Tag:John Calipari
Posted on: August 4, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 11:59 am
  •  
 

Pitino, Calipari rivalry reaches a new level

By Matt Norlander

"It's a free country, and the KFC, last time I checked, was part of this country."

Oh, you bet, Rick Pitino. You bet your esteemed coif that KFC is part of this great, great country. Pitino was more specifically referring to the KFC Yum! Center, where Louisville plays its home games. It's also where John Calipari will coach the Dominican National Team against former Kentucky players on Aug. 16.

Calipari will scheme against former Kentucky players in an exhibition match that the state is eagerly anticipating. It's just another not-so-obfuscated way of Calipari milking whatever he can out of the system. It should be a blast for folks in Kentucky who will take any semblance of organized, Wildcats-infused basketball they can get.

But, yeah, the game's taking place at Louisville's digs. According to our former colleague Matt Jones, Louisville and Pitino were so anti-Kentucky when this new joint got built, they had it put into the contract that Kentucky could not play any games at the Yum! Center. And, technically, they're not -- it's former Kentucky players going up against the Dominican National Team. Still, Pitino is biting the inside of his cheeks as much as he can on this. Just (not really) grinning and (barely) bearing it. And I'm sure he hated having to address it to the media yesterday, when a press conference was scheduled so he could discuss his team's upcoming summer plans.

Pitino and the Cardinals will be just getting back from the Bahamas when this game is taking place. And then there's this, from the AP:
When an obviously irritated Pitino was asked why isn't the exhibition game being played at Freedom Hall, he said: "Why don't you ask them that?"
So we have another little drama inside the Bluegrass State. Amazing how much blogging material can be borne out of Kentucky and Louisville's programs, right? Think about it: Duke and North Carolina, two programs that collectively have more impact and history on college basketball than the aforementioned two, don't produce half the amount of news or conversation that UK and U of L do.

The rivalry extends beyond the maniacal fanbases. And with this thorn in Pitino's side, the feud between he and Calipari plunges to another depth.

Photo: AP
Posted on: July 29, 2011 11:03 am
Edited on: July 29, 2011 11:05 am
 

UK preparing for the pros to come back to campus

By Ben Golliver john-calipari

The University of Kentucky's basketball program is practically a professional program already, spitting out lottery picks in large quantities year after year.

But some of those lottery picks are coming back home and their presence could take the school's basketball program up another notch.

Kentucky coach John Calipari tweeted on Thursday night that three NBA point guards who played for Kentucky will head back to Lexington if the lockout continues. "John Wall, Rajon Rondo & Eric Bledsoe all plan to enroll in the fall if the lockout continues," Calipari tweeted. "Kaboom!"

Kaboom, indeed.

KentuckySportsRadio.com reported that the move could allow the trio -- point guards for the Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, respectively -- to get some court time in with the current Wildcats. "Calipari announces that John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and Rajon Rondo will all enroll at UK in the fall if lockout proceeds," the site reported. "What does that mean? Well, Wall, Bledsoe and Rondo are all eligible to be "Student Assistant coaches", which means practice with the team... Wall, Rondo and Bledsoe would have to be full-time students to be Student Assistants, but rumor is that is the plan."

A Lex18.com report quotes free agent forward Tayshaun Prince saying other NBA players could be following suit.
"Whether it's mid to late August or early September, I think some guys will start to roll in," he said.

Prince said he plans to spend more time in Lexington later in the summer and in to the fall and winter, if the NBA remains locked out. Brandon Knight - Prince's teammate in Detroit who was at the camp Thursday - said he plans to return to Lexington in late August or September. The two don't figure to be the only pros around campus.

"I think you're going to see over the next few months here that guys are going to start rolling in, doing workouts and things like that just because the relationship [Calipari's] putting out there with guys that he didn't coach but at the same time is building relationships," Prince said.
There are a lot of winners in this unique situation.

First, any NBA player who goes back to complete work on his degree is automatically a winner. Kudos to Wall, Rondo and Bledsoe for considering that step even after each has banked millions of dollars. That these three have chosen to do that while finding a home to work on their game and stay fit is a no-brainer, win-win.

Calipari, of course, is a winner, as the presence of an All-Star point guard, a Rookie of the Year candidate and a promising future starter on campus and in the gym only raises his already insanely-high profile as a mover and shaker in the basketball world and provides his current roster, which sports four potential first round picks in the 2012 NBA draft, with elite leadership and competition. Kentucky freshman point guard Marquis Teague, in particular, wins here too with three new mentors. Who better to answer his freshman questions than Wall, Rondo and Bledsoe?

The losers here are anyone that still believes in the purity of amateurism as well as any coaches that have to compete with Calipari for NBA-ready recruits. His factory just gets more and more refined by the season. Love him or hate him, his innovations and ability to find a competitive advantage are remarkable.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2011 1:37 pm
 

This is why the Memphis job is a great job

By Gary Parrish

I've always insisted -- at least since Louisville, Cincinnati and Marquette left Conference USA -- that though Memphis probably isn't one of the nation's top 10 programs, it's almost certainly one of the top 10 jobs in its current setup. You coach in a soldout and first-class arena for a school that's a national brand, charters every road trip, has access to private planes for recruiting, out-spends all other C-USA members and generally finds yourself in a position to overwhelm most of the league just as Gonzaga overwhelms the WCC.

You can make millions for as long as you want, because it's really hard to lose.

Further proof of that is what's happening down at the Nike Peach Jam.

The Memphis 16-and-under team and the Memphis 17-and-under team have each made the championship games of what is widely viewed as the premier event of the summer circuit. Both teams are loaded with high-major prospects, and most of those high-major prospects grow up wanting to play for the Tigers.

Third-year coach Josh Pastner has already offered scholarships to 17-and-under team members Jarnell Stokes, Shaq Goodwin (who, it should be noted, is not from Memphis but is playing for Memphis and is considering the Tigers) and Austin Nichols, and 16-and-under team members Nick King and Jonathan Williams III. History suggests Pastner will get at least three of those prospects, maybe all five, and one of the stars of the 17-and-under team, Martavious Newby, is practically begging Memphis to recruit him.

So to recap: The Memphis coach has a massive budget, a top-notch arena, a devoted fan base, a loaded natural recruiting base and a league filled with mostly inferior programs that should allow him to cruise through January and February more years than not. Beyond that, the C-USA tournament is played on his homecourt more years than not, meaning he's almost always the favorite to earn the league's automatic bid.

It's a nice setup. If you're wondering why John Calipari stayed nine years and left only for Kentucky, there's your answer.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: July 5, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Calipari wants locked out ex-UK players on campus



By Matt Norlander

How appropriate that in the post below this one, I talked about being progressive.

Because there is no more progressive coach in college basketball than John Calipari, of course. Cal's got himself quite a great situation right now, what with coaching at Kentucky and having the most passionate, emotional fanbase in college basketball fawn at his feet. He's brought in five-star talent into UK the past three years, and now, with no huge recruit locked in for 2012, what's a man to do?

Simple: Invite back all of his former players -- those players who are currently earning NBA money, most notably. With the lockout only just beginning, Cal saw an opportunity. A business move as transparent and legal as it was brilliant and obvious.

Calipari sent out this update on Twitter and Facebook Friday:

"I reached out to every former Wildcat that’s in NBA and having to deal with this lockout to make sure they knew the Joe Craft Center is available to train if needed. If they want to finish up some school work while in Lexington, we will help with that as well. We just want to make sure all our players know that it’s all about family here at UK. #WeAreUK"

Buildings are literally locked out for NBA players. They can't get into official team training facilities, so what's the next-best thing? Multi-million-dollar facilities on college campuses, naturally. The selling point for Calipari doesn't just have to do with wooing recruits by conveniently crossing paths with them on campus -- it also sends an educational message. Former players, if they want, can absolutely pick up a class or two during their downtime.

And so the Cal plan is reinforced. Play with us for a year, maybe two, go to the NBA and then slowly work toward that degree you told your mom you'd get one day, just like John Wall is doing right now.

Wall is already on board.

Will other colleges do this? It's not only possible, it's likely. But no coach makes it more publicly known than Calipari, who can welcome back to campus 17 former Wildcats who are still playing in the Association. It speaks to his ability to bring in elite talent in the first place. He's personable, shrewd as hell and always ready, willing, able and eager to take advantage of every possible legal recruiting advantage he can get.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 27, 2011 12:45 am
Edited on: June 27, 2011 12:46 am
 

UK extends Calipari's contract by two years

By Gary Parrish

Kentucky will announce on Monday that John Calipari's contract has increased in value over the terms of his initial deal and been extended by two years, a source confirmed to CBSSports.com on Sunday.

Calipari's intial contract with UK was for eight years and nearly $32 million.

The Wildcats are 64-12 in two seasons under Calipari.

They made the Elite Eight in 2010 and the Final Four in 2011.

They'll be ranked No. 2 in the CBSSports.com preseason Top 25 (and one).
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 22, 2011 2:12 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Calipari presents his solution for paying players

By Matt Norlander

Four super-conferences. Yes, this notion has been tossed around here and there in the past couple of years. I don't know if we'll reach that point in the next two decades, but if the NCAA is to ever pay "living expenses" for its student-athletes (also referred to as cost-of-attendance scholarships), John Calipari thinks having a separate state and government for college superpowers is the only feasible way to make it happen.

(Stop right there. CBSSports.com senior writer Dennis Dodd has a different solution for this issue. Do give it a read.)

Sort of like turning the NCAA into a big game of Risk, I guess. Move the pieces into new territories and take over the world.

Calipari went on Kentucky Sports Radio this morning (hosted by friend of the blog, Matt Jones) and clarified and expounded upon some answers he gave to Dan Rieffer of WTVQ-Lexington yesterday.

The Kentucky coach said he agrees that the living expense/cost-of-attendance scholarship should be implemented into the college game. Certain universities are receiving so much money these days, it's his belief that players should be compensated for reasonable items. In the interview, he harkens back to a few decades ago when buying a player a soda wasn't deemed criminal.

But those days are gone, and since the hard-and-fast rules of the NCAA are so strict when it comes to money, Calipari's only solution to getting student-athletes funding beyond their scholarships is to have major programs break off from the NCAA and start a rogue set of nations. Basically, have the richest schools move to a fairer, more-balanced playing field. Call it the adult table of college athletics, if you'd like.

"My thing was, there's only one way you can do this," Calipari said. "This is the only way I can see it. You have four super-conferences. A West Coast conference with 16 or 18 teams; a northern conference, you know, where the Big Ten area, of 16 or 18 teams;a southern conference, like the SEC teams, 16 or 18 teams; and an eastern conference like the ACC teams, that have 16 or 18 teams in them. Now, I say 16 or 18 because you could [have] 64 or 72 (teams) and be fine. Because, in football, you'd have nine in each division. They have a playoff championship in their league, the four leagues. Those four winners would be semifinalists for the football championship, and then there'd be a national title game, and the others would play in the bowls. All that television, all that revenue goes back to the 64 or 72 teams -- only those teams. Then you have a basketball tournament with those teams. Those 64 or 72 are in the tournament. Everybody's team is in the tournament."

And that's where you lose me. An NCAA tournament that consists of only the teams from the super-conferences? And everyone automatically qualifies? No. A million, billion times: no. But, for clarity's sake, this isn't what Calipari explicitly wants. He's claiming that it's the only conceivable way he can think of to sufficiently and fairly pay student-athletes.

The football model seems judicious on a few levels, by the way. Interesting to hear one of college basketball's most prominent coaches dispense a plan about how college football can expand and improve its product, and to do it in a way that's pretty imaginable, even if far off. Plenty do believe the swells have already started, though, and that more and more universities are gaining more money and power in the hopes of one day splitting from the NCAA and governing themselves in a way that's unprecedented in American collegiate athletics.

On the topic of fairly paying players, though, if this is the answer, there is no answer.

If you'd like to hear the eight-plus minutes of Calipari's half-baked -- but well-articulated -- plan, have at it.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 13, 2011 11:12 am
Edited on: June 13, 2011 11:15 am
 

NCAA, Kentucky disagree on Calipari's win total



By Matt Norlander


We couldn't go too, too long this offseason without a Kentucky story, you know?

The latest mini crisis in the Bluegrass State is a debate over the true total amount of wins John Calipari has collected in his career. Calipari has seen two of his seasons -- the two seasons that, coincidentally, featured Final Four appearances -- get wiped out by the NCAA. The first was with the '96 UMass team; the second was the '08 Memphis squad, which was two Derrick Rose free throws away from a championship. Those are now seasons non grata in the NCAA's record books.

This past season, Calipari won his 500th game, or so Kentucky believed and still does. The NCAA thinks otherwise. Those '96 and '08 seasons were vacated, meaning, according to the NCAA, Calipari is stuck at 467 Ws as of now. Kentucky's public acknowledgement of this faux feat has caused the NCAA to pucker its tush and demand an apology -- yes, an apology, a five-page apology, at that. How dare Kentucky make such a big stink over its head coach reaching a milestone few men and women accomplish.

Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader broke the story over the weekend.

Earlier this month, the chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions sent University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. a letter asking the school to publicly acknowledge it was wrong to recognize John Calipari's 500th coaching victory this past season. Chairman Dennis E. Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, also told Todd that the wording of UK's statement "must be approved by the office of the Committee on Infractions prior to its release."

Thomas asked UK to respond to the letter no later than next Friday.

Spokesman Jay Blanton said Saturday that UK did not have a comment.

What's fascinating about this should-be non-story: We've go the first case of a school simply refusing to oblige by the NCAA's foolish vacate rule. The NCAA likes to retroactively take away wins and championships. It's one of the weakest, most-mocked "punishments" in sports. And now there's blowback when they didn't expect it.

According to Tipton, if the NCAA doesn't get its apology and some timely changes in the Kentucky media guides and record books, then UK officials will eventually be called to meet with the Committee on Infractions. Yes, the same group of people currently dealing with cheaters at Tennessee and Ohio State. A meeting with the COI? What a gigantic waste of time and fuel that would be. The theater of the absurd is hosting a new act.

We're talking Calipari getting a commemorative basketball and a round of applause for winning 500 games. A quick celebration at Rupp Arena. It's hardly a huge deal. But the NCAA's taking it very seriously, making the entire thing is pretty hilarious. The NCAA can't keep Kentucky from acknowledging Calipari's accomplishment, no matter how much they insist. They can't go back in time and erase the celebration from happening, just like they can't go back and erase seasons or championships from having occurred. What are they going to do, remove Kentucky from NCAA affiliation? Remove scholarships? Of course not. Another PR disaster if they did, especially considering it's Kentucky and Calipari, and both would be looked at sympathetically in this mini drama.

Suddenly the NCAA is looking like the angry neighborhood kid who's not getting its way and wants to take its ball and go home. Two steps forward, one step back with the NCAA. Same as it ever was. I wish we could vacate this kind of birdbrained behavior. 

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:31 am
 

Pitino: SEC is 'second-rate' basketball league

By Matt Norlander

Rick Pitino's capability for a good quote has too often gone overlooked. Thankfully, in the doldrums of June, college basketball's second-worst month of the year (only August is worse), Pitino has delivered some fighting words. Words that will have some lasting impact by the time Kentucky and Louisville play each other around New Year's Eve.

And the words aren't even directed at Kentucky -- they're a shot at the SEC. The Louisville coach sent a verbal barb flying Wednesday in the direction of the conference, a clear response to something John Calipari said last week.

After the SEC ditched its two-division format, opting to have one league with 12 teams, giving the league a better chance at more NCAA tournament teams, Cal said, "This is no knock on the Big East but they’ve had 19 teams in the tournament the last two years and how many have made it by the first round? How is this happening? When they start playing each other they say the 11th team is really good. What? We have to figure out how you play the best schedule you can play and still win. That’s different for all of us. I think that’s more important than 16 or 18 (conference) games." 

Card Chronicle also brings up the fact Calipari, in March, said the Big East is a product of "media hype." So Pitino, the former Kentucky coach who led them to a title in '96, clearly knew what he was doing when he said this:

The coach jabbed back just a bit tonight at a Cardinal Caravan event in Shelbyville. When introducing his son, Richard, to the crowd, he said:

"(Richard) went away for a couple of years to learn how to do things in a second-rate league, then get back to the big time."

Richard Pitino spent the past two seasons in the SEC as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a Pitino disciple. It's as much a playful jab as it is an under-the-surface shot. And a truthful one. The Big East has been a better league than the SEC for most of its existence. Undeniable. And Kentucky, you'll remember, saw its 2011 season end in the Final Four at the hands of Connecticut, a Big East team.

Photo: AP
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com