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Calipari on Cats: “We play for March.”

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky is tied for sixth in the Southeastern Conference with a 6-6 mark. It has dropped out of the top 25. The Cats were only projected as a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the latest projections Sunday.

The Cats were dismantled in Saturday’s loss at Texas A&M and they have to play at Auburn, the SEC leader, on Wednesday.

Kentucky coach John Calipari says he’s tired, but not frustrated with the team. Not quite sure I am buying that but I understand why he has to say that or risk losing the team.

“We’re working through all this and like I said, we play for March. That’s what we’re playing for. We’ve got to get this thing right. We’ve still got time,” Calipari said.

“Been in this situation a couple different times at Kentucky and you now every team we play is giving us their best shot. When we get this, we’ll bust through, but it’s getting old right now. ”

He did work a miracle in 2011 and got a team that struggled to win on the road in SEC play to the Final Four. He did it again in 2014 — thanks in part to some gigantic shots by Aaron Harrison — and got to the title game.

But he knows time is running out for his team this year.

“It’s getting, each week that goes by, it gets harder and harder to get this thing to where you want it to go. At some point, you’re right, somebody has to lead and step up and say, hey enough is enough,” Calipari said.

“Right now I’m not sure we have that guy and the reason is, it’s hard to talk when you’re not playing well. It’s hard to talk when the guy won’t fight until the game is down 14. It’s hard to be that guy to say anything in those meetings.

“But I’ll say it again, I’m not cracking. I’m not wavering. I hate losing. Can’t stand it. Liked our first half, thought, OK, maybe we busted through and then we let go of the rope. When things go bumpy guys just let go because my stuff’s not right so I’m just hanging my head, which is what young kids do and we’ve got to break that.”

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  1. Same ol’
    Same ol’

  2. And there-in lies the rub! If March is that important why even play the season!

    Sorry, but so tired of the “one-and-done” rationalization and excuse giving.

    There is no leadership because there is nothing to lead since they will be gone next year.

  3. The media, including the likes of Lunardi, have over valued this team from the start, and are still over valuing this team suggesting it is worthy of a 7 seed. It is not worthy of a 7 seed, closer to a 9 or 10 seed today than a 7 seed. Lunardi over the weekend did concede that UK would not sniff a seed anywhere close the the 1 seed he projected in the pre-season.

    This is a bubble team if all the bias and favortism is eliminated, which it never will be. This team is very likely to lose its 4th in a row Wednesday night. Auburn is very good, and on Wednesday night Bruce Pearl will have his guys jumping out of the gym on the simple idea that they can “BEAT KENTUCKY” Auburn is worthy of a 2 seed today. So is Tennessee. They will battle over the next 4 weeks for the SEC Championships and the possibility of moving up to a 1 seed.

    As that occurs, UK runs the risk of a much longer losing streak than 4 games, but a 4 game losing streak at UK has only occurred 6 times in the last 89 seasons. Think about that. Two of those 6 times were in 2008 and 2009 when Gillispie was here, and his performance was not acceptable to the BBN or the University on so many levels. The other 4 times happened twice with Joe B Hall teams, and in 1989 (Sutton) 6 in a row and 1990 (Pitino) 5 in a row.

    If this team loses Wednesday, which I believe is very likely, then it must beat a red hot Alabama team at Rupp to avoid being one of the 3 worst teams since Adolph Rupp arrived in Lexington, and both of those teams were sandwiched around the Sutton NCAA sanctions.

    Wow! Is this where this team is taking the program?

  4. I think one of the bottom lines for this team is that they really don’t care. This has to be Calipari’s worst team since he came here. You would think public ridicule would have motivated by now but not with this team. You have Hami, and Wenyan mostly playing out of control with limited basketball IQ. We have Knox and PJ generally playing lazy and apathetic most of the time, but at least Knox shows some production. PJ seems happy being in the twilight zone and I think Richards is mentally challenged. SHA and Vando seem to give all they have each time out and kudos to both of them, but you can’t win with only 2-6 cylinders working.

    1. Mike, I do worry sometimes that regular season games don’t matter that much — but then again that message kind of filters down from the top to them

  5. Hey Coach, that is a terrible message to give these kids. If you don’t play for Nov-Feb, you don’t get the chance to play in March. Maybe you giving them this message is why, as you said, “You’re tired.” With this message, these kids see no need for improvement until March, so why listen to a coach that just yells his head off, and has no idea how this team needs to play.
    Maybe, this message is why we have not seen very much improvement in any of your players this year. You don’t have a Anthony Davis or John Wall that wants to push themselves to be their best, because you just told them they don’t have to.

  6. I hope the fans don’t buy-in to this
    PC “You’re A Winner No Matter What The Final Score” mindset.

    1. I heard Calipari ask someone on his radio show yesterday if there was any negativity being directed toward his team now. He claimed he don’t read that stuff, nor does he worry about it. Really Coach? His body language sort of disputes that though IMO. Calipari is one of the biggest spin artist I have ever heard. He talks so much, Leach might as well take a nap, and shut down the phone lines for any questions. Yeah, we all understand it’s about these kids, but for us fans it’s about Kentucky basketball tradition, and a will to win, and some fight. It is more than a ticket to the NBA for some superstar.

      1. Spot On !!!

  7. One insider for NBA has Knox, Dalio and Alexander as first round prospects. Don’t get it.

    1. Me either

  8. I don’t care one little iota about the NBA. I don’t watch it. I don’t follow it. I have not taken my time to watch a single game involving a former UK player.

    I love college basketball, and the Cats. I have had this love affair with this game and this program since the mid 1960s.

    If one of our players in the traditional sense had the good fortune of earning a living playing basketball, I rejoice for him, but all that matters now and all that has ever mattered to me is this program.

    As far as the NBA making sense, it is quite simple. They want to capture the talent for their teams at the youngest age they can with the lowest risk of mistake possible. When they “drafted” out of high school, they made more mistakes than they wanted, so they imposed the 1 year rule. They use the college game to test these kids against a higher level of competition before they “invest” in the young talent, but their plan is simply to reduce the number of errors, not to seek experience, NBA ready players.

    Therefore, it will never make sense to college fans, it will only continue to be maddening.

    Stop this madness!!!!

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