Calipari Prefers Skipping Conference Tourneys
The Courier-Journal, Kyle Tucker
University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is not a fan of conference tournaments. He’s said so many times. Unlike many teams this time of year who are trying to punch their NCAA Tournament ticket by winning their league tournament, his top-ranked Wildcats (30-1) are already secure in their postseason positioning.
So the grind of a league clambake? Calipari would rather pass.
“You’re playing three games in three days. It doesn’t prepare you for anything,” he said. “Maybe one team can play in (to the NCAA Tournament). They had all season to play in.”
However, Calipari does acknowledge that UK’s rabid fan base, which travels in droves to see the Cats play in any event, expects the winning to continue.
“Our fans take their vacation money, rent money, cigarette money and they go to these tournaments,” he said. “So you almost feel an obligation: Let’s play well. I don’t know if we win, but you have an obligation that they just made a trek and this is their deal.”
For a coach who hates conference tournaments, though, Calipari’s teams sure have been good in them. Counting four Conference USA titles while he was at Memphis, he’s won six straight league tournaments.
“Probably because I don’t care about it,” he said. “I couldn’t care less. They know that. So they go in and know it’s not a big deal, let’s just go play and have fun, and they end up winning it. It’s not the formula I would say anybody else would use, but it’s what I’ve used.”