Jim Calhoun remains mum on future at UConn

Jim Calhoun told graduates of the high school where he coached

and taught that ”the best years are ahead of you.” Still, he

wouldn’t say how he would spend his own future.

After speaking at commencement ceremonies at Dedham High School

on Wednesday, the coach of NCAA champion Huskies said he hadn’t

decided whether to return to the job he has held since 1986.

”I’m not even thinking about that,” Calhoun said in an

interview. ”I’m just thinking about coming home.”

Home, at least on Wednesday, was the town where he lived for 11

years and the school where he had his first real coaching success,

going 20-1 in 1970-71 and 21-1 the following season when his team

went to the state Division I semifinals.

He was just 28 when he got his first college coaching job in

1972 at Northeastern, guiding the team to four NCAA

tournaments.

A native of the Boston suburb of Braintree, Calhoun threw out

the ceremonial first pitch on April 9 at the Red Sox home opener

against the New York Yankees. Just five days earlier, his Huskies

beat Butler 53-41 to win their third national title.

”I can guarantee you I haven’t made my mind up in any way,” he

said minutes after tossing that pitch. ”I’m just going to try to

get this team ready for next year and we’ll see what happens.”

Nearly two months later, his message – at least about his plans

– was the same.

Calhoun said he enjoyed driving around Dedham by himself for

several hours Wednesday and spending time with 11 of the 15 members

of his 1971-72 team at Dedham High.

He was ”touched,” he said, by the invitation by the Dedham

High senior class and agreed in January to speak at the ceremonies,

well before the late-season run that led to the Huskies’ title.

The weather interfered with the original plans for the

graduation ceremony. Thunder and lightning shortly before the

scheduled late afternoon start forced graduates and guests indoors

into the main building of the Endicott Estate, a sprawling 15-acre

site owned by the town of Dedham.

After graduates accepted their diplomas on the porch, Calhoun

gave a shortened version of the speech he had planned.

He told the seniors their graduation marked a beginning, not an

end, and ”I envy you for all the things that are ahead of

you.”

And ”you start with a clean slate,” he said. ”Don’t let them

buttonhole you.”

He pointed to the passion of Connecticut point guard Kemba

Walker, ”the joy with which he played basketball and the

determination that allowed him to graduate in three years.”

Then, just before finishing, Calhoun said, ”There’s a lot of

things I still want to do. So I better get off this porch before I

get hit by lightning.”