Even if they did beat the worst team in the conference on Tuesday afternoon, UConn’s 81-67 win over DePaul in the opening round of the Big East tournament showed they’re back and so too is their head coach.
In his second game back after back surgery last Monday, a calm and more composed than usual Calhoun spent much of the game seated on the bench, rarely showing his usual fire and emotion. Calhoun defied doctor’s orders this past Saturday to return to the sideline to coach the Huskies to a win over Pittsburgh.
“The pain is a different kind of pain; it’s a muscular pain,” Calhoun said.
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“Thank God it’s no longer a nerve pain and I’m not walking with a cane anymore. I couldn’t walk with a cane on the sidelines because the officials might have been hit.”
Under anesthesia for three hours, the surgery removed “bone chips and stuff” from Calhoun’s spine. Chances are the Huskies, the ninth seed in the Big East tournament, need one more win to ensure a ticket to the NCAA tournament.
But Calhoun, oddly retrospective, was focused on the win and not the future as he spoke from the podium after UConn’s big win.
“Someone said I only have two years left on my extension. I don’t know if I can make two more minutes. For them to think [that] — I’m grateful about that — I don’t know if I have two more years in my contract. Now it’s like I’m calling the shot,” Calhoun said.
“Someone better pay me for two more years, that’s what I’m saying. My point is I’m trying to coach this basketball team and that’s my job, but it’s also my love. And that’s why I came back to my basketball team, because I felt I owed them something.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer as he tweets from the Big East tournament all week.