In his 18th year as a college head coach, John Calipari finally coached his first game in Athens on Wednesday.
And he was very impressed by the place, he said before heading back to Lexington.
“I love it here,” the Kentucky coach said at his postgame press conference when DawgPost.com publisher Dean Legge asked about the potential of the UGA program.
First, Calipari said, “you’re in Georgia. Big deal. You got players. So you can recruit your state and do fine. . . . [The recruits] are an hour or two hours away from campus; it’s like they’re going away to school but they’re coming to the state institution.”
Second, he said, there’s the practice facility adjacent to Stegeman Coliseum. “I snuck into the practice facility. I looked at the locker rooms and all that. Incredible.”
Then there’s old Stegeman. “I love this building,” Calipari said. “[It's like] our UMass building — 10,000 [seats], right on top of you, not one bad seat.”
Anything else? “I drove around the campus today. Incredible. It’s just incredible.”
Add it all up, and Calipari — the former Massachusetts and Memphis coach — reached this conclusion:
“Georgia,” he said, “is one of those gem jobs that no one realizes.”
Stegeman was packed on Wednesday night.
Among the 10,523 in the building were two former UGA football coaches (Vince Dooley and Jim Donnan), two former UGA basketball coaches (John Guthrie and Pete Herrmann), one Basketball Hall of Famer (Charles Barkley) and two former Atlanta Hawks general managers (Pete Babcock and Billy Knight).
The game story on Georgia’s 80-68 loss is here. A few other notes:
– Travis Leslie left the court early in the second half because of cramping. He returned to the game, but not effectively.
– Kentucky’s 14 blocked shots were the most by any team in an SEC game this season.
– So now Georgia is 24-112 all-time vs. Kentucky.
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