By LARRY VAUGHT
During Thursday’s Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference, Kentucky’s John Calipari admitted UK fans might need “to think differently” this season and in the future.
Remember last Saturday when Calipari was pleading for UK fans to stand late in his team’s 78-70 overtime win over Louisville.
He said Thursday UK might need that again when it opens Southeastern Conference play Saturday afternoon by hosting Missouri, the first of nine remaining home games for the Cats.
“We may need that in the last five minutes of every game. No one sits down. Forget the score. Stand up and get these guys thinking about finishing the game,” Calipari said.
That sometimes happens in Rupp Arena for the biggest games — but not for every game. When Kentucky lost at home to Evansville in November, most fans were stunned — not standing and screaming for a UK comeback.
South Carolina coach Frank Martin, never one to be anything but blunt with his comments, said players overreacting to wins and losses is the “hardest thing we deal with” as coaches.
“Young people tend to stay emotionally tied to a positive or negative experience for too long,” Martin said.
First-year Vanderbilt coach Jerry Stackhouse, a former NBA player, said coaches have to sometimes remember the same things.
“When you win, you’ve got to continue to understand how you did that,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “And to continue to work hard and to earn it.”
Calipari just hope his team can continue to move forward despite some unexpected non-conference losses.
“I knew the schedule would be hard. You lose some games you think you can win. You win some games you think you can lose,” Calipari said. “We’re moving in the right direction. We’re just not close to where we need to be right now.”
The good news for Kentucky is that no one else seems to be either based on major upsets across the country the first two months. Already six teams have been ranked No. 1, including Kentucky.
“I just think it’s going to make college basketball even more exciting. I think it’s a good thing that there’s so much parity,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “Now we don’t have to wait until March for it to get mad.”