There has been much made out of the rivalry between Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl and Kentucky's John Calipari, dating back to when highly ranked Tennessee and Memphis teams played prior to Calipari coming to Kentucky.
How does Coach Calipari feel about the Tennesee coach?
"I like Bruce (Pearl). This guy went to Tennessee and with football, women's basketball, baseball, and you are trying to find your way in men's basketball, he did it, and he got to an Elite Eight. I respect him. He can coach. They beat the No. 1 team in the country this year and they are adding three players for our game. So, they can come in here and beat us. They beat the No. 1 team, and as a matter of fact, beat them good. The last time I was highly ranked, he brought a team into Memphis, Tenn., and beat us. I respect him as a coach. We don't exchange birthday wishes or Christmas cards because we're rivals. Do you know of any two coaches, who are going at each other with two programs; that are going to exchange pleasantries other than when I see him on the road, ‘How are you? Good to see you?' But I respect him," stated Calipari.
How does Calipari view the Kentucky-Tennessee rivalry?
Calipari, obviously less worried about the Kentucky-Tennessee rivalry than about playing the Vols at the present time, said, "We're just worried about our team. I know how good they are, we all do. They beat the No. 1 team in the country and have three players that were made eligible for this game. We know how good they are."
How does Calipari view Wayne Chism (left) and his Vol teammates?
Calipari said, "They have talented players, now. You are talking about a group of talented players. Obviously, Tyler Smith is a big hit for them. They are still a talented team. They have size, athleticism and they are well coached. So, they have won. As I said, I respect them. They withstood all of this stuff. No one goes to Vandy and wins; everyone loses at Vandy, so that game was one you would expect. Everything else, they have done what they were supposed to do and continue to win.
"I'm trying to keep me out of all of this stuff. This is about two programs. I've always been that way. You guys make it about me and the other coach. I want it to be about these kids. But, it's a good thing, because you want to see when it's time to step up, who steps up and who steps back. The only way you can do it is in games like this. Who steps up and who steps back? Next time you are in this kind of game, the guy who steps up, you are the first one in. The one who steps back, I've got you, just relax.
"I remember taking my team to Knoxville last year. Having to go into that arena knowing we were playing against a really good team. It will be interesting how our team responds. Our team last year took on that challenge. But, I had a veteran team."
Calipari vs Pearl, or Wildcats vs Volunteers?
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