- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA

Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun returned to his team and the practice floor Friday, feeling fit and amused by all the fuss surrounding his first-round absence due to illness.

“I fully expected to coach the game yesterday morning,” said Calhoun, who watched his Huskies’ 103-47 demolition of Chattanooga from University of Pennsylvania Hospital. “I mentioned to Jeff Anderson, our team doctor, that I wasn’t feeling particularly well, had felt weak for a couple of days, but no problem.

“He said, ‘Let’s go down and have you checked out.’ Next thing I know, this hour or so turned into being admitted so they could do a full and thorough examination. They looked at virtually everything, it seems, and came out with the fact that I probably was totally dehydrated. I left early this morning. I bribed my way out of there as quick as I could.”

Calhoun, 66, has missed 21 games in his 23-year career for a variety of reasons. He said his stomach is always a mess on game days. But given Calhoun’s series of more-serious recent medical problems, Anderson and Co. weren’t taking any chances when the Hall of Fame coach complained of weakness and exhaustion. In 2003, Calhoun underwent surgery for prostate cancer. Last summer, he needed treatment for skin cancer.

“I haven’t had a great run over the last year, from cancer to shingles to this, although this was not an illness, really,” said Calhoun, who proved time and again during his 30-minute news conference that there was nothing wrong with his sense of humor. “I will say one thing: The full exam, which got high ratings, did not include a psychiatrist.”

Howling

UCLA coach Ben Howland has whined about Villanova’s homecourt advantage at the Wachovia Center ever since he arrived in Philadelphia.

“They play here every year,” said Howland, whose Bruins (26-8) meet the third-seeded Wildcats (27-7) at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. “I have all of their articles where all of their players talk about all the dead spots on the court, so they have a good feeling for this arena.”

Villanova is 2-2 at Wachovia Center this season, not a sparkling record for a team that was 25-5 elsewhere. Second, it’s interesting that Howland feels at liberty to question the fairness of the site when the Bruins have played 10 of their 12 regional games en route to the past three Final Fours in California. For those keeping score at home, that’s 10-0 in their home state and 2-3 in other NCAA games.

It’s also worth noting that the NCAA brings its own rims to each site.

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