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John Calipari: “We don’t need any arrogance right now.”

John Calipari says he has to keep his team “hungry and humble.” (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky has now won nine straight games and eight straight in Southeastern Conference play as it gets closer and closer to a national showdown with No. 1 Tennessee on Feb. 16 in Rupp Arena.

Once again the hype train has full steam in Kentucky and Big Blue fans are again talking Final Four/national title just as they were after UK’s exhibition play in the Bahamas before that eye-opening 34-point loss to Duke to start the season.

“My major job now is making sure these guys stay hungry and humble,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “We don’t need any arrogance right now. We need guys coming in and trying to get better every day.

“This has been great but I have a job, which is keep guys in the right frame of mind as the plane bounces around. It’s not easy playing here. You have to steady the ship. We are getting better. You want the results to be wins. I would rather learn from a close win than a loss but sometimes you have to get smacked in the mouth by 30.

“It was good for us (to lose to Duke) and good for you fans. I know some of you were wanting me out and wondering who would be the next coach. But it doesn’t matter what is being thrown at me. I have a job to do and care about them (the players) and keeping  them in the right place. If anybody doesn’t like it, I really don’t care. It won’t bother me.”

Calipari felt his team had some “slippage” in its comeback win at Florida but knew not to mess with too much.

“You can’t get away from what is working. You don’t mess with happiness. When things are going good and you are playing well, don’t mess with it. Just ride it and get better. You just play to your strengths. I am getting a better feel for what we do offensively. We are not there yet,” the UK coach said.

Calipari says players have to stay “engaged” like they have recently with each other. He says every season young players press for individual results.

“People around them talking to them, how they got to play. They press. They’re uptight about their individual performance,” Calipari said. “Well, when you are, you cannot be engaged with your team because you’re thinking about your own performance. As it goes on and you realize, If I worry more about my team, the game becomes easier and I play better and score more. How does this work? I don’t know, but that’s how it works.

“It just takes some time to trust. I tell them, ‘You got to shut down the clutter. You got people telling you how you need to play or how you’re being evaluated and they’re wrong. So why would you listen?'”

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  1. This string of wins is nice to see, and us fans are high right now, but UK has won nothing yet that counts. NOTHING!! Calipari is right, stay focused and humble CATS. Look no further than at the next game on the schedule.

  2. Be nice if Cal would increase his closing % of recruiting losses so we could get back to a little more swagger and arrogance.

  3. That’s the danger with this team…it would be very easy for them to think they have arrived and can coast out the season. This team is playing good enough to run the table, win the SEC tournament, get a no. 1 seed in the Big Dance, and end up as a serious contender in the Final 4. They could also end up with another 6 or 7 losses, not even make the SEC semi finals, get a number 8 or 9 seed in the Dance, and go home the first weekend. I hope for the earlier assessment, but worry about the latter. It will be an interesting month.

  4. Catman…….what have you been drinking?..the Cats run the table??..I am now regretting buying you the last couple of rounds last night….say it isn’t so.

    1. Mike, I said IF, not WILL, lol. I honestly see at least 2 to 3 more losses for us, but also see potentially that many for UT and LSU. I don’t see a collapse that would add 7 more losses, but it COULD happen. I hate to say it, but somebody is going to get hurt amongst the front runners and it will take that team(s) out of contention. Auburn is the wild card now with Wiley back. Keep the round coming Mikey.

  5. I believe this team can finish the season 28-3 and will have only 1 game with a theoretical margin less than 5 points over the next 9 games.

  6. This team has a lot of upside going on now and we still have room to improve more down the stretch. I like want this team is doing there a fun bunch to watch. CAL hasthis team headed the right direction for no.9

    1. This UK team controls their own destiny. I sure like what I am seeing now. Winning is all that matters, and UK has put together a nice string of victories. Some fans are never satisfied no matter how UK plays Cats79. Some even sound like they want UK to lose.

      1. Don’t get me wrong Pup, I have enjoyed watching this team since they have shored up their defense. I would love to see them win every game and know for a number of reasons that will not likely happen with a Cal coached team…ever. He simply doesn’t try to get his teams tournament ready until February. His players see that in his preseason approach and it tends to send the message that its ok to lose early on, even in the conference. The coaches of the other 4 teams ranked above KY take a different approach. They get their teams ready for tournament level competition starting with game 1.
        Cal is no longer getting the very best players so we are going to lose games we shouldn’t i.e. Seton Hall and Alabama. I didn’t think I would ever see us get the azzwhooping that Duke gave us, but yet it happened. I would like to see Cal lobby for pushing that tip-off classic to a later date. Our kids had no clue what was coming that game and it hurt their confidence and embarrassed all of BBN to boot. That is not likely to happen though, so I think Cal owes it to his players to not put them in that position ever again. Funny, they looked so good in the Bahamas with Cal not coaching. What changed?

        1. I am not a big fan of Calipari’s system, never have been, but you tell me which other coach in the SEC has done more than he has. I’ll stick with Calipari. Those teams in the Bahamas were not that good, pro or no pro. UK’s wins down there gave many a false sense of superiority, but the early season play, and a few losses proved otherwise. The Duke loss was a wake up call. I hope UK gets another shot at that bunch too. I say give Calipari credit for the late season turn around because you can’t have it both ways. What I don’t like is starting every season with a whole new group of freshmen super stars. That said, the Professor’s statistical analysis of late prove that this UK team is trending upward at the right time, and they are proving that on the court at home and on the road. Now it ain’t over yet so I will add that, but some of you guys are going to have too eat some words if this team makes a deep run in the big dance or happens to win No. 9. No individual player or players performances mean a thing if the team keeps winning. It don’t matter, nor does the drop off in Calipari’s recruiting. Not this year anyway.

  7. Amen Pup!!!!

  8. Catman……..just trying to have a little fun with you. If we continue play at our most recent level, the only hurdle I really see is UT, and I am glad first game at home. They did stumble the other night and possibly the pressure is starting to show. Think Nick and EJ will both have major impacts in both games, If Nick can resist fouling Williams and contribute some offense and if EJ plays like other night, we should continue the run.

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