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John Calipari says “I’m good now” because he knows team has will to win

Ashton Hagans (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Remember last year’s loss to Seton Hall in overtime, the one that Kentucky coach John Calipari told his team just to count as a win because of the way it fought back.

Guess what?

Calipari wants his team to basically do the same thing after Wednesday’s 69-66 loss to Utah where the Cats rallied from 17 points down with 12 minutes to play to tie the game 66-66 because he said Friday he now knows the team does have a “will to win” he wasn’t sure about before.

“I’m good now. Now, we need to handle this as though we won this game close at the end. Where we had no business winning, we still could have won,” Calipari said. “Make a free throw, call here, this happens, they make a shot, we miss a shot. We win that game, how would we all be feeling. But, we’re a ways away from where we need to be.”

Start with UK’s lack of physical play, something Utah capitalized on Wednesday and Ohio State certainly will try to do with even bigger, stronger players in today’s game in Las Vegas.

“So it’s a lesson for us. I thought EJ (Montgomery) fought (against Utah), but the rest of it was they were more physical than us. But this game, these guys rely on their physicalness. Let me say this: When they set a screen, oh, there’s no spinning out. You know got screened. I’m talking on the ball. They hold it, they hammer, they move, they hip. They’re going to screen you,” Calipari said.

“Second thing is, then we gotta screen them. You watch the tape, we screened nobody. We’re almost like, ‘Oh, don’t…’ We gotta get that going, but, again, this thing is about upside. Where are we trying to take this? How do we gotta do this?”

That includes Calipari “figuring out some stuff” himself and he tries to tinker and tweak his team’s play.

“Does this make us better? But this is every year. If you have a team that’s been together for two, three (years) you have a good idea. This is a brand-new team. Some guys that I’m expecting more from, I still am, but they’ve gotta go do it,” Calipari said.

“I keep saying the same thing: We can do what we can do to prepare you and get you in the right frame of mind, physically, mentally, how you have to play, but you have to go do it. We can’t do it for you. And these kind of games –- this one –- you’re going to have to play.”

6 comments

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  1. A loss is never a good thing.

    1. Professor there no such thing a perfect season if that’s what your looking for. Those days are gone when a team can dominate through out the season. Just too much parity has spread. Let the season unfold and then make a judgement

      1. May not be perfect but you don’t lose to 2 teams outside Top 100 in span of couple weeks. There is not a team that we play that doesn’t think they don’t have a chance to beat us. It didn’t use to be that way.

  2. Mike , it is what it is and I’ll will cheer the cats on regardless. Not the first time this has happened.

  3. Coach it takes more than just the will to win. You can’t just roll the balls out on the floor in practice and then play checkers, or in this most recent debacle play the slot machines. Its time you did more than make excuses for your inability to coach. Teach these kids how and when to make a post pass. Teach Nick and EJ how to read double teams and kick out to the open man or preferably make an over the shoulder 6 foot shot if the double doesn’t come. Its a simple game. You talk it up like its a Calculus problem that only you know how to solve, when its really simple addition and subtraction. The saddest part about today was that Ohio State played like another average team. They didn’t win today’s game, we lost it.

    1. I was thinking the same thing during the game. You can’t say the better team won because there was no “better” out there. This was a winnable game.

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