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Chris Mack: John Calipari ‘Does as Good of a Job as Anyone in College Basketball’


It’s no secret that the Kentucky-Louisville basketball rivalry is the best, most heated rivalry in all of college hoops. But since the Rick Pitino regime left Louisville a little over a year ago and Chris Mack arrived, it seems that the rivalry has somewhat tempered.

It’s not to say that the two sides still don’t dislike each other, and that each side desperately wants to win every time they take the court. But the visceral hate seems to have slightly subsided since Mack’s arrival last April.

Still, the rivalry means a lot to both sides, and Mack touched on his first experience facing off against Kentucky last season, when he joined KSR’s Aaron Torres on KSR’s Aaron Torres Sports Podcast earlier today.

There he was asked about the Kentucky rivalry, how it compares to Cincinnati-Xavier and just his general thoughts overall. In listening to Mack, you could tell that he has the utmost respect for John Calipari and the program that he’s built.

I can tell you that Coach Calipari does as good of a job as anyone in college basketball,” Mack told Torres. “He has to almost start over every year with the new guys that he brings into the program. And I don’t care how talented a freshman is, that’s really difficult to transition from high school to college, no matter what your talent is. Then putting those guys on the same page, he does it as well as anybody who has ever done it.”

Those are certainly flattering words, and certainly something that – safe to say – you wouldn’t have heard out of the previous regime at Louisville.

Mack went on to continue to discuss the rivalry, and just how much he learned about it in his first season.

“It is a huge rivalry,” he said. “I don’t think you get a full appreciation of it until you live in this state. You’re either wearing something blue, or you’re wearing something red, there’s really no in between. A lot of households are divided across the state of Kentucky and it’s a great thing because people feel so strong about the sport of basketball in our state.”

From there Mack and Torres discussed a number of different topics. Mack chatted a little bit about the Cardinals loss at the Yum Center last year and his desperate desire to get better next season, as well as his loaded 2019-2020 squad. What can fans expect? What has he seen so far? And how is he tempering expectations, especially with his loaded freshman class.

To listen to the entire interview with Mack, more of his thoughts on Calipari, Kentucky and so much else, download the show, either on iTunes or Spotify.

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at [email protected] He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

16 responses to “Chris Mack: John Calipari ‘Does as Good of a Job as Anyone in College Basketball’”

  1. Headhurts

    He wants the KY job when Cal retires, smart guy.

    1. UKFanSC

      He will be a great coach for the Cards, and will have them competing for Final Fours as early as this year. Great coach, great program builder. We could do much worse when Cal hangs it up.

    2. Irish son

      Chris was my neighbor when he coached at Xavier. You can’t meet nicer people than he and his wife. I hated to see him take that job

    3. natertatter

      we do not hire louisville coaches to be a head coach at uk…….period….

    4. 4everUKblue

      Boom! There it is….natertatter is right.

  2. Swizzle

    Hate em

  3. natertatter

    lol the state is not divided its 95 percent kentucky 5 percent louisville….. as a matter of fact there are more kentucky fans in louisville than there are louisville fans

    1. dcforuk

      I don’t think so but I would like to see some better hard and fast stats on that vs what I think and what you think and what anyone thinks. Show me the stats because I am curious. I would probably say Louisville is 60% UofL and 40% UK. I am in the 40% or whatever the percentage is.

  4. catsarerunnin

    He looks like Uncle Fester.

  5. UKPROF

    The rivalry is still alive and well, and probably always will be. However, the hostility level (for now) has been substantially reduced, and for me anyway, that’s OK.

    1. Ridge Runner

      Agreed..

    2. mashman 93

      true that

  6. VirginiaCat

    Mack appears to be an outstanding coach and a good person, so yeah, rather than consider him as a possible replacement when Cal leaves, lets never consider him because he had the audacity to coach at Louisville. That smacks of irresponsible parochialism and is biting off your nose to spite your face. When Cal leaves we want the best possible replacement. If that person is Mack, hire him.

    1. catsarerunnin

      You wouldn’t like any coach here because you’re not a Cats fan.

  7. JASUN74

    I really enjoyed his interview with you Arron. He’s a really down to earth guy and very good College Coach. He’s nothing but complementary when asked about Cal and Kentucky and for that, he’s ok in my book. FOR NOW!!! Hahaha.

    This time last year we all thought the whole UofL program was going to be dead, and we all wanted them to burn! Lol. But they couldn’t have made a better choice than Mack and he’s done a great job considering what we thought was inevitable. I don’t hate them as much as I used to, and what that means is, I’d at least consider spitting on them if they were on fire now. Hehe.

    I think it’s great for Kentucky to have the rivalry be competitive. I mean it’s nice to beat someone by 30 points, but for me personally, it wouldn’t be fun after a few years. Anyway, good for them and as long as it’s not against Kentucky, I won’t be paying attention anyway. Lol. GO CATS

  8. CrystalBall

    My CrystalBallz predict that Mack will never coach at UK.