LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — 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.
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 email@example.com or twitter @keithtaylor21.