By LARRY VAUGHT
Let’s give John Calipari credit for not pulling any punches about the upcoming college basketball season.
“Let me just say my opinion on this would be a guess. My hope is – and forget about basketball – how about all these sports where these young men and women have dedicated themselves since they were 12 years old, these kinds of opportunities, and it’s taken away? So, my hope is that we tamp down this virus and we’re able to come back and play,” Calipari said.
Don’t think anyone can disagree with that.
“My hope is pretty strong for basketball because I have a really good team. So, I want us to play basketball in the worst way and be an NCAA Tournament team and make a run, but we’ve got to go with the science,” Calipari said. “We’ve got to trust that people within that field, within our league, within our school,s and we gotta roll with what they’re telling us to do.”
Just a few hours after Calipari’s comments the SEC announced there would be no volleyball, cross country or soccer until at least Aug. 31 — just a few days before the football season is still scheduled to start as of now.
That made the plea Calipari made to Kentuckians hit home even more — or it should.
“Our state has done a great job. And now we got to turn it up. And it may not matter because there’s so many other states that are losing their minds and things are going haywire. But our state, and it’s four million of us, let’s just protect each other, wear the mask. Everybody says it. It’s not a statement. Just wear the mask. It protects you and protects somebody else,” Calipari said.
“I mean, if we do that. Just wear the mask. If you’re out, if you’re in a building. If you’re outside walking around, I get it. But if you’re in a building, you’re in any kind of position where you’re around people, put the mask on.”
Calipari said if he’s walking alone, he doesn’t wear a mask. If he goes by people, he puts on a mask.
“I would tell everybody we got to get through this and unless things start to change – what everybody’s hope is – it’s going to be hard to happen. How about this one? We’re talking about why do you want students on the campus? Can you imagine a student working their whole life to have an opportunity to be accepted at school like Kentucky?” Calipari said.
“Their whole life, that’s all they thought about. They’ve trained. They’ve been studying. They’ve done it. They finished in the top 15 in their class. They’ve done everything and then they can’t go to college. They’ve got to do it remotely. Think of that. How many young people are going to be, ‘My whole life, I’ve prepared for this and I’m not getting an opportunity.’”
He said it might be worse for those who have been on campus and now might not be able to return because of COVID-19.
“You’ve had a ball. You’ve learned. You’ve interacted socially. You’ve opened up. And now you can’t come back to campus. That’s worse than never coming because the other guy doesn’t know what he’s missing,” Calipari said.
“That one is like, oh my gosh. So we just gotta—everybody’s got to do what they can, but we also got to follow the science. Gotta follow the science.”