Jim Calhoun has won two national titles during his 22 seasons as the coach at Connecticut, a feat that has landed him in the Hall of Fame. Now, he is on the verge of winning a third bout against cancer.
Calhoun revealed at a recent news conference that he had surgery May 6 to have a cancerous mass removed from his neck. Also removed were 37 lymph nodes and part of a salivary gland that were found to be free of cancer.
Calhoun will begin six weeks of radiation treatment June 24 to increase his chances of not having a recurrence. Calhoun also had prostate cancer in 2003 and skin cancer in 2007.
Calhoun began feeling ill shortly after Connecticut’s season ended with an upset loss to San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and noticed a lump developing on his neck. The cancer was found during a needle biopsy April 24.
"The solution to these things is not to try to deny there's a problem, but step up and fight it, deal with it," Calhoun said. "It's your body, you only get one, and you have to take care of it."
Calhoun is expected to be completely recovered by the time practice starts in October. His doctors have asked him to reduce his schedule this summer, meaning he will attend few camps and showcases.
"The effects of it will, probably toward the end of the treatment, make him tired, so he may not want to do much running around, even on weekends," said Dr. Jeffrey Spiro, who performed the surgery at the UConn Health Center in Farmington, Conn.
Calhoun, like many coaches, has an aggressive personality. He believes that has helped him immensely in his battles with cancer.
"The things that bring me so much joy--spending time with my family, being involved with my children and grandchildren's lives, having a job that I love and enjoy coming in to work every day, watching Ray [Allen] and Rip [Hamilton] go against each other in the NBA playoffs--I didn't want to lose any of that," Calhoun said. "People who know me know that I was going to go at this head on, fight it. It wasn't going to beat me."
The Huskies should be highly ranked at the start of next season as they had no senior on last winter’s 24-9 team, and have five players returning who scored in double figures: forward Jeff Adrien (14.8 points, 9.1 rebounds a game), guard A.J. Price (14.5 points, 5.8 assists), guard Jerome Dyson (12.5 points), center Hasheem Thabeet (10.5 points, 7.9 rebounds) and forward Stanley Robinson (10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds). Adrien and Price will be seniors and the others juniors.
Thabeet was among the national leaders in three Pomeroy categories, finishing 10th in free throw rate (89.4), 11th in percent of shots blocked (12.9) and 64th in effective field goal percentage (60.3). Meanwhile, Price was 20th in assist rate (36.1), Adrien was 59th in free throw rate (66.4) and Dyson was 96th in percentage of steals (3.7).
New Atlantic 10 Leader
The Atlantic 10 hired Bernadette McGlade as its commissioner this week and one of her top priorities will be to improve the conference’s television package.
Except for a handful of games on the ESPN family of networks, Atlantic 10 games are almost impossible to find as it has had a contract with CSTV the past two seasons.
McGlade, who replaces Linda Bruno, was most recently the Atlantic Coast Conference’s associate commissioner. What made her candidacy attractive to Atlantic 10 member schools is that she was part of the eight-person NCAA Television Negotiating Committee, which secured the largest TV contract ever for any sporting event, getting a $6.2-billion deal from CBS for rights to the men’s tournament.
"I accept this position with a great deal of pride, appreciation and humility," McGlade said during her introductory news conference. "This business is all about the student-athletes and the student-athlete experience. It's about great championships. It's about upholding the unbelievable academic and athletic reputations that every institution in the Atlantic 10 has established."
Duquesne’s Greg Amodio was one of five conference athletic directors who had the opportunity to interview McGlade and came away impressed.
“I talked to her for 45 minutes," Amodio told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It came across to me that she had such a great passion for college athletics, the television aspect of it and strategic planning. She had a very well-rounded background and presence in regard to what she could bring to the A-10."
The Atlantic 10 had eight of the nation’s top 85 teams last season according to the final Pomeroy Ratings: Xavier (18), St. Joseph’s (54), Massachusetts (60), Temple (65), Dayton (70), Rhode Island (82), Charlotte (84) and Duquesne (85).
Tranghese Will Step Down
The Big East is certainly one conference that never has to worry about television exposure and they have Mike Tranghese to thank for that. In addition to serving with McGlade on the NCAA Television Negotiating Committee, Tranghese also negotiated lucrative deals for the Big East with ESPN and CBS.
Tranghese is now stepping aside as the Big East commissioner, effective June 30, 2009. Tranghese succeeded Dave Gavitt as commissioner in 1990 after 11 years working in the conference office, including nine as associate commissioner.
Tranghese also oversaw the expansion of the Big East to 16 teams, making it the largest Division I conference.
“I believe our conference is undergoing an unprecedented period of success,” Tranghese said. “Our basketball conference does not have to take a back seat to anyone and I believe everything is in place for the Big East to be even better in the future.
“I am stepping down now because I believe it is the right time. The conference is in great shape and it will give my successor the best opportunity to be successful.”
Even though he was in line to become Kentucky’s starting point guard next season, Derrick Jasper has decided to transfer so he can be closer to his home in Paso Robles, Calif.
Jasper sat out the first 10 games of last season recovering from microfracture knee surgery, then averaged 29.4 minutes, 4.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists a game.
”The decision to transfer is in no way an indication of my experience playing for UK,” Jasper said in a news release. ”I feel at this point in my life, it is important for me to be close to my family, and I intend to transfer to a school closer to the west coast where I can see my family more often, and they can see me play.
”It was not an easy decision for me to make, since the fans have been so wonderful and very supportive of my teammates and me. I want to thank Coach [Billy] Gillispie and the entire UK coaching staff for their guidance and support they have given me these past two years. I have grown a tremendous amount as a basketball player, and most importantly a person and feel it is largely due to the people involved with the UK basketball program.”
Among Jasper’s potential destinations are California, UCLA and UNLV.
Knight To Be Honored
Bob Knight, who resigned as Texas Tech’s coach last season in February, will be inducted into the United States Military Academy’s Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 19 at West Point.
Knight, who left as the winningest coach in college basketball history with 902 victories, took his first head coaching job at Army in 1965 at the tender age of 24. He led the Black Knights to 102 wins in six seasons before moving on to Indiana, where he cemented his legend.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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