By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari might be the biggest advocate for Southeastern Conference basketball and SEC coaches as you can find.
He was at it again Monday on the SEC coaches’ teleconference in advance of the SEC Tournament starting Wednesday in St. Louis.
“What (Missouri coach) Cuonzo (Martin) is doing right now to get (Missouri) to defend, to get them to play together, to get them to make extra passes and all this stuff they’re doing,” Calipari said. “I think he has done a great job with his team, but again, I go through this league right now and the coaches and the jobs that have been done this year is phenomenal.
“The sad thing about our profession, you have some guys that lost close games. Look, I think the job Bryce (Drew) is doing at Vanderbilt is unbelievable. You know, I’m watching tape of his teams this late and they’ve lost – look, it’s not when you’re winning it’s when your team loses, especially when they lose a couple games.
“I would not be surprised to see Georgia march through this tournament. Not at all. One, they’ve got a great coach (in Mark Fox). Two, they have an unbelievable player in (Yante) Maten and three, they’re right on the edge. I mean, they’re losing games in the last two minutes on crazy plays by the other team. It’s not that they’re giving games away or they go a little bit south scoring. That’s, again, what you see – and again Cuonzo (Martin) doing the job that he’s doing is phenomenal.”
However, Calipari admitted there’s one other reason SEC basketball seems to have dramatically improved the last two years.
“What’s happened is we have gotten better and better players top to bottom. If you think it’s solely because of a coach then you don’t know this profession. This thing is about getting really good players to play together and care about winning,” Calipari said.
“Bottom line. Not brain surgery. We’ve gotten coaches who are experienced at this and then we’ve gotten better players. The talent that’s been added to this league in the last couple of years has been phenomenal.”