Kentucky coach John Calipari would be “crazy” to coach the Dominican Republic National Team this summer because they “don’t have any money and have a horrible reputation in the region,” a well-connected Caribbean source told SNY.tv.
“They don’t have a clue,” the source said of the Dominican Federation. “They screwed up the FIBA event in the DR last summer. Players were slipping all over the floor as they hosted an event in an arena with no air conditioning. Roy Hibbert and other NBA players were required to stop playing.”
Last summer during the FIBA World Championship in Santo Domingo, games inside the Palacio de Deportes were postponed due to poor conditions. Organizers blamed faulty air conditioning units.
“The event was a laughingstock,” the source said. “The Federation President [Frank Herasme] has simply not led the Federation in a positive way.”
Former Sacramento Kings Eric Musselman led the DR to a 6-1 record last summer and had a verbal commitment to coach the team this year. But he was fired and bypassed for Calipari, the source said.
“They sign agreements, don’t live up to them and don’t do good business,” the source said.
Calipari announced on Tuesday that he would be coaching the team this summer in preparation for this summer’s FIBA World Championship Aug. 30-Sept. 11 in Argentina.
“Not only would I help train coaches in the Dominican Republic and here in Lexington like we have with the Chinese coaches, but I would also coach their national team,” Calipari said on his Website.
“The commitment would mainly be from the start of August through mid-September. The Dominican Republic national team would train in our state-of-the-art facilities at the Joe Craft Center in Lexington prior to the start of the Tournament of the Americas, which would begin towards the end of August.”
The Dominican team could feature as many as four NBA players in Francisco Garcia, Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva andTrevor Ariza.
“Ooh, the sky’s the limit for us if everybody plays,” Garcia told SNY.tv in January. “I’m sure me, Al and Charlie [are] playing this summer for sure. We gotta get Trevor. Trevor Ariza told me he might play this summer, too. So we’ll see.”
Since the player pool could also feature high school or college players, there may be some inherent conflicts of interest. Calipari, as coach of a FIBA team, could theoretically be involved with uncommitted high school recruits during the summer.
“The NCAA is watching carefully to ensure that coaches are not using this as an unfair coaching advantage,” the source said.
Meantime, Louisville coach Rick Pitino announced Wednesday that he would not be coaching the Puerto Rican team due to a scheduling conflict.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.