When Virginia's Tony Bennett was recently announced as the USBWA's National Coach of the Year, a number of people — including Yahoo Sports columnist Dan Wetzel — believed John Calipari, coach of the 36-0 Kentucky team, had been unfairly overlooked for the honor.
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You can now add Louisville coach Rick Pitino to the list of people who believe Cal was cheated by the vote, which saw the Kentucky coach finish second to Bennett.
Pitino, who has never won the award himself, praised Bennett and others for coaching jobs they have done this year. But the Louisville coach says, "I think John Calipari has done a brilliant job, so I'd put him at the top" of the list of candidates.
Pitino added, "When you're undefeated and nobody's beaten you, it's clear cut who the coach of the year is right now."
Pitino and Calipari have long held a complicated relationship. Though they've often insisted they're friends — like before last year's Sweet 16 meeting between their teams, which Kentucky won — some of the sniping between each other over the years suggests a rockier bond. Pitino is 1-7 against Calipari since the latter took his old job in Lexington.
Still, none of that colors Pitino's view that Calipari deserves the honor.
In his mind, the best is the best.
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