Don't make Cal mad

John Calipari's high school coach has a warning for those who think the recent rumors and finger-pointing are going to keep him from making Kentucky a national power.

John Calipari's high school coach has a warning for those who think the recent rumors and finger-pointing are going to keep him from making Kentucky a national power.

"It upsets me to hear people get on him or write those nasty things about him. You get a tone of jealousy from people who can't find anything else to say, so they dig up something," said Billy Sacco, Calipari's prep coach in Pennsylvania. "Take the (Marcus) Camby thing (at Massachusetts). John himself was the one that turned it in (to the NCAA). He could have lied. He didn't do that. It upsets me that some people are taking shots at him and trying to ruin his reputation.

"I can tell you this. It is only going to make him made. Whoever plays Kentucky next year better come with helmets attached. He will get after everybody. You do not want to get him mad and then have to play him."

When Sacco first heard rumors that Calipari might leave Memphis for Kentucky, he called his former player to get the "scoop" directly from him. "I knew he had a loaded team coming back at Memphis," Sacco said. "He said he had to think about this one. I told him this is one of the jobs if you are ever coaching — and no one knows how long you will coach — that you have to consider. It's one of the three jobs in the country you think of as the best there is. I told him if you could land that Kentucky job, it would be something. That's the history of basketball. Putting him in that situation had me excited." Sacco got more excited on his recent visit to Lexington to see Calipari.

"I got to even see Rupp Arena. Everything there is impressive," he said. "I really just like the feel of the town. It seems to be 100 percent basketball, not 50 or 70 percent. They do other seasons and I do want to not put down any other sports, but the other seasons are almost just to get ready for basketball.

"What got me is that no matter where we went, everybody was glad he was there and was telling him they couldn't wait for basketball to start. John loves that. He's the same way. Putting him at Kentucky was a dream come true for him and will be for Kentucky, too."


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