LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun declined to talk about his future following the Huskies' 77-64 loss to Iowa State in the NCAA tournament on Thursday night.
UConn became the first defending champion to lose its tournament opener since UCLA in 1996, capping a difficult year for Calhoun and the Huskies. The longtime coach had a monthlong medical leave during the season to deal with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine, and his team foundered in his absence.
"We're talking about tonight's game, we're not talking about me," Calhoun said. "So, I think we're talking about that. So I'm going to get on the plane tomorrow, go home and do what I usually do and meet up with the team on Monday. My own personal thing, I don't think it has any relevance, to be honest with you."
Calhoun, who turns 70 in May, is a three-time cancer survivor, overcoming prostate cancer in 2003 and skin cancer twice, most recently in 2008. He has missed 29 games over his 40-year career because of various medical conditions and had to leave another 11 games for medical reasons.
Calhoun took his latest medical leave on Feb. 3 and missed eight games because of the effects of the spinal ailment, normally associated with aging and sometimes with arthritis. It began affecting him over the summer, but reached the point where he could no longer coach after the team lost at Georgetown on Feb. 1.
"I discovered being away for the team for eight games and almost four weeks that this team, and I think I might have expressed this yesterday, that this team put a great deal pressure on itself for no reason," he said. "You asked about last year, last year is last year, finished, complete. To make any comparisons is not valid because it's not the same team.
"There were some things that made me feel good about this team. I like coaching basketball. I hated the ending tonight."