Monday, March 28, 2011

Calhoun, Calipari Still Not Fond of Each Other

Remember a few years ago, when UConn played Memphis in a preseason NIT game at the Garden and Jim Calhoun and John Calipari tried to pretend everything was cool between the two of them?

Didn't buy it then? Me neither. And don't buy whatever the two coaches say over the next week, either. They still don't like each other.

No further proof needed than this bit from a good Sports Illustrated story on Calipari a few weeks ago:

If the Wildcats' spring ends early, there will be matchups Calipari won't watch. There are rivals he can't abid, and vice versa; even without being asked he gives you a list: Pitino, Pearl, Connecticut's Jim Calhoun.

No worries, John. Guaranteed the feeling is mutual.

Here's a little piece I did today on Kemba Walker's leadership skills. Plenty more coming over the next week.

Here's a few snippets from today's conference call with the coaches from the Final Four teams:


On the three other coaches in this year's Final Four:

"My two sons, and my problem child."

On what he takes from UConn's win over Kentucky for the Maui Invitational title back in late November:

"Nothing, absolutely nothing. Except I remember the last four minutes of the first half. It was not any indication of what they've become, or what we went through. I don't think that game means absolutely anything."

On his public perception:

"There's no way that you're going to please everybody. If I please my God, my family, that's important to me. And if I please my players and my university, then I'm fine ... What I'm sometimes perceived as, I don't recognize that person. YOu get stuck with something, and that becomes you."

On losing out on recruits Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb, both now at Kentucky:

"Yes, there was a great deal of disappointment. At one time, we were recruiting Brandon Jennings ... loved the place and wanted to come here. We determined Brandon Jennings hadn't made his mind up, and we went after a kid we thought we could get. A kid named Kemba Walker.

When we got Shabazz (Napier) and Jeremy Lamb, we thought we got two pretty good players.

You get a lot more no's than yeses.

It's kind of ironic that we're playing against two kids we really went hard after.

If I spent all my time on the kids we lost, I guess we would have won a lot of championships. I'm much more interested in the kids we get. Kemba and Shabazz: how have they worked together? Shabazz has been sensational, has taken a lot of pressure off Kemba this year and allowed him to play (off the ball)."

On if he's thought of his place in the game if he wins a third national championship:

"Any legacy stuff, I can look at later. I just can't wait to get this team to the Final Four."


On key to Jim Calhoun's success over the years:

"I think he's a battler, he holds the bar high, doesn't accept anythying but their best ... and he has talented players. He got talented players to buy in, and has done a great job throughout his whole career ... He is as good as they get."

On growing and improving as a coach:

"Let me explain to all who are listening: I do not have this figured out."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad these guys are honest that they do not like each other personally. Most guys would pretend to be friends. Anyone who remembers how brash UMass was in the mid-90s (despite never having beaten UConn) can understand why Calhoun does not like Calipari. Like Calhoun said when Calipari was trying to get UConn to play them, he knew Calipari would leave UMass quickly and that the team would stink shortly thereafter and he did not want to get stuck playing in their pit every other year. Calhoun was right. They were indeed stuck with UMass post-Calipari for a few years. I hope UConn kicks Calipari's rear in the semi-final game.

March 28, 2011 at 5:54 PM 
Blogger Andrew Leff said...

Check out this recap of the Huskies' big elite 8 win over Zona and a look ahead at the beatdown they're gonna lay on Kentucky

March 28, 2011 at 6:09 PM 
Blogger Andrew Leff said...

March 28, 2011 at 6:10 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, do you think Calhoun will retire if UConn were to win the Championship this year?

I seem to remember reading prior to this season that many thought he would stick around hoping he could get Drummond, because many thought Drummond would provide the best opportunity to get #3. But this team came out of now where and now Calhoun has a legit shot at winning it all.

I wonder if he'd be able to walk away from this group of kids (Lamb, Nappier, Oriahki, Roscoe, JCM) next year if he won it this year...

March 28, 2011 at 6:37 PM 

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