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University of Louisville News & Perspectives

Louisville prepares for another UK circus

Have we gotten to the point already when a trip to Lexington for a basketball game is almost pointless?

With all the highly touted players passing through the University of Kentucky since Calipari arrived, UK has been dominating the series in recent years. If Calipari deserves any credit, however, it is primarily for cultivating a friendship with World Wide Wes (William Wesley), with all his unique contracts contacts.

Kentucky had a good basketball tradition, with its seven national championships, prior to the Calipari-Wesley marriage. But the school still had its recruiting challenges, having to gut it out like everybody else.

Now, it seems, all UK has to do is make a couple of phone calls, sometimes after commitments have been made elsewhere, and the five-star players come running. The ease with which he assembles the vast array of talent is unsettling, troubling given Kentucky’s history, and not good for college basketball.

Watching his teams play is like watching a Globetrotters exhibition, with all the individualism and free-lancing on the court and the drama on the sideline, resembling a circus at times, toying with the competition. A three-ring affair, complete with high-wire acts. The elephant, WWW, probably will be parked again in his front row seat for all to see.

Quite a change from a few seasons ago when UK hired a coach named Billy Gillispie, primarily it seemed because his Texas A&M team had defeated Louisville in an NCAA game. After that debacle, they were desperate, gambling with their reputation by hiring Calipari, with a history of vacated NCAA tournament wins and entire seasons. The risk seems to have paid off for UK thus far, getting the best of the blue chippers. Whether that adds up to another national championship or two remains to be seen — as does whether there may be more vacated wins in his future.

Calipari has yet to prove he is capable of winning the big hand before losing everything before the final horn sounds on his controversial career. But he has no problem with lecturing a knowledgeable fan base about what’s best for the program, floating the notion of dropping heated traditional rivalries or suggesting that getting players to the NBA is more important than winning national championships.

We sense in Calipari a severe case of lack of self-esteem and a lack of respect for the program he commands. The head coach of one of the strongest basketball programs in the country shouldn’t feel the need to constantly haze a respected coach like Rick Pitino or to belittle the University of Louisville, one of the most profitable college basketball programs in the nation.

That’s not going to change whether his team wins or loses Saturday.


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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

15 thoughts on “Louisville prepares for another UK circus

  • December 30, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I swear you UL fans have such an inferiority complex. I suppose that’s what makes this rivalry so much fun … And don’t go trashing Cal. At least he was not hanging out at an Italian restaurant in a booth with a blonde bimbo. Pitino’s the jealous one. He’s on the downward curve. If you’re lucky enough to pull out a win on Saturday, it will help soothe the wounds of Cardinal fans after a rough week of losses.

    • January 1, 2012 at 11:29 am

      Uk fans have a “look the other way” complex. Most of you know your recruiting is crooked as hell. Even your white players under calipari go to nba within 2 yrs. (Josh Harrelson) Its a joke and the entire nation loves when UK loses..not just UofL fans. UK is the one and done feeding school to NBA. Its all about money and little to do with integrity. UK fans can act like their school is something special…But they aren’t playing for UK. They’re playing for themselves and looking ahead to collecting on their “verbal money& endorsement guarantees” Absolutely no other NCAA team is able to just re-load each year and has guys like lebron james (no affiliation what so ever) showing up to games ( likely a paid incentive to increase UK’s recruiting prestige.)

      UK is a glaring example of corporatism corrupting college basketball and NCAA. This enigma was brought about by the ruling that guys must do 1 yr in college before being eligible for NBA.

      Its not an inferiority complex of those who dont like UK. Its people with half a brain who say… “UK’s advantage is due to hidden money exchange, secret representation and big money all in violation of NCAA rules.

      Thats why Calipari wants to end the rivalry.

      1. thinks his teams will always be so much better than UofL that rivalry becomes insignificant.
      2. I suppose next he’ll argue that NCAA march madness is insignificant and thats a pointless tradition too.. UK should just get rewarded championship so all his NBA bound players can go on with less risk of injury or to be exposed to poor performances

  • December 30, 2011 at 11:39 am

    “We are going to lose, and this is why ….” At least give the Cards a chance before they even play the game!

  • December 30, 2011 at 11:49 am

    It is quite a change from a few years ago alright.

    Remember when the University of Louisville had a respectable coach with a national championship to his credit.

    When U of L had a chance to get Pitino to come and lead them to the glory land, overnight he was bad mouthed by the media and fans alike. Once Pitino was under contract then Denny was a good ole boy again.

    It seems to me that the severe case of lack of self-esteem festers at the heart of the University’s decision’s to rid themselves of a truly great coach and then overlook Mr. Pinto’s … paid abortion , extramarital affair and the other gold standards he’s set, such as the 1977 sanctions against Hawaii that implicated Pitino in 8 of 64 violations.

    Its pathetic that James Ramsey ,Tom Jurich & the majority of the U of L faithful turn a blind eye.

    The circus plays on. Not in Lexington but in in Louisville. Because this bunch of clowns are all wearing red.

    • January 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Your Points dont have anything to do with players, performance, or winning

      Calipari is way more crooked when it comes to NCAA violations. Plus I’d bet calipari acts like a playboy at times too. Just doesnt choose gold diggers, extortionists, media whores, and cheerleaders when messing around on his wife.

  • December 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    I agree with Dave–give the Cards a chance! Who knows when this team will catch fire, be it Dec 31 or late in February–but I believe it will come. At this point we have about 2.5 complete players, with potential for perhaps two more by tournament time. As far as playing as a unit, I would rate us at about 1.5 out of five. When the epiphany happens–we’ll be a VERY good team. Bring on the rent-a-team, and we’ll take our chances. Go Cards!

  • December 30, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    OK, Cards fans (as well as Cats fans), remember this is ONE game only of an entire season. We have a whole season of conference games yet to play out and THEN we will see who is still in the top ten, if either. Tomorrow is an important game, but so are they all from this point forward. GO CARDS!

  • December 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Cat fans need to move out of Louisville. They’re eye sores, pure detriments to the community.

  • December 30, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I don’t much care for John Calipari, or his resume, myself. However, such a stab isn’t the stuff of journalistic integrity or objective quality you’re privy to. They’re getting to me moreso than usual, the either 12-15 or 45-70 year old Blue fans that constantly swarm the sportsnet. I hear the same from a lot of Cardinal fans this year. I think last year’s final four loss really riled them up, or something. That being said, I humbly suggest that these kinds of musings are kept to the confines of your kitchen table or office desk. These types of articles are easily turned to make the writer appear as “that guy”, who’s lost an argument and is simply yelling in order to avoid any admission of being the loser, a la Kenny Powers.

    We have a talented team. They’re banged up, and consequently have struggled to run full practices. No backup for Gorgui Dieng, I believe, may come to ultimately hurt us more than the “meh” reaction the absence of SVT seems to have gotten is worthy of. But, as IU proved, a few hot shooting hands could really cause some fits for the Wildcat defense. Peyton Siva will blow by Marquis Teague if he can isolate him, and the Cardinals’ physical play could really disrupt a guy like Anthony Davis, who, despite being a freak of nature athletically, seems to struggle at this point in his career catching the ball down low against sizable 5’s and staying in position without fouling. He hasn’t yet proven to me that he’ll be of great threat to Louisville’s staunch defense.

    I’m worried about Kentucky’s length, and overall size, and the aforementioned lack of a backup center for Gorgui Dieng. But that’s all. No reason to be pessimistic, or get excited over what the rival’s fans blurt online. They’re supposed to hate our team. They’re supposed to hate you. That’s what makes it great. Whether it be a blowout, or a grinder won at the buzzer in the third overtime, the loser will be as forlorn, and the winner as jovial.

    But boy oh boy would a win be nice, and here you are writing it off. Peyton Siva’s dad would be ashamed of you.

    We made about $10mil greater profit than our supposed “big” brother down the road last year, and have out-profited them several years running. I couldn’t care less if Cal is cheating at Kentucky (he is), until a whistle is blown. Right now, the only thing I want to talk about is us beating them on the court, or, correcting our issues and looking forward to conference play, and March.

    • December 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

      Good comments, Dooley. Must admit we do get carried away sometimes, especially after a loss. Not intended to be a journalistic approach, more of an effort to keep UK fans humble. If we can’t blow off steam here, where can we do it? These are the thoughts of a U of L fan, intended for a U of L audience. We go into every game expecting a win.

  • December 31, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Happy new year you filthy (CARDS).

    • December 31, 2011 at 11:35 pm

      Really classy there, stanman, great sportsmanship.

      GO CARDS!

  • January 1, 2012 at 10:19 am

    As a cards fan, Calipari and UK fans need to stop acting like its an insignificant rivalry and needs to end. Calipari is childish and doesnt like the rivalry b/c intense games are a threat to his “investments” I suppose UK just wants to put a bunny team in place and then start SEC play where only threats are maybe Florida and Vandy.
    As for Rick Pitino, Somewhere in his respectable style of play… The players are forgetting how to sink their shots!! This offense is AWFUL! 20% shooting percentages, arguably best shooter (kyle kuric) has serious confidence issues. Doesnt assert himself. Not to mention 1-dimensional placement ( Kuric’s corner) Just put a defender in his spot and he wont score more than cpl times.

    Dear Pitino, Stop this “hoosiers” Gene hackman type coaching and make sure your players at least LOOK like they’ve actually been shooting the ball in practice.
    And get some cerebral players and not these guards that operate on blind instinct.
    2nd. Whats with recruit choice? Relatively short height, poor shot selection, granted some amazing effort n courage..but its not pretty. And goes back to poor shooting percentage. When Russ Smith has to be your leading scorer can bet its going to be tons of misses and complacency by rest of players.

    UofL may have had a good run up until georgetown and Uk .. But I think its very likely this team is going to get their ass handed to them in big east play.

  • January 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Mike, I think you are delusional. I don’t think Kansas, North Carolina or Indiana (this year) are bunny teams. All right, U.K. did lose by 1 point to Indiana, but U.L. lost to Georgetown. What other big name school have the Cards played thus far beside KY and Georgetown? A complaint I hear quite often from Card fans is that the pre-season schedule is too soft. UK fans don’t want want to end the game with the Cards. Calipari sometimes says things that he has to back away from later. By the way did you see Harrellson play last night for the Knicks? Not bad for a boy who was the worst player on the team his freshman year of high school. Under Calipari he became a far better player than anyone ever thought he’d become, and his coming out party was against Louisville last season in the new arena. Last but not least, why all the Calipari trash talk? I always thought you are innocent until proven guilty. Why wouldn’t top recruits want to play for him? He does a pretty good job of getting them ready for the NBA. Nobody dislikes the one and done rule anymore than I do, but you have the NBA to blame for that. Good luck to both the CATS and Cards this season. It is a win-win situation for the state and schools when the do well. My wish would be that sports would be played for competing and character building, not for how much money a school can bring in, how much larger and better the football stadiums and arenas need to be and how much beer one needs to sell in order to watch a game.

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