NASHVILLE, Tenn. Ã¢â‚¬â€ Admit it. You were a little stunned earlier when UK coach John Calipari Ã¢â‚¬â€ who has seemed to say all the right things this year Ã¢â‚¬â€ said that winning the Southeastern Conference Tournament wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that big a deal to him.
DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t he know UK fans want to win every game? DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t he know that win Rick Pitino was coaching UK, the Cats owned the SEC Tournament and carried that momentum into the SEC Tournament? DidnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t he know how important the tourney was to thousands of fans who plan vacations for the tournament?
Let me applaud Calipari today for admitting he was wrong Ã¢â‚¬â€ something I know is not easy for him. However, two days in a blue Nashville has changed his perception on what winning this tournament means.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I’ve never worried about a league championship or a tournament championship. It’s all based on the seed for the national NCAA Tournament. Anybody that says the seed is not important has never coached in the NCAA Tournament. It’s the most important thing. It’s like you’re golfing the first tee. Whatever you say on the first tee is the most important thing.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“So for us to play here and finish so that we keep that seed is important. Here’s what’s more important: When I see a building full of blue fans who paid a lot of money for the tickets Ã¢â‚¬â€ $500, $1,000, probably people that could not afford to pay a $500 or $1,000, they’re taking their vacation in Nashville, Tenn., to watch our team play. Well, then, you kind of feel as a coach you owe it to them to give it your best.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They tell me 180,000 fans came to Nashville. Is that true? Kentucky fans. And only 17,000 could get in the building. There were people selling tickets Ã¢â‚¬â€ they would sell their ticket to anybody except a Kentucky fan. That’s what they had a sign. Are you a Kentucky fan? I’m not selling you the tickets because we’re not having a building full of Kentucky people.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But it’s unbelievable. The blue dust is everywhere. It’s incredible.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It is almost as incredible as a coach admitting he was wrong as Calipari did after feeling the Big Blue love here.