John Calipari honors former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall


Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari coaches his team from the sideline during the UK vs. Tennessee basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 107-79. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Kentucky head coach John Calipari paid tribute to the late, great Joe B. Hall on Saturday. 

Hall, who was the head coach at Kentucky for 13 seasons, passed away on Saturday morning at the age of 93.  

After spending six seasons on the staff of legendary UK head coach Adolph Rupp, Hall would take over the head coaching position in 1972. Remaining at the helm until 1985, Hall compiled 297 victories, 10 NCAA tournament appearances and a 1978 national championship along the way.  

Hall became one of only three men to both play on and coach an NCAA national championship team (1949, ‘78) and is the only one to do so for the same school.  

“Coach Joe B. Hall, my friend, my mentor, and an icon in our state and in our profession – passed away this morning,” Calipari tweeted. “Joe B. Hall took over a program and carried on the winning tradition and legacy of excellence of Kentucky basketball.” 

Hall resigned as head coach of the Wildcats in 1985, but continued to surround the program with his presence following his departure.  

“He was in my practices four days a week, so he knew what we were doing,” Calipari said post-Tennessee. “On a radio show, a coach with another coach, his support and what he did to explain what we were doing, there’s no question it helped. No question. 

One of the many things that Hall was known for during his coaching tenure was his 1-3-1 defense. Calipari would honor Hall by having UK play the 1-3-1 on the first possession of the game against Tennessee on Saturday.  

Even though he was not able to prepare his team for it, Calipari felt it was necessary. 

I was like, ‘Geez, I should have prepared.’ But do you prepare the 1-3-1 before something happens? I don’t like that karma,” Calipari said. So, I waited. It was after the shootaround that we had this morning, but I was going to do it, knowing [Tennessee] would probably score a basket, but so what.  

Another way that Calipari would honor Hall on Saturday was opening the game with a rolled-up program scrunched in his hand, mimicking the coaching stance that Hall was often seen in. That same stance is immortalized in a bronze statue outside of the Wildcat Coal Lodge, where the Kentucky men’s basketball players live.  

“This was a celebration for coach Hall, as was the rolled-up program which I will bring out to every game this year to finish it out,” Calipari said. 

Before tip-off against Tennessee inside Rupp Arena, a video package documenting Hall’s time as Kentucky head coach played before a packed crowd, which was followed by a moment of silence.  

“I loved the video,” Calipari said. “The greatest thing in all this was he knew what people thought and how much he was appreciated and beloved before he passed. He knew. Our fans have been so great to him.” 

During the game, a spotlight shined on Hall’s retired jersey that hangs in the rafters of Rupp Arena. 

“Coach Hall made it the job it is today with his hard work, his ingenuity and his great basketball coaching,” Calipari said. “Coach Hall always met me with a smile, including two days ago when I went to see him and hold his hand. He understood everything that was said, and as I prayed for him, he squeezed my hand tight. Coach Hall is beloved by everyone.”