Calipari believes UK is a title contender right now

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

LEXINGTON — Kentucky’s loss to Saint Peters in the opening round of NCAA Tournament still bothers Kentucky coach John Calipari.

“We were the fifth-seeded team in that tournament and lost,” Calipari said during a recent appearance on the Paul Finebaum Show. “I’m still sick over it. … There’s some grieving. I have never had a team lose to a seed like that, but they weren’t a 15 seed, Saint Peters was really good. … At the end of the day, you can’t steal the joy of that season. The last game, you got to go through it, you got to deal with it.

Despite a slight roster turnover, Calipari will return several players from last year’s squad, including College Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe and Jacob Toppin.

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“We got a terrific group. It’s Kentucky, we play for the national championship. My thing always is, you want to be in the hunt. We were in the hunt last year. Two years ago, when we win our league by three games, they shut down the tournament. That team could’ve won the whole thing. You want to be in the hunt, and I am looking at this team, and we have a chance. We really do.”

Calipari, entering his 14th season at Kentucky, still thinks he has the best job in basketball.

“I believe that,” he said. “I’ve had some opportunities to look or leave, and you know what? At the end of the day, you look at this situation, we have the chance to win it every year.”

Despite his status, Calipari added that facility upgrades remain a top priority moving forward.