Kentucky vs. Georgia tomorrow night marks the first time John Calipari and Tom Crean will face off since the former Indiana coach took the job in Athens last spring. Cal and Crean are longtime friends, but fierce competitors, making for some great battles when the latter was in Bloomington; however, let it be known, Cal considers Crean a friend first, not a foe, making this face when asked about “conflicting reports” about their relationship:
“He’s been a friend for 30 years,” Cal said of Crean. “Friend/foe? I mean, he’s a competitor. Like, he’ll want to win this game and he’ll build it up to be a Super Bowl, but I’ve always respected what he does and we’ve been friends. We haven’t talked as much and not because he’s at Georgia and I’m here but I haven’t been on the phone as much this year as I usually am anyway.”
Crean had some big wins vs. Calipari at Indiana, including the Christian Watford buzzer-beater that ended the regular season series between the two teams and the NCAA Tournament second round victory that sent Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and the 2015-16 Wildcats home. Cal downplayed there being any extra incentive behind tomorrow night’s game in Athens.
“I don’t,” Cal said when asked if he likes coaching against friends or foes. “If I make it personal, I don’t do as good a job. I don’t. You coach against friends, the problem is somebody’s gotta lose. You hope it’s him but sometimes it’s you. And if it is him, you feel really good at the game and then you shake his hand and feel bad for him.”
Let’s shake his hand and feel bad for him tomorrow night, then.