John Calipari told the Big Blue Nation that he was giving them a Christmas gift and I admit I was skeptical. I assumed it would be a coupon for Papa John’s or an inspirational reading from the book of Robic. However I was pleasantly surprised when it was announced that he would steam a UK practice LIVE online, a decision that paid real dividends today. UK fans flooded the internet to see how Calipari does his magic behind the scenes and if our LIVE BLOG was any indication (up to 4,500 people on at one time), many took the chance to see how the sausage is made. A few thoughts from the practice:
— The public today got to see what the media sees in these sessions, which is Calipari is full of energy and coaching from minute one. To those that believe he simply rolls a ball out and lets the players do what they want, a film of today’s session should be mandatory viewing. Calipari stops play constantly, instructing players on what they did well and what needs to be changed. Assistants chime in, but Calipari is the main voice and he overpowers everything else. He is constant instruction and the idea that he doesn’t know and teach basketball is foolish.
— Calipari is focused on making this team better in the halfcourt offensively. Whereas in past practices, most of what I have seen is Calipari getting the team to learn to score in one on one situations and in the open court, today Calipari spent a good deal of time going over the scoring principles in the half court. This is obviously the focus of his time now and is understandable considering the performances over the last couple of weeks.
— Without question, the subject of most of his ire was Twany Beckham. He spent a good deal of today’s practice letting know Beckham know how and when he was screwing up and was very frustrated at Beckham’s attempts to talk back to him. After a couple of negative plays and excuses, Calipari said “why don’t you just tell me what is correct since you know everything?” That led to Ryan Harrow telling his teammate the quote of the year (informing him he needed to pay attention) and begat a soliloquy from Calipari in which he talked about complaints from players that they needed to play more, with some being “delusional” as to their abilities. It was all aimed at Beckham and was a harsh critique.
— Calipari let fans see exactly how a UK practice is undertaken, in every form, warts and all. He cursed often, just as most coaches do, and was biting in his criticism. I think it was great for fans to see that all is not rosy when a team is being put together to go for a Championship and there were certainly some PG 13 moments throughout.
There was no free throw shooting, but the live stream did end with individual shooting drills with the coaches. Kudos to Calipari and his staff for doing this, the first such instances of a live streaming practice that I have ever seen. It is just another example of how Calipari is ahead of the curve and was a real treat for the fans who were able to see it. If you missed it…well I am sure there will be an Orange Leaf coupon you can console yourself with in the near future.