Skip to content

Jim Calhoun’s hurting, but badly enough to call it a career?

Feb 3, 2012, 6:46 PM EDT

spt-1202030-calhoun AP

Health issues aren’t anything new to Jim Calhoun. Since 1994, he’s missed 17 games due to various ailments, including prostate cancer surgery, pneumonia, and an undisclosed problem that caused him to miss seven games during the 2009-10 season. (He wasn’t at four others due to an NCAA suspension and a family funeral.)

Most of those have come in the last 10 years, which makes one wonder if his latest malady – spinal stenosis – will cause the Connecticut men’s basketball coach to retire in the near future.

For now, he’s only taking an indefinite leave of absence to deal with the back pain. Depending on how he feels and what his doctors tell him, he could be back. But there’s no getting around the fact that he just can’t be on the sideline.

From the AP:

“The bottom line is I’m going to need some work done,” Calhoun told the AP. “In January the shooting pains were getting worse and after one plane ride I couldn’t even get up. I tried to hide it. I’m taking medicine right now for the pain and they are waiting for things to quiet down and I’ll meet with the doctor next week. “I told (president) Susan (Herbst) about it and said I could make it through the season that there were only 3 1/2 weeks left. But it’s just so bad, even getting through practice. Now I’m going to see what the next step is. The bottom line is I’m hurting.”

There was considerable speculation last spring and summer that Calhoun might retire. The Huskies had just won their third NCAA tournament featuring a team Calhoun loved coaching. But, for various reasons, he decided he wasn’t done coaching and returned to lead a team that had enough talent to return to the Final Four.

An up-and-down season makes that seem unlikely (it’s all on the players now). Calhoun’s return is a similar question mark, though perhaps it shouldn’t be.

From CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish:

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.

Calhoun’s not the type to fade away. He’s a guy who does things on his own terms and has accrued enough power and influence at UConn to ensure he’ll retire when he’s ready.

But health issues are a different sort, especially when it comes to nagging, debilitating back pain that makes sitting on chairs and standing in gyms daily torture. (Not to mention the non-health issues Parrish mentioned.) But if anyone can return just to spite their own back problems, it’s Calhoun.

This hardly seems like the way Calhoun’s career would end. He’s too damn tough. And wants to win too badly.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Latest Posts
  1. #UMassUnited: Thousands show to support Derrick Gordon during Westboro Baptist Church protest

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo via MassLive.com Photo via MassLive.com

    Five protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church showed up at UMass on Wednesday. 1,500 students rallied in response.

  2. Michigan guard Caris LeVert to return for junior season

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT

    levert Getty Images

    Caris LeVert reiterated his decision to return to Michigan for his junior year at the team’s postseason banquet Wednesday.

  3. Report: New Mexico State’s Sim Bhullar to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:57 PM EDT

    Sim Bhullar, Barndon Ashley AP

    According to a report, New Mexico State center Sim Bhullar will forego his final two seasons of eligibility to turn pro.

  4. USC guard Byron Wesley to transfer for final season of eligibility

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:24 PM EDT

    Byron Wesley, Jarett Upchurch AP

    After leading USC in scoring last season, Byron Wesley announced that he’ll be transferring after graduating this summer.

  5. Arizona State guard Jahii Carson officially entering NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    carson AP

    Arizona State’s Jahii Carson made official the news that’s been known since October: he’ll be entering the 2014 NBA Draft.

  6. Former Northwestern wing Kale Abrahamson transferring to Drake

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:32 PM EDT

    Kale Abrahamson AP

    Former Northwestern guard/forward Kale Abrahamson will finish out his career in his home state.

  7. UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, Zach LaVine officially enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 16, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    UCLA’s Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine made official their decisions to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  8. Purdue center A.J. Hammons will return for junior season

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    A.J. Hammons AP

    After considering leaving school to enter the NBA Draft, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons will return for his junior season.

  9. It’s beyond time for college basketball to return to NBA’s early entry calendar

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Jerami Grant AP

    Three years after shortening the time players have to make a decision regarding the NBA, it’s time for the NCAA to re-adopt the NBA’s pre-draft calendar.

  10. Report: Butler’s Rene Castro to transfer to Duquesne

    Apr 16, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    The Dukes have landed the for Massachusetts Player of the Year.

  11. Former Alabama player Devonta Pollard receiving interest from Kentucky

    Apr 16, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    There may not be a recruit with a more interesting back story that Devonta Pollard.

  12. Kansas State secures head coach Bruce Weber through 2019

    Apr 16, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber Bruce Weber

    Getting Kansas State to the NCAA tournament earned Bruce Weber an extension.

  13. Olivier Hanlan to return to Boston College

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

    hanlan Getty Images

    Jim Christian wins his first recruiting battle as the head coach at BC.

  14. 2014 NBA Draft: What early entry decisions are we still waiting for?

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    rodneyy hood Getty Images

    What Early Entry decisions will have the biggest impact on the 2014-2015 college basketball season?

  15. Hoop Summit mixtape for Jamal Murray, Canada’s next star (VIDEO)

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:20 AM EDT

    Jamal_Murray___POTW___Story3

    The next big thing to come from Canada isn’t going to be all that big.

  16. SMU and Gonzaga close to agreement for home-and-home beginning this season

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Mustangs and Bulldogs are looking to meet in a home-and-home series.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'