Ending a month-long absence, UConn coach Jim Calhoun was back at practice this afternoon at Gampel Pavilion.
A source earlier this afternoon told Hearst Connecticut Media Group’s Kevin Duffy that Calhoun would return, but said it wasn’t entirely clear whether the Hall of Fame coach would be on the sidelines tomorrow when the Huskies host Pittsburgh in their regular season finale.
Calhoun confirmed that report after practice.
“I want to feel like I can give the kids my best tomorrow at 12,” Calhoun said. “If I do, then I’ll continue to go on. If I don’t, I’d think I’d be ready by the Big East tournament.”
Freshman center Andre Drummond said there is “no doubt in his mind” that the legendary coach will be on the sidelines for Saturday’s game against Pitt.
Calhoun has been out since early February with spinal stenosis, but had surgery to alleviate some of the pain Monday in New York City. He said doctors told him “don’t coach practice,” but clearly, that wasn’t in the cards.
Just four days after surgery, Calhoun was on his feet — leaning up against the scorers table at times — coaching his slumping Huskies.
“Even when people told me he his back was hurting, I didn’t really know,” said UConn junior Alex Oriakhi. “You couldn’t even tell he had surgery. That just says a lot about his toughness. That’s a tough guy right there.”
UConn (17-12 overall, 7-10 Big East) likely needs a win tomorrow and at least one win in the Big East tournament next week to secure an NCAA tournament berth.
“It’s nice collecting trophies and those kind of things, but it’s more important to be there when things aren’t going as well,” Calhoun said. “And right now they haven’t gone as well as we’d like.”