John Calipari

Coach Cal to the Nets?


John Calipari has coached in the NBA before.

After he took UMass to the Final Four in 1996, Cal left for the league, taking over the New Jersey Nets and hanging around for less than three seasons. He was fired 20 games into the 1998-99 campaign, and after spending a year as an assistant with Philadelphia, Calipari returned to the amateur ranks.

First Memphis, and now Kentucky.

But it seems like the rumors that involve Cal making a return to the NBA pop up every year. Back in 2010, less than a year after he left Memphis, Cal’s name was in the mix for the Nets opening. In April, just days after winning Kentucky’s eighth national title, Cal was thought to be a contender for the opening with the New York Knicks.

Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this in a terrific column before Cal spurned the Knicks’ advances:

Calipari had complete control of the franchise but little control of himself. He is securer in his insecurity now, but a desire to return to the NBA has never left. He has his NCAA championship now, and the New York Knicks have three necessities that Calipari desperately needs: a vacancy, a big stage and a blank check.

Why am I bringing this up now?

Well, earlier today, the Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson. And that undoubtedly means that Calipari’s name is going to be brought back up again, only now his friendship with Jay-Z — remember Kentucky played Maryland in the college opener for the Barclays Center? — will be thrown into the equation.

So is there a chance that Coach Cal will be heading up the Nets? According to Ken Berger, no. None at all:

John Calipari? Given minority owner Jay-Z’s relationship with the Kentucky coach … oh, let me stop myself right there. Sources say the answer to whether the Nets will consider Calipari is an unequivocal no. Moving on …

I guess that’s that.

With the recruiting class that he has coming in next year, I don’t think it would be smart for Cal to leave. A perfect season is a real possibility.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.