NEWS

UConn's Calhoun sounds off on ref after getting tossed from game

Matt Stout

Jim Calhoun said he received his second technical foul (and subsequent ejection) Thursday in the UConn men’s basketball team’s 69-60 win over Northeastern for stepping outside the coaching box.

Though it may have been as much for using a profanity, it was the first time the coach felt the implementation of the NCAA’s new movement to strictly enforce bench decorum and coaches’ movements outside the box.

“If you watched that game, I wasn’t on the officials that much at all the entire evening, but when you have inexperienced people, and I said to him, the problem is you’ve been reading that bulletin too much,” said Calhoun, who hadn’t been ejected since Feb. 9, 2002, in an overtime loss at St. John’s.

“If you hit a guy for his foot being out of the box, you’re a good official all of a sudden,” he said. “It was the thing that most of us (coaches) feared ... It hasn’t affected me, I don’t think, until this particular game.”

The technical fouls were Calhoun’s second and third of the regular season and fourth when counting one he received during one of the Huskies’ exhibition games. All of last season, he said, he received five.

But afterward, he said he thought highly of officials Mike Roberts and Tim Clougherty, who actually hit him with his first technical for laughing. It was only Wally Rutecki he had a problem with.

“If it continues, no question, I’m going to have to make adjustments, I don’t want to be giving points for our team.” Calhoun said. “But I don’t think I’m going to get two more technicals this year for laughing.

“Maybe crying,” he added with a laugh.

“It’s obviously the impact and I think you’ve seen it all over the country, the coach’s box,” said Northeastern coach Bill Coen. “Coach Calhoun is a tremendous competitor and tremendous coach and that’s the way he fires up his team. We’re all going to have to adjust, but even as an opposing coach you hate to see that happen.”

For starters

Junior guard Craig Austrie made his first start of the season, and first since Feb. 17 against Syracuse, scoring five points in 22 minutes and hitting a 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 5 seconds to play that helped iced UConn’s victory.

The move gave the Huskies a three-guard set from the tip, with small forward Stanley Robinson coming off the bench. It’s a set-up Calhoun has toyed with throughout the season and considered heavily earlier this year, but one he hadn’t gone to start a game yet this winter.

Thursday, he turned to Austrie, a player he’s called the team’s best pure shooter despite the Stamford native’s struggles from both inside the 3-point line (38 percent from the field entering Thursday) and beyond it (26.7).

He took just two shots against Northeastern, but since the team’s opener against Morgan State (eight points in 23 minutes), the performance marked the most points he’s scored outside an 11-point effort against Florida State.

Around the rim

Players and coaches of the UConn football team were on hand for a halftime ceremony Thursday where they accepted their Big East championship trophy. The Huskies (9-3, 5-2 Big East) are league co-champions with West Virginia, which lost sole possession of the title with its 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale on Dec. 1. UConn plays Wake Forest in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 29 in Charlotte. ... UConn assistant coach Beau Archibald was an assistant at the University of Texas-San Antonio during the 2005-06 season when Northeastern center Nkem Ojougboh played there. ... Calhoun subbed 35 times before he was ejected. In the six-plus minutes associate head coach George Blaney took over, he subbed six times, but each time he exchanged A.J. Price for Robinson and vice versa for ball-handling and defensive purposes.

Reach Matt Stout at 425-4250 or mstout@norwichbulletin.com