By Jeff Goodman
At times throughout UConn's last two games, Jim Calhoun has found himself yelling at the television -- at his players and also at his associate head coach George Blaney.
"Then I realize it's not talking back and no one says a word," Calhoun said. "So I stop."
Calhoun will serve the third and final game of his NCAA-mandated suspension tonight when the Huskies play at Seton Hall. He'll watch, as he has for the first two games, at home either by himself or with his wife.
"It's frustrating," Calhoun admitted. "And it's different than when I've had to watch before when I had cancer. But it is what it is."
"It's allowed me to get a different look at the team, though," he added.
Calhoun said he's been able to utilize his time away from the team -- The NCAA also didn't allow him to attend practice or any team-related activities -- to spend more time with his grandchildren and also catch-up with former players.
"It's been nice in a way, but I don't recommend it -- at least not for me personally," he said.
UConn won't practice tomorrow and Calhoun said he'll join the team at night in New Jersey, where he'll meet with the coaching staff and then go to dinner. His first game back comes Saturday night at Rutgers.
Calhoun said he has jotted down plenty of notes watching the wins at South Florida and at home against St. John's. He wants to cut down on the turnovers, get veteran big man Alex Oriakhi back to how he was playing last season and also have Shabazz Napier defending with more consistency. Nothing, right now, rates higher than shoring up the defense. A year ago, UConn was 18-0 when it made three consecutive stops at least five times in a game. This year the Huskies have only done it twice -- and one came in the win over the Red Storm in the last game.
"With as good of a shooting team we are this year, we could be really tough if we can get consistent stops," Calhoun said.
The Huskies are shooting 50 percent from the field over the first 13 games of the season and 43 percent from beyond the arc. Shabazz Napier and Jeremy Lamb are both at 42 percent and freshman Ryan Boatright has made 7-of-12 from deep since joining the team.
Calhoun also said roles have been established. It's Napier and Lamb in the backcourt with Boatright coming off the bench. There's Andre Drummond, Tyler Olander and Oriakhi splitting minutes at the four and five spots. However, the one position that needs to become solidified soon is at the small forward spot where sophomore Roscoe Smith, freshman DeAndre Daniels and Niels Giffey have all taken turns and had their moments.
"We need to figure that out," Calhoun said.
Calhoun was also clear that Syracuse is a step ahead of everyone else in the Big East right now, and part of the reason is that Jim Boeheim has a veteran team while UConn often throws out a lineup that features all freshmen and sophomores.
"We still haven't played anywhere close to where I think we can," Calhoun said. "We're still far away -- and we're 12-1."
And Calhoun is almost done serving his time.