The College Basketball Notebook

January 20, 2010 9:53 AM

Calhoun Takes A Break

The big news yesterday came off the court. UConn’s Jim Calhoun is taking medical leave, effective immediately. Causes aren’t known and the university says it is not related to previous ailments (Calhoun is a three-time cancer survivor), but the Huskies will play the rest of the season in flux. I fully expect this to take a big toll on UConn’s success, just as Duke collapsed in 1995 when Coach K was on leave. I also believe it’s a positive sign that the university is so willing to keep the health of its coach as the first priority in advising him to take leave. Best of luck to Calhoun and all associated with the basketball program.

On the court, Georgia Tech and Clemson staged a barnburner in Atlanta, and the Yellow Jackets survived 66-64. It was impressive for Tech, because guard Iman Shumpert, who just finished hanging 30 on Carolina, was held completely in check. Tonight, the Jackets showed they could do it inside, getting a combined 33 points and 24 rebounds from Derrick Favors and Ganai Lawal. Clemson’s Trevor Booker was tough, but he didn’t get enough help on the interior and Tech’s 48-40 rebounding advantage was the key statistical difference.

Tennessee continued its strong SEC start (now 3-0), as they beat Alabama 63-56. This is another case of a team showing strength from an unexpected area. Wayne Chism had a ho-hum game, but forward Kenny Hall came off the bench to deliver a double-double. Alabama’s backcourt was awful, its starters producing only three points combined.

And Purdue got back on track with a win over Illinois. Just as JaJuan Johnson’s disappearing act was the principal cause of their three-game losing streak, his return was the key to the win. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds. His 12-15 from the free throw line was the primary part of the area where Purdue enjoyed a solid advantage. Illinois is now 4-2 in the Big Ten, with losses here and to Michigan State. As expected, their fast start was proven to be more due to the schedule than to a new contender emerging. They are still a decent team with a good shot at an NCAA Tournament run.

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