Kentucky coach John Calipari expects the Southeastern Conference, especially the Eastern Division, to be dramatically improved this year and thinks the Wildcats have a competitive overall schedule.
His biggest complaint about the schedule involved his team's trip to the Maui Classic on Thanksgiving week when UK will play three games after stopping in Portland, Ore., to play a game on the way to Maui.
"The Maui thing gets you out of whack. It's not what I want," Calipari said.
He shared these thoughts on the schedule:
Question: What are your feelings about the schedule?
Calipari: "The thing I didn't like about the schedule was Hawaii. We were locked into it (Maui Invitational). It was done before I got here and people had flights. You could have home games. Those are three games for a young team traveling across country, and then coming back. The games after that are hard. I have done that. When I saw it, I didn't like it. It takes away from what you have at home. That's what you buy into. Instead of having 31 games, you have 30. That one game for this program is $600,000.
"But that being said, the schedule is harder than it was a year ago. We have tougher road games, a harder overall schedule. Our league is better. You have two teams that will be in the top 10 above us, both Florida and Tennessee. Georgia will be way better than people expect or understand, and we have to play all those people twice. That's six games."
Question: Do you not like going to Hawaii for tournaments or is it just not good for this team?
Calipari: "In general, I don't like the three road games. You have Florida right now every year playing three (games) at home (in a tournament) and then maybe a fourth at home in a home-and-home. That's their tournament. They may get four home games and we get three on the road."
Question: Would you like a similar type tournament at Kentucky?
Calipari: "We could do something like that, but we are being asked to play in every event that is out there. The event we talked about early, the First Four I talked about and then somebody else grabbed that name. We have been approached about playing in a three-year deal with three of the top teams in the country three years in a row in doubleheaders. Not more than one game, but that again is another tough game. We are playing Notre Dame in Louisville this year, which is a harder game than we played there (last year). It is just a harder schedule."
Question: Is the plus side of Maui that you will have three games on national TV?
Calipari: "It doesn't matter. I am coaching at Kentucky right now. Whether it is ESPN, CBS or whoever it is, we are on 21 times. It doesn't matter. We are going to get TV. This is totally different than what I have had. My job when I was at Massachusetts and Memphis was to get us on TV. Play anyone anywhere at any time. Build a schedule non-conference that would get a No. 1 seed. That was my whole mission.
"Here, a lot of the schedule is already there. Then if you want to add to that, you have to make sure you have a veteran team. The second part is the built-in league play where you have no idea. The good news is that it is not football where it (scheduling) is done five years ahead. You can see the league is going to be good on your side. If the league was real strong on the other side, you are only playing six games and three are at home. It's totally different on your side where you are playing six or eight games and then go over there. Mississippi State is going to be really good and you have teams over there good now, too. It's totally different.
"Someone wants to do an all-access (TV with UK). No. When I was at Memphis and Massachusetts I am calling them to do the all-access. At Memphis, we had six ESPN games for the league. Now five of them would include us. Here how many do we have? Twenty-one. No wonder everybody hates us."
Coach Cal discusses scheduling
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