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Calhoun, DePaul can't stomach UConn's rout

3/21/2004

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- This victory had Jim Calhoun feeling a
little sick.

The Connecticut coach left the bench with an upset stomach
midway through the second half Saturday night with his Huskies in
command, then returned just in time to see the end of their 72-55
victory over DePaul in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

DePaul and UConn had never played each other, but Calhoun and
Blue Demons coach Dave Leitao are like father and son, making the
matchup difficult for both and most likely causing Calhoun's
stomach woes.

"It's not easy," Calhoun said. "I would love to have Dave be
going someplace in another week, but that isn't the way it works.
That's the only sadness."

The two smiled as they engaged in a heartfelt embrace after the
game.

"I told him that if you're going to kick my butt, you just as
soon should win the whole thing," Leitao said. "If he doesn't,
I'll be madder at him than I am right now."

Ben Gordon scored 18 points, Denham Brown had 12, Taliek Brown
had 11 and Emeka Okafor had 10 points and 12 rebounds as the
Huskies stunned the Blue Demons with an early surge.

"The first half for us was pretty close to a clinic as far as
running the fast break," Calhoun said. "We felt we would probably
be at a disadvantage physically because they have some size, so if
we could beat them up the floor great things could happen to us."

Despite missing their first five shots, that's exactly what the
Huskies did.

Taliek Brown began an 11-point spurt with a putback, Okafor hit
a hook off the glass, Taliek Brown followed with a three-point
play, and Denham Brown made a layup -- all in a span of 83 seconds.
And when freshman Charlie Villanueva nailed a pull-up jumper, the
Blue Demons were reeling.

"We started getting into our running game and getting into a
rhythm, so then we were able to get into our sets and make the
shots," said Gordon, who was recruited by Leitao. "We just wanted
to come out and attack, and I think we did a good job at that."

Connecticut (29-6), the Big East champion and second seed in the
Phoenix Regional, advanced to the round of 16 for the 10th time in
Calhoun's 18 years as coach and will play either North Carolina
State or Vanderbilt.

The seventh-seeded Blue Demons (22-10) survived a sloppy 76-69
double-overtime win over Dayton in the first round but squandered
any chance of upsetting UConn by missing their first 10 shots -- two
by each starter -- in the first six minutes.

"We took a lot of good shots, but when you're not making those
shots the defense doesn't work and that makes it even tougher,"
said Drake Diener, who led DePaul with 15 points. "I think our
talent is close enough that we could have put on a better
performance tonight even though they have more tournament
experience."

Delonte Holland and Quemont Greer each scored 12 points, and
Andre Brown had 11 for DePaul.

Leitao was recruited in 1978 by Calhoun and played for him at
Northeastern. Six years later, Calhoun hired him as an assistant
and they stayed together for 16 years.

Leitao helped lead a dozen of Calhoun's teams to the NCAA
Tournament, including UConn's 1999 national championship squad,
before being hired by DePaul two years ago.

In 1999, Calhoun missed a first-round win over Texas-San Antonio
because of a stomach problem and was replaced by Leitao.

"I hate it," Calhoun said Friday as he pondered a game he
would rather not have coached.

It shouldn't take too long to recover. It was UConn's fifth
straight win and 10th in the last 11 games. The Huskies also kept
Calhoun's record perfect in seven games against his former coaches.

Diener finally broke through for DePaul with a curling 3-pointer
and Andre Brown followed with a dunk to make it 11-5.

UConn answered with a 16-2 run, and that was it for the Blue
Demons, who were in the tournament for just the second time in 12
years. Before their first-round victory, they hadn't won a
tournament game since 1989, when they beat Memphis State in the
first round.