Anyone with eyes can testify that this team looks different than the one that beat North Carolina and Louisville a few weeks ago. After the Cats’ ugly 85-74 win over Texas A&M, John Calipari shared his frustrations about how his players have reverted to bad habits in SEC play.
“We started becoming a team I think out of fear because we had two games that we were like, ‘Oh my gosh, we can’t win either one of these.’ Out of fear I think they [came together] and then we won two and all of a sudden, we [came apart]. That’s my job. If they started separating and I didn’t see it, that’s on me. Obviously, that’s what’s happened.”
If you’ve heard Calipari say it once, you’ve heard him say it a million times; for this team to reach their potential, they have to become empowered and he can’t be the one to do it.
“They’re not empowered yet, let’s just say that. At some point, if this team is going to be what I believe they can be, they can be one of those team, they have to be empowered. That means I shouldn’t even talk about effort and intensity and fight. Shouldn’t even come out of my mouth. Not even once. And there should be times they huddle and talk. Instead of me telling a guy, ‘Why would you break off that play,’ they grab him and say, ‘Why did you do that?'”
One player who stepped up and held his teammates accountable tonight was EJ Montgomery. In addition to scoring four straight points to spark Kentucky in the first half, the freshman big man wasn’t afraid to call out one of brothers in the huddle.
“Today, I like the fact that EJ got after one of the guys and said, Pass the ball man. Why you being selfish? If they have to have it all from me, I don’t want to do it. I don’t have fun doing that. I have fun cheering. But the other side of it is, we’ve gotta win which means I’m going to do whatever I need to do to get these guys over the finish line. Today I was dragging them. Literally dragging. I’m exhausted right now.”
Don’t mistake that as Cal throwing in the towel.
“I told them, I’m not going to stop coaching them. I’m not. I’m going to tell you when you’re doing right. I’m going to tell you when you’re doing wrong. We’ve got to get this thing right.”