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UConn coach will miss at least next 2 games

By Pat Eaton-robb

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 15 2012 8:57 p.m. MST

Connecticut associate head coach George Blaney speaks with an official during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against DePaul in Storrs, Conn., on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012.

Fred Beckham, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun will miss at least two more games while he receives treatment for his ailing back, the school said Wednesday.

Calhoun has sat out four games because of spinal stenosis, including Wednesday's 80-54 win over DePaul. He also will miss Saturday's game against Marquette and Monday's game against Villanova.

"I am happy that we seem to have located the problem, and I am currently moving forward with treatment," Calhoun said in a statement. "We have to give that treatment time to see whether or not it is effective."

Calhoun, who has had back pain since last summer, took an indefinite leave of absence on Feb. 3.

The Huskies (16-9, 6-7 Big East) are 2-2 since then, with wins over Seton Hall and the Blue Demons, and losses at Louisville and Syracuse. UConn has lost six of eight, and has won just four times in 2012.

"I'm hoping by the middle of next week, we will have a much clearer picture of where we are and when I can look forward to getting back to doing what I do," Calhoun said.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spine, normally associated with aging and sometimes with arthritis. If physical therapy and medicine aren't effective, surgery might be considered.

Associate head coach George Blaney, who has been leading the team in Calhoun's absence, said the coach is sounding stronger, but nobody has a timetable for his return.

"I would love to have him back, he would love to be back, I'm hoping that he's back," Blaney said. "I want him to take care of his back first, and get to a place in his mind that he feels comfortable enough to coach. And whether it's going to take what he's doing now or whether it's going to take a procedure, we don't know yet."

Calhoun has had a history of health problems. He is a three-time cancer survivor, overcoming prostate cancer in 2003 and skin cancer twice, most recently in 2008.

Calhoun has missed 25 games during his career at UConn, 21 for medical reasons. He has had to leave another 11 games because of health problems. His last extended medical leave came in 2010, when he missed seven games with stress-related issues.

He missed three games earlier this season because of NCAA sanctions.

"We're just dealing with what we have now," point guard Shabazz Napier said. "We have a lot of issues on our plate and we're taking it one game at a time, one game at a time, one practice at a time."

Calhoun is No. 6 on the career wins list with 869. He has won three national championships at Connecticut and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. He coached the team to its fourth Final Four and third national title last April.

He gets credit for all the Huskies' wins and losses while he is out on medical leave.

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