Tag:John Calipari
Posted on: March 26, 2009 4:55 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2009 6:51 pm

What's up with the Gillispie situation?

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Even here in FedExForum, with four of the best teams in the country gathered for Friday night's games, the question I've been asked most today doesn't involve Blake Griffin or Tyler Hansbrough, or even Ty Lawson's toe. No, the question I've been asked most -- by coaches and other media people -- is this: When is the Billy Gillispie thing going down?

Answer: Soon ... barring a major change of plans.

Multiple sources -- and by multiple, I mean like 70 -- have told CBSSports.com that Gillispie will almost certainly never coach another game at Kentucky, that it's simply a matter of making it official. The prevailing thought is that a humbled Gillispie could possibly save himself by acknowledging missteps and promising to better embrace the celebrity that goes hand-in-hand with coaching at Kentucky, but people close to Gillispie insist he's "too stubborn" for that, and that he'd take his $6 million buyout and walk away before ever greatly altering his personality.

So why the wait?

Sources have said UK would like to have a replacement lined up before it moves on Gillispie, that the ideal scenario has the school introducing its next head coach less than 48 hours after Gillispie is asked to resign.  More than likely, that means athletic director Mitch Barnhart is spending today trying to determine -- through intermediaries, of course -- if Florida's Billy Donovan will really jump, and if he won't then the next two likely candidates are Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Memphis' John Calipari, both of whom are still coaching their teams in this NCAA tournament and thus unavailable for the time being.

Here's a prediction: Kentucky will get one of those three.

Which one?

I'll let you guess, for now.

But any list that includes a fourth option is probably a list one name too long, because Barnhart will do whatever it takes to make a home run hire, well aware that he can't take a chance on a relatively young option and risk another mistake. Another mistake will cost him his job, but Donovan, Izzo or Calipari would extend it for years, no question.

Posted on: December 22, 2008 2:45 pm

Dear Gary (on Boeheim's comment to Calipari)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary:  Rather than telling an opposing coach you just beat that his team basically stinks, you think a coach of (Jim) Boeheim's caliber might offer some more encouraging words, like "keep your chin up" or "keep working with them, they'll get better". Just seems like a classier thing to say after you just beat a team. 

-- Q

Obviously, you're talking about the Jim Boeheim-John Calipari postgame handshake from Saturday, where Boeheim told Calipari he might have the "worst shooting team" he's ever seen. I suppose that could read as a classless thing to say, but I can tell you with a degree of certainty that Boeheim was joking with Calipari, and that Calipari took it that way.

Those two have known each other a long time.

If Boeheim didn't think it was appropriate given their relationship, he wouldn't have said it. And if Calipari didn't think it was appropriate given their relationship, he wouldn't have laughed about it. But he did laugh. Because it was funny. And I, for one, thought it was hilarious, because Boeheim merely said what everybody in the building was thinking, and that Calipari had the sense of humor to laugh about it was pretty good, too.

Bottom line, it was a great moment.

And I got a column out of it, so I was happy.

Posted on: December 14, 2008 2:29 am

Update: Memphis still without PG, shooters

I'm not sure what's more amazing -- that John Calipari has taken two different and otherwise pedestrian basketball programs (UMass and Memphis) to the Final Four, or that one of the sport's best recruiters has somehow ended up with a roster featuring exactly zero good point guards and zero good shooters.

I mean, how does that happen?

The man secures one Top 10 recruiting class after another, and yet here he is, in the year after coming this close to a national title, trying to run his celebrated dribble-drive motion offense with no point guard, no shooter and no help in sight. That's the lesson from Saturday's loss to Georgetown, that even though Memphis did well to take the Hoyas to overtime, Calipari's team is fatally flawed because the roster has huge holes.

There are no team-runners.

There are no shot-makers.

Consequently, Memphis is shooting 29.1 percent from 3-point range and trying to get by with Wesley Witherspoon at the point, which is bad for a number of reasons, among them the fact that Witherspoon is not a point guard. In fact, the freshman has never really played point guard, and to anybody who thinks this is going to work, let me ask one question: How often do high school wings become good college point guards?

Answer: Almost never.

So that's why this problem will likely linger, and the worst part for Memphis is that it could linger into next season unless Calipari secures a commitment from John Wall. You see, the Tigers didn't sign any point guards in the early period, which means they will either get Wall late and next season have arguably the nation's best point guard, or not get Wall late and next season again have zero good point guards. There is almost no in-between; Memphis will either be great or terrible at the position, and it pretty much comes down to Wall.

But that's another post for another day.

For now, let's stick to the present, which is that Memphis should still win Conference USA, still win 25-plus games and still comfortably make the NCAA tournament. Don't get it twisted; the team is talented enough to do all that. But a fourth consecutive Elite Eight seems unlikely, another Final Four improbable, because though John Calipari has recruited one elite athlete after another, he's now stuck with a fatally flawed roster featuring zero good point guards and zero good shooters, which is like having a shiny car with no good tires and no good steering wheel.

It looks nice and all.

But sooner or later, it's bound to crash.

Posted on: November 4, 2008 12:46 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2008 12:49 pm

Memphis wounded heading into exhibition

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- I walked into the Finch center Monday, told John Calipari I was there to see his team.

"You won't see much," Calipari said.

And then the wounded began to take their positions.

There was Antonio Anderson, hanging out under a basket, a device attached to his lower leg designed to help with shin splints. To his left was Tyreke Evans and Angel Garcia, both on the sideline watching, Evans with a sprained ankle, Garcia with a sprained knee. And then there was C.J. Henry still recovering from a broken foot.

Combined, that's two starters (Anderson and Evans) and two key reserves (Garcia and Henry) that the Tigers won't have Tuesday night when they play Christian Brothers University in an exhibition. So yeah, Calipari is frustrated because it was going to be hard enough to replace Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey even if everything went perfectly. But anybody waiting for the world-is-out-to-get-us quote from Calipari will have to keep waiting because the man who has managed to again sell every season ticket in the 18,000-seat FedExForum isn't openly complaining or feeling sorry for himself.

"I'm not saying anything because we had none last year," Calipari said. "Stuff happens."

Indeed, Rose, Douglas-Roberts and Anderson each played all 40 games last season, and Dorsey played the final 38. Robert Dozier only missed three games (two early because of a small injury, one later for discipline), meaning the usual starters who led Memphis to a 38-2 record combined to play 195 of a possible 200 games.

"We went through a whole season with a couple of nicks, bumps and that's it," Calipari said. "So this happens."

The healing process looks like this: Anderson should return to practice late this week, Evans could be back by the Nov. 15 opener against Fairfield and Garcia and Henry are both probably out until mid-December. The Tigers' first real test will come either Nov. 17 against UMass or Nov. 21 in a likely game with Southern California in Puerto Rico.
Posted on: September 8, 2008 3:50 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2008 1:42 am

Calipari ready to share with high school coaches

You would think John Calipari might be hesitant to share his offensive philosophy.

But he's not.

Because it's helping in recruiting.

"We're involved with a kid in the West because his high school coach runs this offense," Calipari said. "The kid can absolutely play and everybody thinks he's going to (a Pac-10 school), but all of a sudden the kid is saying he wants to come here and it's all based on the offense. And there's a kid in the East who is the same way. His high school coach has adopted it and we're involved because the kid wants to run it in college. So I have no problem sharing because at the end of the day it'll come back to help us because kids want to play this way."

Though it has its critics, there is no denying Calipari's version of Vance Walberg's AASAA offense has helped turn Memphis into one of the elite programs in America. The Tigers have compiled a 104-10 record since adopting the high-octane attack. They made the Elite Eight in 2006 and 2007 before playing for the national title last season, and along the way they've developed a massive following among high school coaches interested in running what Calipari dubbed the dribble-drive motion.

That's why Calipari has scheduled the Second Annual Mid-South Coaches Clinic for Sept. 19-20 at the Grand Casino Tunica, a resort just south of Memphis that was recently renamed Harrah's Tunica. Prices for the two-day event range from $150 to $325, and other coaches expected to instruct besides Calipari and Walberg (now an assistant at UMass) are Tom Crean (Indiana), Larry Brown (Charlotte Bobcats), Trent Johnson (LSU), Dave Odom (retired from South Carolina) and former NBA coaches John Lucas and Mike Fratello.

More than 400 people attended last year's event.

"There will probably be five to six hours with the other coaches and then at least eight hours will be on the dribble-drive motion," Calipari said. "It's going to be really good."

For more information visit CoachCalipari.com.

To register visit CalipariDribbleDrive.com.

Posted on: July 23, 2008 12:51 am

A late tip coming to Memphis

LAS VEGAS -- Any UMass fans wanting to watch their new coach (Derek Kellogg) work against their old coach (John Calipari) in a scheduled game at Memphis on Nov. 17 are probably gonna have to stay up late to do it if things go as planned, because right now the plan is to tip it off at 12 a.m. ET, after ESPN's Monday Night Football telecast.

"That's what I hear," Kellogg said, though he added he didn't think everything was finalized just yet. Either way, this is happening barring some breakdown and Calipari is already trying to think of ways to get fans to FedExForum for what will be an 11 p.m. tip local time on a Monday, which isn't good for anybody with a normal job that requires their presence Tuesday mornings.

"We're going to have to turn it into an event," Calipari said.

One idea he's bouncing around is to have the Monday Night Football game broadcast inside FedExForum on the jumbotron and trying to get everybody down to watch the game and party in the building for three or four hours before tipoff. I suggested he hand out free tickets to patrons of the Flying Saucer, a nearby pub that has a "Pint Night" every Monday and always draws a crowd.

"That might work," Calipari said.

It's no surprise ESPN would come to Calipari with this unconventional idea, by the way. There's a natural storyline with him coaching against UMass for the first time since he led the school to the 1996 Final Four, and that's always good for television. Also, Calipari did four "midnight games" when he was at UMass because he values national exposure over anything else, which is why he's leaving Las Vegas Wednesday morning to fly to Los Angeles to co-host the Best Damn Sports Show Period the next two nights.

In other words, ESPN knew Calipari might be the one guy who would go for this crazy plan.

Because it would mean extra national exposure for the Memphis program.

And that's what is most important to Calipari, regardless of the time.
Posted on: May 12, 2008 9:47 am

Calipari looking at Big East assistants

John Calipari already lured one assistant from a marquee program.

Now he's trying to get another.

Sources with knowledge of the situation have told CBSSports.com that Calipari is considering completing his staff -- now missing Derek Kellogg (new head coach at UMass) and Chuck Martin (new head coach at Marist) -- by hiring from a group of candidates that is headlined by Pittsburgh assistant Orlando Antigua and Georgetown assistant David Cox. If Calipari gets his way, one of those two will likely join John Robic and Josh Pastner on the Memphis bench next season.

Pastner is coming to Memphis from Arizona.

That move should be made official this week.
Posted on: April 17, 2008 12:33 am
Edited on: April 17, 2008 12:39 am

Should Cal push Barbee or Kellogg for UMass?

UMass athletic director Jack McCutcheon told The Republican newspaper Wednesday that head coaching experience would be looked upon "favorably" as he searches for Travis Ford's replacement. If that's true, John Calipari might be able to avoid the unenviable task of trying to aid one of his former players in pursuit of the opening without angering the other.

Here's the deal: Tony Barbee and Derek Kellogg both played at UMass under Calipari and are two men who would like to return to their alma mater under the right circumstances. In other words, they are friends and former colleagues (they both worked on the same staff at Memphis from 2000-2006) now interested in the same job, which puts Calipari in a tough spot because it's reasonable to assume he will be heavily involved in assisting the school he led to the 1996 Final Four.

So what should Calipari do?

Push for Barbee, one of his closest friends in the business?

Or push for Kellogg, one of his closest friends in the business?

There is no good answer, obviously, but McCutcheon might've given Calipari an out. If head coaching experience is a prerequisite or even a strongly desired attribute, Calipari can fairly push Barbee because he has been UTEP's head coach the past two seasons while Kellogg just finished his eighth year as a Memphis assistant. So that could be Calipari's rationale, the deciding factor he uses based upon the idea that it is already the deciding factor McCutcheon  plans to use.

Of course there are other viable candidates with previous head coaching experience -- like Tom Herrion (former Charleston head coach/current Pitt assistant), Kevin Willard (Iona head coach), Fran McCaffrey (Siena head coach), Tim O'Shea (Ohio head coach) and Tom Moore (Quinnipiac head coach). But before Calipari can push his preferred candidate against any of those candidates he has to decide who his preferred candidate will be, and the good news for the Memphis coach is that McCutcheon might've aleady done it for him.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com