Commentary

Ultimate success still eludes Calipari

Updated: March 23, 2009, 3:09 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

There are a lot of familiar coaching faces in this year's Sweet 16. Seven coaches who have already won a championship are still alive -- Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun, Tom Izzo and Bill Self.

John Calipari would like to add his name to the list of sideline superstars cutting down the nets.

Think about what he has accomplished during his coaching career: this is his 11th NCAA tournament, and now he is in his seventh Sweet 16. He coached in the title game last year, and his teams have made the Elite Eight or better five times.

Calipari has done an amazing job this season. He lost three key players from last year's team that fell just short of the championship. Losing the likes of Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Joey Dorsey would be devastating for many programs.

Instead of bemoaning the losses, Calipari simply reloaded. The combination of veterans in Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart, along with newcomer Tyreke Evans has Memphis on a major roll in the hunt for a championship.

This guy has been unbelievable. Memphis has won over 60 straight games in its conference. It has not lost since a December setback against Syracuse. His teams have posted four straight 30+ win campaigns.

If you are talking about the premier coaches in America, Calipari has to be on the list. He is a great motivator, an outstanding recruiter and he knows his Xs and Os.

Let me tell you, I know he was thrilled with the win over Maryland. When he went back to his locker room, he was jubilant because he has a thing for beating the BCS schools.

Next up, his Memphis Tigers have a test against Missouri. That should be an exciting contest as Calipari and company try to get back to the Elite Eight for the fourth straight season.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.