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John Calipari tries to make sure he’s “not trying to beat” players down mentally

John Calipari (Jeff Houchin Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

It’s not overly complicated but Kentucky coach John Calipari has a relatively simple philosophy that might help explain why his teams usually play so well in March.

“The whole reason we do what we do and how we do this is to make sure they’re fresh-legged and fresh-minded at the end of the year. That’s the goal, which means you’re not overwhelming them with practices, you’re not overwhelming them with film sessions, mentally you’re not trying to beat them down,” Calipari said.

“Now, you’re trying to hold them accountable. You’re trying to get them to understand energy, that you’ve got to get to the point where you are playing 40 minutes the same way. You don’t rise to the level of the competition you fall back on your training and the process.

“If you fall back on that and do that for 40 minutes, that gives you your best opportunity to keep advancing.”

Kentucky starts postseason play Friday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and then it will be on to NCAA Tournament play where UK could secure a No. 1 seed if it wins the conference tourney.

Calipari, though, insists he’s done nothing different to prepare for postseason play at UK than he did at Massachusetts or Memphis.

“Every game was the biggest game on the other team’s schedule for the last five years at both of those places, the last six years really. Everything was sold out. Everything was the biggest game. Every game was you have to win,” Calipari said.

“While we were there, we were trying to win and hold your seed. You almost had to win – we had to win everything. That’s why when someone asks me, ‘How did you win that many straight games?’ I said, ‘We had to to hold our seed (in the NCAA).’

“It’s all the same and how you practice, how long you practice, how much do you occupy their time. Do you make games like you’re climbing mountains every game or is every game the same? Every approach to every game has been the same and it’ll continue to be the same.”

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