Saturday, April 2, 2011

Calipari, Calhoun Deserve the Final Four Praise


It's utterly interesting that John Calipari, with much innocence in life but blamed for a hideous scandal ever since his poor judgment stained a premier university, a school where he installed a winning mentality, is still perceived as a scapegoat in collegiate basketball.

Just as he is the center of hostility of wicked scandals in the NCAA with equal aspects of humiliation and sickness, UConn head coach Jim Calhoun, a household name in the sport, is exactly marred by similar troubles. It's wonderful enough, despite that Calipari was verbally ripped by Bob Knight and criticized harshly by critics for the lack of integrity, to embrace his befitting marriage with the Kentucky Wildcats, a mutual requisite for one of the most demanding programs in the nation.

When the latest installment of fruition allowed the Wildcats to emerge as a renowned program again but is accompanied by turmoil from dirty infractions, leaving trustees and even bewildered recruits in debacles, there's a reason Calipari's triumph is overlooked. However, in reality, when a head coach rebuilds a fine program into usual form, releasing much of the mediocrity in the past that placed a dismal identity on the obscure basketball program in Lexington, then it's appropriate to credit Calipari for Kentucky's profound resurgence -- a recovery strong enough to inspire enthusiastic supporter Ashley Judd in screaming and dressing in 'Cats attire.

As it stands, the Wildcats, in the Final Four after stunning the nation to reach a tremendous level unexpectedly, are no longer battered in a bucket of fried grease. When he accepted his new challenge with a program that demands the emphasis of capturing titles, even before he began recruiting brilliantly and instituting a winning perspective, the Kentucky Fried Calamity had finally melted.

He can basically lure prospects fresh out of high school to commit and play for the University of Kentucky. He can pretty much grab the attention of a one-and-done player by promising him that he'll next year declare for the NBA Draft. You might recall Calipari losing five first-round draft picks last year, but wonderfully so, his team greatly improved and fostered. Not long ago, he was thrilled to have the gifted point guard John Wall and big man DeMarcus Cousins, but relatively speaking, he doesn't miss Wall or Cousins.

He brings his relentless coaching, as a mentor and a father figure, energizing and uplifting his players to perform with perseverance, exertion and consistency. And in the mind of Calipari, a middle-aged and brilliant man of knowing the fundamentals in basketball, he is definitely excelling in his role as head coach and has taken use of his indomitable talent. It happens to be Final Four Saturday, an event overshadowed by the pending actions of recent investigations into NCAA violations, assuming that the New York Times is accurate in unveiling horrendous news on UConn's major infractions case involving Nate Miles, formerly a top recruit for the Huskies.

It couldn't come at a worst time for Calhoun, almost riding off into sunset approaching the end of his accomplished career even if the scandals are overwhelming, to be held liable after Miles told the paper that he "knew" of improper benefits from a booster and twice cheated on standardized tests and classified Calhoun as liar for his alleged false statements. We all know by now that the last thing Calhoun need is additional stress-related troubles when subsequent health issues forced him to take a temporary leave of absence, and while he was an aloof from the game, he dealt with an undisclosed medical issue.

We can only assume, upon hearing the negative baggage these days smearing two standout programs, that FoxSports.com reported correctly in which a former Kentucky and Memphis basketball staff member, Bilal Bately, unlawfully phoned recruits, including former Kentucky dominant big man Cousins. As for Calipari, 52, he is clearly relished in the Kentucky, and in reality, he and Rick Pitino are the lone coaches to take three programs to the Final Four, but infamously Calipari's appearance with Massachusetts in 1996 and Memphis in 2008 were vacated from the record books.

His speeches, spoken in clarity and seriousness, easily have an impact on his players and history in cultivating guards. The most noticeably guard he turned into a convincing player was Derrick Rose, the leading candidate currently for the NBA's MVP award, and he also disciplined and groomed Wall and Tyreke Evans, a point guard who had a spectacular season freshman season under Calipari in Memphis. But the suspicious vibes appear to be disruption in his monstrous season with Kentucky in the Final Four, arriving onto the national scene, this time with the emergence of guard Brandon Knight when he has clearly found a rhythm in his sensational run in the tourney.

It's simply Calipari, following his normal theory, the traditional pursuit in March prepared to meet Connecticut, another program marred in chaos with allegations denting the romantic success. When it seems like Calipari assembles his team with All-Americans, mostly the one-and-done athletes until the NBA constitutes a rule not allowing players to jump to the pros after one season in college, he is harshly bashed even if a corroded system poorly mishandles the disoriented formula, recruiting talented players before leaving at the end of their freshman season.

"I don't like the one-and-done rule," Calipari said. "Never have. But my choice is to recruit players who aren't good enough? I'm not doing that. My other option is to recruit the best players we have, the best students we have, and then coach them and get them to believe in themselves, get them to reach their dreams. If that is done after a year, then I'll deal with it."


Bashed as Calipari has been, it's enough to quiet down his critics and, after all, earn regards by lifting a program from melancholy to gratification for riding to the Final Four surprisingly, the latest rejuvenation that places Kentucky in good position to win a national championship in the end. For the other name heard heavily, Calhoun has been hit with a punishment, now that UConn is falling from grace being in shambles. And with Calhoun's failures to follow the basic principles of compliance during recruiting, he was inflicted with a three-game suspension by the NCAA and will be expected to serve next season.

The Bluegrass State is back in full swing, simply because of Calipari's presence, an arrival felt instantly. Once he was hired by Kentucky, Calipari dismissed the notion of tumultuous disappointments within one of the most arrogant programs in college basketball, an athletic department run by AD Mitch Barnhart.

It's possible that Kentucky could be on the way to dynasty in the near future, but even better, this may repair Calipari's image if he wins multiple titles to be recognized in the company of Tubby Smith and Adolph Rupp, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball here in America. It is technically his first Final Four appearance, coming with a school that truly trusted in Calipari's intelligence and disciplinary ways to guide his players down the right path and emphasize the tenor of basketball. Whether he's dancing to his first Final Four, he's dancing happily in Houston.

There is Calhoun. All of this drama is, sadly, smudging the gorgeous and watchful men's basketball tournament, discarding a feel-good story in VCU and Butler. And instead, it's almost bad to hear that Calhoun was stripped of its Sweet 16 run in 1996. And he's certainly fortunate to have the Huskies sensation Kemba Walker, an unstoppable scorer with no conscience and the one player in college basketball that is by far having the greatest season among any other player. Being that he's the most dominant player in America, overpowering and bullying everybody he faces on the court, it takes much of the negative attention off Calhoun.

Sure, it has been a rough season for Calipari and Calhoun, a pair of popular coaches in the game with similar scandals in the way of one goal Saturday night. They'll be trying to produce a win for their team.