Calhoun On Return To Coaching: "I Had An Itch"

Jim Calhoun reflected on his first season at Saint Joseph, a Division III school in West Hartford, Connecticut

Taz and the Moose
March 27, 2019 - 11:05 am
Jim Calhoun

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After winning three national titles at Connecticut, Jim Calhoun stepped away from coaching in 2012. He eventually did the media thing, analyzing games with some of the best in the business.

There was just one problem.

“I wasn’t involved,” Calhoun said on Taz & The Moose. “I’d go home and I’d love the game, but didn’t love the fact that I didn’t have any kind of involvement. I had an itch. I had a need to scratch that itch.”

That’s when an opportunity at Saint Joseph – a Division III school in West Hartford, Connecticut – arose. In September 2018, Calhoun became the first coach in program history and went 16-12 in his first season.

“Coaching 17 freshmen – we played about 12 of them – will make you old real quick,” the 76-year-old Calhoun joked. “They’re great, they worked hard, but they’re knuckleheads. But after doing it for almost 50 years, I did it as a young guy and loved coaching and loved being involved in the game and watching guys grow – the old boys-to-men thing. These kids worked hard. We had some struggles, we had some difficulties, we had some excitement, and they learned some new language, which was interesting. But more importantly, they grew. And by the end of the season, we probably were a couple points away from an NCAA Tournament.”

Saint Joseph went 11-9 in its final 20 games, with eight of the losses coming by five points or fewer.

“I’ll be honest: it was a very fulfilling year watching our kids,” Calhoun said. “It really was. Watching them grow, the middle of the year we were struggling. We lost one of our best players to medical difficulties, but they didn’t quit – and I gave them reasons to quit at times. I really pushed the heck out of them. They were being treated like Ray Allen or Kemba Walker or anybody else – and they responded. By the end of the season, we were probably as good a team as there was in the league. Just the accomplishment of them growing as people was really very rewarding. And I didn’t mind getting back and yelling at a few officials. That’s always fun.”