Calipari considering coaching Dominican team, too

Team would train in Lexington

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 27, 2011 

Kentucky coach coach John Calipari walks off the floor after Connecticut defeated Kentucky 56-55 in the second game of the men's NCAA Final Four semifinal basketball game Saturday April 2, 2011 in Houston. Photo by David Perry | Staff

DAVID PERRY | STAFF

Already Kentucky's coach and rumored this spring to possibly be the next New York Knicks coach, John Calipari confirmed Tuesday that there is yet another team he might coach: the Dominican Republic national team.

Calipari posted on his Web site that Dominican officials had approached him about coaching their national team in the Tournament of the Americas, which will be played Aug. 30-Sept. 11 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

"My question to the Dominican Basketball Federation was, why are you calling me?" Calipari said in a posting that was reminiscent of a story last winter. "Their response was, they liked what we are doing in China, including coaching their coaches and being involved in promoting grassroots basketball."

Calipari declined further comment.

It is not unusual for American coaches to work with foreign national teams. Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson led the national teams of Panama and later Mexico. Del Harris coached the Chinese national team in the 2004 Olympics.

USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said it was more unusual for prominent U.S. college coaches to work with foreign national teams because of the time taken away from recruiting and summer camps.

But if Calipari takes the job, time demands would be lessened because the team would train in UK's Joe Craft Center, he said in the posting.

The Dominican Republic has a modest basketball history that includes no Olympic appearances and one berth in the World Championships. FIBA currently ranks the Dominican Republic 30th in the world, behind No. 28 Panama and No. 29 Qatar and ahead of No. 31 South Korea and No. 32 Jordan.

Current NBA players with Dominican ancestry include former Louisville standout Francisco Garcia, former Florida star Al Horford, Charlie Villanueva and Trevor Ariza.

If Calipari takes the assignment, he wouldn't be the only U.S. college coach leading a national team from a Caribbean nation. Louisville Coach Rick Pitino is scheduled to coach the Puerto Rican national team.

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