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#pounditThursday, August 13, 2020

John Calipari

John Calipari issues statement after Kentucky falls in Elite Eight

John Calipari

Kentucky coach John Calipari issued a statement Monday following the Wildcats’ 77-71 overtime loss to the Auburn Tigers.

In a pair of tweets, Calipari commented on how much the loss hurt, and how much he’d enjoyed coaching this year’s Kentucky team despite the fact that they fell short of the Final Four.

Calipari’s mea culpa is probably somewhat a response to the circumstances of the loss. Kentucky led by as much as 11 in the first half a took a five-point advantage into the locker room, meaning the loss broke a remarkable Calipari streak. Plus, a program like Kentucky expects Final Fours, and Calipari hasn’t reached one since 2015.

Brad Calipari will have chance to leave Kentucky as graduate transfer

Brad Calipari

The saga of Brad Calipari has been one Kentucky fans have followed closely throughout the year, and it may have a big twist involved.

Calipari, the son of Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari, played two seasons — 2016-17 and 2017-18 — for the Wildcats. He decided to redshirt this season and is spotted by the team’s bench every game. His apparel at each game has become a major point of interest among Big Blue Nation. It’s such a point of interest that you can even bet on it.

Due to him redshirting this season, Brad still has two seasons of eligibility left as a player. His father joined “The Jim Rome Show” on Wednesday and actually talked about the possibility of a graduate transfer.

“He redshirted because he’s going to have two years to play,” John said of Brad. “If he chooses to, he can go to another school, a smaller school where he’ll play more.”

John added that he thinks Brad will stay at Kentucky though.

Brad appeared in 27 games over his first two seasons, playing 73 minutes. He has scored 11 points in his career, mostly as a 3-point shooter. We really couldn’t see him leaving Kentucky considering he willingly chose to go there as a freshman rather than a smaller school, but you never know. Big Blue Nation wouldn’t be the same without him.

John Calipari seemingly responds to report linking him to UCLA

John Calipari

John Calipari took to social media to seemingly respond to a report linking him with the UCLA head coaching job.

A report surfaced on Wednesday that Calipari was showing interest in coaching the UCLA Bruins. Later that day, the Kentucky Wildcats coach took to his Twitter account to say his “plan and desire” is to retire at Kentucky. Calipari then shifted his attention to the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament game against Abilene Christian.

With the impressive resume Calipari has compiled, it’s not surprising to hear his name linked with one of the storied programs in college basketball. For now, he will be focusing on leading Kentucky to its first Final Four since 2015 and national championship since 2012.

Watch: John Calipari shuts down Kentucky fans’ ‘overrated’ chant about Tennessee

John Calipari

Kentucky fans had plenty of reasons to gloat over the team’s 86-69 win over Tennessee at Rupp Arena on Saturday night, but John Calipari was not having it.

Towards the end of the Wildcats big conference win over Tennessee, the fans in Lexington began chanting “overrated” about the No. 1-ranked Vols. Calipari told them to knock it off, and they quickly shut it down.

Why the harsh response from Calipari? Not only does he have respect for his opponent and want his fans to show the same, but he knows this won’t be the last they see of the Vols. The two teams will meet in Knoxville in a few weeks, and Calipari doesn’t need Tennessee having any more motivation for revenge than necessary.

That’s a smart and classy move by the coach.

Steve Alford visits Kentucky to observe John Calipari’s program

Steve Alford UCLA

Steve Alford is making the most of his time off since being fired by UCLA.

Alford spent time over the weekend in Tennessee learning from Rick Barnes and observing the Volunteers’ program. Barnes’ Vols beat Florida at home on Saturday to improve to 22-1 and 10-0 in SEC play.

On Monday, Alford was in Lexington to observe the Kentucky program as a special guest of John Calipari.

“He and I have been friends for a long time, so he said he wanted to come in for a couple days,” Calipari said, via Kentucky Sports Radio. “So he’s here today. I don’t think he’s staying for the game, but he’ll watch us practice. He’ll be at the radio show tonight. I’ve known him for 30 years or so. He’s a great guy. Terrific coach.”

This is how it’s like in the coaching fraternity. Many of the coaches are friendly or at least have professional relationships with one another. Sometimes they open up their programs to coaches looking to learn or perhaps get an “in” for a potential job.

Alford was fired by UCLA in late December after starting the season 7-6. That followed a disappointing 21-12 season. He also had a losing year in his third season with the Bruins. Alford’s next move is unclear, but he should be armed with some knowledge of what he can do better next time.

Charles Barkley messes with John Calipari during postgame press conference

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley took a moment to mess with John Calipari after Kentucky’s 82-80 win over Auburn on Saturday.

Barkley attended the game to watch his alma mater take on the Wildcats in a matchup between the two 13-3 teams. Afterwards, he interrupted Calipari’s press conference and joked with the Kentucky coach.

Barkley said that Kentucky’s statue for Calipari was too skinny and told the coach he was trolling him from the stands.

Barkley had to take his victories where he could get him after his team lost the game. Kentucky is now up to 4-1 in conference play.

John Calipari wants Rick Pitino to come get recognized at Kentucky

John Calipari

John Calipari and Rick Pitino were longtime rivals at Louisville and Kentucky, but now that Pitino is no longer the coach of the Cardinals, Calipari wants him to receive some recognition in Lexington.

Kentucky hosted Utah on Saturday and won 88-61 at Rupp Arena. Pitino’s 1993 Kentucky team that went to the Final Four was recognized throughout the day, though Pitino did not attend. Calipari said that he reached out to Pitino and asked him to attend, but Pitino had a previous commitment.

“He was with family and he had things going on but I said, ‘Look, you need to get up here. This will be respectful here.’ What that program did to change this back, we should recognize it. You may be mad he went to coach Louisville. So what? When he was here and we needed this program on a different track, he put it and that group, and I thanked that group last night,” Calipari said, via Kentucky Sports Radio.

Pitino did send a tweet to congratulate the team.

Pitino coached Kentucky from 1989-1997. He made three Final Fours, winning one championship. Kentucky also won the title under Tubby Smith the season after Pitino left for the NBA. But Pitino crossed Kentucky fans when he went to rival Louisville and coached the Cardinals from 2001-2017. That rivalry is a big deal, as Calipari will tell you.

Maybe Pitino feels more time needs to pass for Kentucky fans to welcome him again.