The tense emotions and the raucous crowds always hit their peak in rivalry games. Each year when Kentucky and Louisville’s perennial basketball powers square off, that anticipation is always in full force. But this year, with Louisville in the middle of a major scandal, Kentucky coach John Calipari has a specific request for Big Blue Nation on Saturday.
“I would tell our fans, ‘Enjoy the game, don’t be bringing in banners, don’t be bringing in posters. Don’t. You don’t need to do it,”’ Calipari said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Kyle Tucker.
“Let’s be classy.”
Rick Pitino’s program came under the national spotlight when it was announced Louisville would be investigated for providing recruits with strippers and escorts during campus visits.
Calipari made it very clear Wednesday night that he hasn’t given the scandal a second of thought, as it is his job to focus only on what’s happening on the hardwood.
Both teams are ranked in the AP poll’s top 25, with No. 12 Kentucky holding a slight edge over No. 16 Louisville. The Wildcats are in need of a win, having two losses on their record already, to UCLA and Ohio State.
With his team struggling more this year than in years’ past, Calipari isn’t focusing on anything but his players. His hope is that Kentucky fans will do the same in terms of how they decide to cheer at the game.
“When I was at UMass I can remember a school had an issue with a gambling thing and I said, ‘If I see one thing, I will walk off and won’t coach the game.’ Let’s just play basketball. We don’t need to relish in anybody’s struggles,” Calipari said, according to Tucker.
“I’ve always been that way. The stuff we do is very hard. Not everybody handles it that way. Some of them encourage that stuff. I’m not one of those guys. Let’s just have some class.”