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James ‘Bruiser’ Flint reunites with John Calipari, looks to ‘accomplish special things’ at UK

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

It didn’t take John Calipari long to find a replacement for Kenny Payne.

Calipari hired former assistant James “Bruiser” Flint to join the Kentucky coaching staff less than two weeks after Payne resigned to take a similar post with the New York Knicks. Flint spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at Indiana University.

Former Indiana Hoosiers Assistant Coach Bruiser Flint during the exhibition game against the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. (Photo By Craig Bisacre,Indiana Athletics)

Flint was on Calipari’s staff at UMass from 1989-96 and helped guide the Minutemen to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four run in 1996. Flint replaced Calipari at UMass and later coached at Drexel for 15 years, collecting a school-record 245 wins during his tenure with the Dragons.

“Bru is not only a terrific coach, he’s like my brother,” Calipari said. “You’re not going to find anyone that says a bad word about him. He forms great relationships with players because he listens, has a terrific personality, and can relate to anyone. Bruiser has an incredible basketball mind and is going to help us in a lot of ways. He was a terrific player, too.

“Bruiser is one of those guys who has always done more than people thought possible, both as a player and a coach,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started and get back at it with Bru as a part of our team.”

Like Calipari, Flint considers his new boss like family.

“Coach Cal has been both a brother and a mentor to me for 30 years. I have always had great respect for his approach and his care for his players. He and I both believe that when you put players first — when you make their dreams your dreams — we can accomplish special things.

“I’m looking forward to getting in the gym with some special young men and representing Big Blue Nation.”

Flint is known as a defensive-minded coach. His run at Drexel included 19 straight victories and he won 20 or more games won three times. He has won 331 games in two decades as a head coach.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.

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