UK Men's Basketball

Drexel's 'Bruiser' on Coach Cal: 'He's a fighter'

Few coaches could be closer to John Calipari than Drexel's James "Bruiser" Flint.

The two talk daily.

"Once in the morning and then at night," Flint said when asked about their relationship. "I put it to you like that."

What do they talk about?

"You name it," Flint said. "We check in with each other every single day. I'll say he's one of my closest friends in the world."

Flint is also the godfather to a daughter of UK assistant John Robic.

So who better to ask than Flint about Hall of Fame Coach Bob Knight citing Calipari last week as an example of the profession's dwindling integrity. Knight expressed disapproval that Kentucky would hire a coach who had put two previous programs on probation.

"I know we didn't go on probation at UMass because I took over after he left," said Flint, who succeeded Calipari as Massachusetts coach in 1996. "One of the things we talk about a lot is how people perceive him. As you'll find out, he's a lot different from what people write about him."

Calipari cares more for those in his orbit than critics think, Flint said. But even if Calipari did not lash back at Knight, the UK coach is not known for turning the other cheek.

"He's a fighter," Flint said. "I don't think people appreciate that. He fights.

"You got at him, he's going back at you."

Good humor man

Calipari noted how he uses humor when reviewing video of games in order to get his points across to the players. He uses humor not because it might help ease the pain of correction or to protect a player's ego.

"Their pride hurts when the whole team is laughing," Calipari said. "I want them to have a sense of humor. When you go through a season, if you're so sensitive you can't laugh at mistakes, how can you get better? You'll have excuses for everything and answers for everything."

Calipari said he had an excuse board that included such entries as 1) opponent grabbed my arm or 2) opponent pushed me in the back or 3) I really tried or 4) girlfriend problems.

"Then you don't have to give the whole excuse," he said. "Just give me the number. You can also give combination of numbers."

Drexel in awe?

Drexel has won three straight and six of its last eight to bring a 6-5 record into the game.

One of the losses was a 77-58 blowout at Villanova.

"I thought we played with what I call big eye," Flint said. "We can't play with a sort of intimidating factor in this game. You've just got to come and play. If we come to play, we'll be fine. We've got to compete."

Drexel's top two scorers — point guard Jamie Harris and guard Gerald Colds — shot a combined 0-for-17 against Villanova.

Drexel has lost arguably its best big man, Leon Spencer, for the season because of a broken wrist.

Patterson no robot

When a reporter noted surprise that All-American candidate Patrick Patterson might be subjected to a coach's scolding, Calipari said, "He's no different. He's not a robot. He's not a machine."

Dykes twitters

Jimmy Dykes, one of ESPN's college basketball analysts, wants to remind UK fans of his Twitter updates.

Dykes said he got 827 new signees when he mentioned his Twitter activities during Kentucky's opener against Morehead State.

"No team has more committed fans than the Cats," he wrote in an e-mail message.

To join Dykes' Twitter service, the address is JimmyD_ESPN


UK has added John Wall to its candidates for National Player of the Year. In its notes to the media, the school had been trumpeting only Patterson until the game against Austin Peay on Saturday. Among all Southeastern Conference players, Wall ranks first in assists (7.0 per game) and steals (2.6) and second in scoring (18.0). ... Former UK All-American Jamal Mashburn, Rob Stone, Jeannine Edwards and Dykes will call the game for ESPNU.