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John Calipari respects Tom Izzo for being about “kids, game”

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

Kentucky coach John Calipari maintains a close friendship with Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and admires his program.

The Wildcats are 1-1 against the Spartans in the prestigious Champions Classic going into Tuesday night’s game in New York.

Michigan State defeated the Wildcats 78-73 six years ago in Chicago and UK defeated Izzo’s squad 69-48 in 2016 at Madison Square Garden.

“I respect the fact that he is not only about Michigan State, but he’s about the kids and about the game. If there is anything that needs to be done to make the game better or for kids, he’s all-in,” Calipari said Sunday.

“He also speaks his mind, which I appreciate and I think he and I are at the age at this point, you kind of say things you wish you didn’t say, but you say them any way.

“As a basketball coach, you know he’s as good as they get and his teams … it’s the same deal. They’re not going to beat themselves. You’re going to have to have a heck of a game to have a chance to win, just because of how they play, how they defend and how tough they are.

“All this stuff, we try to teach these young guys and it just takes a lot of time to do it.”

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Gametracker: Kentucky vs. Michigan State, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m. TV/Radio: ESPN, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at or twitter @keithtaylor21.


  1. FSU made the right choice but got the wrong Stoops. Coach Mike was willing to let Mark accept the job. I know many may not agree with my decision but think that could change if UT takes us out this weekend. It may be when more than if. Unfortunately UT has improved more than us since beginning of season. If our D stays strong and Gran becomes less predictable we will have a great shot, and I would like to see us blow them our but that not Stoop’s style and let’s be honest….Stoops does not prepare his teams for explosive first quarters. BTW Norvell would have been one of my first calls….why not…didn’t work too bad for us decade ago. Price is still on my short 5 coach list. Am willing to trade “quirky” for explosive offense. Any Catmandoo sightings out there?

  2. LOL…At least someone cares.

    1. That is a good one Hornet, nice. This article has nothing to do with Stoops to FSU. It is about respect for Tom Izzo. Try and stay focused Mike.

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