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John Calipari: “You cannot be afraid to miss”

Nate Sestina knows he has to hit 3-point shots, something he has not done yet. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON — John Calipari’s offense has never been centered around the 3-point shot, but the Kentucky coach would like to see his team improve their 3-point shooting in the near future.

The ninth-ranked Wildcats (3-1) made just one on 12 attempts in an 82-74 triumph over Utah Valley earlier this week. Tyrese Maxey , who leads Kentucky with five 3-pointers this season, made the lone shot from long rage against the Wolverines.

Following the win over Utah Valley, Calipari said lack of production from long range is a concern.

“Our issue right now is you can’t go and make one three-point field goal,” he said. “(We’ve) got to go and figure out, okay, how are we going to do this? We had some guys (against Utah Valley) that were wide open and almost shot air balls that are kids that make threes.”

Calipari admitted that some of the team’s shooting issues are mental.

“(With) the game in the balance, (we) are not ready to be in that position,” he said. “I don’t care how good you are. Maybe not ready to be in that position yet. But you can’t have a team make 11 and you make one. How did we win the game?”

Led by Maxey, the Wildcats made six 3-pointers on 18 attempts in a win over Michigan State in the season opener. Since that time, Kentucky has struggled to regain its shooting touch from behind the arc. In the past three games, the Wildcats are 7-for-43 from behind the three-point line.

Immanuel Quickley, who missed Tuesday’s game because of a chest injury he sustained at the end of Sunday’s practice, is second on the team with three made 3-pointers. Kahlil Whitney and Nate Sestina follow with two each and Johnny Juzang has sank one 3-pointer this season.

“You cannot be afraid to miss,” Calipari said. “Even Nate (Sestina) was pulling back (against Utah Valley). That means you’re afraid you’re going to miss. You can’t play that way.

“You don’t have to make every shot. You just can’t miss them all. You can’t miss them all. You don’t have to make them all. Just can’t miss every shot. Thank goodness we were 1-12. We almost missed every shot. And we still won (last Monday).”

Sestina said the Wildcats need to keep launching threes to end the current trend.

“I have to make shots,” he said. “Everybody has to make shots, especially when we are open. We practice it all the time. They are rhythm shots. I think guys legs were just tired, and my legs were tired. There isn’t any excuse for missing any open shots, but we will be good.”

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Gametracker: Mount St. Mary’s at Kentucky, Friday, 7 p.m. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at or twitter @keithtaylor21.


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  1. I agree with Coach, be a confident shooter form long range and let er rip. They will start falling and then this team will be a real A$$ Kicker.

  2. Not sure I have ever seen a team do a 180 from first game to the last two that have made us a laughing stock of all BB. The injuries have played a part, but the coaching staff has failed to correct the mental aspects of the game that all young players have to encounter.

  3. I remind everyone that last year’s team put on a show for all to see in August, yet when the curtain came up on the season in November, it looked like a different team completely devoid of confidence. Some may say this is happening again, and perhaps that is true, but this team’s exhibition performances were lacking, just as the last two regular season games have been lacking. The outlier this season is the Michigan State game, and I do not see it as a team doing a 180 from Michigan State but a team whose outlier was Michigan State.

  4. Well lets talk a little about a team Calipari just inked for the 2020-21 season in the likes of Devin Askew, B. J. Boston, Terrence Clarke, Cam Ron Fletcher, Isaiah Jackson, and Lance Ware. Good size, length, athleticism, and skill. This class is also ranked No. 1 in the land by Rivals and 247 Sports. Cal just reloads every year. Kind of gets one thinking that No. 9 could be clearly visible on the horizon. By the way Go Cats!!!

    1. Pup…..many of us are more worried about banners being lifted and NC’s not just recruiting rankings. Cal always does well with recruiting but also fails to not only fully develop the talent he has but also fails to win the big one. I have said many times there are other coaches out there that could do more with his talent than he has. One of them is currently residing in Louisville, and he just may be a better coach than Cal.

  5. This team has a chemistry problem. Ashton and Immanuel got shown up by Tyrese in the MSU game and they didn’t like it. They see him as a threat to their PT and rightfully so. Tyrese is the kind of guy who wants to be liked by everyone, even if he has to back off of his game to fit in. This friction is affecting everyone and Calipari is as blind as a bat to it. Ashton should have been shooting 300 3s a day over the off season to improve his shot and apparently didn’t. Immanuel’s newfound swagger quickly faded after the EKU game and now has a mysterious chest injury? If the egos of these two sophomores are that fragile, they need to see more PT….Pine Time and watch Tyrese and Johnny play. When you come to UK you come to play with the best and you may not be the best. You keep working to get better and make the team better where Playing Time is determined by results. We saw the very same thing when the Harrison twins were being outplayed by Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker. This is what happens when you over recruit guards and wings. Calipari never learns.

    1. Pup still doesn’t want to believe we have “soft” guys on the team. Cal recruits as many of them as “tough” guys or maybe more. Where is the beef?

      1. “Mr. Cardinal” I would pay money to see you walk up to one of our current players and call him soft. Pick anyone you want. LOL.

    2. Patience, patience, patience

  6. I repeat. I am about the UK basketball program, and nothing else. I do not care one bit about the NBA, who plays in the NBA, who never plays in the NBA.

    I want UK Basketball to be on the national stage, and right now it is not there.

    1. I am with you, and patience is a virtue Professor. UK is ranked in the top 10, had been the No. 1 team, and could be again real soon. Steady as she goes. Go Cats.

  7. Cal can’t develop talent, your kidding right? I am going to say something here that maybe even you can understand the concept Mike. if he can’t develop talent then why are so many of his players that come through his program top NBA draft choices? Indeed many top performers in the league today hail from Lexington, Kentucky. Seems to me Cal and his staff have done a great job in preparing these young men for the next level. Also Mike, let’s review Cal’s body of work in 10 plus years at UK. One NC banner hung, multiple final four, elite eight, and sweet sixteen appearances as well as multiple SEC conference, and tournament championships. Also If several of his teams had returned for one or two more years, Cal probably could have won another NC or two, JMO. Also, if Cal can’t develop talent and win games, by the way at 78% W-L for his career now, how did he ever make the HOF?

    As for other coaches out there that could do more with Cal’s talent, they would have had to sign the players he did first, right? I don’t care how good a coach is with the X’s and O’s, he must recruit the top talent of the land in this day and time or you have no chance. You would agree with that surely. Cal has won plenty of big ones too IMO as I think back on his UK career. You must realize too It is not as easy to win a NC as some of you people seem to think. UK goes in most games with a big bull’s eye on their backs every year. Cal has them prepared for that experience IMO and UK is always in the hunt. You people that are constantly on Coach’s A$$ these days are pretty ungrateful people. I wish UK football had the record these past 10 years as Calipari’s basketball program, just saying.

    Now, how many NC’s has the Louisville head man won? How many top recruiting classes has he signed. I don’t know or care, but maybe you can enlighten us all. I am going to name you “Mr Cardinal” Mike. You fit the mold well. We already have a Mr. Spartan.” LOL

  8. There is an epidemic of CDS on this site.
    Surely, there must be a vaccine to combat this dreaded disease which blocks all positive things pertaining to UK’s Hall of Fame Coach from the afflicted minds of those who suffer from this seditious malady.

    Is there a Doctor in the house?

    1. Patience cures all

  9. Larry V, that’s something some of our fan base don’t have, always want to jump the gun to quick before the team can really show what they have. Were only four games in the season and some people are thinking we have jump off the cliff. I got patience once everybody gets healthy I think this team will show what there capable of doing.

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