According to UConn team spokesman Kyle Muncy, Calhoun skipped today's 1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. shootaround and was unsure if he'd be able to coach the team at all tonight. He wound up giving it a go, arriving at Gampel Pavilion around 4:30 p.m., and obviously coached the team for the first half. But a combination of a bad cold that's bothered him for the past couple of weeks, along with a bout with shingles, was too much for him to handle in the second and he never left the locker room.
"He looked alright when he got here, he seemed to be talking OK and seemed pretty good," said George Blaney, who took over the helm for the latter half. "But during the game, it just seemed like he was getting tired. I think he caught the cold out in Seattle in that tremendous weather we had out there, and he hasn't really shaken it yet."
Calhoun spoke to the team in the locker room at halftime but then told Blaney he couldn't go on. He also addressed the team after the game.
Calhoun has now either missed a game or left a game early due to illness 20 times in his 23 years at UConn -- as documented by an "only at UConn" list distributed to the media during tonight's game. It's the first time it's happened to him this season, but it's the fourth straight season it's happened. And it always seems to happen around this time of year: the prior four were Jan. 12, 2008 at Georgetown (missed game), Jan. 8, 2008 vs. St. John's (left game), Jan. 13, 2007 at St. John's (left and returned) and Jan. 16, 2006 at Syracuse.
For what it's worth, UConn is now 16-4 in games Calhoun has missed or left early due to illness.
For what it's also worth, the Huskies seemed to play a heckuva lot freer and looser in the second half tonight.
***What band recorded the song "Sick Again" in 1975?
Some numbers to chew on:
***After shooting 34.6 percent from the floor in the first half, the Huskies shot 67.9 percent (19-for-28) in the latter.
***The Huskies scored 15 of their 21 fast-break points in the second half.
***Rutgers shot just 26.1 percent in the opening half and 28.8 percent for the game.
***UConn had zero -- zilch, nada -- turnovers in the first half and six for the game, against 21 assists. Rutgers turned the ball over 15 times.
***Rutgers' leading scorer Mike Rosario was held to just 2-for-13 shooting. He was 0-for-8 at halftime. Rosario, who entered the game averaging 17.8 ppg, finished with just 10, thanks mostly to Jerome Dyson.
"Jerome Dyson is one of the best defenders in the country," Blaney said. "He can lock people up."
Said Dyson: "I think I have the ability to lock down any player. I really thrive on it, because if you play good defense, it's always going to leave you with something good on the other side."
Craig Austrie also did a good job denying Rosario the ball in the latter half, and Stanley Robinson guarded him for a short stint in the first half, blocking one of Rosario's shots.
***Won't blog much about Stanley Robinson tonight because he's the lead of my notebook for tomorrow's paper. But boy, does he make a difference (11 points, seven boards, four assists, three blocks, no turnovers, three dunks, boundless enthusiasm in 24 minutes).
***This from beleagured Rutgers head man Fred Hill, who has now lost to the No. 1 (North Carolina), No. 2 (UConn, for now) and No. 3 (Pittsburgh) teams in the nation in consecutive games over the past week: "Carolina can score with anybody in the country, but this was the best defensive team of the three that we've faced."
High praise, indeed.