Hey everyone, this is Sam. Let’s talk about how the Kentucky Wildcats and John Calipari need a win BAD…RIGHT NOW. They have the first 1-5 start for the program since 1926-27 according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Yes, even worse than Coach Rick Pitino’s probation season. Will this be the final season for John Calipari?
CBS Sports Classic Last Weekend
This past Saturday, the Wildcats were playing #22 North Carolina in Ohio for the CBS Sports Classic. Kentucky led for 24 minutes and 40 seconds, but a stalled offense, foul trouble and turnovers opened the door for North Carolina’s late 13-5 rally that turned the game. From the 12:07 mark to the 4:01 mark in the second half, Kentucky failed to register a field goal.
Keion Brooks, who is injured and didn’t play Saturday, volunteered to speak with the media after the game, saying his teammates weren’t “up to it” following the loss. “We need to get our swagger and our confidence back,” Brooks said. “That’s what I’m really worried about.”
Not Responding to Calipari
Last week before the UNC game, John Calpari ran his famous “Camp Cal” practices. Well, after those all week, Notre Dame took a 24-point first-half lead at Rupp Arena. Is their psyche broken? Can they win even if they play well?
Yes, they were originally supposed to play UCLA. CBS Sports had to announce a revised schedule because of Covid-19 testing protocols between the schools plus their conferences.
“Success” Against UNC
“We’ve gotten better,” John Calipari said. “The issue becomes feeling the success that comes along with you’re getting better. That’s what’s been hard. We’ve gotta have a breakthrough at some point.” In order to achieve that tangible success against the Tar Heels, Calipari said the Wildcats’ focus must be twofold: box out and take care of the ball. “You’re gonna have to fight. You’re gonna have to go body-to-body,” Calipari said. “You can’t have 25 turnovers and win a college basketball game. Our guards are gonna have to get 15 rebounds to give ourselves a chance.”
Is It About Growing Mentally?
Calipari also stressed to his team the importance of growing mentally and shifting their perspectives to focus on the bigger goal. “I told them, don’t think any less of yourself,” he said. “Just think of yourself less, think of the team more.”
Calipari said his team’s much-needed mental shift is likely a byproduct of the pandemic’s limiting team-building opportunities like dinners and regular dorm room downtime bonding but was quick to admit it’s a widespread issue.
“We have 10 new players who don’t know each other,” Calipari said. “We’re all in the same boat, but it’s hard when they’re only together for two and a half hours on the court. We’ve got to get to know one another, trust one another, as much off the court as on.”
Calipari After The North Carolina Game
The subdued coach also cited immaturity as one of the culprits in his team’s loss. John Calipari added, “You’re talking about guys that are going through stuff that’s really, really hard for them—to take responsibility, to own their performance, to accept where they are on the team.”
Here Comes The Louisville Cardinals
Knowing how many freshmen great they have and the Hall of Fame coach they have, many other programs and fans would be ok with this problem. Not in the Big Blue Nation, getting beat by a rival like North Carolina, and now with Louisville coming, you can feel the frustration building quickly. It is starting to feel like a volcano ready to explode. Kentucky hasn’t enjoyed a Final Four run since 2015. The fans haven’t watched their favorite team win a national title since 2012.
“We’ve got work to do,” Calipari said. “We’re gonna have to get this thing right, hopefully shoot the ball better. But this was disappointing. The last 10 minutes were disappointing to me.”
Sam’s Take About Calipari and UK
I would love to pick them against Louisville…I really would. This isn’t a normal team. It is almost like they either don’t understand what Coach Calipari is saying or they aren’t listening to him. They look completely different. Coach Calipari has had teams struggling before, but not like this. Because of this, I don’t know if they can turn it around and make the tournament. I don’t know that the Big Blue Nation won’t fall in love with the next shiny coach; I think Coach Calipari might be feeling the hot seat.
Give Sports Obsessive your thoughts and ideas about the Kentucky Basketball and John Calipari. Please let me know in the comments below. See you down the road.