Louisville Cardinal fans sure are proud of their Yum! Center and logistically, it is one of the nicest basketball arenas in the country. But does it give the Cardinals a real recruiting advantage? Not really. At least not to some of the older classic arenas that are still standing. ESPN recently asked their experts (in a pay Insider article) which venue offered the best recruiting advantage. While Kansas and Duke got more mention, Rupp Arena still can not be underestimated. Keep in mind, this probably did not take into account the recent locker room upgrades, but Rupp did get some praise:
Mike LaPlante: As a former college basketball coach, I have had the opportunity to experience many of the great venues throughout college basketball as an opponent. Kentucky’s Rupp Arena stands out as the home court that provides the biggest “wow” factor while providing the best advantage for landing elite recruits. While other schools’ fan bases may share equal passion for their program as the Wildcats faithful, Kentucky’s combination of electric atmosphere and sheer number of fans makes its home-court advantage the most impressive venue in college basketball. Rupp Arena combines the impressive size of the arenas at Syracuse and UNC with the frenzied atmosphere of Cameron Indoor or Allen Fieldhouse. The crowd noise can be deafening, and any prospect experiencing the atmosphere for the first time quickly learns that this is the event in a basketball-crazed state.
We saw on Tuesday what Kyle Wiltjer can do for this team and you can bet that part of the gameplan moving forward is getting him more involved … and shooting more free throws. Wiltjer is shooting 80% from the FT line this year, but has taken just 20 shots all year. By comparison, Archie Goodwin has taken 106. John Calipari knows what it will take to get Wiltjer to the line more:
“You’ve got to be aggressive, play through bumps and be tough, ball fake and go in with the idea you’re going to get fouled, not going to avoid contact and say the guy grabbed me. They ain’t calling that,” Calipari said. “You’ve got to go in with an idea to hit baskets. Ball fake and go through, not ball fake and avoid, fadeaway, step back, all of that stuff that we’re doing. You can’t get fouled. They’re not going to just give us calls so you’ve got to create that contact, get a foul and get to the line.”
If there is one thing that John Calipari does, it is respect the opponent. Calipari is always careful to talk up the opponent and never provide bulletin board material for the other team. That trend continues with Calipari’s comments against Auburn. Granted, the Tigers , coached by former Calipari assistant Tony Barbee, will be hyped for the Wildcats, but Calipari still talks the Tigers up:
“We’re going to be in dog fights. We’ve got to go to Auburn. Auburn is playing as well as anybody in our league right now…on the road…they’re retiring numbers…it’s jersey day, cup day and bat at Auburn. It’s going to be an absolute war for us to get down there on the road and try to steal one.”