It’s been widely publicized that Kentucky coach John Calipari made some cuts of the Kentucky roster when he set up residence in Lexington this past summer. Overall, Kentucky’s roster has gotten a more impressive makeover than Kate Gosselin, adding six new highly touted players in exchange for two handfuls of role players and mid-major bench warmers. But, Coach Cal will be the first to tell you that his team is not perfect and, like anyone who has played the field and settled down, there’s always that one that got away.
For Calipari, that elusive babe is Cornell forward Mark Coury and, thanks to Cornell’s 87-69 beatdown of Wisconsin, Cal now has to go face-to-face with the Big Red Machine and his 2.4 ppg Thursday.
Though Coury, a former walk-on starter at Kentucky, left the Wildcats on Billy Gillispie’s watch and long before Coach Cal left Memphis, he factored heavily in his decision to do so.
“Yeah, that was a goof-up that no one really knows about,” Cal admitted in an exclusive interview. “Granted, the money was great and it’s the best job in college basketball without a doubt, but it was Mark Coury that sealed that deal for me. I loved Napoleon Dynamite.”
After telling me several times that his lips were really chapped, Calipari confessed that he spent many nights on the phone with William Wesley discussing the disappointment of finding out Kentucky was a Coury-less program and looking for clarity from basketball‘s most powerful man.
“You know, people always ask me what Wes does for me. For some reason, people don’t understand why we’re so close,” Cal explained. “The truth is, Wes is a licensed therapist and just a great listener. He helped me realize that it wasn’t Napoleon Dynamite that I liked. It was the dancing at the end. It turns out all I had to do was teach John Wall a little dance move and it was like Mark Coury never existed.”
Calipari admitted that he’s gotten past his Coury infatuation, but still looks forward to bumping into the big man again in Syracuse. Coury’s former front court mate Patrick Patterson, though, had different sentiments.
I called Patterson and asked if he was looking forward to playing against the guy he used to share the starting front court with.
“Who?” Patterson asked me.
“I’m Thomas Beisner with CBSSports.com,” I explained.
Patterson interrupted me. “I know who you are. Who the hell is Mark Coury?”
I tried to explain to Patterson for several minutes, describing Coury as white, goofy looking, lacking in talent and a little awkward. He just kept responding with the same thing.
“I know who you are. Who the hell is Mark Coury?”
Despite Patterson’s indifference to the showdown with Cornell’s tenth-leading scorer, the feeling from the opposite side is as passionate and fiery as could be. After scoring four points in the upset of the Badgers, Mark Coury knew what was up next and he went where every student athlete would. Facebook.
As of 6:15 pm, Coury’s status read “Temple ain’t s--t and Wisconsin ain’t s--t. Cornell keep it poppin’ and Kentucky bout 2 get upset like we bangin’ they moms.”
John Calipari and the one that got away are going to finally go dancing with each other Thursday in Syracuse. If Coury’s Facebook status is any indication, the Cats better be ready.