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Joe Dean

Kentucky coach John Calipari tries to get his team to adjust during the Alabama Crimson Tide's NCAA SEC basketball game with the Kentucky Wildcats, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama won another wild nail-biter, keyed by defense, 58-55, to go to 4-1 on the SEC year. (AP Photo/Birmingham News, Vasha Hunt)

Kentucky coach John Calipari tries to get his team to adjust during the Alabama Crimson Tide’s NCAA SEC basketball game with the Kentucky Wildcats, Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama won another wild nail-biter, keyed by defense, 58-55, to go to 4-1 on the SEC year. (AP Photo/Birmingham News, Vasha Hunt)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Southeastern Conference TV basketball analyst Joe Dean thinks Kentucky coach John Calipari has done a “phenomenal” coaching job this year after losing the top six players off last year’s national championship team to the NBA.

“I would ask any professional person to eliminate the top six people in their organization — they just go away — and try to replace them. They just go away and try to replace them and have the same production. Common sense tells you that you are going to take a step back when you lose your top six people and that is what has happened with him,” Dean said.

“The difference with this year’s team and the other three is that he had no veteran leadership. No experienced leadership in the program that could help bring the younger guys along. He had no Patrick Patterson or Darius Miller or DeAndre Liggins. He had nobody like that to help the younger guys along.

“I know from personal experience how hard it is to get freshmen to play at a really high level every single night for 40 minutes and that has been the challenge for him to get young, 18-year-old kids to play at a high level … again Kentucky’s standard is the highest level in the country … and to do that is very difficult.”

That’s why Dean makes it clear how he would rate Calipari’s coaching job this season even though UK has the worst record it has in four years under him.

“He has done a phenomenal job with this team to win 20-plus games with this group of kids, and then to lose your very best player (Nerlens Noel) in the middle of the year. I think he has done an unbelievable job and anybody who doesn’t think that doesn’t know anything about basketball,” Dean said

The SEC analyst says having Ryan Harrow miss about three weeks early in the season for personal reasons was also a big stumbling block for Calipari to overcome even when Harrow came back.

“It’s like if the New England Patriots lose (quarterback) Tom Brady for three weeks, how good will they be. It is the same thing. Ryan Harrow, in my opinion as an outsider looking and watching their team, is not the caliber of point guard that the Kentucky people have enjoyed the last three years. He’s just not,” Dean said.

“Nothing against him. He’s just not as good as John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague. I mean, those three kids were first-round draft picks and this kid is not that. He is a good player but he will be inconsistent and up and down as most new players playing at this level are going to be. That’s the challenge for the coach to keep him in there, keep him focused, keep him working.

“Knowing that he is not as talented as the three previous point guards and knowing the pressure he is under following those kids this year. I think John has done an amazing job with all the different moving parts he has had to deal with throughout the year, including losing Noel. I just don’t know how anybody could think he has note done a phenomenal job this year.”

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Former Kentucky coach Joe Hall and contributor Jim Host of Kentucky were part of a 10-man class inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday night at the historic Midland Theatre, tipping off a three-day celebration of college basketball.

Georgetown’s dominating center Patrick Ewing, Kansas legend Clyde Lovellette and North Carolina’s star guard Phil Ford headlined the class that also included coach Dave Robbins of Virginia Union; players Kenny Sailors of Wyoming, Earl Monroe of Winston Salem State and Willis Reed of Grambling; and contributor  Joe Dean.

The 2012 induction ceremonies for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame may be seen on Sunday, December 9, at 10 p.m. (EST) on ESPNU.

As a Kentucky assistant coach in 1972, Hall had the unenviable task of succeeding Adolph Rupp. Unfazed by the task, Hall guided the Wildcats for 13 seasons, winning 75 percent of 397 games. Within three years, he reached the NCAA championship game and, in 1978, he earned National Coach of the Year honors while coaching Kentucky to its fifth national title with a 30-2 record. His Wildcat teams won eight SEC championships and earned a Final Four berth for the third time in 1984. He was named SEC Coach of the Year four times.

Few men have influenced the game of basketball as diversely as Dean. The three-time All-SEC player at LSU was a promotions and marketing executive with the Converse Rubber Co. from 1959-1987, advocating not only the Converse products but promoting the game of basketball wherever he traveled. In addition, he was a basketball color analyst with several networks including ESPN, NBC and Turner Sports from 1969-1987 before returning to his alma mater in Baton Rouge as director of athletics for 14 years.

The founder and principal of Host Communications, Host realized the potential growth of men’s basketball and partnered the NCAA with major corporations like Gillette, Valvoline and Pizza Hut. Host, who also had a background in broadcasting, went on to create a model for multimedia rights, bundling everything from coaches’ radio and TV shows, promotional appearances, endorsements and publishing into a single package for some of the nation’s top programs. He has been recognized as one of college athletics’ most influential people.

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