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. Arkansas forward Jacorey Williams linked to pair of alleged assaults

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Arkansas forward was charged with one count of forgery last week.

  2. Texas Tech commit to attend junior college

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/adidas Kelly Kline/adidas

    The three-star forward failed to qualify earlier this month.

  3. Arizona State receives commitment from three-star center Jethro Tshisumpa

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:21 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Bobby Hurley off to a good start in his new gig in Tempe.

  4. John Calipari says 2016 “could be best class ever”

    Jul 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Tai Wynyard of New Zealand is the only commit currently in Kentucky’s Class of 2016.

  5. Michigan lands commitment from 2016 guard Ibi Watson

    Jul 28, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    John Beilein gets his third commitment for 2016.

  6. Another mixtape for July’s biggest stock-riser, Wenyen Gabriel (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.15.47 PM

    If you can do things like this, you can play for Duke or Kentucky.

  7. If the NCAA is correct, Donnie Tyndall is in big, big trouble

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    Donnie Tyndall AP

    The accusations against him include burner phones, hiding IP addresses and his mother’s cell.

  8. Tracy Abrams suffers second season-ending injury in 10 months

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:34 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Abrams was projected as the starting point guard for Illinois.

  9. Ben Howland’s first non-conference schedule at Mississippi State is unimpressive

    Jul 28, 2015, 1:03 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The Bulldogs aren’t guaranteed to play a top 25 team until SEC play.

  10. Highlights of Bol Bol, 15 year old son of Manute Bol (VIDEO)

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.49.06 AM

    He is talented, just don’t call him the next Kevin Durant.

  11. Video tour of VCU’s new $25 million practice facility

    Jul 28, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwi3otuyzgqyymy0yzdhm2mzntk2mzg5zmrlnzczm2vm AP

    Will Wade will have a beautiful facility to recruit to.

  12. Kansas, Indiana on opposite sides of 2015 Maui Invitational bracket

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:12 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Potentially four top-25 teams will be in the 2015 field.

  13. Colorado State’s Antwan Scott granted sixth year of eligibility

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    Grambling State Grambling State

    Scott averaged 15.7 points per game for Grambling during the 2013-14 season.

  14. Nik Stauskas trolls Ohio State fans, claims Thad Matta didn’t know who he was (PHOTO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The former Big Ten Player of the Year (inaccurately) trolls Ohio State fans

  15. Top two 2017 recruit Michael Porter Jr. dunks all weekend (VIDEO)

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 10.29.28 AM

    It’s pretty obvious why people like Porter.

  16. Highlights of Wenyen Gabriel, who’s been offered by Kentucky, Duke (VIDEOS)

    Jul 27, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.15.47 PM

    Gabriel was the biggest stock riser for the month.

  17. Ron Baker was the best college player for Team USA at Pan-Am Games

    Jul 27, 2015, 1:51 PM EDT

    baker Getty Images

    Denzel Valentine and Taurean Waller-Prince also played well in stretches.

  18. Ole Miss star guard arrested for DUI over the weekend

    Jul 27, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Stefan Moody was the leading scorer last season for Ole Miss.