People have been counting UL Cardinals out all along, Pressure on Calipari to win


Over and over in the 2012 NCAA Tournament the Louisville Cardinals have been counted out.  Now John Clay has counted them out again. (Wally Hall of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is picking Kentucky.)

The tables are now turned. Calipari’s program has the advantage in tradition, fan base and, in this case, talent. To whom much is given, much is expected.
A younger Calipari might have psyched himself out this week. The thought of playing his program’s in-state archrival, the thought of coaching against his “friendly acquaintance” for a spot in the championship game might have thrown him off his game.
Now, Calipari is 53. He’s older and wiser. He’s a better coach. Three years here, he’s done an incredible job.
He’s recruited fabulous players. He’s captured SEC titles and is now in his second Final Four in as many years, his fourth as a head coach.
He’s done everything the Big Blue Nation hoped he would do.
Except win the title.
If he doesn’t win this year, it doesn’t mean he’s not a terrific coach. It doesn’t mean he won’t get another shot. It doesn’t mean he won’t win one or two or three championships down the road.
But this is the one shot for this fabulous team. These 12 players won’t be together as a team again. Winning the championship, said freshman point guard Marquis Teague on Tuesday, has been what this team has thought about “since the first day.”
For Kentucky fans, the thought of Louisville, and Rick Pitino, keeping the Cats from the title is too much to bear.
In the minds of the most passionate, and irrational, it would be enough to ruin what has been a tremendous season.
Calipari can say whatever he wants about that — “A win or a loss doesn’t matter if the school is 12 miles from you or 1,000 miles from you,” Cal said Tuesday — and much of what he says may actually be true.
But this too is true: John Calipari has worked all his life to be in the position he will be in this weekend.
Now all he has to do is win.
John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog:
Copyright 2012 Herald-Leader.

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