Instead, Calhoun said he read about 7 or 8 novels and drove his wife, Pat, crazy.
He also said that he was cleared earlier in the week (Sunday or Monday) and could have gone to Syracuse, but chose not to "because of the six-overtime (game), Jim (Boeheim) and I meeting, all the other things – quite frankly, even the snow – they just thought it was a great idea if I waited … I was cleared Sunday or Monday. I was going to come back, and they advised me to wait until after Syracuse."
One other thing: there are about 1,500 tickets still available for tomorrow's noon game with Cincy in Hartford.