John Calipari unearthed a good piece of NCAA tournament trivia during his presser on Wednesday evening in Des Moines.
The Kentucky coach is going up against Stony Brook’s Steve Pikiell this Thursday night, and because Pikiell is coaching in his first big dance, reporters inquired about Calipari’s own introduction to the tournament.
He noted that his 1992 Massachusetts team lost a close game to Rick Pitino’s Kentucky team that March, an outcome set into motion perhaps the greatest moment in college basketball history.
“That game, by us losing, led to Christian Laettner’s catch against Kentucky,” Calipari said.
Of course, he couldn’t resist taking a (tongue-in-cheek) shot at Pitino.
“Rick should’ve had the guy on the ball and they took the guy off the ball,” Calipari added.
It was timely that Pitino’s name should come up, because the current Louisville coach attacked Calipari’s recruiting system Tuesday on the ESPN radio show Mike and Mike.
“We didn’t need this to get recruits,” Pitino said of the Cardinals’ recent sex scandal. “You know we’re not Kentucky where we’re recruiting one-and-dones.”
Wednesday, Calipari was asked if he had something to say to Pitino.
The coach said he didn’t “really hear” Pitino’s statement, so he would “rather not respond.”
Instead, he played nice.
“They run a good program,” Calipari said. “He’s a terrific coach. He’s a Hall of Famer. We’re in the same state. Sometimes, you’ve got to rub elbows. Sometimes, you’re throwing elbows. But I respect him.”
Kentucky tips off vs. Stony Brook at 9:40 p.m. ET on Thursday night (CBS).