By LARRY VAUGHT
If John Calipari is as perplexed about as team as he says he is, then it could be an interesting next few weeks as he tries to mold the team the way he wants.
Kentucky overcame a seven-point deficit midway of the second half Friday to beat Southern Illinios and had four players — Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Quade Green and EJ Montgomery — in double figures.
“I haven’t figured all that out, but I know how we’re going forward, what’s going to be demanded. There’s certain things that are game in-house stuff that I’m demanding when we practice. And we had some guys that got mad last practice. Got mad for holding them accountable. No, do it again,” Calipari said after Friday’s win over a team he said could be in the NCAA Tournament in March.
“And I had to explain to them, you’re not supposed to be mad. I’m supposed to be mad. You got this backwards. And it’s, again, when you’re dealing with young kids and they — and I told them it’s not their fault.”
Obviously, the 34-point loss to Duke Tuesday is still weighing on the mind of Kentucky players, fans and coaches.
But if it was not the players’ fault, then who should be blamed for UK’s play?
“Whose fault is it? It is my fault. I never saw coming what happened up there. You know why? Because I really didn’t have a good read. That’s my job as a coach is to have a good read on where we are. I had no read at all,” he said.
“I knew Bahamas there were flaws and I knew that’s not who we were going to be. Today we grinded, we need to score easier, but we had to grind it. But this thing, as we go forward, is you’re held accountable. This is what we’re asking you to do. And there’s no — we’re not arguing, we have what we have, we have our buddy in the gym. ”
Buddy in the gym?
“He’s called the treadmill that’s going at 17 miles an hour for 30 seconds. Get on the treadmill. And I tell them hold on before you get on because it’s already running. Then start running and then let go and then run for 30 seconds and then hold it and then put your feet on both sides and then come back in and — da da da, nope, on it. Go ahead, go on to buddy. Get over there,” Calipari said.
Not sure about you, but jumping on at 17 miles per hour doesn’t sound like fun to me. That would get my attention even if I was as athletic as Ashton Hagans.
“It is holding their feet to the fire to say this is what’s acceptable. And what you’ll see is a much more disciplined basketball team. That’s not on these kids. That’s on me,” Calipari said.
“The way they played up there (against Duake), each of them looked bad. Not one of them looked good. That’s on me. And I let them go out there and play that way. I got a lot of work. We got a lot of work to do to get this team where it needs to go.
“But I’m loving this group of guys and I’m just saying, hey, be responsible, own your performance. Don’t blame anybody, don’t blame me, don’t blame the fans, don’t blame the other team, don’t blame the officials. Own your performance. That’s the only way you get better. ”