Tag:John Calipari
Posted on: January 19, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2011 4:38 pm

John Calipari cursing is par for the course

Posted by MATT JONES

I am truly amazed at the reaction caused by John Calipari’s F-bomb-laden tirade aimed at his freshman star Terrence Jones on Tuesday night. For those of you that missed it, as Kentucky attempted a late comeback on the road against Alabama, Calipari reacted to a blown UK possession by calling Jones over to him and saying (or at least seeming to say if you are a lip reader) to  Jones that he was a “selfish mother-f*****.” Jones seemed to shrug off the comments as UK made a late run before ultimately falling 68-66 to the Tide.

Immediately however the reaction poured in around the Big Blue Nation. UK message boards and blogs lit up with fans embarrassed at Calipari’s comments and some expressed shock that their beloved coach would ever say such a thing on national television. Perhaps sensing the impending blowup (because in the mega-spotlight that is UK basketball, every story is a big story), Calipari tweeted out an apology and asked forgiveness from the UK faithful.

While I can understand the sentiments behind Calipari’s apology, I must admit that I don’t understand what all the fuss is truly about. One can surely criticize the coach for using bad discretion and choosing to curse so openly in a game where all of his actions will be picked up by a national television audience. But for those that are shocked that he would say such a comment to a player, I have but one little dirty secret to impart. Not only is Calipari’s comment not shocking to me, it is actually rather commonplace, and dare I say, mundane for the world of college basketball.

You, oh naïve college basketball fan, may not realize this, but nearly every great coach in America also uses bad language to such a degree that their practices or locker room speeches would receive an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. Spend any amount of time around the teams when Jim Calhoun, Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Rick Pitino, etc are coaching and you will be inundated with cursing to such a degree that it would cause Daniel Tosh to blush. Cursing and coaching go hand in hand, from the high school to the professional level, and it is so commonplace that one would almost think it was taught (along with the art of building up your next opponent in the press to downplay expectations) in head coach training schools.

Almost no one is immune. In fact, if I were to rate the most outlandish cursing coach in America, It would also be the one most often celebrated as the best coach in college basketball, Mike Krzyzewski. For three years, I sat in the graduate student section of Cameron Indoor and heard Coach K spew out more expletives than you would get via a weekend voyage on the U.S.S Nimitz. His mouth was legendary and the bile that came from it was aimed equally at his players and the referees he slowly intimidated during the course of a game. If the F.C.C could regulate the words of coaches, Coach K would be its Bubba the Love Sponge.

If you are offended by the words of Calipari or any other coach in college basketball (don’t even get me started on the mouths of college football coaches), then maybe it’s time you start following some other pastime. College basketball coaches are foul-mouthed Neanderthals who believe the best way to express a complicated thought is through yelling four-letter words at the top of their lungs. Yes it’s stupid and yes it’s demeaning. But it’s also the culture of athletics and in that world, Calipari’s comments on Tuesday night are far from abnormal.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 17, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2011 2:04 pm

Is Lute Olson correct in calling out Calipari?

Posted by MATT JONES

In an interview with FoxSports.com's Jeff Goodman, former Arizona Coach Lute Olson called John Calipari "very unprofessional" for his decision to take kids who had originally committed to Memphis with him to his new job at Kentucky. According to Olson, people should not be critical of current Memphis coach (and former Olson player) Josh Pastner, until he is able to get the type of kids to Memphis that fit into his system. The shot at Calipari likely implied that Olson believes the decision to take the Memphis recruits made Pastner's job more difficult and was somehow a slap in the face to the UK coach's former assistant.

The view expressed by Olson is not one that he alone shares. Calipari, and other coaches, have often been criticized for trying to get players that originally commited to the coach's former employer, to follow them to their new employer instead. The old-school view on the subject is simple. Players commit to the University, not to the coach, and when that decision is made, it is sacred. This is the view held by the NCAA as well, as showcased by its unbelievably unfair "Letter of Intent" system that binds players to programs, but not coaches, often leaving them begging for mercy from Universities long after a coach has gone on to greener pastures.

However such an approach is exactly the opposite of the player-centric view that should dominate college athletics. Beyond all other considerations, shouldn't the number one priority be that a kid have the ability to attend the college of his choice? The reality is that the vast majority of college basketball players attend a college primarily because of the coaches that oversee the basketball program, not the beauty of the University or its academic tradition. For an athlete who is majoring in basketball (which let's face it, every top college basketball player is doing), the most important factor is who his mentor will be. When that mentor changes, the kid should have the ability to change with it.

Olson can kid himself with the view that John Wall, Demarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe were considering Memphis due to its status as a fine institution and the long tradition of Memphis basketball history. But we all know that is complete bologna. Those players were going to Memphis because of John Calipari and little else. When Calipari left, those kids should have the right to go with him. Regardless of what Olson and the old-timers believe, Memphis and other schools shouldn't be able to "own" those players and control their futures, simply because it makes the new coach's job more difficult.

John Calipari taking the former Memphis recruits with him to Kentucky did make Josh Pastner's job tougher, but it allowed the individual players to go to the school of their choice. That may bother Lute Olson, but making things easier for millionaire coaches isn't, or at least it shouldn't be, what college athletics is about.
Posted on: January 3, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: January 3, 2011 11:29 am

Coach Speak: Bruce Pearl meant to do that

Posted by Eric Angevine

Buzz Williams gets our video spotlight for his press conference following the Marquette victory over West Virginia this weekend. As much for the Brewers sweatshirt as for anything he says, though he is a very plain-spoken fellow.

Now, on to some other quotables from NCAA head coaches from the past weekend:

"I was just trying to get (assistant coach) Tony Jones some reps."
-Bruce Pearl, talking about his ejection from Tennessee’s 91-78 loss to College of Charleston


"Josh had 23 points and 14 rebounds? Oh my gosh."
-John Calipari, reading Josh Harrellson’s line on the postgame stat sheet following a 78-63 win over Louisville


"He got 10 rebounds and we were playing at St. John's last week and he played 35 minutes and got 1 rebound. He wasn't active, so I spent half my halftime talk just getting after him to start getting his nose in there and stop being a cutie-pie."

-Northwestern's Bill Carmody evaluating sophomore Drew Crawford's play this week


"Thomas is without question our best post guy right now. He deserves to be out there, even though it’s probably not best for our team over time."

-Bill Self keeps the pressure on juniors Marcus and Markieff Morris by starting sophomore Thomas Robinson


"It takes a lot of pressure off the big guys. It gives us an opportunity to run out … to break and push the ball down the floor. It creates advantages-disadvantages for us. Now you’ve got forwards trying to guard our guards."

-Missouri coach Mike Anderson on his team’s recent improvement in defensive rebounding


"I looked out there and it was like the old Michael Jordan movie 'Space Jam,' It was the monsters and aliens vs. the cartoon characters. That was a nice looking team on the other bench. They’re big, strong, athletic."

-Boise State head coach Leon Rice after the Broncos defeated New Mexico State 81-78


"A moral victory for us."

-Head coach Brian Newhall of DIII Occidental College following his team’s 93-50 loss at San Diego State. A last-second shot denied Aztec fans free curly fries, awarded by Jack in the Box restaurants whenever SDSU holds a visiting team below 50.


"Since we last played them and beat them, we've lost eight games - and two of them were to them. I'm really proud of our team for really stepping up and not being intimidated by the streak. Tonight was our night."

-Stanford women's coach Tara VanDerveer after ending UConn’s 90-game win streak

Hot Seat: Trent Johnson, LSU

If anyone made his seat hotter this week, it's LSU's Trent Johnson. The man who won 80 games in a difficult recruiting environment at Stanford probably thought winning in Baton Rouge would be a piece of cake, but things have gone downhill since his first season with the purple and gold, which ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Last year there was no postseason bid at all, and this season looks much the same. The Tigers are 8-7, and this week's road trip, with a short turnaround between playing Rice in Houston on December 29th and then Virginia in Charlottesville on January 2nd, didn't do him any favors, as both ended in losses to very beatable teams.

Louisiana State fired John Brady two years after he reached a Final Four. How much patience will they have with Johnson? The road trip continues on Saturday with a trip to the terrible, horrible, no-good Auburn Tigers. If that game ends in a loss, Tiger fans will be howling for Johnson's head on a platter.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:08 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 2:26 pm

In college basketball, there's nothing like UK-UL

Posted by Matt Jones

If your only exposure to college basketball is limited to tuning in around late February and sampling whatever dish ESPN is serving up to get you ready for the end of college basketball season, then this column is for you.  Contrary to what the good folks at the Worldwide Leader and the national columnists who only dip their toe into our fair sport around March Madness may want you to believe, the most intense rivalry in college basketball is not the one that takes place twice a year on Tobacco Road.  No, for sheer emotion, passion and viciousness, the true peak of college basketball rivalry takes place on the I-64 corridor every season in late December.  Kentucky vs. Louisville is the most heated rivalry in college basketball , and nothing else is close.

While I can already hear the outrage emitted from the Duke and UNC fanbases who believe all basketball worth seeing is played either within their 15-501 highway or at the very least, down the road in Greensboro, notice I said “most intense” and not “best”.  I have attended seven Duke-UNC games over the years and am a graduate of one of the institutions.   When it comes to sheer talent and relevance on a national scale, Duke-UNC has been the unparalleled king for the past 25 years.  But talent and television coverage does not intensity make.  Kentucky-Louisville is not the most intense rivalry in the land because the game usually involves the two best programs, but rather, like Alabama-Auburn, UK-UL is the most intense rivalry because it simply matters more to all involved.  A special concoction of factors combine to create an environment between the Wildcats and Cardinals that the overhyped Cameron Crazies and wine and cheese crowd of Chapel Hill could never hope to replicate:

HISTORY --- Unlike UNC and Duke, who are forced by conference affiliation to play each other twice every season, the vitriol created by UK-UL is actually a relatively recent creation.  Until 1983, the schools never had an annual battle, as UK believed in its own superiority to such a degree that it saw no need to downgrade itself to schedule a game with the program Coach Eddie Sutton later called “Little Brother.”  Even as Louisville rose in the 1970s under Denny Crum, culminating in a NCAA title in 1980, UK cruised along whistling obliviously as Cardinal fans demanded a matchup.  Attempts by the NCAA to pair the two teams always fell a bit short, most famously in 1975, when one last John Wooden run kept the two programs from meeting for a National Championship.  The more Cardinal fans howled, the more UK cackled that they would not stoop to UL’s level.

But then came 1983 and the battle known as “The Dream Game.”   The NCAA placed the two teams in the same Regional in Knoxville, Tennessee and fate finally put the programs on the same court.  A battle that led the state’s governor John Y Brown to wear a half-red and half-blue sports coat (a sell out move if there ever was one), saw Louisville win the initial battle between the two programs and be granted ammunition of supposed superiority that it could hold over UK fans in perpetuity.  That was unacceptable to the UK brass, and the rivalry was on, likely never again to be extinguished.   The same intense hatred and feeling of moral superiority that prevented the game from beginning has permeated its existence ever since.

FAN HATRED --- And with that historical backdrop, the hatred between UK and UL fans has yet to diminish over the last 27 years.  To each fan base, the other group represents all that is bad about college basketball, and in extension, the country as a whole.  Kentucky fans believe UL represents the big city, full of brash, obnoxious fans who would be better placed in Southern Indiana, rather than in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky.  While Louisville sees UK as a fan base full of country hicks, whose country mannerisms embarrass the UL faithful when they travel to other states and say they are from Kentucky.  Being a fan of UL or UK is not simply about representing a program, it’s about representing a way of life, and when you see the 18-22 year olds on the court playing a game, they are actually standing up for values far greater than they could ever know.

This is all of course nonsense.  Those of you from the other 49 unfortunate states would look at all of us in Kentucky and see little difference, but to those of us who call Kentucky home, these distinctions matter.  The hatred is most intense in the city of Louisville, which has become ground zero for UK-UL passion.  With estimates of the number of UK fans in the city ranging from 40-50 percent, all of us are forced to interact with members of the other tribe and on a Rivalry week like this one, it is all we can do to maintain our cool.  Louisville fans do not like their city infested with all these Blue low-class heathens, while Kentucky fans want their general superiority and overall larger fan base accepted in the Commonwealth’s largest city.  It isn’t so much about winning, because we all know our team and fans are better, but it is about not losing, so we don’t have to listen to that obnoxious co-worker, neighbor or radio host crowing about it for the next 365 days.

PITINO/CALIPARI --- While the fans have always had the passion necessary to make the rivalry intense, what has taken the UK-UL game to a new level these last two years was the introduction of two Northeastern Italians, with a dislike for each other that rivals that of any fan.  Rick Pitino was already the epitome of evil to the Big Blue Nation, after committing the mortal sin of leaving UK, bombing with the Boston Celtics and then having the audacity to return to the state and coach the Wildcats’ arch-rivals.  The Benedict Arnold quality is almost unmatched in modern sports.  Would Coach K join the Tarheels?  Joe Torre the Red Sox?  Bear Bryant take his hat to Auburn?  Its unthinkable, but Pitino went to Louisville, showcasing to UK fans that he was never really one of them anyway.

But even with Cat fans hating Pitino, the Cold War didn’t really begin until John Calipari found his way to Lexington.  The slick former Memphis Coach gave Card fans their perfect UK foil.  For a program that has a history of NCAA violations, hiring the modern Coach most associated with walking the NCAA tightrope was exactly what UL fans needed for ammunition.  The cheating school hires the cheating Coach, allowing the Card faithful to crow that while they do it the “right way”, there is a rogue problem in Lexington.

The best part is that these two coaches seem to be obsessed with each other as much as the fans.    John Calipari openly takes slight shots at Pitino, making comments on his weak non-conference scheduling and referring to the “school down the road.”  Pitino for his part can barely hide his contempt for Calipari, deflecting all questions about him in a “please don’t bother me with THAT guy” type of manner.  Each has given the other fan base something to focus upon, whether it is Calipari and his vacated Final Four trips or Pitino and his infamous night at Porcinis with Karen Sypher.  For every “Derrick Rose” chant, a “15 seconds” one can follow.  And while neither will come from the Coaches themselves, they both probably secretly love every one.

Thus with all of those factors in play, how can the games not be legendary ?  Over the years, stars have been born in the UK-UL game, whose names live forever in the state.  Every UK fan knows about Rex Chapman’s historic Freshman debut to the rivalry in 1986, Cedric Jenkins’s tip-in for the win in 1987 and Patrick Sparks doing his shuffle and drawing a foul to help pull it out in Freedom Hall in 2004.  And UL fans can point to the magic of the Dream Game, Samaki Walker’s Triple-Double or the three from deep that Edgar Sosa drained before the buzzer in 2008.  Legends are made in one afternoon and individuals who otherwise had forgettable careers, like Marvin Stone and Lukask Obrzut are known as Cat and Card killers forever.

The opening line for the game has Louisville favored by two.  And if one looks at the game, a case can be made for either team coming out on top.  But ultimately, the final score is only a small part of what will be the most intense game in college basketball.  In Kentucky, we have little to focus on but college athletics.  There are no Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Charlotte Bobcats or NASCAR headquarters to focus our energy.  Louisville is the largest metropolitan area in America without a pro sports franchise and the energy of the population is focused squarely on college kids playing basketball.  When UK-UL tipoff Friday at noon, the entire state will be holding its breath and focused in a way unrivaled anywhere except in Alabama the day of the Iron Bowl.  Duke and North Carolina are nice and their games are made-for-television theater.  But for unbridled passion and intensity, there is no place in college basketball that can rival gameday when Kentucky plays Louisville .

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 27, 2010 7:22 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2011 7:05 pm

The SEC is hurting my soul

Posted by Matt Jones

It has not been a stellar year for the SEC on the basketball court.  While their football brethren are basking in the glow of a potential fifth straight national champion from the conference, the basketball teams have taken a decidedly different direction in the start of their 2010-2011 campaigns.  In fact, to say that SEC basketball has performed “poorly” thus far this season is an understatement as large as saying that the NCAA is “inconsistent” in the way it hands out punishments for rules violations.  The SEC has been downright pathetic and an embarrassment to the good names of Wimp Sanderson, Sonny Smith, Hugh Durham, Dale Brown and even Don Devoe.  Take a look at a partial list of teams that have notched a victory over an SEC opponent thus far this season:

UNC Asheville
St. Peter
Nicholls State
Coastal Carolina
North Texas
Florida Atlantic
East Tennessee State

That is a list of teams so bad that ESPN wouldn’t even package them together, stick them on a random Caribbean island and try to sell them as a viable “holiday tournament.”  It is a group so poor that only one has even been invited to participate in "Bracket Buster" weekend.  Yet they all were invited into an SEC team's home arena and came away with a victory.  As bad as the losses have been however, the wins have not been much better.  As of now, the conference as a whole only has three wins against teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25, and the two biggest marquee victories (Tennessee’s upsets of Villanova and Pittsburgh) are muted a bit by later losses to Oakland and Charlotte.

The SEC East has been awful, with the Vols losing three of their last four, Florida falling at home to an Artis Gilmore-less Jacksonville squad and South Carolina taking a 16 point stoning at home to Furman that caused South Carolina fans to yearn for the return of Devan Downey.  But the SEC East has looked like the 1985 Big East in comparison to the SEC West, which may have the most miserable collection of BCS teams in a division in the history of major college basketball.  The best team in the division is likely Arkansas, whose most distinguishing quality is that they are the only team in the division not to have lost to a team outside the RPI Top 100.  While at the bottom, Auburn has celebrated the christening of its new arena by insulting the good name of Chris Porter and taking the early lead over Oregon State and Depaul for worst BCS program in the land.

How did it get this bad?  In theory, the SEC should have some real potential.  One could make the argument that it has its best assortment of coaches in the last 15 years, with three of the top 15 in the game (Calipari, Pearl and Donovan), four rising up and comers that were coveted by a number of programs (Anthony Grant, John Pelphrey, Darrin Horn and Andy Kennedy) and four solid X and O guys who have had sustained success in the past (Kevin Stallings, Mark Fox, Rick Stansbury and Trent Johnson).    Over the last few years, many of these programs have kept good Southern talent in-state and the rise in national exposure that has come with Florida’s national championships, Bruce Pearl’s emergence as a media darling and John Calipari’s explosion of talent at Kentucky would seem to have benefited the conference to such a degree that it should be contending for top spot in all of America.  Instead, the conference is at best eighth in the country and an argument can be made that if the NCAA Tournament were held today, only three teams (Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt) would be a lock to be a part of the festivities.

To be fair, it isn’t all bad.  Kentucky will be one of the ten best teams in the nation come NCAA Tournament time.  Vanderbilt and Georgia have played a bit above their preseason rankings and could make some noise in conference play.  And one has to assume that Tennessee and Florida will get out of their December funks to create a solid SEC East.  But with the Western Division giving the conference more dead weight than “Blades of Glory” in a Will Ferrell movie marathon, the prognosis for the SEC does not look bright.  We all know that with the exception of Kentucky and occasionally Vandy, none of these schools care one bit about basketball and would rather obsess over the inseam measurement of a Defensive Line prospect out of Alabama than celebrate the talent of Trey Thompkins or Chris Warren.  But for those of us who do care about basketball in the SEC (meaning Kentucky fans and random old men in stuffy gyms watching high school games throughout the South), couldn’t they fake it just a little bit better?

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