STORRS, Conn. (AP) — University of Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun has undergone what the school says was successful surgery to address the spinal condition that has forced him to miss the Huskies’ past seven games.
The school says the two-hour surgery was performed Monday morning at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York and involved removing a disc fragment that had been pressing on a spinal nerve. The surgeons then decompressed the area around the nerve.
Calhoun issued a statement thanking his doctors and those who reached out to him to offer support.
The school says Calhoun’s coaching status will be monitored on a day-to-day basis, and there is no timetable set for his return.
UConn, which has gone 3-4 during Calhoun’s medical leave for spinal stenosis, plays at Providence on Tuesday.
Calhoun told The Associated Press Saturday that he hopes to be back in time to coach the March 3 season finale against Pittsburgh.
Dr. John Knightly, who is the medical director of the Spine Center at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., but is not treating Calhoun, said that is certainly a possibility.
“I have patients driving after a couple of days, and if you can drive, you can coach, assuming he’s not having other problems that would require a much more aggressive surgery,” he said. “This is so he can walk more independently without pain.”
Under associate head coach George Blaney, the Huskies lost to Syracuse on Saturday, 71-69.
“I hope more than anything that he takes care of the pain,” Blaney said. “The pain has been really, really tough for him — for anybody — but for him because he doesn’t acknowledge pain. So, I can imagine what the pain really is for it to keep him out, and I’m hoping the operation or procedure is successful and that he’ll be back as soon as possible.”
Calhoun turns 70 in May and is a three-time cancer survivor. There has been talk after the past several seasons of his possible retirement, but center Alex Oriakhi said he doesn’t believe this latest health setback will mean the end of the coach’s career.
“It takes a lot to bring Coach Calhoun down,” he said. “I definitely think this is really nothing for him. That’s a man who fell off his bike, broke his ribs and kept riding. I definitely think you’re going to see him back soon.
“This is just a little bump in the road, but he’ll get through it.”
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