Earlier this week, John Calipari told reporters that he’s been harder on this team in practice than any team he’s coached at Kentucky. His demeanor during the game told a different story.
“I’ve never clapped or cheered as much in a game,” Cal said. “More than all of last season. Whatever this team needs, I’m going to do it.”
Cal went into more detail on his radio show, telling fans that he’s trying his hardest to be a cheerleader instead of a critic during games because he’s knows this young group could easily panic.
“I had more positive comments and claps in this game than all of last year. I have been very tough on these guys in practice. Not screaming, yelling, kicking — no. I have raised the bar. These practices have been bears. I’ve held them accountable. If I need to stop a guy and tell them, you’re not doing that, that’s unacceptable, I do it. So, when we get in the game, I’ve got to be positive. I’m not trying to beat anybody down, I’m trying to get them to play well. They have to learn.”
Kentucky’s errors in the first half are glaring — they missed their last 15 shots — but like Calipari said, for now, let’s focus on the positive.
“Right now, I’m having to teach them, they think shootaround means shoot hooks,” Cal said. “No, shootaround means getting ready for a war you’re going to play and getting your mind right. And you’re trying to do it in 30 or 45 minutes. Right now, we need an hour with these guys because they’re not paying attention. We’ve got to do it again, do it again. But that’s okay, it’s where we are. They’re not doing it because they’re mean. They’re not doing it because they’re trying to be disruptive. They’re doing it because they don’t know. They don’t know. And that’s part of what coaching a bunch of young kids is.”
“But when we got it going today, it looked pretty good, didn’t it? ‘Why don’t they play like that the whole game?’ They’re 17 and 18 years old, that’s why they don’t play that way the whole game.”