LOOK: UMass honors John Calipari in homecoming ceremony

With friends and family on hand, Cal was immortalized in Amherst on Wednesday night. (UMass Athletics)

College basketball in the 1990s was defined in some significant part by the rise of UMass hoops under John Calipari.

And so on Wednesday night, nearly 20 years after he left campus, the school honored its former coach by puting his name and career win total up high in Mullins Center. You’ll notice the 193 wins embroidered under glass there in the photo above. That figure is a recognition of the team’s run to the Final Four in 1996. The NCAA later stripped UMass of those Big Dance victories in its official records due to the Marcus Camby improper benefits case, but as far as the school is concerned, those wins happened.

Calipari’s gracious and grand ceremony in Amherst happened at halftime of the Minutemen’s dramatic overtime affair against New Orleans. In the end, UMass got the 103-95 win to improve to 6-4 and snap a three-game skid. Fitting for that team to win with a lot of offense and in dramatic fashion when Cal was in town to catch a game.

The timing worked out perfectly for Calipari, whose Kentucky Wildcats have this week off for finals before playing in the CBS Sports Classic against Ohio State at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

During his time in the northeast Calipari took UMass to five A-10 titles in eight seasons. Camby was his most famous player, but guys like Carmelo Travieso, Edgar Padilla and Donta Bright helped make UMass an incredibly fun program to watch as Calipari turned the program into a national contender. For college hoops fans like yours truly, UMass was just one of those classic teams so many grew up watching and loving.

For Calipari, this occasion caps an incredible 2015, a year that saw him get inducted a few miles down the highway, into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. And this was a great touch by UMass decision makers. They opted to go throwback unis. Bring back the cursive U! Below, a couple more images from the night.


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