Kentucky basketball: John Calipari needs to change remembering how it began

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky Basketball
Kentucky Basketball /

April 1, 2009, Calipari introduced as the next Head Coach at Kentucky.

Calipari came in and immediately said all the right things, and promptly brought two top recruits in the nation from Memphis with him in John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. Suddenly, Kentucky basketball was not only cool again, but appears to be rising from the ashes that Billy Gillispie left the program in.

Kentucky won their first 19 games, and 27 of their first 29. Finishing out the regular season 29-2 and claimed the regular-season Southeastern Conference title, and then went on to win the SEC Tournament for the first time under Cal.

Kentucky finished 35-3 and entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed. Sadly the first-year coach saw his season end in a disappointing loss to West Virginia in the regional final. All in all, though Kentucky fans were tickled blue that Calipari came in cleaned up house so quickly. That team saw eight players end up in the NBA, five of whom were selected in the first round.

Calipari reflected on how that team changed the landscape of Kentucky basketball.

"“What you did, how you did it, whether it be the guys returning, how you accepted the young guys, how you young guys accepted each other changed college basketball forever. What you guys did is have everybody’s eyes open to what we’re supposed to be doing for young people. It was an enjoyable thing for me to be a part of. Just know, you all, this group, you changed college basketball.”"

Wall and Cousins were on the most exciting duos to ever wear the Kentucky uniform, having them for one season just weren’t even fair to the rest of college basketball. Ironically they were reunited last year in the NBA as teammates on the Houston Rockets.