Commentary

Calipari matches Rupp for best start

Updated: December 16, 2009, 2:51 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When John Calipari looked at his early-season schedule, he had to feel that the three-game stretch against North Carolina, Connecticut at Madison Square Garden and at Indiana was going to be a bumpy road. Talk about three straight challenges, baby!

Now that the Wildcats have survived all three tests, Calipari has a reason to smile.

Remember, this is a young Kentucky squad starting three freshmen. It helps to have the premier diaper dandy in John Wall. I was lucky enough to see Mr. Wall, a sensational talent, in person at Madison Square Garden for the Connecticut game.

There is no doubt that he is a one-and-done player, so fans have to enjoy him this season. He wanted the ball down the stretch in a close game, and he was Mr. Clutch, putting on a show. He made big shot after big shot as the Garden was really rocking. The place was electric that night as there were stars everywhere, from Michael Douglas to Pat Riley, The Big O (Oscar Robertson), Chris Mullin, Looie Carnesecca, John Thompson... and they saw a player who should be a superstar at the next level.

Wall is the best point guard prospect I have seen in the last 10 years. I was in awe watching his speed and quickness with the basketball. He is so explosive and he took the game over in the end. Wall showed why he is number one in the eyes of many NBA general managers!

Kentucky then faced a danger game in Bloomington. Indiana. Tom Crean's Hoosiers raced out to an early eight-point lead, but the Wildcats showed maturity by fighting back. Kentucky took charge in the second half and came away with a convincing victory.

At 10-0, Calipari has matched Adolph Rupp for the best start by a first-year Wildcats coach. With a favorable schedule ahead (Austin Peay, Drexel, Long Beach State and Hartford), it looks like Calipari will be 14-0 heading into a showdown against Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals. Rupp Arena will be electric!! Pitno is sharp as ever -- Cardinal fans should not panic as they must get healthy.

Kentucky fans are the most passionate in America. Right now, they have a lot to cheer about as Calipari and company have gone through a major hurdle, three tough tests.

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.