Memphis Head Coach John Calipari Teleconference Quotes
Feb. 19, 2008
David Climer - Nashville Tennessean
A: One of the things we talked about before practice yesterday in our meeting was the will to win the last game, and the second thing was how do we focus on what we've got at hand--a team that beat Georgia and LSU. Both teams almost beat Tennessee; they were a bucket away from beating Tennessee. Then they beat St. Johns. We're going into their building, and it's the biggest game in their school's history. The highest ranked team to come in...it's a sellout. How do we not look by that because of what's coming up Saturday? It's a challenge. Hopefully the maturity of our team...we do have a bunch of veterans that have been through a lot. It's going to be an extremely hard game for us.
Q: If I could continue on another vein, could you address the state of basketball in the state, not only you guys and Tennessee, but Vanderbilt's good, Austin Peay's good, right down the line.
A: What's happened is that, you're talking one and two in the same system, forget about the same state how about the same system. Then you have East Tennessee, what Murray's doing, what Dave Lewis is doing, what coach Rick is doing at Belmont, what Kermit's doing at Middle Tennessee is playing well; they've done some things and I just saw they beat somebody. Matter of fact, I think they beat Austin Peay. If the college basketball scene in Tennessee, if it's been better, someone's got to tell me when.
The other thing is you see high school basketball is elevating. You have players that are not comparing themselves to other players in their towns; they are comparing themselves to other players around the country. The city of Memphis, these players don't compare themselves, how am I compared to the kids at White Station or the kids at Raleigh Egypt, or the kid at Ridgeway, the kid at Briarcrest, or the kid at St. George. They're competing now and saying how am I compared to the kid in California, the kid in New York, the kid in Alabama and that has elevated the high school in my opinion.
Q: As far as keeping guys in Memphis does a game like what's coming up on Saturday have any real relevance?
A: No. We obviously put a premium on recruiting the kids here, but can't recruit all of them. We help kids go to other schools, we'll help kids go to prep schools if that's what their looking to do, or go to other Division I programs. We can't take them all. But the ones we want, we go after. We go after hard and in most cases we'll get those kids. Outside of Memphis, we go national. We get Detroit, Chicago, Boston and everywhere else. Now if a family calls me from Nashville or Chattanooga or anywhere else and say we really want to recruit their son, I'll do it. The importance is, it's two highly ranked teams playing and both of them would like to win the game. But the kids we're recruiting, I don't think would say well Memphis beat Tennessee so I'm going to Memphis. It's not why they're going to come here.
Tom Weir - USA Today
A: Well, I wasn't worried about the whole state to be honest with you, Tom. All I was worried about was could elevate this basketball program from a couple of losing seasons to making it one of the elite in the country and do it by the same way we did at UMass which is getting good kids you are graduating. We've graduated 17 of our last 19 players, and when we got here its was a zero percent graduation rate. So, you're doing it on both sides. At UMass, we had an 80 percent graduation rate. So you're trying to say, we're here to win, but we're here to educate, we're here to prepare them. Now you have kids in the NBA and Europe playing, but you're still graduating kids. Did I think that this would happen? No. But the job that Bruce has done at Tennessee. Come on. It's hard there to do what he's doing with football with women's basketball, with baseball. To make your niche is hard. He's made his niche, and I've got to give credit.
Q: How do you describe your relationship with Coach Pearl?
A: Well, it's fine. We talked today. He called me yesterday, he was begging me for tickets. I told him absolutely not. Then I called him this morning, I told him, he's got fifty, we're going to put them as high as we can put them. I'm just kidding. Obviously, I didn't say that. We talked, he was looking for tickets, and our athletic director took care of him. Peyton Manning is coming in and wanted to come to the game. So I said I don't have them, but I called the AD and I think they got it worked out. We're in the same state, both of us have things going pretty good at both schools but you have to understand this Tom, they're closer to Washington D.C. than they are Memphis, Tennessee. You have to know that. They are so far from us and what we do here I mean it's incredible. We're an hour from the University of Mississippi. We're so far from them. It's not as though they're 50 miles away from us. They're closer to Washington D.C. than they are Memphis, Tennessee.