HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun’s hip fracture could be a factor at the start of his 41st season on the bench, but likely would not prevent him from a return to coaching, a prominent orthopedic surgeon said Monday.
Calhoun was recovering Monday at the UConn Health Center after undergoing surgery Saturday for a left hip fracture suffered in a fall on during a bicycle ride near his beach home in Madison.
UConn spokesman Phil Chardis said in an email Monday that doctors were very pleased with how the surgery went, and noted that the surgery involved a repair, not a hip replacement.
Dr. Stephen Hunt, an orthopedic surgeon at Atlantic Sports Health at Morristown Medical Center in N.J., was not involved in the operation. But Hunt said Monday that it typically takes about 8 to 12 weeks for the bone in a hip repair to heal.
“It might impact the start of this season,” Hunt said. “That’s three months. That gives him adequate time to heal, but he may have some residual symptoms, some weakness or a little discomfort that persists in October.”
He said often a doctor will use a screw and plate or a metal rod known as an intramedullary nail to repair the fracture. The timetable for a full recovery will depend on a number of factors, including the patient’s attitude and rehabilitation efforts, he said.
“The more you can persevere through some pain and discomfort and start walking, putting weight on that leg to encourage healing and get back into a normal routine, then the quicker the return to normalcy is,” he said.
The school has said Calhoun is expected to be released from the hospital in the next few days, something Hunt said would be typical for this type of procedure.
The 70-year-old Hall-of-Fame coach went down Saturday afternoon after his bike hit a patch of sand.
“He hit some sand and he has those shoes that are tied in, clip-ons,” associate head coach George Blaney said Saturday.
It was the latest in a series of health problems for Calhoun, who broke several ribs in an accident during a charity bicycle ride in 2009.
Calhoun also 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 missed eight games last season because of the effects of spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine, normally associated with aging and sometimes with arthritis, which led to surgery to have a disk fragment removed from his spine.
He returned to the sideline just five days after that operation.
Hunt said the stenosis could affect Calhoun’s rehabilitation efforts from the hip injury. But he said the injury itself is not something that is typically career-threatening.
Calhoun, 873-380 in 40 seasons as a head coach, is expected to return for a 27th season at UConn. “We started this thing, I started it, 26 years ago and I haven’t made any plans to do anything else except come back,” Calhoun said in March. He has said he will make his plans known before practice begins in October.
His accident happened just hours before his biennial charity game involving 36 of his former players.
Former UConn star Chris Smith, the school’s all-time leading scorer, said Saturday that even with the health issues, he would be surprised to see the coach retire.
“I really can’t see it,” Smith said Saturday. “He is the program. Guys come to UConn because of Jim Calhoun.”
Houston Rockets first-round pick Jeremy Lamb also said he expects Calhoun will return, but hopes he takes some time after the injury to consider what is important in his life.
“I know he’s going to fight,” Lamb said Saturday. “But I don’t know if it will make him want to coach more or retire more. I just know coach is a tough guy, a real strong man, and he’s going to do what’s best for him and his family.”
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