MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jim Calhoun caused a bit of a stir after insinuating during an in-game interview with ESPN's Andy Katz Thursday night that he hasn't ruled out a return to coaching.
On Friday, Calhoun defused the situation. Sort of.
“Andy asked me if I was going to get back into coaching,” Calhoun related. “I said, 'No, I don't think any way possible.' He said, 'What are you doing here?' I like to follow the ball. As long as I can keep hearing it bounce, I'm going to keep following it.”
Katz asked Calhoun about Larry Brown, who at 73 has led the SMU program to a resurgence and into this year's NCAA tournament.
“I said, 'He's my hero, he's three years older, maybe I'll follow him. Maybe I'll be his assistant next year,'” Calhoun said. “(Katz) said, 'So you definitely will coach?' I said, 'No.' 'You definitely won't coach?' I said, 'If something great came along...' Anything in life's possible, I told him.”
Calhoun added: “It was a 22-point game...I got some phone calls (afterwards), and it was kind of funny.”
In truth, Calhoun said he's had some opportunities to coach at the international level, but all told not too many intriguing offers. He's more content at this point to offer advice and counsel to friends and colleagues in the game, like former UConn player Steve Pikiell, who'll lead Stony Brook into the America East championship game on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
But Calhoun still won't entirely rule out a return to coaching. He said he doesn't miss things like recruiting and travel as much as one might expect.
“I know coaches like to sit and complain about (recruiting),” he said. “Some of the things that happened you don't like. But recruiting itself? I love that. I think we were pretty good at getting good players. We got good players long before we should have got good players.”
He added practices were “like my 2½ hours at Mass,” though he's backed off attending a lot of UConn practices since Kevin Ollie took over about 18 months ago.
“Bottom line is, right now, watching Kevin's team, I'm proud as hell,” he said.
But then, as only Jim Calhoun can do, he left the door slightly ajar for a future return to the sidelines.
“Once again, like everybody else, you get phone calls for interesting things. 'That kinda looks good to me,' or, 'I don't think that's a great thing,' or advice from people,” he said. “The good thing is, I'm a free agent. And yet, I have a lot of things in my life that I'll continue to do, but I'd be foolish to say to anybody, 'You don't miss the game?' I miss it terribly. It's been my whole life. Of course you're going to miss it.”
David Borges covers UConn and college basketball for Digital First Media at the New Haven Register. Follow him on Twitter @DaveBorges.