By LARRY VAUGHT
No excuses from John Calipari today about his team going into NCAA Tournament play Thursday night in Jacksonville against Abilene Christian.
“I think they’re in a great frame of mind. They’ve been that way,” the Kentucky coach said about his players on Monday’s SEC coaches teleconference. “They’re a young team, a lot of freshmen and even the veteran players have not been in this situation. PJ (Washington) has and he was a significant player (last year).
“Look, we’re as ready as we can be. I wish we were a little more empowered than we are, but they’re starting to understand. You’ve just got to play to the training and play to 40 minutes. It’s not the opponent, it’s not the tournament.
“How do we train and what are we trying to do and how are we trying to play? I just keep coming back to play to the training.”
Calipari has harped all season about wanting his team to become more empowered on the court and depend less on him — even though that sometimes would be hard to imagine based on how hard he coaches during every game all season. Yet he insists his best teams have been the ones most empowered.
“The different teams by the end of the year they would run themselves more. This team has done it at times. I’ve watched Ashton (Hagans) at times do it. I’ve watched PJ (Washington) take hold of the team. Reid (Travis) has done it at times,” Calipari said.
“It’s still not enough of that and now it’s time. Look, we’re only running these two or three things. Go play. I keep convincing them that we don’t run plays. We’re running an action to get you started and then play. That becomes a little more random and a little more of an empowerment to the team.”