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It has been a long year for Jim Calhoun

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It has been a long year for Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun, and it wouldn’t be a shock to those close to him if the 66-year old coach resigned after this year’s Final Four run.

Connecticut plays Michigan State on Saturday.

Last summer, Calhoun fought through daily radiation treatments as he battled another bout with cancer.

Recently, because of dehydration, he was hospitalized and forced to miss the Huskies’ first-round game in this year’s tournament.

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Not long after, yahoo.com reported that Connecticut violated NCAA rules in the recruitment of Nate Miles.

Speaking to a small group of reporters Thursday, Calhoun recalled a conversation he once had on a plane with former North Carolina coach Dean Smith.

“I asked him why he got out of coaching,” Calhoun said. “He said, ‘I got out of coaching because of the other stuff. I can still coach basketball.’ But then he said, ‘Don’t make any decision after a bad season or a great season, and give yourself some time.’ ”

Your point?

There seems to be evidence that having an elite point guard is one key to advancing to the Final Four.

In one semifinal, it will be Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas, the Big Ten Conference player of the year, vs. Connecticut’s A.J. Price, MVP of the West Regional. In the other, it will be North Carolina’s Ty Lawson, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, vs. Villanova’s Scottie Reynolds, MVP of the East Regional.

News flash

This just in: North Carolina senior forward Tyler Hansbrough, last year’s national player of the year, didn’t have as good a year in 2008-09.

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Hansbrough’s per-game average for points and rebounds dropped from 22.6 and 10.2 to 20.9 and 8.1.

“I think people criticized me more this year than they ever have,” said Hansbrough, whose team faces Villanova on Saturday.

Hansbrough wouldn’t go as far to say it was easier this year not having to deal with all the attention and on-court accolades.

“I was very happy when I got those awards last year,” he said.

Working at it

NCAA President Myles Brand is in Detroit and plunging ahead with his work only months after receiving a dire diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

“Actually, the work is pulling me through, the normalcy of it,” Brand said. “I’ve slowed down. I haven’t been traveling very much at all. But it’s been a challenge.

” . . . The outpouring of support from the athletic community has been overwhelming and I’ve appreciated that. But the work has actually made it a lot more bearable.”

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New deal for Pearl

Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl has a newly renegotiated six-year contract keeping him with the Volunteers.

Athletic Director Mike Hamilton announced Thursday night that Pearl had agreed in principle to the new deal.

Details will be released within the next few days.

Penn St. wins NIT

Jamelle Cornley scored 18 points and the Nittany Lions used a big second half to beat Baylor, 69-63, to win the National Invitation Tournament title at New York, just the second postseason tournament title in school history.

Talor Battle added 12 points, all in the second half, for the Nittany Lions (27-11). LaceDarius Dunn scored 18 points to lead Baylor (24-15).

Etc.

Georgia has hired Nevada coach Mark Fox to replace Dennis Felton and will announce the hire at a news conference today. . . . Seattle University coach Joe Callero is leaving the school, after the program’s return to Division I competition, to take over the reins at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He will be introduced at a news conference today.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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