Same Guy, New World

Packed House For Jim Cal­houn’s Vic­to­ri­ous Re­turn

Hartford Courant - - Front Page - By MIKE ANTHONY man­thony@courant.com

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.

CLOE POISSON | CPOISSON@COURANT.COM

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.

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