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Buffalo coach backs off “Calipari whining” comment — but just a little bit

Nate Oats (Vicky Graff Photo)


When Kentucky won the 1996 national championship, twice it had to play Massachusetts, including once in the Final Four.

UMass had a brash, young coach — John Calipari.

That popped into my head when I heard some things that Buffalo coach Nate Oats has said since his team stunned Arizona Thursday night to set up a game with Kentucky Saturday to advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen.

“Calipari’s been whining about no experience: Young, young, young,” Oats said after the win over Arizona. “We don’t have that problem.”

Brash, but true. How many times this season has Calipari said he has the youngest team in America? It’s more than I can count — and he was even asked about that at Friday’s press conference. Oats has a veteran team, including a fifth-year senior guard, while Calipari starts five freshmen.

Jerry Sullivan of the Buffalo News asked Calipari Friday what he thought about Oats’ whining statement. Calipari said he had not heard it before giving his opinion on the subject.

“I don’t know if it’s whining or telling the truth. I’m not whining about it,” Calipari said. “I’ve got a pretty good team. ‘He should not tell the truth. He should not even say it. Introduce them and don’t give their year.’ That’s fine. At the end of the day we’ve got to go play a basketball game. Everybody has got to get in the ring and play.

Oats followed Calipari at the press conference Friday and offered a clarification about what he said after Thursday’s win.

“It was a misuse of the word,” Oats said. “He’s a pretty dang good coach. He’s made known the fact that he’s young all year. It’s a fact. It is what it is. … Let’s say it like it is, let’s be real: I’m not going to try to disrespect anybody, but our players, they’re a little older. Wes (Clark, Buffalo senior point guard) has two kids. He’s trying to catch up to me. I’ve got three. We can trade parenting stories.”

That’s the type of thing Calipari would have said back in 1996 — or might still say today.
The Bulls start a senior, three juniors and a sophomore. That makes them a lot older than Kentucky. But Oats knows the talent UK has.

“The talent level (for Kentucky’s freshmen) is absolutely there, and when they go in the (NBA draft) lottery, I’m going to agree with NBA teams that took them. They’re that good,” Oats said. “They’re still freshmen. No disrespect to our two freshmen … they’re inexperienced. It’s not disrespect. It is what it is. It’s facts. I’m going to tell them they’re not freshmen? You are freshmen.
“Just like Cal’s been saying. Cal’s been saying it.”
And he says it year after year.


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  1. A team many times takes on the personality of their coach. Oats seems real cocky, but in all honesty, Calipari, every time up, like a broken record, talks about his youth and inexperience. He has done that for 9 years or so now. I don’t know why he has to bring this up at every press conference. In all candor, that is HIS system. He has extremely young players every year. This year takes the cake though. I guess Calipari can use that as an excuse for poor play, and that is why he does it JMO.. Will see if Calipari’s youth can put a hurting on a cocky bunch of veterans from Buffalo at 4:15 pm CST today.

  2. Why in the world wouldn’t Buffalo be confident after what they did to Arizona? I kind of like this attitude and brashness, and we will see how this works out for them. We actually have better athletes and they have more experience. Have you seen some of the teams that have beat them and by the margins? We probably should beat them by at least 15, but when you factor in confidence, physicality, high energy, passion, pride and determination and the will to win, I am not sure we match up there. This is OUR time with the upsets that have preceded this game. If we lose this game it will be the 3rd worse national embarrassment at least so far in the tourney and probably 1 of our worse

    1. Nothing will ever top our loss to Robert Morris in the NIT.

      1. I don’t know about that, I believe UVA takes the prize.

  3. Page 2……and now the rest of the story. A loss to Buffalo will probably be one of our worst defeats in our post season tourney history. I hope we have loaded up with the ton of locker room material we have been handed. GO CATS!! and good luck to all you potential Atlanta attendees if we advance.

  4. Just go out and play the Kentucky game, defend the perimeter, and attack the lane.

  5. I just hope UK does not have to face UMBC, Wow! what a win for them.

  6. If UK plays hard and stays out of foul trouble, I think UK wins by 10 or more. GO CATS!!!

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