John Calipari found another way to elevate Kentucky basketball. Cue the outcry.
When the No. 1 Wildcats hosted practice Wednesday – in front of students, fans and a national TV audience – it marked a chance to raise the profile of one of the nation’s elite programs. (If it can be raised any higher.)
But it’s already being thought of as a one-time situation. John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader says the NCAA will probably ban broadcasting a practice in the future. He’s probably right given how many detractors Calipari has.
That’s not a universal opinion, though. Jay Bilas, for one, disagrees.
“Yeah, I think it’s great. Kentucky has a tremendous following, so just having an open practice is going to be a big event. Teams have open practices all over the country. There’s nothing wrong with having an open practice. The fact that it’s on television is available to every team in America. Every team in America can call any network they want and say, ‘Listen, you want to come and televise our practice? You’re certainly welcome.’ So the fact that he’s doing it and TV’s taking him up on it, I applaud it.
“I have zero problem with it. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for everybody to get a look at what a practice is like. It’s not going to be a normal practice, because no normal practice has that kind of distraction. But it’s great for his team to stay sharp in that kind of environment without a game scheduled. It’s great.”
It is fun, especially when you have fans that crave this kind of thing. Calipari knows it, too.
“The whole idea – and it kind of mushrooms like everything else we do around here – but it was only supposed to be an open practice. I want the students into it. I want the players alert and focused through the week. Our practices are pretty consistent in how we go about it. Then it turns into, ‘Why don’t we call Wayne Martin (at WKYT)? Why don’t we call ESPN?’ Then it was like, ‘I bet it rates higher than games.’ It’s Kentucky. That’s the Kentucky Effect.”
Does it help recruiting? Possibly. But it’s Kentucky. Visibility isn’t an issue when it comes to attracting a recruit.
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