By LARRY VAUGHT
One thing Kentucky coach John Calipari won’t do is make it personal against another coach no matter who the Wildcats are playing.
“If I make it personal, I don’t do as good a job. I really don’t. You coach against friends, the problem is somebody has to lose,” Calipari said Monday. “You hope it’s him, but sometimes it’s you. If it’s him, you feel really good in the game and then you look at him and shake his hand and you feel bad for him.”
Tonight Calipari goes against Tom Crean, Georgia’s first-year head coach. Crean was head coach at Indiana — remember the court-charging win over UK in 2011 that ended the UK-Indiana series. However, Calipari said they have been friends for 30 years.
“He’s a competitor. He’ll want to win this game, and he’s going to build it up to be a Super Bowl,” Calipari said. “I’ve always respected what he does, and we’ve been friends. We haven’t talked as much, and not because he’s at Georgia and I’m here. I haven’t been on the phone that much this year as I usually am anyway.
“I was in here last night and had Tyler (Herro) and Keldon (Johnson) come up just to talk to them. My time is consumed with this team right now. Not in a pressure, I’m pressured. No. Just, how do I help individuals get better? How do I help them buy into their role like Ashton has bought into his role? How do I get this guy, this guy and that guy to understand this is what I’m asking you to do? Which, they all know, then why are you choosing not to do it? Is it too hard? Are you not capable? Tell me, why wouldn’t you? So, we’re still dealing with that.”
And it is a slow moving process.
“Buddies of mine watched me coach the last game and said you’re dragging them across the finish line. Yeah, I’m exhausted. I don’t want to coach that way, but I don’t want to lose either,” Calipari said. “So we’ll just let them go. Yeah? Oh yeah, I could just see that. At some point, they must be empowered to know they’ve got to go do this and they can’t be counting on me to come up with solutions every time.”