Documentary gave Stackhouse insight into Cal

Published 12:00 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

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For the past two seasons, there has been a lot of speculation that coaches Jerry Stackhouse of Vanderbilt and John Calipari are not exactly buddies based on the lack of postgame handshakes. However, at the SEC Tournament last week, Stackhouse noted how his perception of Calipari changed after he watched an ESPN “30 for 30” on the Kentucky coach.

“It’s just the respect for his longevity, his tenure. He’s one of those guys,” Stackhouse said a day before his team beat UK. “I watched the ‘30 for 30’ on him, and I saw how he battled, how he cares about his players. Kind of changed my perspective on him a little bit just from watching that, digging a little deeper in it. You kind of see.”

Stackhouse likely is not alone among coaches who might change their opinions on Calipari once they know more about him other than just what they see on the sideline.

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“You hear noise all the time about people, but until you kind of dig deep and kind of pull the layers back a little bit. That was fun to see,” Stackhouse said about the documentary on Calipari. “I felt like I was in his shoes a little bit when he was playing John Chaney and those guys (when he was coaching at UMass), trying to beat them. You know what I’m saying?”

Along the way, Vanderbilt has challenged some “kings.” Stackhouse’s teams were 0-7 against in-state rival Tennessee before beating the Volunteers 66-65 on February 8. And after opening 0-8 versus Calipari and Kentucky, the Commodores took down UK 68-66 on March 1 and then did it again in the SEC Tournament.

“Kicked our ass quite a few times and we finally got a chance to knock them off,” Stackhouse said the night before Vandy beat UK for the second time in nine days. “I saw some parallels there.”

Stackhouse ran into Calipari last summer during a recruiting trip.

“I just made my way over to him. I think he was getting in the car,” Stackhouse said. “I just told him I respected him, watched the ‘30 for 30,’ and had another level of respect for him after really not just seeing Cal and Kentucky, the kings of the SEC, but able to see who he is, how he cares about his players. I saw some parallels there.”