Calhoun is really looking forward to getting back to work

Coach Jim Calhoun rejoined his UConn basketball team late Wednesday afternoon in New Jersey.

His first order of business was to meet with his coaching staff to discuss what happened during his three-game suspension.

He had plenty to say, so that meeting might be still going on.

It was difficult for Calhoun to watch UConn play so poorly in a 75-63 loss at Seton Hall Tuesday in Newark.

"I am happy to get back," Calhoun said. "If I wasn't coaching any longer, then I don't know if I'd be happy to get back. But this is my team.

"Obviously, I feel responsible for the fact that we didn't play well (Wednesday) night."

Without Calhoun, the Huskies went 2-1, beating South Florida and St. John's.

This was the first time in his Hall of Fame coaching career that Calhoun has missed an extended period of time while healthy. He was prohibited from coaching duties and had little contact with his staff.

During the break, he spent quality time with his family, including six grandchildren, at home in Pomfret.

Calhoun had a different view of the Huskies, evaluating them from the comforts of home instead of while stomping down the sidelines. He didn't like what he saw against Seton Hall, especially on the defensive end.

"We needed leadership out of the backcourt and we didn't get it," Calhoun said. "We needed some of the veterans, Alex (Oriakhi) and Roscoe (Smith) and Shabazz (Napier) to step up and that didn't happen. So that's disappointing.

"I was really surprised that we're just getting looser on defense. We just played very poorly offensively. We're proving once again that we have some work to do."

Calhoun praised his coaching staff, including associate head coach George Blaney who ran the team in Calhoun's absence. He briefly stopped by his Gampel Pavilion office on Tuesday and again on Wednesday before leaving.

UConn is staying in New Jersey this week, preparing to play at Rutgers on Saturday. The Huskies took Wednesday off from practice.

So Calhoun gets a shot at coaching his team again today for the first time since before Christmas.

"We've just got to get ready for the next two games," said Calhoun whose Huskies host West Virginia Monday. "I can't wait to get to practice. If you yell (at the television), nobody hears you."

g.keefe@theday.com

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