By LARRY VAUGHT
After Kentucky struggled more than expected to beat VMI Sunday night, John Calipari did what a good coach does — he told fans to blame him, not his players, for any shortcomings the team might have.
“This is going to be a process and it’s not easy, it’s not easy for these kids, it’s not easy for our fans. And I would tell our fans, I said it on the radio, you should never be upset with these kids … they’re 17 and 18 and 19, they’re doing exactly what I’m trying to get them to do. Be mad at me,” Calipari said.
“You don’t need to be mad at the kids. Cheer them on, it’s hard to play here.”
VMI guard Bubba Parham went off for 35 points against UK and hit 10 3-pointers in a game that Calipari joked the player would have his grandchildren watching one day.
“I mean, that’s every game we play is this way. And so they don’t need anything extra, they just need to just get better and you’ll break through and try to continue to talk on those terms,” Calipari said.
Then he did have a not so subtle message for his players.
“And here was the other thing. That locker room, even though there’s some guys that really didn’t play well, they better be happy for PJ (Washington), happy for Reid (Travis), happy for Quade (Green), hugging those guys,” Calipari said.
“So when you play well they hug you. That’s a learning process too. If I don’t play well I’m mad. We won. We won a game we easily could have lost. So anyway, thanks, guys.”