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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Texas coach Rick Barnes knows that the pressures of coaching can affect a person’s health, and he’s concerned about colleague Jim Calhoun.
Connecticut’s coach remains on a doctor-imposed medical leave and is expected to miss his second consecutive game Saturday when the Huskies host Barnes’ top-ranked Longhorns.
Barnes doesn’t know if Calhoun’s medical problem is job-related, but he understands how his profession can wear a person down.
“I used to think this job was the end of all things,” he said this week. “I’ve learned this job is not who I am, it’s what I do. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t worry. I don’t consume myself with winning. I consume myself with getting these guys better and keeping our program going.”
Texas (17-1) is looking to bounce back after losing its first game of the season, 71-63 at Kansas State on Monday.
Barnes said he isn’t stressing over the setback.
“Sometimes a little pain can help you,” he said. “We’ll learn from it, move on and get ready. It’s not going to be easy, obviously. It’s not easy for anybody. I don’t care what league you’re in. This time of year is difficult and it’s how you handle winning and losing that determines how good you become in a couple of months, or a month or so.”
UConn officials have not detailed Calhoun’s medical condition. They say it’s not cancer, or his heart, and he was not hospitalized.
Associate coach George Blaney says Calhoun told him his doctor advised him to take time off and Calhoun said, “I’m listening this time.”
With Blaney at the helm, Connecticut got a much-needed 75-59 win over St. John’s on Wednesday night. The Huskies had lost three in a row to drop out of the Top 25 this week. They were 12th in the preseason poll and ranked as high as 10th this season.
Blaney said he expects his team to play as they would if Calhoun were on the bench.
“It’s his team,” Blaney said. “He has shown them how to deal with adversity. And I think that’s what these kids will pick up right away, they’ll be able to deal with something that’s hard. That’s one of the lessons he teaches as well as anybody in the country, how to deal with adversity and how to deal with hard times and how to pick yourself up and go when something goes wrong. That’s what we’ll do.”
A win over Texas almost certainly would put them back in the poll. But Blaney said Calhoun won’t be rushing back just because there is a big game to play.
“We’ve got to get everything in order to prepare for Texas, and that’s what I’m going to do, and Jim’s got to take care of what he’s got to take care of,” Blaney said. “I told the team again (after the St. John’s win), that I’m hoping he’ll be back as quickly as he possibly can and as quick as is good for him to be back.”