Notes: Calipari claims early-season games vs. veteran-laden teams are 'unfair'

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 7, 2013 

Grand Valley St Michigan St Basketball

Coach Tom Izzo, right, annually fields a physical Michigan State team. UK plays the Spartans Tuesday. "I think they'll be stunned when they really see it," Coach John Calipari said of his Cats.

AL GOLDIS — ASSOCIATED PRESS

It sounded like the famous definition of chutzpah: the kid who killed his parents and then pleaded for mercy in court because he was an orphan. Kentucky Coach John Calipari said it was unfair for his freshman-oriented team to play veteran-laden Michigan State next Tuesday. Meanwhile, he acknowledged that UK, which he's made synonymous with star freshmen, may add to its schedule another early-season event reportedly involving top opponents.

"The issue becomes playing teams (like Michigan State) this early is not fair for my team," Calipari said Thursday. "It may be fair for everybody else. But it's no fair for my team."

Kentucky has become known primarily as the place for so-called one-and-done players. Calipari proclaimed the 2010 NBA Draft, when four UK freshmen were picked in the first round, as the greatest day in the program's history.

As a marketing tool, it was hard to argue. One-and-done players like Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin flowed out of Kentucky. Prospects repeatedly cite that fast track to the NBA as Kentucky's appeal.

"Our program is not traditional," said Calipari, who also noted that his UK players achieve in the classroom and stay connected to the UK community despite living here less than a year.

"It's just not traditional in the sense everybody stays four years," he said. "So it's not fair when we walk in and everybody else is more experienced."

Calipari spoke of 18- or 19-year-olds for Kentucky facing opponents who are 21 or 22.

"As big (a difference) as 16 against 19," he said. "It's huge."

Kentucky will test that premise against Michigan State. Of the physical challenge his players face in Michigan State, Calipari said, "I think they'll be stunned when they really see it."

In the second game of the Champions Classic, Duke plays Kansas.

Meanwhile, The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and ESPN have reported a similar event in the works beginning in the 2014-15 season. The teams involved would be UK, Ohio State, North Carolina and UCLA. The sites would be Brooklyn, then Indianapolis and finally Las Vegas.

When asked about this second high-profile, double-header event, Calipari said, "We have another event. That thing is rolling down the pike like we want it to."

A formal announcement may come in the next two weeks, he said.

"You risk a lot, especially early season," Calipari said. "It's just tough."

UNC Asheville

Eddie Biedenbach, the longtime coach at UNC Asheville, shares Pittsburgh as his hometown with Calipari. "That's the reason this game came off," he said of Kentucky's opener with the Bulldogs.

Biedenbach, the winningest coach in Big South Conference history, won't be in Rupp Arena. He abruptly left UNC Asheville last spring after 17 seasons as coach. His longtime assistant, Nick McDevitt, inherited a schedule that starts with eight straight road games.

"I was joking the other day, I think Eddie finally took a look at the schedule and said, 'No thank you,'" McDevitt said. "He decided to go the beach."

Biedenbach, who owns a beach house in Wilmington, took an assistant coaching job at UNC Wilmington.

UNC Asheville has a history of competitive games against higher-profile Division I teams. Among those games are:

   A 70-69 victory at Auburn in 2010-11. It was the first game at Auburn's new arena. UNC Asheville rallied from 16 down to win in overtime.

   An 87-65 victory over Utah in the Battle 4 Atlantis event in 2011-12.

   Two victories over South Carolina (in 1996-97 and 2007-08).

   A 72-65 loss to Syracuse in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. That's the closest a 16-seed has come to beating a No. 1 seed.

UNC Asheville led by four at halftime. The score was tied with six minutes to go. Trailing by three with 38 seconds left, the Bulldogs were victims of a bad call that erroneously awarded Syracuse the ball. John Adams, the NCAA director of officials, later apologized publicly for the call.

Tires slashed

Jon Hood downplayed an incident in which the tires on his truck were slashed.

"I don't know who did it," he said. "Can't do anything about it."His truck was parked on campus. He has since gotten new tires.

"The tire thing is in the back of my mind," he said. "I really don't care anymore."

No-shave November?

Hood was sporting several days' growth of a beard.

"We'll see how far it goes," he said. "We're talking of no-shave November again. I did it last year."

Hood said he'd stop short of the bushy beards grown by players for the Boston Red Sox.

"I don't want to start looking like Mike Napoli or Jonny Gomes," he said.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton.Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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