Skip to content

Tom Izzo and John Calipari exchange verbal barbs

Oct 9, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Vanderbilt v Kentucky Getty Images

November is always a fun time in college basketball as some of the nation’s top teams fly around the country playing in holiday tournaments that put together matchups you’d rarely see otherwise.

The best early season event this year? The Champions Classic, which will feature Duke and Jabari Parker against Kansas and Andrew Wiggins as the undercard to Michigan State and Kentucky, which could end up being No. 1 vs. No. 2.

On the fifth day of the season.

That’ll be awesome, and you better believe that Tom Izzo and his Spartans are looking forward to the challenge. According to a student in attendance at Michigan State’s Midnight Madness, Izzo dropped this gem: “We are working to kick Kentucky’s [rear end].”

Well, word got back to John Calipari about this, and two times over the course of the last four days, Cal has managed to reference that quote.

“It’s not just Kentucky they want to beat,” Cal said on Kentucky Sports Radio, “it’s you because you got the scholarship they wanted.” Shots fired. But wait, it gets better. Cal unloaded this beauty at a luncheon for Louisville’s Wildcat Tip-Off Club:

Our third game is against Michigan State. That’s going to be hard. They’re already a veteran team. They’ve already made comments that their practices are about beating Kentucky. But I say this to you: If I ask my team when we play Florida, they’re not going to know. North Carolina, (they don’t know). I’m going to do it today, because as I thought about it, they don’t know. You think they know when we’re playing Louisville? They don’t know. They want to know if there is a meal tonight. They don’t know. Now, I ask you this: Does everyone on our schedule know when they’re playing Kentucky? Oh, they know. And it’s on their locker, it’s on their ceiling of their bedroom. You’ve got to deal with that. That’s part of being at Kentucky. You know what I tell them? Not only do they want to beat Kentucky, they want to beat you as individual player. You want to know why? They wanted that scholarship that you got and they want to prove they’re better than you, not just their team is better than Kentucky. So that’s the challenge that we have. But would you want it any other way? I don’t. Bring it. Let’s go.

Izzo and Cal get along, and most of this is good-natured back-and-forth between a couple of competitors.

But I’ll tell you what, no one can spin the way that Coach Cal can spin: “Oh, you’re biggest game of the year is against us? Well guess what. We’re trying to go undefeated, so EVERY game we play is our biggest game of the year. Because we’re so much more awesome than you.”

I’m sure this will rankle some feathers, but you know what?

I love it.

And I cannot wait for Izzo to fire back.

Latest Posts
  1. Former Boise State forward Joey Nebeker disputes school statement regarding his departure

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT

    rice Getty Images

    Boise State announced Wednesday that two players were leaving the program. Thursday, one of those players stated that he was forced out.

  2. Lawsuit filed by Dez Wells against Xavier settled Thursday

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT

    wells Getty Images

    Maryland’s Dez Wells and Xavier settled a lawsuit filed by Wells with regards to his expulsion from the school in 2012.

  3. Former Maryland center Shaquille Cleare completes transfer to Texas

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Wake Forest v Maryland Getty Images

    After spending two seasons at Maryland, big man Shaquille Cleare has decided to transfer to Texas.

  4. UNLV junior forward Khem Birch to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

    Khem Birch AP

    UNLV junior forward Khem Birch has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  5. San Francisco sophomore guard Avry Holmes to transfer

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - San Francisco v Brigham Young Getty Images

    After averaging 12.5 points per game as a sophomore, San Francisco guard Avry Holmes has decided to transfer.

  6. Arizona State lands junior college forward Willie Atwood

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Herb Sendek AP

    Arizona State lands its seventh newcomer for the 2014-15 season as forward Willie Atwood picked the Sun Devils over Florida State and Iowa.

  7. NCAA waves goodbye to hardship waivers; ‘Big Five’ leagues a step closer to autonomy

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:13 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA’s Board of Directors released some key decisions on Thursday.

  8. Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie enters 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Spencer Dinwiddie AP

    Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  9. Report: Marshall to hire Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike D’Antoni

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dan D’Antoni spent 30 years as a high school coach in South Carolina.

  10. Jabari Parker on a potential move to two-and-done: ‘I think that’s ridiculous’

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Parker is not a fan of forcing players to stay in school for two years.

  11. Larry Eustachy: ‘My feeling is Chane is going to go pro’

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Larry Eustachy

    There are reports he’s already signed with an agent.

  12. Amida Brimah out four-to-five months with shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The seven-footer will miss some time getting a torn labrum repaired.

  13. Marcus Paige, Roy Williams dance to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Roy Williams is not the world’s greatest dancer.

  14. Skal Labissiere is back from his back injury (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Skal Labissiere, Denio Chirindja

    Kentucky, Kansas and just about every elite program in the country is on the trail of the Haitian.

  15. Former Georgetown forward Moses Ayegba will transfer to Nebraska

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:57 AM EDT

    Moses Ayegba AP

    According to multiple reports, former Georgetown big Moses Ayegba has decided to transfer to Nebraska.

  16. UConn center Amida Brimah to undergo shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:17 AM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    According to a report, UConn center Amida Brimah will need to undergo surgery on his left shoulder.

  17. Shaka Smart adds former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason to VCU coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT

    Shaka Smart Getty Images

    Shaka Smart filled a vacancy on his staff Wednesday, hiring former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason.

  18. Has Top 100 forward Malek Harris committed to Kansas State?

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    Less than a week after making an official visit to the school, it was reported that Malek Harris had committed to Kansas State. But that may not be the case.

  19. Tulsa head coach Frank Haith announces coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Frank Haith announced his coaching staff Wednesday, with the trio combining to have more than 90 seasons of coaching experience.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'