Tag: John Calipari

Dominican Republic's Al Horford goes for a basket during their 2012 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament basketball game against South Korea in Caracas

Tournament to decide final three Olympic berths taking place


Kentucky coach John Calipari is in Venezuela as you read this. Coaching the Dominican Republic. Al Horford is in Venezuela as well. So are Andrei Kirilenko, J.J. Barea and a host of other players you know.

All trying to earn their ticket to London for the 2012 Olympics.

FIBA’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament — all the teams that just missed out qualifying in their regions for the Olympics — are in Venezuela competing for the final three spots in the London games.

Twelve teams get invited to the Olympic men’s basketball tournament and nine teams have already earned their spot — including the United States, which qualified by winning the FIBA World Championships in 2010.

The final three spots are determined from a tournament featuring all the teams that just missed out last year in qualifying. And there are some good teams — Russia, Lithuania, Puerto Rico, and the Calipari-led Dominican Republic among them. (Don’t think Calipari agreed to coach them because a highly recruited player is coming out of the island nation in 2014, that couldn’t be it at all.)

Here is how it works — the top two teams from each group advance to an 8-team single elimination tournament. What are the groups? Glad you asked:

Group A – Greece, Puerto Rico, Jordan
Group B – Nigeria, Lithuania, Venezuela
Group C – Russia, Dominican Republic, Korea
Group D – Macedonia, New Zealand, Angola

The two teams that reach the championship game get automatic berths. The third place game between the semi-finals losers will be the one to watch, a trip to London is on the line.

Predicting who could come out of any single elimination tournament is risky — that’s why the NCAA Tournament is so fun — but I would expect Russia to advance with the Dominican (Horford scored 30 in their first game), Puerto Rico, Greece and Lithuania in the mix for the other spots.

Two of the countries that advance from this land in Team USA’s Olympic first round group.

Kentucky title team now fills up NBA draft boards

NCAA Men's Championship Game - Kansas v Kentucky

It’s a heck of a recruiting pitch for John Calipari.

Six guys from his NCAA title team are expected to go in this NBA draft — including Anthony Davis No. 1 overall and likely four or five in the first round. It’s a ridiculous number.

This is the Kentucky Wildcats NBA draft.

And really, not just this draft — every Wildcats starter the past three years has been drafted, notes the Louisville Courier-Journal.

But this year is a special load of talent Kentucky sends to the NBA. Davis is a lock No. 1, a likely franchise player, but some scouts think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could be the second best player — and he is a favorite of coaches who love his energy and play at both ends.

Then there’s Terrence Jones, the athletic forward who can score. There is Doron Lamb, the two guard who had a good NCAA Tournament run. Marcus Teague was the point guard who ran the show for Wildcats (and whose brother Jeff is already in the NBA). And Darius Miller could slip into the first round as well. You look at that and can easily imagine how they won an NCAA title.

But it’s wasn’t just talent.

What scouts loved about that Kentucky team was how professional — how much of an NBA-style team — they were. Guys bought into their roles and did what was best for the team, not always themselves. There was ball movement, there was a real commitment to defense (led by the long-armed Davis). These were all top high school recruits who put their egos aside for the team.

It was easy to watch Kentucky and project how these guys could fit into the NBA. Much more than most teams, where the one or two guys with NBA talent dominate play.

John Calipari — about as popular in college basketball as LeBron is in the NBA — won his first ever title with this group now entering the NBA. But there could be more. You don’t have to like how he works the system or how he’s friends with World Wide Wes (and LeBron), you don’t have to like Kentucky. But right now the guy is getting a lion’s share of the best talent and if he can keep getting them to buy into the system he’s going to keep winning.

And keep filling up NBA draft boards.

Calipari says Charlie Villanueva too fat for Dominican national team

Charlie Villanueva

And so the decline of Charlie Villanueva continues…

The Dominican Republic has a chance to make the London Olympics this summer, they are in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament for teams that just missed out qualifying last year. Get a top 3 finish and they can pack their bags for London.

John Calipari — last seen coaching Kentucky to a national title — coaches the Dominican team. And he made his first big move of the summer recently:

He cut Charlie Villanueva. For being fat. From the Detroit News (hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie):

“Charlie was not in good form when we saw him,” Calipari told Deportes en la Z. “He was overweight, and unfortunately, we could not slow down the entire team and it was a decision taken collectively. Last year, Charlie behaved really well with us and his only problem was his weight.”

Villanueva denied this, tweeting a photo of himself at 243 pounds (about 10 pounds below his playing weight last season). However, Calipari and company had issues with Villanueva’s conditioning last summer, then he played just 13 games for the Pistons last season due to ankle and other injuries. That said, the Pistons praised his efforts to get back in the lineup and his work in rehab.

What’s the deal here? As Eric Freeman noted at BDL, Villanueva’s game just doesn’t really fit Calipari’s uptempo, dribble penetration offense. But to cut an NBA player you need a better excuse, so let’s go with weight.

The Dominican roster still has some serious talent on it. Like the Hawks Al Horford, who needs to have a monster summer if they are going to London.

By the way, don’t think Calipari took the Dominican job to set up future recruiting pipelines. That’s not it at all. He just loves teaching the game. Why would you think he’d have another motive? You are so cynical.