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Coaches’ Take: Calipari Underrated, Noel Coveted

The basketball writers at CBS spent the month of June polling about 100 college basketball coaches for their views on which coaches are underrated and which players are the most coveted.  If you’re talking basketball and expecting an SEC school to pop up, the safe bet is always Kentucky.

And that was the case in CBS’ informal coaches’ poll, too.

Asked, “If you could add any one player to your team for next season, would would it be,” only two freshmen were among the top seven vote-getters.  One was Shabazz Muhammad at UCLA.  The other was UK’s Nerlens Noel, who is expected to fill Anthony Davis’ shot-blocking role in Lexington this year.  Noel was sixth on the list overall.  (First was Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller by a wide margin.)

Florida’s Patric Young and Missouri’s Phil Pressey also received votes.

The results of the next question might surprise you.

Asked, “Who is the most underrated coach in the country,” the only SEC coach listed among the top eight vote-getters was Kentucky’s John Calipari at #6.  Temple’s Fran Dunphy led the way, followed by Randy Bennett of St. Mary’s, Rick Byrd of Belmont and — brace yourself Mizzou fans — Bill Self at Kansas.

One anonymous coach summed up Calipari in much the same way we have at this site:  “Sure, he always has talent.  But he deserves some credit for being able to manage that talent.  He may not be one of the elite game-coaches in the country, but when it comes to pushing the right buttons and recruiting, there aren’t many better.”

You can bet Calipari’s name would not have been on this list in his pre-Kentucky.  Oh, he did fine work at UMass and Memphis, but the success he’s had in getting young stars to buy into a selfless system and succeed at a high, high level in Lexington has changed the way many people view the coach.  That includes this writer… and apparently some of Calipari’s peers, too.

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Stallings, VU Having To Take MTSU Seriously

When Kevin Stallings put nearby Middle Tennessee State on the Commodores’ 2012 basketball slate, you can bet he didn’t expect for the Blue Raiders to come in boasting a 19-2 record and a perfect 8-0 mark in the Sun Belt Conference:

“It certainly looks like a tough game right now.  You can expect all of them to be tough, but Middle’s having a great year.  They have a very, very good team.  (Belmont coach) Rick Byrd told me early in the year when he played them after the first times, he said, ‘I’m telling you, they’re not really good for Middle or really good for their league.  They’re really good.’  They’ve certainly proven him to be 100% correct.”

Vandy and MTSU battle at Memorial Gym tomorrow afternoon.  The Commodores have won nine of their last 10 games and crushed Tennessee on Tuesday.

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