CoachCal.com’s editor Eric Lindsey may have given the 2012-2013 Kentucky basketball team their most appropriate nickname today when he titled his weekend notebook entry “Quiet Cats concern Cal.” On a nearly weekly basis, it feels as if a new nugget of information comes out about this team from Calipari. This week’s focus? Talking. Or the lack of talking in this case.
Much has been made on the amount of coaching and yelling coming from Calipari’s end, especially during games when the Rupp Arena crowd gets a front row seat for the action. Calipari has always been a vocal coach, but he has been as vocal this season as we’ve ever heard him in his time at Kentucky. Calipari’s increase in chatter has perhaps come about due to the lack of communication from his own players. Calipari is anything but pleased with this early defining characteristic of his young team.
Ryan Harrow offered an explanation for himself and his teammates, noting that they are not used to communicating at the level in which they are being asked. CoachCal.com had a few interesting sound bites from both Harrow and Calipari on the topic.
Harrow said the team’s lack of communication derives from a lack of individual extroverts. This team has a bunch of quiet players, Harrow said, who have always gotten the job done by playing rather than talking.
Calipari has said communicating on the court isn’t about leadership; it’s about helping each other out. When a player doesn’t talk, it’s because he is worried only about doing his job and not helping someone else, Calipari said.
“Don’t talk, you’re selfish, bottom line,” Calipari said.
Calipari noted that he spends way too much time this season running up and down the court yelling at his team to talk, rather than to run plays. “That’s a great strategy,” Calipari joked. “The coaches should not be coaching a game saying, “Talk!” That should not come out of my mouth, and I’m saying it 140 times in the first half and probably the same in the second.”
The ironic thing about this young team is that before the season even started, they were described as a team full of players with personality. Media members, both local and national, seemed almost excited because this team came off as the kind that would be fun and easy to cover–giving plenty of sound bites in interviews. Last year’s team on the other hand, though undeniably lovable, kept their interviews and commentary about the season/team very business-like. This team was expected to more closely resemble the group with DeMarcus Cousins and company.
No one is questioning the expected personalities of these players, but the translation to on-the-court communication has been anything but seamless. Julius Mays has showed moments of leadership as one of the oldest and most experienced players on the court. But as Calipari said, at this point it’s not even so much about leadership as it is about helping each other out by communicating. This team may not have a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist type of vocal leader who pulls them in tightly before games, clapping and dancing, rallying the troops around him. They can probably suffice without such a leader. This team will struggle though, and Calipari will be the first to tell you, if they don’t find ways to become effective communicators in the basketball sense on the floor–both during practice and games.
“I’m not cracking at all,” Calipari said. “This is part of what I do.”