BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari told the Birmingham Tip Off Club Wednesday he’s impressed with the turnaround in the quality of SEC basketball in the last half-decade.
“I said the goal, this was about 5 years ago, was to get half the league or more in the NCAA tournament,” Calipari said. “We did a year ago, and it looks like--people thought South Carolina would be struggling, they’re leading our league with Tennessee. People thought A&M would struggle, well--they should’ve beaten Arkansas and they had a chance to beat us. The league, every game is gonna be a war, every game is gonna be hard-fought. Terrific coaches, great venues, great fan bases, it’s neat."
Calipari spoke at both a small meet-and-greet and participated in a larger interview with WJOX-FM’s “The JOX Roundtable” co-host Ryan Brown during a luncheon to help raise money for a new Birmingham Tip Off Club Youth Clinic for underserved youth and their families in the Birmingham area that will bring in top SEC and regional coaches to provide coaching to kids who might not otherwise have access to that level of training.
After losing to Alabama in Tuscaloosa Saturday, Calipari also praised the Auburn program his team will face in a few weeks.
“He’s done great work, they’ve got great players who play together, they play hard, he’s done a terrific job,” Calipari said of Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl. “It’s hard at some of the schools because football dominates, and you’ve got to be able to come in and make your own mark, and schools have done that, which is saying a lot. I come back to activating fan bases, facilities, having teams fans want to watch.”