PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun wasn’t feeling well and didn’t coach the top-seeded Huskies against Chattanooga in their opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The school said in a statement Thursday that Calhoun had not been well the past few days. He was not at the Wachovia Center for the tip-off.
UConn sports medicine director Dr. Jeff Anderson was with Calhoun at the team hotel, but the school did not say what was wrong with the coach.
The coach ran UConn’s practice Wednesday in Philadelphia, and attended the team’s news conference.
“Jim was fine at dinner last night. He woke up this morning and didn’t feel well,” said Tim Tolokan, UConn’s former sports information director and a close friend of Calhoun’s.
Calhoun’s son, Jeff, was at the Wachovia Center and said his father urged him to watch the Texas A&M-BYU game, which the Aggies won 79-66.
Calhoun missed time in January 2008 with what the team called a combination of stress and exhaustion. The coach also said then he’d been suffering from a gastric problem, something he’s had for years.
Associate head coach George Blaney coached the Huskies in Calhoun’s absence.
The Huskies were loose in pregame warmups and Blaney smiled as he shook hands with the referees and other coaches. Blaney was introduced as UConn’s head coach during introductions and he shook hands with Chattanooga coach John Shulman.
Blaney coached Holy Cross for 22 years and led the Crusaders to three NCAA tournaments.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was sorry to hear Calhoun was missing the game.
“This is, I think, a special team for him,” Huggins said from Minneapolis. “It’s a shame he’s not able to go out and coach because I know he loves coaching them.”
This is the third NCAA tournament game Calhoun has missed. In the two previous instances, UConn went on to win the national title.
In 1999, Calhoun missed a first-round game against Texas-San Antonio. In 2004, he left a second-round game against DePaul after becoming ill. He returned just in time to see the end of UConn’s 72-55 victory.
Calhoun has missed 21 games in his career, including one other game this season _ a Jan. 3 contest against Rutgers.
Last May, the Hall of Fame coach was treated for a second bout of skin cancer. He had surgery to remove a lump in the upper right side of his neck near the jaw line and underwent radiation.
The 66-year-old Calhoun missed five games in 2003 when he underwent surgery for prostate cancer.
AP Basketball Writer Jim O’Connell in Philadelphia and AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.