Calhoun certainly busy at UConn, but coach yet to make a final decision

Storrs - Will Jim Calhoun return or retire?

That's the burning question for UConn basketball fans.

Calhoun isn't ready to make a statement about his future but he's sure acting like a coach planning on coming back next season.

He's busy with the daily operations of the UConn basketball program. He's met with sophomore Jeremy Lamb and freshman Andre Drummond, two projected lottery picks in the upcoming draft, about their choices. Lamb is closer to leaving than Drummond.

He's been involved in discussions with new athletic director Warde Manuel about the NCAA's denial of UConn's appeal of its 2013 postseason ban.

While he's also had one meeting with Manuel about his coaching future, he's not prepared to make a decision even if you threaten to lock him in a room and force him to watch a continuous loop of Christian Laettner's game-winning shot that beat UConn in the 1990 regional final.

Expect Calhoun, who has two years left on his contract, to announce his plans by the end of the month. Last year he waited until September to commit to returning for the 2011-12 season.

"I'm trying to clean up everything here and then make that decision," Calhoun said Friday. "I'm acting like I'm coming back with everything going on."

Calhoun has more pressing concerns right now. He echoed statements made by Manuel on Thursday regarding the need for the NCAA to use more recent data to determine the Academic Progress Rate.

UConn is clinging to the hope that the NCAA will change the APR reporting dates when the Committee on Academic Performance meets later this month or in July. The men's basketball program is on track to post the qualifying score if the 2011-12 academic year is part of the data used to determine post-season eligibility.

"Everybody here ? Warde and (UConn president) Susan (Herbst) ? we've all said that we need to do our job," Calhoun said. "With that said, we've made great improvements over a two-year period. Hopefully, there is some fairness."

Warde spoke with the basketball team on Thursday about the NCAA's decision on UConn's appeal.

"He told them we're fighting for them," Calhoun said.

Outside of junior Alex Oriakhi, who's exploring his transfer options, no one has informed Calhoun that they will bolt because of the postseason ban. He spoke with incoming recruit Omar Calhoun's father who assured him that his son remains committed to UConn.

Big East presidents also recently ruled that all teams facing an NCAA mandated postseason ban also have to sit out the Big East tournament.

Calhoun believes there will be still plenty to play for next season even if the postseason ban remains in place.

"I've always placed a great deal of importance on winning the Big East title," Calhoun said.

When Calhoun does eventually retire, he's hoping for a smooth transition. With that mind, he's in favor of a coach-in-waiting situation. He'd prefer to keep the job in the UConn basketball family, so assistant coach Kevin Ollie is a potential candidate.

g.keefe@theday.com

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