CAL­HOUN

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - PAGE 2 - David.borges @hearst­medi­act.com

the fi­nal sec­onds, it was a fit­ting end to an up-and­down, frus­trat­ing sea­son for the de­fend­ing champs.

That was March 15, 2012. Fast for­ward 61⁄2 years later and the scene was re­mark­ably dif­fer­ent in­side Trin­ity Col­lege’s Fer­ris Ath­letic Cen­ter on Fri­day night.

A sell­out crowd of 1,800 packed into Ray Oost­ing Gym­na­sium as Cal­houn led the Blue Jays against a school called William Pater­son.

USJ trailed by 14 just be­fore half­time, went on a 20-2 run to start the sec­ond half and held on for a 79-74 win.

Was there ever any doubt? “My ride home will be pretty good,” Cal­houn said, a con­tent smile on his face. “I’m proud, be­yond words, of the way they stood up.”

There were some fa­mil­iar UConn faces scat­tered around the build­ing. Glen Miller, an as­sis­tant on that 2012 team, was back at Cal­houn’s side on the bench. So was Cal­houn’s son, Jeff, and Rashamel Jones. Dee Rowe, an­other leg­endary for­mer UConn coach, was in the crowd, as were long­time UConn ath­letic trainer

James Do­ran and video

co­or­di­na­tor Dave “Kappy” Ka­plan. Joe D’Am­bro­sio was on the ra­dio call.

But it was en­tirely new en­vi­rons for Cal­houn, a Nai­smith Hall of Famer and win­ner of three na­tional ti­tles in his 26 sea­sons at UConn. And it looked like there was nowhere in the world he would have rather been.

“He truly does love to coach,” Miller said prior to the game.

“I know that he is very happy to be here,” added USJ pres­i­dent Dr. Rhona Free.

Just like the old days, coach­ing Ray and Caron and Kemba?

“Nah, th­ese are my guys,” Cal­houn re­sponded. “This is my team.”

Cal­houn was Cal­houn. As per his cus­tom for years at UConn, he spun around to bark at his as­sis­tants — namely, Miller — through­out the game.

As for that tech­ni­cal?

“I’m just try­ing to help with my 1,400 games (coached),” he quipped. “I think I men­tioned that to him one time. He tried to tell me, ‘I see that block all the time.’ I said, ‘I’m sure you do — in high school.’ I can’t un­der­stand, I was just try­ing to make an ob­ser­va­tion.

I’ve said other things that might have been more de­serv­ing than that. I could have got one for a cou­ple of other things, but cer­tainly not that. But, I got it ... I was frus­trated, no ques­tion.”

Still, he wasn’t the side­lines mad­man of years past. At 76, it’s a kindler, gen­tler Jim Cal­houn — cer­tainly more so than even that NCAA tour­ney game 61⁄2 years ago, when he un­leashed a not-safe-for-work bar­rage of ex­ple­tives through­out a game where the Huskies were down 22 in the first half and never re­ally threat­ened to win.

Per­haps Cal­houn re­al­izes that, at a school that just went co-ed this year, his team will have some grow­ing pains. Of the 20 play­ers on the team, 17 are fresh­men (the other three are trans­fers).

Fri­day’s game was played at Trin­ity to ac­com­mo­date the ex­pected large crowd. Sure enough, the game sold out. More than 40 me­dia cre­den­tials were is­sued, in­clud­ing CBS and ESPN, which is pro­duc­ing a sea­son­long doc­u­men­tary on Cal­houn’s re­turn to the side­lines (Cal­houn po­litely asked the cam­era crew not to film his half­time di­a­tribe in the locker room).

The crowd was fired up. The “U-S-J” chants sounded down­right pa­tri­otic, and the par­ti­san crowd was well­versed in all the col­le­giate taunts ( “You can’t do that!,” “I be­lieve that we will win,” etc.).

It’ll be a dif­fer­ent world the rest of the win­ter. The op­po­nents are no longer Syra­cuse, Duke or Ge­orge­town, but rather Medgar Evers Col­lege, John­son & Wales, Al­ber­tus Mag­nus. There’s even an­other St. Joseph’s (lo­cated in Maine) in USJ’s league.

There will be long, snowy bus trips through­out New Eng­land (though we hear Cal­houn may not al­ways be on them, driv­ing to games in­stead).

Ei­ther way, on Fri­day night in a small gym­na­sium, Jim Cal­houn was back, do­ing what he truly loves to do. It was al­most like he had never left.

“The sport of bas­ket­ball is bet­ter when you have guys like Coach on the side­lines,” Dan Hur­ley, now oc­cu­py­ing Cal­houn’s old job, said ear­lier in the day. “It speaks to his pas­sion and love for the game that he’s still do­ing it, still has that in­cred­i­ble pas­sion.”

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