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Calipari and Mitchell are the perfect 1-2 punch

Absent of a few brief stretches in time, Kentucky men’s basketball has been the king of the castle when it comes to SEC basketball. Even going one step further, following a final four appearance, a national championship and multiple back-to-back #1 recruiting classes, John Calipari has Kentucky positioned as the kings of the castle in NCAA men’s basketball–not just the SEC. Other coaches across the country are struggling to keep up with Calipari’s frenetic pace when it comes to recruiting and putting his players in the NBA. His success at the moment is unmatched. Roy Williams, Coach K, Rick Pitino, Bill Self, etc. are all playing catch up to Calipari’s forward thinking. Right next door to Calipari though here in Lexington, Matthew Mitchell is helping create one of the best 1-2 punches in college basketball. The two are currently leading their programs to unprecedented heights, and their charismatic personalities are creating a perfect combination for the marketing of the Kentucky brand.

We have said it time and time again, but we are experiencing a golden era in Kentucky men’s basketball. There have been plenty in our rich basketball history, but this is certainly one of them and with the increase in exposure with social media and television– it all feels that much bigger. The golden era doesn’t just extend to men’s basketball though. Matthew Mitchell has the women’s program in the midst of a golden era of their own. The program won their first SEC regular season title in 30 years last season, also making a run to their second elite 8 in just 3 years. Both programs are on one of the biggest simultaneous upswings in the school’s history.

The amount of talent on both squads during this year’s Big Blue Madness event was a testament to where the programs are in the recruiting front. Calipari, who is arguably the best recruiter in the game right now, had 3 McDonald’s All-Americans on the floor (although Nerlens Noel would have been if not for a late reclassification). Matthew Mitchell? Mitchell had 5 McDonald’s All-Americans on the floor. Mitchell also just signed the top ranked recruit in the program’s history last weekend, inking 5th ranked Linnae Harper. Furthermore, both the men’s and women’s basketball teams at Kentucky were picked as the pre-season favorites to win the SEC title. For Kentucky’s women’s team, who has long been in the shadow of a Tennessee dynasty, the vote of confidence might be signaling a changing of the guard in SEC dominance. Mitchell has certainly put himself in position to be one of the major players year in and year out.

One of the most impressive things when it comes to Calipari and Mitchell, both larger-than-life personalities who can command the attention of a room and steal the show at any moment, is that the two are not competing with one another. The two feed off of each other, and Mitchell fully embraces the fact that Kentucky men’s basketball has and probably always will, be the face of the University’s athletic program. With that said, Mitchell is creating a brand for himself and his program– taking pages from Calipari’s book and being more than okay with the connection to the men’s program. The two have a great working relationship and have come off as nothing but supportive of one another any chance they get to bring each other up. The two constantly promote each other and each other’s success, although Mitchell seems to understand Calipari may not need much help in that department. To his credit, Mitchell has a sense of humor about it–as he has with nearly everything. “I think my relationship with Cal has helped him tremendously,” Mitchell joked. “He won the national championship last year and I’ve been working with him extensively on, really, every phase of the game and mainly on his public relations skills.”

The public relations sphere is one area in which both coaches have thrived in their time at Kentucky. Calipari has made the program so much more visible and accessible, not only on the national level, but on a more intimate level with the fan base. Calipari is an open book in a lot of respects, and never wastes an opportunity to put his program in the lime light. Mitchell is cut from the same fabric. He doesn’t hide his personality or his team’s, constantly finding ways to get his team’s name and personality out there as well. Fans of both the men’s and women’s programs are enjoying the atmosphere and accessibility being provided for them by both coaches. The support for both teams is at an all-time high.

More important than the magnetic personalities, flashy dance moves, all-access television shows or top-ranked recruiting classes, Matthew Mitchell and John Calipari are both winning. And they are winning a lot. The two combined to sweep the SEC regular season titles last year, and many of the individual coach/player awards as well. One team won a national championship, the other made it to the elite 8. Both enter this season comfortably ranked in the top 10, with teams loaded with talent. The attendance for both teams is as healthy as ever and the excitement surrounding the programs is at an all-time high. Pair that with a highly publicized (and will be even more highly publicized as it gets closer) double-header against Baylor in Cowboy Stadium next year, and it’s hard to imagine a more golden era for the collective state of basketball at the University of Kentucky.

Is there a better 1-2 punch, from success on the court to contagious personalities, than John Calipari and Matthew Mitchell in college basketball? I wouldn’t trade either. And how long until we see both programs featured in the Final Four at the same time? I give it 3 years, tops. Enjoy this golden era for both programs, folks.



Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

16 Comments for Calipari and Mitchell are the perfect 1-2 punch

  1. Bandz a make her dance
    8:05 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Wouldn’t it be great if our 1-2 punch involved our FOOTBALL coach?! Bottom line: Matt and Barnhart need to can the Joke.

  2. Wild Turkey 101
    8:23 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Agree…because UConn’s Jim Calhoun retired.

  3. Head Bussa
    8:28 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    I really hope the women’s program can make a Final 4 in the next three years. I think if they don’t do it this year it will be extremely tough in the next couple seasons without Adia. Our women’s program is a lot better these days but making a Final 4 in the women’s game has proven for most to be like breaking through a glass ceiling. The Final 4 in the women’s game is usually occupied by a group of the same old teams that Kentucky has not been a part of. This team has a good chance but they need to ensure a No. 1 seed by playing as good as they can all season. They certainly cannot afford a No. 2 seed in a region with Baylor or UConn as the No. 1. Good luck ladies!

  4. Duke Sucks
    8:48 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    I do think Aida has been great for UK, but to think our program will take a step back next year is not going to happen. Mitchell has built his program the right way for the long haul. He has made UK bigger then 1 player. We now have McDonalds all America players coming in every year. It will have a drop off with Summitt leaving.( Anytime you lose a coach like her there will be a drop) I see know reason why UK hoops can’t fill the void.
    I agree with the artical except for as much as I like cal, UK is not at a all time high. We had 7 championships before he came. Cal has said himself that he just holds a seat. I guess that is the only draw back to coaching UK. It will never be his program he will just continue on the tradition not make it.

  5. BigBlueFan
    8:51 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    I have a debate topic that I have thought a lot about and wondered what others opinions are about. How different would your view have been of John Calipari if John Wall had missed the shot against Miami-OH and Miami went on to win? Would anything have changed? Would we have gone to the final four last year? It is all something I have thought a lot about and would appreciate some other views.

  6. Sandy
    9:00 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Calipari – Mitchell – Joker

    The best 1-2-Z punch in the business!

  7. Matt Jones
    9:01 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    All this Coach Cal talk makes me want to get the zipper mask out and go to town.

  8. Unless You're Rick Pitino
    9:06 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, one coach is just a guy who holds one seat in a tradition. Unless you’re Rick Pitino. Then you
    sign a contract until 2022. What the WHAT?!? Wow, the arrogance of this guy is astounding.
    And the sickness of that school with no moral conscience whatsoever is truly revolting. He should
    have been OUT like Petrino. He should have been OUT like countless others who have sullied
    the reputations of the schools they… oh. Wait. I see. You can sully the reputation of a school
    who only cares about the appearance of wealth, and of learning a million and one ways
    to succeed by climbing up a ladder made of other peoples’ necks. I take it all back.
    Rick fits right in.

    Thank God UK still has some decency, and Coach Cal some humility. Those of you
    who keep calling for a Petrino hire, blow my mind. You’re not True Blue. You’re Closet Cards.

  9. Lush
    9:47 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Does anyone really care about women’s basketball? Geeze. Lets hire a dam football coach and concentrate on that sport You know, as if we were in the sec or something

  10. Dear UL and IU fans, We are national champions; you are not. The end.
    9:50 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    Word on the street is that Ally stole Tara Bilby’s man, some dude named Willow.

  11. SEC football really
    10:34 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    #9 really it doesn’t matter about football. The way the SEC bowl money is divided we get just as much as Bama or LSU. The only money tied to performance is ticket sales which is a small drop in the bucket. So he’ll yea let’s keep woman’s basketball going these girls work as hard as anybody else. Plus they are fun to watch.i don’t know if you have noticed but this is a basketball state who cares about football. You can look at attendance and tell UK fans have always showed up for a bad football team.

  12. Duke Sucks
    10:40 pm October 30, 2012 Permalink

    #8 I would agree but UL has no tradition. They had a coach with a good run in Crum. Other then that not much. Pitino has had mixed success. He’s had a couple good teams that made a little noise in March and others who played in the NIT. Toucan pencil in UK for the NCAA every year( I don’t count the BCG years trying to forget they ever happened). UL fans problem is they think they matter but when you get outside of Jefferson County no body even Knows they are a school.

  13. Big Whoop
    5:27 am October 31, 2012 Permalink

    Could Mitchell replace Cal when the time comes? I ask because Mitchell gets it.

  14. Head Bussa
    9:07 am October 31, 2012 Permalink

    4 — Next year’s team will be good but they will not be as good as this year’s team. The reason why is because Adia could very well be the nation’s best women’s basketball player and provides so much to this team. I understand the recruiting is stepping up but freshmen in the women’s game aren’t like the freshmen in the men’s game. I know Mitchell is building a strong program, but to think this team won’t lose anything when Adia is gone is not being realistic. She is the team’s best scorer, ball handler, play maker, and a very good defender. She will be missed big-time. I bet you Matthew Mitchell would agree with me.

  15. tanrı
    11:18 am October 31, 2012 Permalink

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  16. jus sayin
    1:32 pm October 31, 2012 Permalink

    4) Summit is a great coach, no doubt, but Tennessee just picked up the number 1 player in next years class. I dont think they are going anywhere.