Calhoun expected at UConn practice

After what Jim Calhoun went through on Friday, running

Connecticut’s first real practice will be a nice respite.

The coach and other university officials met with NCAA

investigators for more than 12 hours on Friday, hoping to convince

them that the school has done enough to punish itself for

recruiting violations in the men’s basketball program.

President Philip Austin, athletic director Jeff Hathaway and

Calhoun testified before the NCAA’s committee on infractions. A

drained Calhoun offered no comment as he headed for the hotel’s

exit at about 10 p.m. Friday. He is expected to lead Saturday’s

practice.

The hearing kept Calhoun from joining his team for its ”First

Night” event, a joint celebration with the national champion

women’s team to mark the start of practice.

”We all know the situation with Calhoun, and we all wish him

luck with everything,” said freshman guard Shabazz Napier.

Back in Storrs, Conn., about 7,000 fans gathered in Gampel

Pavilion to watch both the men’s and women’s basketball teams

participate in the ”First Night” event.

Women’s coach Geno Auriemma said he didn’t think Calhoun’s

issues would affect players’ decisions to come to the school, nor

the image of UConn as a basketball power.

”If you can put a good product on the floor, do it the right

way and when blips come or bumps in the road come and you handle

them like we’re handling it now, I think people appreciate that,”

he said.

Many of the fans agreed, some wondering what the fuss was all

about.

”If anyone’s got any brains, this shouldn’t affect nothing,”

said Robert Mely, a 48-year-old fan from East Haven, Conn. ”As far

as I’m concerned they should just leave the guy alone to do what he

gotta do.”

Not everyone agreed.

”I think it’s time for Calhoun to seriously think about

retiring,” said James Heintz, a 64-year-old fan from Killingworth,

Conn. ”He’s had his day. He had a great run, but now he’s bringing

the program down.”

Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb contributed to this

report from Storrs, Conn.