Tom Crean on John Calipari: “He has been good to me for a long time.”.

Vicky Graff Photo

Vicky Graff Photo

Q. Given the anticipation of this game, the high-level of two programs, do you think that this game tomorrow will have any momentum toward renewing this rivalry and where do you think that stands?
TOM CREAN: I think that games can always come back. Right now where we sit it’s very hard for us, with what we have with the Crossroads Classic and the ACC challenge pulls into that. We’ve got to have a certain amount of home games. We’re going to do a neutral sight with Louisville and I don’t think anybody has ever closed the door on the series and certainly it’s not open right now with anything that makes a lot of sense, but hopefully some day it will.

Again, I’ve never looked at it like it was closed and — but there is nothing in the works right now. I think both sides know how each other feels and it’s — if it comes down to a business decision then that’s what it is. As a fan of college basketball, somebody that has a lot of respect for their program, I hope that at some point in time we can get something going like that and if it happens it happens.

But, again, I don’t think there is any door closed that couldn’t be opened again, put it that way. Make sense?

Q. Tom, can you describe your relationship with John and was that affected at all by the end of the series? How has that changed over the years?
TOM CREAN: I think — was our relationship affected because the series ended? No, we had our moments with that but, no, I think if you have a respect level for somebody you have to overlook some things. I have a ton of respect for them. I mean, he has been good to me for a long time. I learned a lot over the years from him as a coach. We were in the league together, conference USA when he came back to Memphis. I learned a lot! Not only coaching against his teams but watching them play others.

So, no, I mean, I think we have a friendship that transcends basketball. He is a very encouraging person to me, I think I understand him, and I hope I’m encouraging to him. You really — you’re not trying to make enemies in this game, some you’re going to have closer friendships than others. But I tried to look at competency and respect and what you learn from people and he’s got all that and I think he’s — I think he’s a fantastic leader. What he does year after year and how he makes his teams better especially with the guys that he gets that have the accolades and the attention and the rankings and all those things that they have, to get them to play together the way that he does, year after year and this year is no exception, because I mean, obviously they’ve had some tough games and look they’re playing their best basketball right now.

How do you not respect that? Too me that’s just — I mean, I wish we weren’t playing them tomorrow, I wish it was later down the road but it is what it is and he predicted it four weeks ago, that we would be in the bracket together and he only missed by one last week because he had West Virginia and he was only wrong with Kansas, right?

So to me — at the end of day he runs — he is a great coach who makes his players better, and that’s a tough opponent and we’ve got to match-up with it.

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