As you probably know by now, Jim Calhoun is taking an indefinite leave of absence because of undisclosed medical issues. This will be the 22nd time that Calhoun, who has beaten cancer multiple times, will have to miss all or part of a UConn game because of illness.
My first reaction, of course, is to wish Coach Cal and his family all the best and a quick recovery. There is no timetable yet for Calhoun's return, but hopefully he will not be out long.
From an immediate basketball perspective, this could not have come at a worse time for the Huskies. They've dropped three in a row and often look completely lost on the court. St. John's should not be too much of a test tomorrow, but with Texas looming, you have to think the Huskies will be missing their coach. I suppose the team could pull off the sports movie cliche of banding together in the face of adversity, but when one of the best teams in the nation is coming to Gampel (followed by a chunk of tough conference games), you want to have the hall of fame coach on the sidelines.
For more thoughts, hit the jump.
Unfortunately, this is also likely to raise questions about the future of the program. Calhoun's contract expires this summer, but it was widely reported just a few weeks ago that he and UConn were close to a five-year contract extension. However, since that report was confirmed, both sides have been mum, and there has been no word on whether or not there is a signed contract or where the two parties currently stand. Presumably, if this is just a temporary leave as UConn has indicated (and I have no reason to think its not), it should not effect on the extension, but still, one wonders. In addition, if we're looking at the future, we're getting into prime basketball recruiting season, and knowing the cutthroat nature of college athletics, you can bet some opposing coaches will be using this to put some nasty thoughts in the ears of players UConn is looking at.
Finally, this being the Internet, I'm sure there will be speculation and conspiracy theories (i.e.: The NCAA is chasing down Calhoun for Nochimson-gate or Calhoun is frustrated with the team and "calling in sick" much like a certain Duke coach once did). I want to make it very clear that I do not believe either of these. But when I imagined the conspiracy theories that might get thrown around, it was the best I could come with. Anyway, as far as Nochimson goes, the NCAA hasn't made a peep about it, and even if they did, Calhoun leaving wouldn't change one thing. As for the sick thing, Calhoun stuck around through 2006-2007, and this year is nothing compared to that disaster.
The main thing now though is Coach Cal's health. I am not sure if we will get any more information on his condition or status anytime soon, but again, I want to reiterate my hope that this is nothing major and that we'll see Calhoun back on the UConn bench as soon as possible.