Calipari may coach Dominican Rep. team

Kentucky coach John Calipari is mulling a chance to coach the
Dominican Republic national team.

Calipari posted on his website Tuesday that he has been
approached by Dominican officials about taking over the team in
hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

”My question to the Dominican Basketball Federation was, why
are you calling me?” Calipari posted. ”Their response was, they
liked what we are doing in China, including coaching their coaches
and being involved in promoting grassroots basketball.”

Calipari says he would spend about six weeks with the team from
August through mid-September, preparing it for the Tournament of
the Americas.

The team would practice at Kentucky’s Joe Craft Center before
the tournament, which will be held in Brazil. The Dominican
Republic has never qualified for the Olympics in men’s
basketball.

Calipari says he would also help train Dominican coaches. He has
a similar relationship with coaches in China. He gave no timetable
on his decision.

The 2009 Dominican Republic team that competed in the FIBA
Americas championships included several NBA players, including
Atlanta Hawks forward Al Horford and Sacramento Kings swingman
Francisco Garcia. The team finished fifth in the tournament with a
4-4 record.

Calipari wouldn’t be the first big-time American coach to lead a
foreign squad.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino is scheduled to coach the Puerto
Rican national team in the same tournament this fall, though Pitino
said Tuesday there’s a chance the deal could fall through because
NCAA rules would prevent the Cardinals from playing a series of
exhibitions against the team.

Former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson unsuccessfully tried to
get Mexico into the 2008 Olympics, and longtime NBA coach Del
Harris led China to an eighth-place finish in the 2004
Olympics.