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Arkansas coach praises UK and John Calipari

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Eric Musselman was not shy about his admiration for Coach Cal and the Cats.

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019-20 basketball season will forever leave us with a bunch of “what-ifs?”. The Kentucky Wildcats were coming into March Madness on a high note and ready to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Now, the season is over.

However, that doesn’t keep us from trying to answer some of those “what-ifs?”. Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Eric Musselman did just that in an interview with 247Sports’ Evan Daniels on Thursday.

Daniels asked Musselman a variety of questions, but the last one was: “Which team did you think was the best team in the country this season?”

Musselman answered confidently with Coach Cal’s squad, aka the Kentucky Wildcats.

“I think Coach Cal’s team, I love what he does, I love how they get better, I love how hard they cut. I would say from teams that we play, I would say that’s the team that I was most excited to watch. I think what Kentucky brings to college basketball when they come into your building, it’s the Yankees or the Lakers. They have that. They bring a certain excitement with the student body and the crowd.”

That’s some nice praise from the first-year coach in Fayetteville. Of course, the Cats beat the Hogs on the road in January 73-66. It was a huge win after UK was looking like they were on the up-and-up before a heartbreaker against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Kentucky didn’t let that game get them down. Instead, they bounced back. And Musselman was amazed at the way UK came out in such a tough environment.

“You’re gonna hate me because we come to your town, and we beat your team,” as Calipari says.

Then, Musselman continued with his hefty praise of Calipari and the Cats, almost in Bruce Pearl-esque fashion.

“I watch a lot of press conferences and some coaches just don’t get it. It’s embarrassing some of them not being able to give credit to other coaches and what Calipari does, to me he is the greatest thing for our league. He finds a way to compliment every opposing team and every coach. It’s an incredible characteristic that does nothing but enhance the college game. Whether he is playing a game in conference or out of conference, he just gets it and he’s trying to do what’s best for the college game and the coaching profession. There are other people that have zero feel for what that looks like and they should study what he does.”

I didn’t know much about Musselman before he came to Arkansas besides he coached a really good Nevada Wolfpack team and was an up-and-coming head coach. I also remember his unforgettable celebration in the locker room after winning a big NCAA Tournament game.

However, I think it’s safe to say we can all like and respect the Hogs’ head coach now. What a turnaround from Mike Anderson, to say the least.

And a shout-out to Musselman for his kind words about UK.