Calhoun making progress

Jim Calhoun has become an expert on making comebacks during his UConn basketball coaching career.

From battling cancer three times to dealing with other medical issues - including a back problem last season - Calhoun has fought his way back each time, usually ahead of schedule.

The Hall-of-Fame coach is on the comeback road again, gradually recovering from a fractured left hip suffered in a bicycle accident on Aug. 4.

"Someday, there won't be a comeback," Calhoun said. "I would prefer not to come back all the time. It would a heck of a lot easier. Certainly a fractured hip is something that I wouldn't recommend to anyone."

Calhoun, 70, gave an update of his condition Tuesday while heading to a doctor's appointment. He says he's making progress but has no timetable for his return to full-time coaching duties.

"I'm feeling better," Calhoun said. "It appears, from what they told me, that I'm ahead of schedule. Hopefully, I can move fairly quickly through the pain. Right now, I'm on crutches. But I can do one crutch at a time. I can stand by myself without crutches.

"There are some good positive steps."

During his recovery, Calhoun is not sitting at home watching soap operas. He remains in communication with his coaching staff and plays an active role in recruiting.

Calhoun continued his tradition of meeting with his basketball team the night before classes begin. He stopped by Gampel Pavilion on Sunday.

The Huskies are preparing for a season already ineligible for postseason for the first time due to academic issues.

"It was good seeing them," Calhoun said. "They've got a big task in front of them. They've got to really, really work and let no distractions get in our way and work like crazy. It would be our 26th consecutive season without losing. That's our initial goal. Beyond that, I'm not worried about.

"I think playing basketball and competing is easy. It's nice to have great lofty goals but sometimes they get in the way. I would like to have one in the way, but right now that's not feasible or possible. But playing basketball for basketball is not a bad thing."

Over the upcoming weeks, Calhoun plans to stop by Gampel Pavilion for short periods. He was there Tuesday after visiting the doctor. He might go into the office today and Thursday.

Next week, he'll be in Springfield for Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement weekend. He'll be honored for receiving the Mannie Jackson Basketball's Human Spirit Award on Sept. 6.

"It is based upon what the doctor tells me what I can do," Calhoun said of his level of activity. "The bottom line, I'll take direction from him.

"Even though I'm making good progress, I don't want to screw anything up. I don't plan to be in (the office) at 8:30 every morning. I definitely plan to be coming in and out whenever they say I can."

g.keefe@theday.com

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