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Monday, April 2, 2012
John Calipari gets elusive title

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

John Calipari is a lot more than a very good recruiter. He is an exceptional basketball coach. And now he is a national champion.

That was really the one thing missing from his résumé. That all changed on Monday when his Kentucky Wildcats cut down the nets after beating the Kansas Jayhawks, 67-59.

John Calipari
John Calipari won his first title in his fourth trip to the Final Four.

Kentucky won its first national title since 1998 and eighth overall. Only UCLA has more championships in men's college basketball.

I really don't think Calipari got the recognition he deserved as a head coach. Perhaps that will change now that he held up the gold trophy.

Think about what he did at Massachusetts and Memphis. I don't care about those results being vacated.   Then look at his time at Kentucky and understand how impressive it is to take three different programs to the Final Four.

It is not easy to get talent to blend together as a unit. You have to work with different skills to work as one.

If you ever went in the locker room and saw the details in his planning for each game, you would be amazed.

My friends, we live in an era when there are such great expectations and need for instant gratification. If you don't get the gold trophy, some consider it a disappointment.

Calipari wanted this badly. He is such a competitor who lives for today. He is about winning, and he communicates so well with his players.

There have been plenty of coaches who were outstanding but never won the national championship. Think about guys such as John Chaney of Temple, Gene Keady of Purdue and Lou Carnesecca of St. John's. They were winners but did not capture the national title.

Calipari can celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief as Big Blue Nation is excited.