It’s still early in the pre-UConn media frenzy, but a few things are leaking out today regarding tomorrow’s matchup. Here are some early notes:
Jim Calhoun on his relationship with Calipari (via The Hartford Courant)
None. I don’t have a relationship with John. When I see John, ‘Hi, John, how you doing?’ ‘Hi, coach, how you doing?’ That’s it. But that has got nothing to do with anything. He’s won exceptionally well. He has very good players. I love how hard his team plays. I love the fact that he puts his teams in position to win. I love the fact that he puts his players in position to succeed. A lot of guys really haven’t done that. To give John Wall the ball, it takes a little nerve. You’re at Kentucky. You’re at a place all of us growing up … It’s pretty close, if it’s not the king of basketball, it’s pretty close to it. You can see it from there, put it that way, along obviously with UNC, longtime Indiana, Duke has been the last 20 years as good as anybody. Point being, it takes nerve, as good as he may be, to give a young freshman the ball. But giving it to a great player. And he inspires that player with even greater heart. I have great respect for how he coaches. I have great respect for how he puts a team together. And I have tremendous respect for the work ethic he commands from his players.
Jim Calhoun on the Calipari rivalry (via The Hartford Courant)
Well John came in from Moon Township, Pa., and didn’t know — he was asked the king of New England. Their program was king of New England. He didn’t know what “Chowda” was, with an A. You know what I’m saying? You’ve got to know what clam chowda is before you start saying that you’re — especially for a guy from South Boston, it’s very tough for a guy to say that.
But we were moving up, becoming one of the dominant teams, becoming the dominant team in New England, and John was making a run at UMass to be the dominant team in New England. Inevitably, we were going to clash. It just was. You’re fighting, really, for the same property. When he left, I had great respect for what he had done. And I think he probably had some respect for me, too. I’ve had some terrific rivalries, with Mike Krzyzewski, with Jim Boeheim, so I think the nature of it, if you have a rivalry, it means the guy must be good.
Calhoun on Patrick Patterson (via Zags Blog)
“Having a player like him come back sets up the whole thing because he’s a kid obviously that wants to win,” Calhoun said. “He loves basketball, loves playing at Kentucky. That’s pretty obvious because otherwise he would’ve went out. People say, ‘He’s this, he’s not that.’
“I know one thing, he’s damn good.”
“[Patterson] allows a kid like Wall who is so explosive and has great size for his position and great feel for the game to make some mistakes at times, throw the ball away a little bit because he’s got a kid like Patterson there,” Calhoun said.
“A couple years ago, we had a freshman/sophomore team,” he said. “We had nobody like Patrick on our team. We always said that year if could’ve kept Rudy Gay for one more year after going to the Final Eight, we could’ve maybe won it the next year. But the problem was he left and we were all young.”
“I think he’s a terrific player. We tried to get involved recruiting-wise with him but he allows Wall and [Eric] Bledsoe and [DeMarcus] Cousins to really go out and play some. Patterson is the rock , Wall is the race car driver going 100 miles an hour, maybe two, and really running their attack.”
Calipari talks about tomorrow’s game (via John Clay’s blog)
Wall speaks on his knee (also via Gentleman John Clay’s blog)