Duke basketball players have mastered the art of the flop? Kentucky coach John Calipari certainly thinks so and like always didn't mind ruffling a few feathers to make the point when given the opportunity in front of a national television audience.
John Calipari was not pleased with what he felt were flops by Duke in Tuesday's loss (Matt McCarty/TCP)
Approached by ESPN sideline reporter Andy Katz at halftime of the Wildcats' eventual loss to Duke in the Champions Classic the unabashed Calipari smiled and delivered a pointed rebuke of the Blue Devils' long-standing reputation for duping college basketball officials into calling offensive fouls against opponents.
“They're flopping all over the place,” Calipari told Katz. “In the NBA, they'd all be suspended. So we got to get to where we're getting the ball by guys, and knowing that they're going to take charges.”
And just like that, Twitter exploded. Calipari voiced what fans have believed to be the case for years, but by doing so in such a public way in an environment where social media rules the day the Kentucky coach again found a way to connect with the masses, even if he later played coy when asked about it during the postgame.
“I did? I don’t even remember. What did I say? Calipari said. “It was a joke. Come on, you guys at Duke can take a joke, right? Geez. Just kidding.”
While Calipari's comments drew applause from all corners of the game they predictably didn't sit well with a clearly bothered Mike Krzyzewksi. The Duke coach appeared to have been informed of the comments before he came to the postgame news conference.
“You know, I really don’t pay attention – not just to John, but to other coaches, so … Really, I don’t really care what anybody said,” Krzyzewski said.
“I mean, he has a right to say whatever he wants. I thought we took some amazing charges and probably – I thought we had taken a couple more. There’s a difference between a charge and a flop. A flop means you don’t take any contact. I would hope that anybody that watches the game would say our kids really played outstanding defense and were there to take charges.”
Krzyzewski didn't drop the issue there either, later using a question about how the absence of sophomore guard Ryan Harrow might have affected Kentucky as a conduit to firing back at Calipari. The Duke coach was familiar with Harrow's game from his freshman season at N.C. State in 2010-11.
“John wants to talk about our defense, I’ll let him talk about his team and not me,” Krzyzewski said. “So I don’t know how it changes them.”
The testy responses weren't the first Calipari has drawn out of a rival coach, and certainly won't be the last, but on a night when the young Cats couldn't quite crawl all the way back against a veteran team they certainly stood as a win for Camp Calipari.