Host: “First of all, I think it is the most talented one through seven that I have seen. Second, I think they play together as a team better than any team I have ever seen for that kind of talent. There may have been better teams like Rupp’s Runts, but they were not as talented as this team. I think Cal has done an amazing job of how he has been able to get them to play together. I think the only person on the team who was any issue was Terrence Jones and he is playing as well as a teammate of any of them. Cal has just done an amazing job with this team and it’s the best team, one to seven, that I have seen.”
Question: Isn’t that pretty rare to say great teammates on a team this talented?
Host: “Yes it is and I¿think in order to win it all they have to be a great team. I think the people will admit that the 1996 team that Rick (Pitino) had was a terrific bunch of individuals that played great together at the right time of year. But when you talk about Antoine Walker and some individual likes that, I never did see them as the total team like this team is. I have never seen a guy like (Anthony) Davis play the game like he has. When he gets knocked down, he just gets right back up and never frowns. You don’t see any of them with any kind of attitude problem on the court like you see a lot of kids have. That’s what I mean about this team.”
Question: How much have you enjoyed working with John Calipari?
Host: “I love working with him. But I have had a great relationship with all of them (UK coaches) with the exception of (Billy) Gillispie. I had no relationship with him. I loved working with Rick. I had a great relationship with him. I have known Cal since he was an assistant coach at Kansas. I have known him a long time. He is the best marketing guy I have ever been around. He is best at marketing what he does and what the team does. Have your ever seen anybody work closer with the university than what he tries to? Rick was a great marketer but he does it different. Cal is amazing at what he does.”
Question: How did you first meet Calipari way back then?
Host: “I have been involved with NCAA events, but Monty Johnson was the athletics director at Kansas and when he hired Larry Brown and Larry gave him a graduate assistant job at Kansas. So I met him through Monty Johnson who was a member of my Host Communications board for a number of years. That’s how I met him. I really like him personally and we usually have met every year at a Final Four and either have coffee together or something.
“When he was the coach of the New Jersey Nets and got fired, he called me and said, ‘What should I do?’ I said Cal why don’t you and I meet and let’s talk about broadcasting because I thought he would be terrific in broadcasting and he talked about that. But then R.C. Johnson, who I have known forever as AD at Temple before he went to Memphis, hired him to be the basketball coach at Memphis. R.C. called me about him and I said, ‘You won’t find a better person, better marketer than Cal.’ It’s really a long-time personal relationship we have had.”
Question: Does that mean you thought Calipari would be as good a fit as Kentucky as he seems to have been?