Kentucky keeps rolling in Bahamas, Calipari pushes for facility upgrades

Published 5:30 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

The Kentucky men’s basketball team posted another blowout with a 102-40 win over Tec De Monterrey on Thursday night in the Bahamas but coach John Calipari made headlines while in the background as his assistant coaches run the show on the court.

During an interview earlier Thursday, the Kentucky coach touched on the need for a new practice facility, but his comments caught the attention of football coach Mark Stoops. In remarks to media assembled in the Bahamas, Calipari referred to Kentucky as a “basketball school” and needs a practice facility upgrade.

“You’ve got to be intentional,” he said. “You’ve got to say, ‘we’re doing this.’ And the reason is this is a basketball school. It’s always been that. Alabama is a football school. So is Georgia. They are.

“This is a basketball — no disrespect. Our football team, I hope they win games, 10 games, and go to bowls. At the end of the day, that makes my job easier and it makes the job of all of us easier, but this is a basketball school. And so, we need to keep moving in that direction and doing what we’re doing.”

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Stoops fired back on social media after learning of the comments made by Calipari.

“Basketball school? I thought we competed in the SEC,” said Stoops who added in response to a social media post that “this football team has had more success than basketball in the last 4-5 years — not even close.”

Calipari said wants to be ahead of the curve and seeks a much-larger practice facility than the current Joe Craft Center that sits adjacent to Memorial Coliseum.

“I’m not saying just a gym — but it has to be bigger and not leak like the one we’ve got,” he said. “But it’s gotta be bigger because that’s what they are now. People should come in and see this and say, ‘Whoa.’ But this is Kentucky Basketball. The gold standard in the country. This university, this state, basketball. So now, it’s time to say, this is what we want to do. I think again, yeah, I’ll push the needle. Let’s go.”

Under Calipari, the Wildcats have seen upgrades under his watch, including new locker room facilities at Rupp Arena.

“That locker room will be fine for another 10 years — I want this, whatever we do, 20 years,” he said. :Everybody’s still talking and still, you know, building it the right way. And we can do it. And we can raise the money. But you’ve got to get started. You’ve got to get champions for men’s basketball, for the basketball program. Who are the champions? Can’t be just me. It’s gotta be throughout. When the university stands and says, we need to do this, this will get done right away.”

He wants it to be done sooner rather than later.

“I hope it’s done within a year, two years,” he said. “I do. I’m just that guy. We all come together and … ‘Where would it go?’ I don’t know yet. I have an idea where I’d like it to go because I’d like it to be the centerpiece of the campus. In the centerpiece of the campus.

“We have an unbelievable library, where it sits and all that. There are areas where you can say, wow. It’s that space. But, you know what? That would be people coming together and saying how do we do this?”

Wheeler Drives Cats

Kentucky point guard Sahvir Wheeler had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists to lead the Wildcats to an easy win over Monterrey.

Chris Livingston also 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Oscar Tshiebwe also added a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Jacob Toppin had 12 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Adou Thiero had 13 points and Antonio Reeves had 11. Daimion Collins added 10 points.

Kentucky outscored the opposition 53-21 in the first half and held a commanding 49-19 edge in the second half. The Wildcats also grabbed 65 rebounds, compared to 22 for Tec De Monterrey and had 35 second-chance points.

Kentucky — Toppin 12, Wheeler 14, Thiero 13, Reeves 11, Tshiebwe 10, Fredrick 9, Collins 10, Darbywhire 2, Wallace 7, Livingston 14.

Keith Taylor is the sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at Keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.