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John Calipari in Late Game Situations at Kentucky


Yesterday’s loss to Seton Hall brought a wave emotions across me. When the Pirates took the three point lead in the closing seconds, I prepared myself for the worst. Knowing that the chances of making a shot were slim. We all know what happened next in what will go down as one of the more improbable shots in recent Kentucky history.

That brought us to overtime. Seton Hall hit, another, three pointer to take the one point lead in the closing seconds of the game. John Calipari decided to not use one of his two timeouts and instead play through with a play that was supposedly drawn up earlier.

Obviously, it didn’t work and in the now infamous words of Shannon Dawson, “if it would have worked, you would have loved it.”

This isn’t the first time that Calipari has decided against using a timeout in late game situations. In fact, in a lot of ways, he is against the principle altogether. I definitely disagree, but then again there is a reason I am sitting on my couch typing instead of on the sidelines coaching.

All of this led me to look into Cal’s theory of taking timeouts in late game situations. During his time at Kentucky, his teams have been in 26 situations where they could have taken the lead or tied the game in regulation or in overtime. He has called a timeout in 11 of them.

In fact, here is an entire chart I put together that shows just that.

DateGameTimeout?Player Who Took ShotDid He Make It?Result
November 16, 2009Miami OhioNoJohn WallYesWin
December 6, 2009North CarolinaNoJohn WallYes (FTs)Win
January 19, 2011AlabamaYesTerrance JonesNoLoss
February 2, 2011Ole MissYesDoron LambNoLoss
February 6, 2011FloridaNoBrandon KnightNoLoss
February 23, 2011ArkansasNoBrandon KnightNoOvertime
February 23, 2011ArkansasYesBrandon KnightNoLoss
March 17, 2011PrincetonYesBrandon KnightYesWin
March 25, 2011Ohio StateNoBrandon KnightYesWin
March 9, 2013Robert MorrisNoKyle WiltjerNoLoss
January 14, 2014ArkansasNoAndrew HarrisonYesOvertime
January 14, 2014ArkansasNoN/A (Turnover)N/ALoss
February 22, 2014LSUNoJulius RandleYesWin
February 27, 2014ArkansasNoAndrew HarrisonNoOvertime
March 18, 2014FloridaYesNo ShotN/ALoss
March 30, 2014MichiganYesAaron HarrisonYesWin
April 6, 2014WisconsinNoAaron HarrisonYesWin
January 10, 2015Texas A&MYesAaron HarrisonNoOvertime
March 13, 2016Texas A&MYesTyler UlisNoOvertime
January 31, 2018VanderbiltYesShai Gilgeous-AlexanderYes (FTs)Overtime
January 31, 2018VanderbiltNoQuade GreenYesWin
February 6, 2018TennesseeNoShai Gilgeous-AlexanderNoLoss
March 23, 2018Kansas StateNoQuade GreenNoLoss
March 23, 2018Kansas StateYesShai Gilgeous-AlexanderNoLoss
December 8, 2018Seton HallYesKeldon JohnsonYesOvertime
December 8, 2018Seton HallNoKeldon JohnsonNoLoss

As you can see, in the 11 situations where Cal has called a timeout, his players have only made the shot 4 times.

In the 15 situations that he hasn’t called a timeout, a player has made the shot 7 times.

What does all of this mean? Well, it shows that Cal’s theory on letting players go does at least have some stats to back it up. In most of these situations, I was probably, like many people, yelling at him to call the timeout and in some instances I was proven wrong.

The common thread that I see though, is that during almost all of the seven times where Cal’s theory was proven, he had an elite college player to take the shot. Whether it was John Wall, Brandon Knight, Julius Randle or even the Harrison twins, that is the common point that I see. It is hard to tell whether this team has that or not.

Article written by Sam Gormley

Follow me on Twitter @GormleyKSR; "The Whitest Man in the World"-JRock

60 responses to “John Calipari in Late Game Situations at Kentucky”

  1. Blueballz

    The reason he doesn’t call timeouts is because he is incapable of drawing up an offensive set to get our players in situations to score….so instead he just lets them play so he won’t be exposed as an awful bench coach. Dude is a great recruiter, has the ability to get teams to be selfless and generally a decent defensive coach, with the exception of this year. But when it comes to offense, he needs an offensive coordinator.

    1. ibescootch

      You’re trying to tell me that a hall of fame coach who’s been doing it for 40 years is incapable of drawing up a single offensive play at the end of a game, so he just hopes people don’t notice and puts all the pressure on the kids?!

      Who is he, Mr. Bean? He’s just lucked his way into the Hall of Fame and has, by all measurable standards, been a phenomenal coach by accident for decades? Are you hearing how stupid that sounds?

      Also, did you not read the article that LITERALLY says he’s called timeouts in plenty of situations, drawn up a play, and it has worked. You’re a moron.

    2. shelby

      If u call a timeout, it gives the D a chance to set. Advantage to the offense in scramble mode. Remember Luke Maye vs us in 2016!

    3. Blueballz

      Look at his record when he does call a timeout versus when he doesn’t….read the article

    4. makeitstop

      To be fair, without knowing the time left, it’s hard to measure whether the play itself worked or not. Can’t blame Cal if we get a good shot up and it clanks off the rim. But I’ve missed very few games the last 10 years and it’s my observation that unless u have an elite athlete like John Wall – who was 2/2 – ur better off calling timeout. Even Brandon Knight was 1/3 w no TO. It was clear they were lost and as soon as that happened he should’ve called TO and set a play. If Hagans had not hesitated, and just attacked the basket like Fox or Wall, he’d have likely drawn a foul or found someone to kick to, how that turns out, who knows, but would’ve been better than the hot mess we looked like. Until they know where to run, you gotta call TO and tell them bc running on the court to push them prolly won’t work on the road! Sheez. Horror show.

    5. KYCat4EVER

      LOL! Blueballz I agree with your opinions on Coach Cals weakness as our BENCH COACH.

      But ultimately, despite the point of this article, our coaching weaknesses have SO MUCH MORE ISSUES than “the last few seconds of clock time and calling timeouts”.

      Let’s see… our Coach Cal is:

      A) too “one dimensional” on defense… and his Man to Man defense is pitifully weak!

      B) too “one dimensional” on offense…and his dribble drive fails to create enough motion, shooting screens, and picks, to open up the half court ( just watch Herro getting blanketed as he cuts back and forth on the baseline.)

      C) incapable of implementing decent FULL COURT PRESSURE: remember how Pitino could change a UK deficit into a lead within seconds with his PRESSURE?
      Coach Calipari thinks PRESSURE is guarding the inbounds pass, then guarding one against one in the back court! LOL

      D) VERY stubborn and NEVER changes his strategies: he makes our CATS easy to prepare for, because his BENCH COACHING is WAY TOO predictable!

      E) always letting his mouth write checks, his Bench Coaching can’t cash…
      Remember “now we will catch UCLA” and “We are the GOLD STANDARD of college basketball “ and who could forget “we aren’t for everyone… don’t come here if you don’t want to be your best”…
      NOT!… NOT!… and NOT… Coach! Because of your disappointing BENCH COACHING!

    6. henderblue

      Maybe Cal could have pinched-shoot for Herro. Like tag team rasslin. Cause if Herro hits a couple of them, we win. Not just Herro, not meaning to put it on him, they all missed their share of shots. Maybe Cal coulda pinch-d’d for Quickley when that guy hit the fall away double pumper and blocked it.

    7. KYCat4EVER

      I certainly understand and respect your points Henderblue… “players have to execute and coaches have to coach”…

      HOWEVER, any UK game this year, last year, or during our Wildcats history, we can look back with hindsight (which is 20*20 vision ) and say “if only this player made this shot, if only this player made this block…” and it does not SOLVE the person who is at the top, and accountable!

      So, where do YOU stop wishing on what “could, should, or might, have been” and hold the boss, supervisor, Head Coach, or maybe someday even YOURSELF in your OWN JOB…. ACCOUNTABLE… for those he/she manages, trains, supervises, or coaches?

      Coach Calipari is the ADULT and HEAD COACH, who makes a huge salary off the tax dollars of KENTUCKIANS… to win National Championships, not NBA Draft picks.

      So far, with the talent we have had at our university ( Calipari can recruit), Most UK fans, National Media ( Stephen A Smith) Know CAL has hugely disappointed and is accountable!

      However, there remains this small contingency of UK fans … who don’t understand Adolph Rupps mandate for ACCOUNTABILITY… and, most likely blaming others in their lives for their own failure instead of taking accountability and growing beyond failure!

      Wish you the best Henerblue and GO BIG BLUE!

    8. henderblue

      KyCat, my very first comment after the game was that this was on Cal. He definitely should have called the timeout there with this young team and set up a play. And I can agree with some of what you’re saying, particularly some of his strategies. But I’ve been a Cat fan since 1966 and have always supported the team we have NOW and always will. When the current coach is gone, I’ll be a fan of the next coach. I’ve seen a lot of disappointment in those years. Starting with Rupp’s Runts, that was so disappointing for a 10 year old boy. I loved Dampier, Riley, Conley, and those guys. 1975, Indiana beat us at their place on the way to an unbeaten season, until they played us again. That 92-90 win is one of the top 3-4 of my life. 78 national championship the Goose was Golden. It was awesome. The 96 team, maybe the best ever. Beating Duke in 98 on the way to another title. I been around a while. I’ve lived and died with a lot of great and not so great games. But through it all I’ve been a fan. Sometimes a critic, but mostly a fan. Now days, the games get me through the winter. Don’t like the cold weather anymore. And the best thing about basketball season for me, is that when it’s over, golf season begins. But through it all I’ll continue to bleed blue. Go Cats!!

    9. KYCat4EVER

      Your trip down memory lane had me revisiting all those ups and downs too: we share a LOT of UK great and disappointing games henderblue.., hoping we can get some GOOD memories for all our BBN too! Stay strong!

    10. henderblue

      KyCat these losses do hurt for sure. And it’s okay to be a critic. But it’s more fun to be a fan. We can agree to disagree some and it’s okay. In the end we’re Cat fans and we want the best for our team. I still think we can be a good team by March and it will be up to those boys AND especially Cal, to learn from their mistakes and make the right adjustments along the way. And we’ll still have fun debating the right and the wrong. Won’t we?

    11. unbridled

      Kycat4ever seems extremely “special”

  2. twyptophan

    Let’s say Cal calls a timeout and he sets up a great play, we make the shot, and win the game. What difference does that make? We are the same team moving forward, win or lose. Yeah, it would help our resume come tournament time, but as Cal has been saying, we cannot look at this team with a results-based mentality. As hard as that can be, we got better yesterday even if the team with “Seton Hall” on their shirts won. In the long run, this game will benefit us.

    1. Blueballz

      We cannot look at this game with a results based mentality? That’s the most ret*rded thing ever.

    2. syrin23

      The NCAA tourney looks at every team with a results-based mentality. I’m glad you’re willing to limp into the tourney as a 14 seed.

    3. WatchutalkinboutWillis

      I totally agree that this game benefits us in the long run as a loss more than it hurts us.

    4. makeitstop

      They put scoreboards in the corner to measure results, right? The record next to ur name on selection Sunday is measuring results. Those banners measure what, effort? Of COURSE we have a results based mentality and those results were damn poor.

    5. FanNotFanatic

      I’m with Twyptophan. In all the commotion about the missing timeout, the officiating, and the L to another unranked team, it’s easy to lose sight of the most important thing: Ours is not a very good team right now. It has serious problems. Win or lose yesterday doesn’t change that. If the team gets dramatically better, the loss to Seton Hall will make little difference in March. If the team doesn’t get dramatically better, the loss will still make little difference in March. Three months from now, no one’s going to be wringing their hands, saying “If only we had won that overtime game against SH!” Not even you, Blueballz.

    6. FanNotFanatic

      correction: “the L to an unranked team.”

  3. UKfanman01

    Ummmm…. Y’all know Cal couldn’t call a timeout right?
    If the Cats hit the shot it was one of the greatest games ever with the most improbable shot to send them into overtime. They overcame a kid that was on fire. Hunky dory unicorns and rainbows. They could’ve played a little better d, but overall good game

    1. Jiminy Crickets

      You know Seton Hall is not good, right? They lost at home to Louisville and Nebraska blew them out. The best team we’ve beaten is UNC Greensboro AT HOME, and was down 5 with 8 minutes left in 2nd half. Anyone that watched that game and saw improvement is just looking thru blue glasses. That first 30 minutes was some of the worst basketball (both teams) I’ve ever watched

    2. Skooms

      Get your info right cricket. Seton Hall lost to UofL in Brooklyn.. NOT at home. Also, statiscally they ARE better than UNCGB. Yes UK still should have won, but don’t put them in a Monmouth type of category.

  4. binarysolo

    I was hoping someone could dig up the numbers on this. Thanks Sam!

  5. huck

    I think he should have called timeout. He said at the half that this team was playing good d, he was happy and they could get the o – through the season….. meaning he knew they didn’t know it about offense. He should have given them some guidance.

    Yes I understand what he says about not calling them at times…. later in the season, after he has had some time to teach some…. especially since he is about teaching them to be basketball players, pros and money, etc.

    It may be selfish or something along those lines, but I sure will be glad when we get a coach that coaches for the University of Kentucky(first) rather than NBA development league. He may be the best coach we can get for UK, but UK is secondary at best on his agenda.

  6. Oaks

    We won’t get a 14 seed so don’t worry. The lowest seed they will probably give an SEC team this year will be a 12. Anyone below that will NIT. So we may limp to a 8-12 seed or NIT would be the correct statement.

  7. BigolBlue

    Even if you name good coaching replacements to banana he will tell you how dumb you are. Even if it was the greatest coach of all time he would say dumb. Thats his philosophy. Every mention he will say ” Who would you rather have?” Then if you name someone deny deny deny

    1. jim tom

      Eric Musselman Nevada

    2. Skooms

      Big Blue, Bananas hasn’t posted in this thread buddy.

    3. bigbluebanana

      Yo, hadn’t even posted in this thread. Glad to see I’m still on your mind. That’s sweet and I’m flattered. You have yet to name anyone, and if you did, I didn’t see it. So you saying I’ve denied your suggestions is totally false. You’re putting words in my mouth. Jim Tom is the only one I e seen giving me a name that I have actually replied to, and that’s just in this thread. Bigolblue, best to think before you speak and legit make up lies. Jim Tom, thank you for actually suggesting someone. In regards to Eric, I don’t think he has anywhere near the success (all recent too) without those brothers that are stars. If a guy like that comes to UK, do you think fans are going to be happy recruiting 3 and 4 stars for a chance to maybe be a top 10 team every few years? Do you honestly think he has more than a 5% chance of winning the natty this year? By far his most successful year ever btw. What people don’t seem to understand is this: once Cal leaves, big time 5 stars wont even consider UK. No kid these days comes to UK because of what Rupp did 60 years ago, they come here exclusively because of Cal. Once Cal is gone, so is the allure of UK. Absolutely no AD’s or Wall’s or KAT’s go to UK without Cal. If you guys want a bunch of Liggins type players and to become irrelevant again (which we absolutely were before Cal) then that’s fine. I don’t care who’s coaching or what our record is, I’ll always cheer for big blue, and that means all the players and whoever the coach is. It just seems that lots of fans these days hold UK to a standard that we honestly haven’t been in decades. No one other than Rupp has been more successful at UK than Cal, and everyone wants to throw that away because we don’t win every year? I don’t get it, I never will. I live in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers play. Who has won more titles than anyone? Yep, Steelers. They’ve had like 3 coaches in the last 30 or so years…they’re loyal, through the good and the bad and to me that’s what being a fan is all about. You don’t jump ship because you’re frustrated over performance, you do your part as a fan and offer unwavering support for the team you love. But alas, here I am, constantly having to defend being a fan just because my life and it’s happiness don’t hang in the balance of a game kids play. Enjoy the ride, the wins and the losses and do try to remember that none of this even really matters.

    4. BigolBlue

      I did mention them you just chose to ignore..Musselman , will wade, chris beard, nate oats, john belein

    5. bigbluebanana

      Alright bigolblue since I’m so very tired of going at it with you, I hope cal retires this year and we get Nate oats, whoever TF that is. This has become exhausting. I’m not changing your opinion, you’re certainly not changing mine. I’m going to be the bigger man and walk away from this BS and just enjoy my Cats. Just know that when the cats put it together this season, or once cal is gone and we go to being a perineal first round loss team again, I’ll be here silently judging you for wanting mediocrity. And realcatsfan, good point about pitino years, but in no way was UK a hotter name then then we are right now, even with that horrible, no good, player nurturing Cal at the helm. UK hasn’t been this sexy in 40 years and everyone is just chomping at the bit for that to change because we aren’t going 40-0 every year. These forums are cancerous, it’s turning people who love the same exact thing against each other, and I’m as guilty of falling for that as anyone. I’m just going to go back to enjoying my team, no matter what. Go Big Blue!

    6. BigolBlue

      Oh and people mention Slater alllll the time in posts im not in

    7. Memphis UK Cat

      Nice post

    8. RealCatsFan

      Remember that time that a lot of people thought Billy Gillispie was going to be a great hire for UK? Be careful what you ask for.

    9. RealCatsFan

      A couple of those names are interesting, but Belein is 66 years old. Seriously doubt that he would come. He is probably planning a not too distant future of fishing and gardening. Cal was 49 when he took the UK job, and it has made an old man out of him. Not a lot of coaches over 55 who could handle the wringer that is UK basketball – and that is mainly because of the fans, I’m afraid. Well, certain fans, anyway.

    10. RealCatsFan

      Banana, to be fair, UK absolutely was relevant before Cal and after Rupp. They were on top of the world under Pitino, and they were close to a FF a couple of times under tubby. Before Bogans got injured they were the odds on favorite to win it all. We seems to have a penchant for bringing out all-world performances from some of our opponents. Now I will agree that we had slid into oblivion in Tubby’s last years and under BCG. Hopefully Barnhart has an ace up his sleeve for when Cal does leave. I have a feeling that it’s going to be a helluva hangover, but we will be in the hunt again after Cal. No other program has won titles under so many different coaches. None.

    11. unbridled

      Bigolblues lost of possible replacements is unacceptable and completely laughable. If you want to replace coach cal with one of those names…you are simply clueless.

  8. rlburd2

    u talking to bananas again?

  9. IrishCat

    Whether or not in that situation has a lot more to do w/ how much trust you have in your primary ball handler than it does on who ends up taking the shot.

  10. Headhurts

    I think other than a couple years since Cals been here we always have a couple loses now, with freshman that’s gonna happen when u schedule tuff early, so we lost to a final 4 team and a team in OT by 1 point hitting tuff shots, let season play out then we evaluate .

    1. CatsfaninFL

      Yah good luck with that here. Especially given Cal’s ability to turn these types of teams into contenders. Remember the ’11 team that couldn’t win away from Rupp? FF. ’14 team that underachieved all year? Runner Up. This year’s team reminds me a little of both. A few returning players, a good recruiting class. Honestly wouldnt surprise me if he does same here. But man it’s always a long season.

  11. Wade

    Got to empower your kids but that’s not earned yet! I love cal but his attitude is different this yr to me and this team needs to be coached and build confidence! Is jamaryl baker the missing piece?

    1. Skooms

      Couldn’t agree with you more Wade! Something is different about him this year. I’m starting to wonder if he’s debating retirement behind closed doors. I gotta wonder if the recruiting, FBI crap, Pitino getting canned, etc. has made him question whether he wants to keep doing this anymore? I think it’s gotten to the point where he may need to change up his recruiting tactics/messages, and he just doesn’t want to start all over again with a new style.

    2. makeitstop

      Funny u say that, I wondered when he said how much it ages you, and he’s said that a few times, if he wasn’t wearing out. That Gargoyle at Duke was worn out a few years ago and seems to have new life… or maybe just found a new source of blood.

    3. RAGE

      I think you guys are def right…

    4. RealCatsFan

      I wish someone would fjnd a wooden stake for that 400 year old vampire at dook.

  12. makeitstop

    Credit to Sam for the number crunching. (Hope it was cathartic.) It basically tells you what we suspected, the better the athletes u have on the floor, the more likely ur reliance in them is justified lol. As Napoleon reputedly said, “God favors the big battalions.”

  13. bluecat15

    Cats lose 10+ games this year, bottom line

  14. michaelb

    I’ve got us losing 12-14 games . Don’t think that’s tourney material

  15. michaelb

    We’re not beating auburn , Tennessee , fla or Mississippi or Louisville right now . We will have to play above our ability . I say at least 12 losses unfortunately

  16. michaelb

    Last year q green won a game in a similar situation. This year he’s not even on the floor. He played terrible yesterday

  17. michaelb

    They should have called a TO put q green in for the drive n score

  18. Mc12

    Each situation is unique. If your young team is lost, and disoriented with terrible spacing you yell at the guy closest to you, I believe it was Hagans and you take the time out. There was plenty of time.

  19. KYFAN4LYFE

    Yeah, I can’t put a 1-pt loss on Cal, when key guys missed so many shots, rebounds, and defensive assignments or help-defense. For example, P.J. was great on offense, but only had 1 foul, yet literally stood right under or near the basket on many of the easy lay-ups SHU got in that game, especially late-game and OT. And I don’t think I really need to bring up Herro’s inability to make a shot…again…but c’mon, the kid has been largely awful.

  20. Alleykat16

    It’s almost a 50-50 ending to a game. If he calls one and we win or not. You win some and you lose some. The bigger thing is why is a number 9 ranked team getting beat by Seton Hall. Young inexperienced players not knowing what to do or nerves causing them to miss the shot. What ever it’s December and again losing games we should be winning.

  21. VirginiaCat

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Cal said that he has not yet worked with the team on last second plays. That’s the kind of thing that might come in handy to close out a half or win close games, right? As to the timeout controversy, I can see not calling a timeout if you have experienced players who know what to do and you don’t want to give the opposing team a chance to get organized. Against Seton Hall, however, we were the deer-in-the-headlights team. Seems to me that Cal sometimes freezes in late game situations. He allows himself and the team to get overtaken by events. Afterward, he says “it’s on me” and everyone applauds that he has taken responsibility. The problem is that he makes the same mistakes over and over.

  22. rainman

    You also have to factor in that our current guards are incapable of running even the simplest of plays!

  23. EdC

    Where is this program? We are debating whether or not to call time outs against a Kenpom 56th ranked team on a neutral court. It should NEVER have been a question.

    Year after year we have no quality Juniors or Seniors. Year after year no players who are actually loyal to UK. Year after year a team filled with mercenaries and walk ons.

    This is NOT what UK basketball has been for decades. This is not the #1 tradition in college basketball. This is a program that is nothing more than a feeder for the NBA and a roster of players that won’t be remembered 10 years from now.

    If this was the first time we were having this discussion that would be fine but it isn’t. This is a pattern with our coach who is far more concerned with how many friends he has in the NBA than he is with UK as a program and with winning championships. Enough is enough.

    1. unbridled

      Such a tired and worn out argument. If you think coach cal doesn’t care about winning games…you are a special kind of stupid. It’s really not hard. Please pay attention. NBA first rounders and winning games or championships….ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. In fact, first round NBA talent has proven to be NECESSARY to win a championship. You people are absurd and need to get out of the holler once in a great while. Sheesh.

  24. TBW3011

    He can’t think in the moment. Timeout or no timeout never crosses the guy’s mind until after the fact. This isn’t difficult. We’ve watched him a decade. Pay attention.