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#pounditTuesday, February 27, 2024

John Calipari shares reason Cuonzo Martin, Tom Crean were fired

John Calipari at a press conference

Two SEC basketball coaches were fired this week, and John Calipari thinks he knows the biggest reason why both men lost their jobs.

Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats beat Vanderbilt 77-71 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday night. Calipari spoke with the media after the win and discussed many subjects, including the firings of Cuonzo Martin by Missouri and Tom Crean by Georgia.

Calipari said that the transfer portal was the biggest reason why both Martin and Crean ended up fired.

Crean took over for Mark Fox at Georgia and went in the wrong direction. The team was 16-16 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and went 14-12 last year. But they lost several top players to transfers and injuries.

As Calipari said, Kentucky took Sahvir Wheeler. Auburn nabbed K.D. Johnson. And Tye Fagan transferred to Mississippi. Wheeler and Johnson were their two leading scorers, while Fagan was Georgia’s fifth-leading scorer last season.

When all was said and done, Georgia didn’t have much of a roster left and wound up going a horrific 6-26.

Missouri lost four of its five starters from the 2021 team that made the NCAA Tournament. Eight of their 11 players overall left the program. Martin’s team went 12-21 this season, leading to his firing.

Maybe the transfer portal wasn’t the biggest reason both men were fired, but it sure helped bury both of their programs.

The portal makes it easy for good players to leave weak teams for better ones, thus further entrenching the gap between the best and worst programs.

Photo: Danny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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