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UK’s Calipari Wants Officials To Call “Rough Play”

Since SEC play began, John Calipari has been goading his team to show more toughness in the face of physical play.  While the Wildcats have opened league play with seven consecutive wins and grabbed the nation’s #1 ranking, Coach Cal still isn’t thrilled with Kentucky’s physicality.

Apparently it’s time to call in some help.

Calipari said yesterday that he wants officials to start calling more fouls lest there be an increase in flagrant, dangerous fouls league-wide:

“My whole point is if you don’t call rough play, that’s what it goes to.  You’ve got to call rough play… We don’t want it to be a rough-house, win-in-the-weightroom game.  That’s now how we play.”

Timing is everything.  Kentucky hosts Tennessee tonight, a team that Calapari said out-physicaled his team in a close loss in Knoxville two weeks ago.  The coach said he expects a “hand-to-hand kind of deal” from the Volunteers this time around.  No wonder than that he’s already trying to get the officials to be on the lookout for that type of rough-and-tumble play.

Vol fans will claim Calipari’s being whiny.  Cat fans will claim he’s being wise.  But in reality, officiating probably won’t make that big of a difference tonight.  On paper, Kentucky is third in SEC play in scoring defense while Tennessee is just 10th in SEC play in scoring offense.

If form holds, Tennessee will have to get Jason Bourne-style physical in order to make up for its lack of scorers.




Fair enough... I'm obviously a UK fan, so I won't feign objectivity here. I'm just concerned that as teams try to play more physical to narrow the talent gap, that it will lead down a road to where the NBA was a few years back. That said, there have been games earlier in the season where neither team could make a move without having a foul called, which is incredibly frustrating to watch. Hopefully the refs can find a good balance.

Also, if you do go back and look at fouls that teams (or just UK) has called for and against them, I hope you look beyond this season. Anthony Davis just does not seem to foul much. I would bet that the last couple years when Harrelson or Cousins were the big guys, the foul differential would not be as wide.

Thanks for the comments

SEC fan
SEC fan


This is the second time Calipari has "worked the officials" through the press this season and perhaps, other coaches also do this but I do not recall anyone else "encouraging the officials" to call games a certain way. Is there a conference policy on attempting to influence officiating through the media or does "anything go"? While he comes across as whiny (to non-UK fans) and I know they all do it on the court during games, I just wonder if it isn't similar to criticzing officials in the media which seems to be a definite no-no according to conference rules. Interested in your opinion as to when is it going too far to gain a competitve advantage (something UK hardly needs playing at home at Rupp where officials are already intimidated) Any stats on foul calls against KY vs opponents in Rupp? Just curious. Thanks.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator


Yes, but the idea that that kind of play is going to become commonplace is a bit of a stretch. This is wise gamesmanship on the part of Calipari. He's not the first coach to tell the refs, "Hey, watch for this." Happens in every sport.



Did you SEE the mugging Anthony Davis took against LSU that had his coach apologizing afterwards?

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