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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

Jim Calhoun reveals he had surgery for cancer in May, doesn’t rule out a return to coaching

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Jim Calhoun (Getty Images)

Only a man as tough as Jim Calhoun could make beating cancer sound routine.

The former UConn coach casually mentioned Monday during a taping of YES Network's "Center Stage" that he underwent surgery in May to remove an apparent cancerous growth from his lungs. Calhoun confirmed the news to The Associated Press later Monday, though he didn't provide many details.

''It was cancer-related, yes,'' he told The Associated Press. ''I'm not going to talk about it. I was out for a day and a half. I'm completely healthy now.''

Calhoun is correct, of course, that his health is his business, but it's hard not to chuckle at his trademark defiance. The man treats overcoming cancer the same way the rest of us do recovering from a sprained ankle.

A three-time cancer survivor, Calhoun has beaten prostate cancer in 2003 and skin cancer twice, most recently in 2008. He returned to the bench five days after undergoing spinal surgery last February, but retired in September a few weeks after undergoing another surgery to repair a fractured hip sustained in an August bicycling accident.

[Also: Rick Majerus' death inspires a flood of poignant tributes]

Three surgeries in eight months left Calhoun too fatigued to continue coaching, but he told YES Network the energy level he has now is "much different." The 7o-year-old Calhoun even refused to rule out a return to coaching.

''I would never say never,'' Calhoun told YES.

With UConn coach Kevin Ollie only under contract for another five months and school officials unwilling to commit to a contract extension at this point, that raises the question whether Calhoun could take his old job back if he feels up to it. Anything's possible, of course, but the guess here is that's highly unlikely.

Ollie is Calhoun's handpicked successor, a man he went through considerable trouble to install as UConn's next coach. If Calhoun defies the odds and returns to the bench as a head coach, it will probably be somewhere else.

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