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Penny Hardaway still wants a Kentucky-Memphis series

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)


Memphis has the nation’s No. 1 college basketball recruiting class that includes James Wiseman, a player Kentucky coach John Calipari pursued for two years, and D.J. Jeffries, a former UK commit.

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway mentioned when he got the job just over a year ago that he would like to play Kentucky. That has not changed.

“I haven’t spoken to him (in about a month), but I’m definitely going to be talking to him about a home-and-home,” Hardaway told writer Jonah Jordan. “Or even a neutral site. We talked about a neutral site in Nashville before.”

It’s not just Kentucky that Hardaway wants to play. He’s insisted since he took the job that he would like to play a strong national schedule — and that was before he signed the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class.

“I’ll play anybody. That’s my thing. Even last year. I don’t want people thinking because we have the No. 1 recruiting class I’m going to be like ‘everyone play me.’ I always want to play the best. That’s what I always do while I’m here as head coach.”

He also revealed plans to take his team to the Bahamas Aug. 12-19 for a series of exhibition games much like Calipari has done twice at Kentucky.

“We’re going to introduce this group to the nation,” Hardaway said. “We’re taking the team to play four games in seven days and use it as vacation, and see where guys are. See where the chemistry is. I know it’s still early, but it would give us an opportunity in game form.”


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  1. There is nothing in it for Kentucky to play Memphis in basketball. Cal should tell Penny to prove himself worthy over the next 5 years and then we can talk about a series! If Penny loses, then it is no big deal because he is supposed to lose, but it puts him on KY’s level. If he wins, then he benefits in every category. If KY wins they were supposed to and it hurts them dearly if they lose. Just like Louisville, it is a no win situation for Kentucky, but the State general assembly forced them to play. That is not the case for Memphis. Memphis is asking Cal for a favor to play them, after they failed to honor Cal for what he did at Memphis. I just do not see any benefit in this series for Kentucky. Ultimately it is Cal’s choice and i will be supportive of whatever he chooses.

    1. @ Ben:
      You are absolutely correct.
      I can see absolutely no benefit for UK by scheduling Memphis at this juncture.
      Hardaway hasn’t proven himself as a top tier Division 1 coach yet.
      A successful ’19-’20 season would go a long way to enhancing his resume, but Memphis, under Hardaway’s leadership, must string a few years of success together before they will qualified for scheduling by any of the Blue Bloods.

      1. I don’t think Cal will ever schedule memphis

  2. Ben27, I agree completely.
    Tell Penny to make it to the tournament, then we can play.

  3. Nothing against Penny, but he can go earn his stripes first, then maybe he’ll warrant consideration. We don’t need to put them on center stage when we compete for similar recruits.,,”let them eat cake.”

  4. Why wouldn’t he want to take on Cal again? He is putting a little whoopin on him in recruiting and now feels empowered to take him on in the big stage. I agree that really nothing in it for UK cept a little more embarrassment.

    1. Typical response from you Mike. Geez.

    2. @ Mike:
      Why be a douche about it ?

  5. Why not guys, let this rivarly get going. It be good for college basketball world and let Cal show him how to coach.

    1. You got it Cats79. Let Penny go for it, he needs it for his program. I personally think UK wins going away. Hardaway is going up against a HOF coach, 2015 coach of the year, 3 time Naismith coach of the year, 3 time SEC coach of the year. He has 1 national championship under his belt, and will probably win No. 9 in 2019-20. He has 18 NCAA tourney appearances to his credit, and 4 final four appearances. As UK’s coach he has 5 SEC regular season championships, and 6 SEC tournament championships. Those feats accomplished in about 10 years on the job. His record at UK is 305-71, with an overall record of 708-208. That is almost an 80% win record. How many No. 1 classes has he signed since taking over at UK? Yet some on this site say he can’t recruit anymore, really? All that said and you have people on this blog that want to criticize and see him leave. If he did, the next guy UK hired would face the same nonsense by two on this blog. We all know who I’m talking about. Color me a Rah! Rah!

      1. Again you show you over blow Cal’s record. He has only won 4 SEC regular season titles and shared one with A&M. He has only won 5 SEC tournament titles, not 6. AND HE HAS ONLY WON 1 NATIONAL TITLE. Carolina and Duke will pass us in national titles if Cal stays another 10 years. Thankfully, he will be gone in 4, if not sooner. People like you and Hornet are the Rah Rah cancer that is undermining KY basketball. Five years from now we will all see who is right and I will take no pleasure in that. Let’s get a guy here who will work for KY and not be a NBA farm team.

        1. Catmandoo, you just will not give the man any credit whatsoever, will you? Look how long Krzyzewski has been at Duke, almost 40 years and has only won 5 National Titles. Look how much UNC has cheated over the years that goes all the way back into the Dean Smith era, with no consequences.

          Nobody, including Rupp, has done more for UK basketball than John Calipari. Is he perfect, of course not, who is? I would say if Larry Vaught would take a POLL on this site on the job Calipari has done since taking this job, more would agree with Hornet and me than they do with and you and negative Mike. If that was not the case, UK couldn’t pack Rupp Arena every time they play. So if we support our coach we are the cancer? You are never satisfied even when they win. As for Cal being gone in 4 years, who knows? I am no prophet and neither are you. He is here until he retires, and that is a good thing. Be careful what you wish for too hoss. UK basketball is in real good shape right now, and it will stay that way with Calipari at the helm. It could go in the wrong direction quick with somebody else leading this program. Besides that, any coach UK would bring in wouldn’t be good enough for you anyway. First game he lost would be the end of the world.

        2. According to my check UK won the SEC tournament in 2010, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 2018. You want scores and who they beat? All under John Calipari.

  6. Mike is the only one here that isn’t a Rah Rah. He is right, Penny did give Cal a whooping in recruiting and would most likely deliver a similar whooping on the court if it were a true home/home series. Cal has repeatedly shown that he has no problem embarrassing the program and will continue to do so. A lot of BBN is so afraid of getting another Billy Clyde that they willingly embrace Calipari’s national record. Winning one national title out of 20 is now the bar for performance. What a sad time for Kentucky basketball. Thankfully, Cal will be gone in a few years and I will wish him the best. He has not been the answer that KY was looking for as far as passing UCLA in national titles won.

    1. You and Mike is the only two on here who are dead wrong, let’s add that.

  7. Sorry Catmandoo your wrong, Cal will do more than you think as long he his the coach at UK. But then I’m worry about will Las Vegas will have control of who wins it as the states are legalizing gambling . I have been worn this stuff gas been going on for years and sometimes I wonder.

  8. Cat1000, I asked you respectfully, if for some reason Cal had to leave now, who would you appoint coach?

  9. To ignore Hardaway could give the perception that UK is scared of his program. It will hurt UK recruiting too with that perception. UK basketball should not be afraid to play anybody if the terms can be worked out. That said, Larry Vaught is probably right in that Cal will probably never schedule Memphis for personal reasons. I personally would love to see the game scheduled.

    1. Hardaway will likely spin it that way, but I don’t think that approach will have an appreciable negative impact unless and/or until Hardaway has a proven track record of success in the NCAA tournament.

      Perhaps he could use that spin on local Memphis area recruits successfully, but I just don’t think it would work on a national level.

      1. You may be right Hornet, but Hardaway has already signed two pretty good players who are not from Memphis. One a 5* and the other a 4*. if Cal does not want to play Memphis, I’m ok with that too.

        1. You are correct about Hardaway’s current success with those players outside the Memphis area. However, I doubt that their decisions to play for Hardaway were based upon anything to do with UK being scared of Hardaway’s program.

          1. It seems that hiring ex-NBA players is becoming more and more popular.
            Michigan has hired Juwan Howard as their new coach.

          2. I’m saying that if UK tries to ignore Hardaway about a home and home game in the future , he could use that in recruiting.

  10. After further thought, my only fear is the NCAA and their coercive way of making teams play teams in the tournament that will not play each other in the regular season. This is why the selection process should be totally computerized and the human element left out of the selection process. They say it is just a coincidence that teams play based on the criteria laid before them. A computer program could do a better job and leave the bias out of the selection process.

    1. I never ever trust the NCAA to do the right thing.

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