John Calipari’s in the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in eight years. In familiar territory, Calipari took some time on his call-in show to remind fans of what they’ve become accustomed to, rare territory for other college basketball programs.
Next to Wichita State Friday night in the bowels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, when the Shockers entered the locker room after the win: “They were hooting and hollering and screaming and nuts.” When his team entered the locker room, “We were like ‘ugh. We gotta be better than this.'”
The same thing happened Sunday. When they heard Michigan enter their locker room after defeating Louisville: “They sang their school’s fight song. I’m serious, they were screaming and hollering.” After Kentucky’s win: “I’m like good job guys.” To which they responded, “Thanks coach, when do we leave?”
That attitude is something Calipari and his players have come to accept along with great expectations.
“You win your league. You win the league tournament. You got a run going. You’re in the Sweet 16 and it’s like ‘we gotta do it (win the title) this year.’ That’s Kentucky.”
Calipari describes the process through a metaphor that the Michigan program can relate to.
“We’re trying. We’re one of those programs that tries,” Cal said. “This is a process and what you hope, you’re trying to land the plane, and it’s bumpy and you just hope you don’t run out runway. Maybe the nose touches the fence, but you’re down.”
The lofty expectations don’t bother him, but he’s bothered by his agitators. You know what kind of person he’s talking about.
“You weren’t cheering all year. You were complaining all year,” Calipari said. “I hope the bandwagon’s moving so fast you can’t grab onto the side.”
Cal likes what his team has accomplished. Only time will tell if they can achieve their ultimate goal.
“This has been unbelievably successful. Now we gotta finish.”