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.