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By LARRY VAUGHT

Question: Do you like being in the ground zero area of college basketball with Indiana and Louisville both highly rated and even Murray State making a name going into this season?
Calipari: “Ohio State is going to be good. That is fine. We are a national program. I guess if you live around here it is great. But this thing for us is the epicenter of college basketball is here. Whether they are good, that’s great. I don’t care what those teams do. I really don’t. I just want them to lose to us. Other than that I could care less. I don’t follow their teams. I don’t watch the games. I don’t root against them. If the game is on and I think I am rooting against them I will turn the channel because I don’t want that stuff coming back to us. It always does. But for the fans around here, I guess it is great.”

Question: What do you think of the Kentucky program before you came here and where it was at?
Calipari: “I liked Tubby (Smith). When I was coaching against him we beat them one time. But for a while Kentucky was when they walked in to recruit everybody knew Kentucky was walking in and that changed for a while and then maybe we can get these guys. The kids know three years. When I go in to recruit them, they know three years. They would know nothing about (19)98, not a player, nothing. But that’s not just Kentucky, it is any time. But their families understand the history of this place. The 2K (2,000 victories) meant something. It did then and we knew it. We needed to get there before (North) Carolina and we knew it. I said, ‘Can we win these games to make sure we get there before they do?’ I didn’t want it to be us playing them. That’s all we needed.

“This is a unique place. The expectations are high. You are under a magnifying glass. Stuff that goes on at other campuses, goes on here  it is a big deal. Goes on over there, ‘Hey I didn’t mean it. The guy walked into the kid’s fist.’ That’s life. But if it goes here, I am telling you it is  huge. It’s all part of what it is. Again, the whole thing here is a players’ first program. It is not changing. Every decision I make is based on what is right for these kids. That is not changing. Everything I do is based on them and if I do right by them and keep doing right by them then they will drag us where we want to go.

“Now I will say this. This team will maybe drag us as far as it can go and that may not be what we all want but I will look back and feel great about that. I think of the team two years ago and the first time I had here, those two teams both had chance to win national titles. To be honest, you may say we should have won in 2010. If we don’t go 0-for-20 (from 3-point range) against West Virginia, maybe we do. I think we were better than the other teams. Then the last year when you didn’t think we should win it and we ended up going farther, that’s just how it is here.”

12 Responses to John Calipari on preseason rankings and perception of Kentucky basketball program

  • Juan4UK says:

    Starting to see this years motto from Cal: Kentucky is the epicenter of college basketball.
    …and it is!!!

  • Bob says:

    I don’t mean to down play coach Hall because he is my all time fav coach at Kentucky but i have never been this excited about kentucky Basketball year after year ever!

  • Juan4UK says:

    I know what you mean Bob. But you know what it is? It’s a CONFIDENT buzz and excitement. We know we are going to be good, but how good? Good enough to win it all? Maybe, for sure. And an extra bit is, if we don’t win it all, for the first time I can remember I trust what Cal has/can do the next season (not just next years class per say) to put it together and bring it home.
    It’s not just building a program for a pay off 4 yrs down the road and maybe able to repeat. Then the rebuild toward maybe another good run a few years down the road. Cal’s way is showing dividends, and I think the whole fanbase can see it is going to work.

  • Eric says:

    Give him 2 million more per year and let him coach football.

  • TheProfessor says:

    Does anyone else see this man as a natural to fill an AD seat at some point when he no longer wants the daily grind of coaching?

    • larryvaught says:

      He might be too competitive to be AD. So hands off, don’t know if he could back off and just watch coaches coach

      • Love SEC says:

        You may be right Larry, but I agree with Professor. As Coach he knows his role and has embraced the job and knows what the position means to BBN. I think he would approach the AD job the same way.

  • Juan4UK says:

    I brought this up during year one, and yes he would be perfect. Although I had one lovely passionate lady on here that disagreed vehemently….. but yeah, he would be great as an AD.

    • Kokamo Joe says:

      No, Calipari would not be a good fit for the AD at the University of Kentucky. UK has has a history of promoting their basketball heros to AD. That has not worked out well. The AD is in charge of ALL athletic programs at the University. As AD, Calipari would focus on his first love which is basketball. Football is a major college sport. We need an AD who will devote energy to all sports including football. For too long, IMO, football has been the stepchild of UK athletics. Could that be the reason why UK is a super power in basketball and a bottom feeder in football? A second point is this: Calipari has and will again take a chance on recruits. That has not always worked out for him. We need an athletic director who will keep UK squeeky clean.

  • Kokamo Joe says:

    I continue to be amazed at how this man has changed Kentucky basketball. As I have mentioned our freshmen have not even played a game and we are excited about the Harrison twins, and on thursday we get the third 2013 recruit, JAMES YOUNG. Calipari is the master recruiter who will keep this excitement going as long as he wishes to coach in Lexington. Times change. I can remember when freshmen were not elgible to play college basketball and there were freshmen teams. Players did not have to report during the summer, even for Rupp. The UK roster was filled with players from Kentucky and many a Kentucky kid dreamed of playing for the Big Blue while he shot baskets on his dirt court in the back yard. Now, we get the best of the best. There will be few Kentucky kids. Rupp’s, Hall’s and Sutton’s early teams played a preconference schedule which always included teams like Ohio State, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, and Notre Dame. Times do change and Calipari is on the cusp of that change.

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