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College basketball

UConn coach has cancer

©Associated Press
February 4, 2003

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun has prostate cancer and is leaving the team to have surgery.

"I want to attack this thing," Calhoun said Monday at practice. "I'm going after it."

The 60-year-old Calhoun will take a three- to four-week medical leave, with assistant George Blaney taking over as interim coach. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday.

Calhoun's doctor, UConn Health Center urologist Peter Albertsen, said the cancer was detected early and was "relatively low grade."

"Coach Calhoun's condition appears to be very treatable and we anticipate his return to normal job-related activities within three or four weeks," said Albertsen, who will perform the surgery.

Calhoun, in his 17th season at UConn, has led the Huskies to national prominence and won an NCAA title in 1999. He has a career 637-290 record, including 14 seasons at Northeastern.

The 18th-ranked Huskies play Wednesday at Virginia Tech. The Huskies are coming off a 95-71 loss to Boston College on Saturday, their worst at Gampel Pavilion.

"We can handle what we have to handle," said Blaney, in his second season at UConn after 22 years as head coach at Holy Cross. "He's one of the strongest guys I ever met. I know that he will fight it; that's not been a question."

Calhoun said his cancer was detected through routine prostate screening and touted the benefits of the procedure.

"Do your family, do your loved ones a favor, and make sure you get yourself screened," he said.

Calhoun told the team about his illness shortly before meeting with reporters.

"My mouth just dropped," guard Taliek Brown said. "All my prayers are with him. Everybody will just play his hardest for him."

Last season, UConn won its seventh Big East regular-season title under Calhoun. The Huskies then captured their fifth Big East tournament title.

Calhoun is the only coach in Big East history to have been named the league's top coach four times.

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