Calipari has been a favorite subject on my blog the last few years. Last year I put up some video of Coach Cal’s comments after the loss at Fayetteville, and it is true that someone did a very funny cartoon about Cal’s past NCAA problems in the past, and I have even explained when Cal’s super recruiting success started, and believe it or not one of my most popular posts was on Calipari’s religious views. However, last night’s comments by Cal talking bad about his players takes the cake.
By J. Frank Parnell
The Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team has had a rough stretch. Considering the team won a national championship in 1994 and was runner-up in 1995, the last 19 seasons have been tough.
But not as tough – not even in the same ballpark – as being a Kentucky Wildcats fan. Why, you ask? Kentucky’s got tradition, national championships, Rupp Arena, Ashley Judd.
Kentucky’s also got Coach Cal.
Remember his comments at the end of last season when tiny Robert Morris University thumped his Cats? Review those remarks and see if they don’t sound similar to what Coach Cal had to say Thursday night after the Hogs finished a season sweep of Kentucky, 71-67.
Put yourself in one of his player’s shoes and imagine how you would react to reading this, which Coach Cal said in Thursday’s postgame comments:
“The thing that disappointed me today is even with the lead, we had two guys that gave up on the game. You know it because you watched and you saw. They gave up on the game.”
So your coach says you quit. That’s pretty clear, but sometimes it’s hard to follow Coach Cal’s clipped answers to questions. This was in response to a question about whether free-throw shooting cost Kentucky the game:
“A lot of stuff today. All the things I’m talking about, player-driven. Everything was coach-driven today. There was not one player-driven thing today. That’s what happens in that kind of game. When the other team is fighting, you got to be challenged by it, coaches, this is what it looks like.”
Similar to the end of last season, Coach Cal takes the attitude that, “All I can do is what I do – I’m a great coach, I know what to do. I can’t coach these guys; they won’t listen.”
He was questioned about whether Julius Randle was tired toward the end of the game. He could have said, “Julius left it all on the court” or “He gave everything he had – it just wasn’t his night.” Instead, we get this:
“He was. He played too many minutes. I’m trying to get guys to sub themselves. They just don’t get it. The longer you’re in there, you’re not going to play better; you’re going to play worse. If you’re in there for numbers, you end up missing free throws, missing shots, not getting the key rebounds. You don’t look good. You don’t only hurt yourself, you hurt your team. Less minutes. Sub yourself. Get yourself out of games. Wasn’t just him. We had a couple guys that tried to play too many minutes.”
“Sub themselves?” It’s not up to a player to worry about getting tired. A good player is going to give it his all. It’s the coach’s call to stagger playing time so fresh bodies are on the floor. But in Coach Cal’s mind, his players somehow blew it by trying to play too many minutes.
By the way, Randle played 32 of 45 minutes, behind James Young’s 40 minutes and Andrew Harrison’s 38 minutes. Randle also tossed in 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. Michael Qualls, Bobby Portis and Rashad Madden led the Hogs with 34, 33 and 32 minutes, respectively.
Coach Cal also mentioned he (“we,” according to him) left two time outs on the scoreboard. “At one point, I sat down and I would not speak to them,” Cal said. “What are we running? I already told you in the time out.”
There’s no need to beat a dead horse, but why not? Coach Cal disparages his players in increasingly creative ways. Check out a few of these gems:
“We missed all free throws that mattered.”
“They (Arkansas) miss a shot, the ball comes, we got no one.”
“Our guard play was horrendous today.”
“The other team played harder than they played. The game got physical. We couldn’t make 1-footers. It’s physical, so what? There’s bumping and grinding. Then don’t play.”
“We took 76 shots, 20 of ’em bad.”
“None of the three want to take the responsibility. That’s what young guys do. Can’t alibi. Every one of them, ‘My fault, I should have done this.’ You’re right, but I could have done this. You know, ugly.”
Now even Mark Story has jumped on Cal too:
The irony for a school now synonymous with the one-and-done recruit is that Kentucky’s performance has fallen off dramatically since older players in place when Calipari came to Lexington have cycled out of the program.
With some combination of Patrick Patterson (three years in UK program), DeAndre Liggins (three years), Josh Harrellson (three years) and Darius Miller (four years) mixed in with Cal’s elite one-and-done talent, the coach’s first three Kentucky teams went 102-14 overall, 40-8 in SEC regular-season games and 26-4 versus teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
Since Miller, the last holdover Cal inherited, played his final game in the 2012 NCAA title game, Kentucky is 42-20 overall, 23-11 in SEC contests — and 3-7 against ranked foes.
Because of the extreme fan interest and pressure to win, I’ve always believed that being the men’s basketball coach at Kentucky is, simultaneously, one of the best and one of the hardest jobs in major American team sports.
By implementing a model that requires both unceasing, all-out recruiting and teaching from scratch with essentially a new team every year, Calipari has made the job even harder than it normally is.
Over his long college coaching career, Calipari has proven nothing if not resourceful. He is apt to figure out a happy balance to make his model for UK basketball work again.
If he doesn’t, the one-and-done era in Wildcats basketball will end up de-legitimized — which could be to the benefit of future UK coaches should they be inclined to run Kentucky men’s hoops like a traditional college program again.
John Calipari’s comments Archie Goodwin’s comments Calipari thought things looked pretty bad after the Tennessee 30 point loss but then the Wildcats came out and played good since then, but then at Fayetteville, Arkansas on March 2, 2013 things did not look so good. John Calipari said that Arkansas went with a small line-up like […]
I have to admit that I always pull for the SEC teams to win but I made an exception when Kentucky made it to the final four this year. Maybe the point of this carton below had something to do with it. I am not a Tennessee fan but I pull for them to beat […]
Kentucky’s John Calipari on being a National Champion Uploaded by CBSSports on Apr 3, 2012 Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari talks to Tim Brando about what it feels like to finally win a national title ________ John Calipari and Darius Miller speak at UK championship celebration ____________ _____________ Related posts: If Calipari had stayed at […]
John Calipari’s Kentucky program isn’t just No. 1 in the country. It’s the hottest program since UCLA used to win it all every year. (Getty Images) The conventional thinking is that John Calipari won a national title because he went to Kentucky. However, when he left Memphis he had the best recruiting class in the […]
One Shining Moment 2012 HD Everything you will read below by Dan Wetzel is true, but it all started when Derrick Rose was taken first in the NBA draft after spending one year under Calipari at Memphis. John Calipari stuggled to recruit top players to Memphis the first 4 years he was there because the […]
Kansas will build a good lead going inside of two minutes and then Kentucky will hit some big shots and Kansas will miss some key free throws as Calipari’s Wildcats squeeze out a victory. I do think it will be dramatic and it will be totally opposite of what happened to Calipari’s team in 2008. […]
Enlarge John Calipari address the press on his first day as Kentucky basketball coach. John Calipari stuggled to recruit top players to Memphis the first 4 years he was there because the “one and done” rule had not been put into place yet and many of the talented recruits of his skipped college and […]
#1 Kansas vs #1 Memphis National Championship 2008 (Part 3) The paths of Self and Calipari cross for championship By Kory Carpenter Sunday, April 1, 2012 More New Orleans, La. — Bill Self’s start in coaching is probably well known by now. A guard on the Oklahoma State basketball team, he worked at a Kansas […]
Kansas vs. Memphis – 2008 NCAA Title Game Highlights (HD) Kentucky vs. Kansas: Bill Self a Fitting Final Obstacle to John Calipari’s Title By Josh Martin (Featured Columnist) on April 2, 2012 Stacy Revere/Getty Images The long and winding road to an NCAA Tournament title has led John Calipari back to Bill Self‘s door. […]
Memphis Tigers John Calipari Interview 2008 Basketball Final FOX Sports Exclusive Calipari, Self more than just recruiters NEW ORLEANS There is an inherent silliness to a profession like the one that has made rich men of John Calipari and Bill Self. They spend months, even years, burning thousands of gallons of jet fuel and […]