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Calipari-Pearl rivalry should always be fun


John Calipari got a bit testy and defensive on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference Monday when it was suggested that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl caused problems for his dribble-drive offense with his zone defense.

“We beat him at home pretty good,” said Calipari. “We were 2-for-22 from the 3. I remember (people) saying my team at Memphis could not win because of free throws. Now it is 3-point shooting. You have spells where you do not shoot well. I am proud of my team. We were 2-for-22 on the road and tied 65-65 after being down 19. Incredible. The way they played and held the ball gave us a chance.”

Think that wasn’t a little shot at Peal’s offensive strategy. Calipari said the same thing after Saturday’s 74-65 loss — when he did credit the Vols for their play — about Tennessee wasting chances with deliberate play to break the game open.

“It’s funny. Everybody will have this is how to play them. Hold your nose and close our eyes and hope we do not make shots. But if we go 5-for-22 (at Tennessee), we win going away,” Calipari said.

Get ready. Here comes another salvo in the Calipari-Pearl rivalry.

“The beginning of the game is where we lost,” the UK coach said. “The players, not the coaches, came into that game out of desperation. By the time we settled down, you are down 19.

“There are all kinds of ways to play my team. South Carolina played man to man and beat us. Vanderbilt played man and almost beat us. What you are basically saying (in a zone) is that you hope we can’t make shots. By the end of the year, I believe the difference will be 3-point shooting. When we finish out, you will be saying, ‘How do you guard them? They made 3’s.’ And that’s what I believe our team will do.”

Calipari said Tennessee’s defense did not deny his team good shots.

“They are wide open. We shot air balls twice with nobody on us. That is what the dribble-drive does (to create open shots),” Calipari said. “They had to have that start to beat us. Without that start, they don’t beat us. Give it to their players. They did it.”

Again, give it to the players, not Pearl’s strategy.

The two coaches had an intense rivalry when Calipari was at Memphis. Obviously, nothing has changed and that’s only going to make future games — and possibly a SEC Tournament matchup — even more interesting and entertaining.

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  1. Sarah C. White

    I almost got dizzy from the spin!

  2. BarryRussell

    Stop spinning Sarah – Just coach speak – Can’t wait till rematch.

  3. Jimcats

    Cal, reminds me of the very old joke in which one guy swipes at the other’s neck with his straight razor and the guy says, “Ha. You missed!” Then the guy with the razor says, “Shake your head, man”.

    Cal’s razor, sabre, or whatever, is so sharp that it takes a while to recognize the cut.

    Still, I like Pearl. He will make some fun out of the games, win or lose. Cal SAYS games are not life and death; Pearl KNOWS that games are not life and death matters. I’m gonna sit back and enjoy this rivalry—I hope for years to come.


    I agree with coach. He also said something like that after the Vandy game. If we make shots we blow people out. If we play CONSISTANT DEFENSE we win whether we make threes or not.

    That 19 point comeback was done with only 1 three pointer period!!! DEFENSE is the key to success!!

    That said good 3 point shooting can cover up lapses in defensive intensity & sgut up an angry crowd. I for still have faith in what Coach is doing. And I like what he has to say about it!!!!

    The only team that can beat us is US!! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. GO BLUE OR STAY HOME!!!!!

  5. KC

    They are two of the showmen of College Basketball. I still think Cal would like a rematch and players do for sure.

  6. Jim Boyers

    UKFMLY, well said about the 3 pointer covering things up. That’s why I can’t stand it. Not only does it cover up defensive lapses, it also covers up a lack of interior play on offense, a lack of mid-range shooting ability and gives some inferior teams a chance to win games that they probably shouldn’t. I don’t believe in “evening the playing field”. If your team can’t ball without a “gimmick” shot, then you shouldn’t be winning. While it does occasionally add some drama and excitement, I think the 3 should have stayed in the NBA.

    Congratulations to Cal on launching a few shells over Brucie’s PORTLY…oops, I mean PORT side. It really was a matter of us missing shots and playing Matador defense, WAY more than it was ANYTHING Brucie did. It’s refreshing to hear a coach actually verbalize it for once!

    In the beginning of the year, they WERE knocking down the 3’s and everyone WAS saying “How do you guard them?”, just like Cal stated above. Everyone was saying that we had answered the only real question about this team. Now that they are missing them, the “experts” are again questioning. Hopefully the 3’s will start falling again and UK will roll into the NCAA tournament with that aura of invincibility that surrounded them just a few weeks ago.

    If anyone can motivate these guys, it is Cal. This team has shown that they listen and respond to him VERY positively, even if they sometimes make statements to the contrary.

    Saturday will be another VERY brutal road test. A loss wouldn’t shock me, but I truly believe that they will take care of business and make a statement with solid play on both sides of the ball. Cats by 8!

    GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  7. gmoyers

    Good comments here and Sarah take the advice. Just enjoy the coach speak

  8. Sarah

    You forget, I work for the government. I understand speaking in tongues – and, love it – just think it is funny. I’m not a coach, but even I know if we score more, our chances of winning are greater. It is all about presentation, presentation, presentation. And, I do think Coach is good, perhaps great, at that.

  9. Dawn

    Calipari can say what he wants (and he surely will) about it being all execution by the UT players, or lack of execution by the Kentucky players, but everyone (including him) knows he got out-coached by Pearl, as is usually the case. I’m sure he didn’t like reading about it @ espn.com and cbssports.com, so he had to get his little snipes in. Even if he wants to just focus on how the players executed, as opposed to the strategy, he would still have to see how Pearl is a much better motivator. According to some, the only thing Calipari is better at is recruiting, but I think Pearl is just as good; he just doesn’t have the “resources and connections” that Calipari (see: World Wide Wes).

  10. Sarah

    I couldn’t agree with you less, Dawn. I see no evidence, and I have gone to lots of his games, that Bruce Pearl is a better motivator. Has he been good for TN? Absolutely. Has he been good for the SEC? Absolutely. If you look at the recruits he has had over the year, they are not impressive. Bruce coaches at his best when he has underdog players. Tyler Smith just signed a two month contract to Turkey (is that a top recruit?). Scotty thought he would be one and done; he is now two and still won’t be done. There is absolutely no comparison to the level of talent Calipari recruits. Was he outcoached on Saturday? That I agree with. On this particular day for whatever reason, he was outcoached. Does he use World Wide Wes at UK? I highly doubt it – because if he did, we would have pictures, and more snippy remarks, and everyone in the world after us. Only people who have no knowledge throw out little snippets and have no reliable, provable knowledge about his association with WWW since he has been at UK or if any of that is going on. If you do, throw it out there. Let us all see.

  11. gmoyers

    Easy Sarah. You will stroke out and miss the SEC tourney and we can’t have that. I need you to plan a vaughtsviews.com gathering on Friday before UK’s first game

  12. Steve

    Dawn, I guess Cal out-coached Pearl in Lexington? Give it to Pearl, he is good at getting his team up for big games at home. Now only if he knew how to coach his team against mediocre competition on the road, there might be a different team at the top of the SEC East. I’ve seen UT look absolutely flat against teams that they should dominate. If a coach gets credit for winning big games under the spotlight then he is equally responsible for sub-par performances when the stage lights are off.

  13. gmoyers

    Fair points Steve

  14. Jim Boyers

    Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn, Dawn….

    Why does every jealous hater have to pull out the “CAL’S CHEATING” card? WEAK! TIRED! OLD!

    As far as being “out coached”: Cal can’t take the shots for his team, nor can he step into the lane and cut off an opposing player, on defense. These are the sole responsibility of the players on the court. If they don’t make the shots or defend in the manner they were taught, THAT IS THE VERY DEFINITION OF FAILING TO EXECUTE!! Motivation has NOTHING to do with hitting a shot. If UK had even shot sub-par, instead of outright horribly, they would have won by 10 or 12 points.

    So my advice to you is to:

    1) Get some original thoughts to post, instead of repeating the same overused Cal-hater lines.

    2) Stick to rooting for your own team and don’t worry about what UK fans are saying.

    GO BIG BLUE!!!!

  15. Sarah

    I was calm, Larry. You should see me when I really get testy. I don’t play “he said, she said” games at work or at play. If someone wants to talk about someone else, say what you have to say in front on the one you accuse, and bring your proof. If not, don’t say it. I love this team, and I am so excited about the upcoming SEC Tournament. Fan Fair opens at 10:00, and we could all meet there right at 10:00. We could all wear Blue (ha, ha, ha). We could even wear our crazy hats so everyone could find us. That would give us an hour before we had to go inside for the game. That would be great. Could you bring Mrs. P and Ashley? That would make it special!!! I would love to meet lots of your readers. They have to be super like you.

  16. gmoyers

    Sounds like a plan Sarah. Send me some details and we will work on that next week

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