Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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John Calipari Praises Alabama’s Nick Saban, UConn’s Geno Auriemma
With the College Football Playoff championship game between Alabama and Clemson looming on Monday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari was asked his thoughts.
Alabama’s Nick Saban has won five national championships in eight seasons, and six overall.
“It’s incredible,” Calipari said. “I look at what Alabama has done – and done it with different staffs. The advantage they have over us is they have returning guys; some leave and then they’ve got a mass group returning that can really teach the new guys. You have redshirting and different things that makes the kid older, and you get more of a chance to teach them.
“But that being said, so does every other football team, so why in the heck are they doing what they’re doing? He’s incredible. I mean, he’s incredible.”
Still, Calipari said watch out for Deshaun Watson and Clemson, which destroyed Ohio State in the national semifinals.
“Clemson is doing it another way, and they’re really good now,” he said. “People are acting like Alabama is just winning. I’m sorry. That other team is showing up and they have an expectation that they’re going to win.”
Calipari also threw some love to UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma, whose team has won 90 straight games.
“They may win 100 straight games. You cannot make a movie about it. Why? It’s just not believable,” Calipari said. “When you talk about that consistency, year in and year out – and I coach, so I know how hard it is – there’s a culture they’ve created, there’s an expectation within their team, yet their kids stay in the moment. How in the world do you do that? There’s an expectation that we’re going to win all these games, yet you stay in the moment: Let’s just do what we do today.”
Calipari himself has led Kentucky to four Final Fours, three NCAA title games and the 2012 NCAA championship.
“On all those teams I just said, they have trust. Everybody trusts: I can be reckless – do my job, but be reckless and be aggressive – because someone will have my back,” Calipari said. “I trust someone’s got my back. And then they can go play.”
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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 and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.