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John Calipari on relating to players: “I don’t think age matters.”

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)


This is John Calipari’s 10th year coaching at Kentucky since he started coaching college basketball 30 years ago at Massachusetts (he had a four-year break from college coaching when he was head coach of the New Jersey Nets in the NBA).

He insists it is not hard for him to relate to players today who are much younger than him.

“If they know that you care about them and they know you make it about them, I don’t think age matters,” Calipari said. “If you’re into your own numbers, wins and everything is about the program, the program, the program and it isn’t about them and they know it, it doesn’t matter what; you’re not going to connect with those kids or their families.

“Hopefully these kids feel that we’re about them. This is about their success collectively and individually. We try not o leave anybody behind. We’re coaching every kid like they’re a starter.”

Calipari noted that he has “mellowed” over the years and former players often tell him that. He’s not sure if he has or not.

“You get comfortable with a team and you don’t have to be as aggressive. And comfortable means no one’s trying to trick anybody. No one’s trying to get over (someone). They’re not in the gym but they want to blame or create cliques. We don’t have that stuff,” Calipari said. “The stuff we have is a bunch of good kids and I’m having a good time with them.”
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