Same Guy, New World
Packed House For Jim Calhoun’s Victorious Return
HARTFORD — Jim Calhoun didn’t waste any time getting back to business as usual in his return to coaching Friday night during the first men’s basketball game in the history of the University of St. Joseph.
He stormed onto the court and called timeout 41 seconds in, a fiery reaction to a defensive breakdown that allowed a player for William Paterson University to dunk on the opening possession. He was later issued a technical foul. He smashed his chair to the ground at one point, too.
Calhoun came back, and it was like he never left.
His team came back, too. St. Joe’s trailed by 11 at halftime before building a 13-point lead behind suffocating defense, a relentless fastbreak and a few ferocious dunks by Bloomfield’s Mike Sagay. USJ won, 79-74.
It was Sagay who Calhoun had called out with the early timeout. It was a Sagay turnover — he lost the ball out of bounds while going in for an uncontested basket — that Calhoun was reacting to when he picked up his chair and threw it to the ground.
Within the game, much is the same for Calhoun. The differences were in the atmosphere. The Hall of Fame coach, a three-time national champion at UConn, has resurfaced in a very different basketball world.
Friday’s game took place in Ray Oosting Gymnasium on the campus of Trinity College, the facility chosen for its capacity of 1,800. The game
was sold out, and several dozen people were turned away at the door — even some who had tickets.
With just under 1,000 tickets sold Thursday, St. Joe's implemented a “plus-one” policy, allowing anyone with a ticket to bring a guest for free. That backfired because so many took advantage. Fans who purchased tickets and were not allowed entry were given an email address and will be issued a refund.
“This is the first time for us,” athletic director Bill Cardarelli said. “We're going to refund the money. We waited for a while and we really wanted to get a big crowd here. I'm not sure we anticipated this many people. It's all new to us and we definitely apologize.”
Oosting Gym is in Trinity's Ferris Athletic Center, and the lobby was packed and buzzing over an hour before the 7:30 p.m. tip-off. Free St. Joe's T-shirts (reading “OUR HOUSE”) and rally towels (reading #WinTheDay @USJCT) were given away.
Several Calhoun supporters with UConn ties were on hand, including longtime sports information director Tim Tolokan and former Huskies coach Dee Rowe and former player/ current Huskies assistant Taliek Brown. Calhoun's son, Jeff, and his longtime UConn assistant Glen Miller, are St. Joe's assistants.
FORMER UCONN coach Jim Calhoun hasn’t lost his penchant to yell and chew out players who perform below his expectations. He made his debut as St. Joseph coach and was smiling at the end as the Blue Jays beat William Paterson 79-74 at Trinity College.