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John Calipari on home schedule, Maui Invitational: “I schedule for the kids”

John Calipari has heard the complaints about Kentucky’s home schedule and even about his decision to not participate in the annual Maui Invitational in Hawaii. He just doesn’t agree with those complaints.

Following Kentucky’s victory over Mount St. Mary’s, Coach Calipari was asked about next week’s Maui Invitation basketball tournament, where several of the country’s top-tier teams are set to compete. Michigan State, Kansas, Virginia Tech, UCLA and Georgia, among others, are all scheduled to play on Nov. 25-27. Throughout that same week, the Wildcats will play Lamar and University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Calipari has had to defend his anti-Maui stance several times in the past, but he was extra defensive Friday night. Hawaii is simply too far, and the competition is simply too tough for his young team at this point in the season. Not just this year, but every year.

“I’ve got young guys,” he shrugged. “We schedule the way the kids benefit. I know fans want me to schedule for fans. I schedule for the kids. At the end of the day, we still have one of the best schedules in the country every year. Just can’t do it up front. You can’t.”

“We always have a young team. You can’t play five top-10 games in your first seven games… We [would] get totally rattled. Now, you’ve got a team of young guys that are 1-5. It would be okay here in Kentucky to be 1-5, wouldn’t have a problem. Everybody would be fine,” Calipari said sarcastically.

To be fair, Kentucky did lose to Evansville not that long ago. Sure, they beat then-No. 1 Michigan State just days before that, but isn’t that the point? It’s early in the season, and Calipari doesn’t want to risk his young team starting the season on consistently-sour notes. The Maui invitational would certainly chance that. The long plane flight and five-hour time difference doesn’t help either.

“It’s just a long way. I mean, we don’t need to play in it,” Calipari said of the Maui invitational. “We’re struggling against the teams we’re playing. You put us in that kind of event – traveling 12 hours – just not good for us.”

Kentucky’s head coach clearly has no regrets about avoiding the Hawaiian tournament. He also doesn’t regret the team’s home schedule, nor does he regret his message to season-ticket holders where he asked them to “get to those games, put those fannies in the seats and please be a part of this.” After the basketball game Friday night, Coach Cal reiterated that same sentiment.

“I don’t need to do it. But I want the fans to understand the part they play for these kids,” Calipari said. “When they walk in this arena, these fans are for them. Even when they’re struggle, it’s a big deal to help me build this team up. You help me.”

According to Calipari, selling the tickets isn’t the problem; filling the (chair-back) seats of Rupp Arena is the real issue.

“The tickets are sold. I mean, they’re sold. That’s not the issue. The issue around the country – not here – but around the country is getting students to games, then getting ticket holders to make sure someone is sitting in their seat. [It’s] not just a Kentucky issue – it’s everywhere. You think if it’s a little issue here, it’s a huge issue in other places.”

Still, Calipari wanted to emphasize his love for the BBN… and its family atmosphere.

“All I’m saying is we’ve got the greatest fans… Everybody wants to play here. There’s no liquor – people spitting on people, throwing things, cussing – that doesn’t happen here,” Calipari said. “This is an unbelievable crowd. We need them here building up our kids because it’s still going to take some time.”

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

38 Comments for John Calipari on home schedule, Maui Invitational: “I schedule for the kids”



  1. plumloopy
    12:59 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    Brassow.



    • katsrock
      9:25 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      By now, anyone who doesn’t understand that Cal only cares about the players, not the fans or the program, isn’t paying attention. His position is used as a means to an end: get his players drafted as soon and as high as he can. The fans are only important if they can be used to accomplish this objective.



  2. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree
    2:43 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    “There’s no liquor – people spitting on people, throwing things, cussing – that doesn’t happen here” Still landing jabs on IPoo I see.



  3. Matt10
    6:44 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    What he’s saying is it’s about the wins. Pure and simple. He assumes his young teams would start on a losing streak every year and they couldn’t handle it. BS.
    He’s also saying again that he doesn’t care about the fans. Wins and draft picks before fans and titles.



    • rdcore2
      8:54 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      Shut up dou che he’s actually speaking to people like you loser



    • KYJelly
      9:11 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      You are seeing the by-product of how a loss early in the season can kill you’re confidence. We are rolling, then lose to Evansville and we go 2 1/2 games looking like garbage. Imagine if they were in Maui against better competition at this point, they’d be getting blown-out and lose confidence in themselves



    • CrystalBall
      11:09 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      He gets paid to win games. As soon as he starts losing, and Kansas and UNC pass us in total wins, you will be complaining about scheduling the tough teams and losing.



    • CrystalBall
      11:13 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      His remarks about the importance of draft night are for the benefit of future recruits. He is simply recruiting. That is what they want to hear.



    • 4everUKBlue
      1:47 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

      Good points CrystalBall. Cal never stops recruiting and as bad as some “fans” think he is doing, he did just as well as K with what has been called the greatest recruiting class of all time, which included the greatest college player (according to ESPN). K only got as far as he did with the help of the refs. How do you think our so called fans would have reacted to that outcome with that team?



  4. scwhite9
    8:22 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    We have season tickets, and I love going to as many games as possible. We live in TN, so each game means that we will spend about $500 for gas, hotel room, parking, and food on top of what we have paid for the tickets.

    On top of that during this time, we have Christmas shopping and gifts to buy. It is not that we don’t want to attend, it just adds up. I wouldn’t mind away trips such as Maui on occasion, but it is truly expensive. I have no problem with the games staying close to home. Without big name opponents, the crowd will not be as large, but I have no problem with that.

    ,



    • Look Out Fireworks
      9:32 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      That is awesome that you have $10,000-15,000 a year to spend on going to watch the Cats, but most people in Kentucky don’t have that disposable income.

      18 home games X $500 = $9,000
      Season Tickets/KFund = $1,000-????

      Not including exh. games, BBM, or blue/white



  5. BTownUKFan
    9:18 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I’ve been following Kentucky basketball for 50 years. What he does is no different than previous coaches. The UKIT was UK and 3 cupcakes for years. We saw what happened last year after the Duke blowout. It took two months to get the team back on track. He’s trying to teach these kids defense, basic out of bounds plays, how to play with intensity for 40 minutes. Getting them used to college. The Nov-Dec schedule is fine. What power 5 schools play five top 50 teams before January 1st on a regular basis? Name one. If you don’t like the schedule follow another team. GO CATS !!



  6. T-Town Cat
    9:26 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    Va Tech, UCLA, and Georgia are top/tier teams? And we play Michigan State and/or Kansas and the top-tier Georgia team every year. I believe we play UCLA every 2-3 years and have played Va Tech recently.



  7. UKFaninCO
    9:34 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I love the CATS and that’s fine John, but don’t expect me to watch bad basketball every year until late January, It is what it is.



    • notFromhere
      10:34 am November 25, 2019 Permalink

      If he was doing this “for the kids,” he wouldn’t revert to a seven man max rotation every season. He’d be developing the kids and playing them instead of forgetting they’re on the bench until the team has a horrible game.

      He’s the one that is bringing in an entirely new starting lineup every year, not the fans. If he developed better, they wouldn’t have the chance to “lose confidence” with an early loss.

      If you’re going to complain about fans in the seats, schedule better games at home. Give them a special trip every other year. Cal is spoiled and just like past coaches doesn’t care about the program as much as his plan and his rep.

      They don’t make complete coaches anymore, I guess. Maybe it’s because they’re paid too much



    • notFromhere
      10:35 am November 25, 2019 Permalink

      No idea why it decided to post my comment here… wtf



  8. Ridge Runner
    9:56 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I’ll be honest and I think we still get a fair share of big div 1 schools each year. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It really doesn’t bother me as it all is done before the conference schedule starts as does the weekly grind of average competition.



    • Ridge Runner
      10:19 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      To me, the loss at home to Evansville changed the complexion of everything for many. Yeah, schedule whatever why we get it together but we are still UK and we can’t lose at home to lesser teams of that caliber. Just can’t happen.. Learn but win is where the line is.



    • notFromhere
      10:37 am November 25, 2019 Permalink

      He doesn’t coach every game like it matters. They don’t look at film of other teams…. THAT is NOT PREPARING your team. Film is HUGE on the next level. It’s cost us a lot of big games



    • notFromhere
      10:38 am November 25, 2019 Permalink

      ..and ones that we should dominate but lose anyway



  9. nicky
    10:07 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    Maybe Cal is a victim of his own methodology…..having new faces and players to learn every year was fine for the first few seasons, but I think it has grown tiresome for some…could be wrong

    Then throw in the cost, parking, travel time, etc…..



    • Ridge Runner
      10:16 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      Actually that’s an interesting take nicky.



    • notFromhere
      10:39 am November 25, 2019 Permalink

      Absolutely right, Nicky. He’s in denial over his role in things, because no one close to him will tell him the truth.



  10. JTHinton
    10:40 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I understand not playing the PK80 in 17-18, b/c we weren’t ready. But if other one and dones can play Maui, so can we!



  11. VirginiaCat
    10:48 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I give Cal credit for his candor. Not many coaches would admit to avoiding Maui because his team was not up to the competition. He also acknowledges that he schedules for the players, not for the fans. You can’t accept compensation of $10 million a year, disregard the interests of the university and the fan base, play ugly basketball to start the year, eventually lose to inferior teams, and expect fans to fill Rupp. Loyalty is a two way street.



  12. VirginiaCat
    10:48 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I give Cal credit for his candor. Not many coaches would admit to avoiding Maui because his team was not up to the competition. He also acknowledges that he schedules for the players, not for the fans. You can’t accept compensation of $10 million a year, disregard the interests of the university and the fan base, play ugly basketball to start the year, eventually lose to inferior teams, and expect fans to fill Rupp. Loyalty is a two way street.



    • 4everUKBlue
      10:54 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      No reason he should be loyal to fans when so many criticize him for everything he does and does not do to suit them. I think it’s a good thing that he puts the players first and you would too if it were your son and in the end it is best for the fans and the university. BTW have you looked at duke’s early season schedule?



    • 4everUKBlue
      11:00 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      I should have said everything he does that doesnt suit them as well as does not do that suits them. We have bankers, lawyers, professors and even a baker that all think they’re smarter than Cal. All of you critics will realize how good we had it under Cal when he leaves. I can only assume all of you whiners were doing the same under every UK coach not named Rupp, because none of them won any more titles than Cal. Hell some of you probably even complained about Rupp.



    • CrystalBall
      11:18 am November 23, 2019 Permalink

      well stated, 4everUKBlue. Would be nice if we could live in the past. But things change. Have to go with the times and adapt. Lots of fans don’t like the one-and-done. But that is the way of CBB right now. Accept it.



    • BowdenQB4ever
      1:18 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

      Agreed. We tolerated weak starts for a long time, trusting Cal. Eventually the March returns stopped matching what we were being sold. The further away we get from 2012, moments like 2015 are what stick in our minds. Now that we aren’t getting the elite freshmen, its just an exhausting churn.



    • 4everUKBlue
      2:53 pm November 24, 2019 Permalink

      In fact go look at Kanas’, UNCheat’s and UofLittleBro’s early schedules. Cal is not the only one scheduling in the manner. Wonder if their fans ares as critical as ours…



  13. BowdenQB4ever
    12:59 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

    That’s fine coach. Schedule for the kids. They will be gone in 8 months, most likely before they’re ready, and we’ll still be here wishing we had a basketball program that didn’t play for June. He knows this, I expect to see him seek greener pastures after this season.



    • 4everUKBlue
      1:40 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

      If it’s Cal you’re talking about seeking greener pastures, I think you’re wrong. Cal is going nowhere.



    • BowdenQB4ever
      2:03 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

      4everUKBlue lol ok, noted.



    • 4everUKBlue
      3:08 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

      BowdenQB4ever, lol ….Just my opinion, I could be wrong, but I’d be willing to bet.



    • 4everUKBlue
      8:52 am November 24, 2019 Permalink

      The only greener pasture than Kentucky is called retirement.



  14. VirginiaCat
    2:34 pm November 23, 2019 Permalink

    I don’t have a crystal ball to predict Cal’s future, but if I had to guess, I would say that the success of his first six years buys him a few more years. Early success goes a long way in giving Cal the benefit of the doubt. That said, we have already witnessed a paradigm shift in Cal’s standard of success; from program success to player success. Cal most often discusses success in terms of the number of players that have matriculated to the NBA and the value of their contracts. I suspect that as fan base enthusiasm continues to wane, Cal will declare victory and leave. If Cal is able to recapture the magic of his first six years, all bets are off and he will be here for 200 years.