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Seth Greenberg explains “unwarranted arrogance” comments


Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Seth Greenberg ruffled some feathers with his comments about the “unwarranted arrogance” of Kentucky’s freshmen.

“These guys are spoiled by the process by the time they turn 13 years old,” Greenberg said during his rant on Wednesday morning’s edition of SportsCenter. “They’re clueless in understanding how hard you have to play and what type of teammate you need to be. They’re not a good team because they are not connected, and you can say it’s because they are freshmen, and that sounds great, but they aren’t connected because they are all about themselves instead of the good of the group.”

“It’s not about Kentucky,” he added. “It’s about how quick can I get to the league. It’s all about me, me, me. They don’t know how to play hard. They’re not competitive. They can’t maintain an intensity. And quite honestly, John Calipari coaches his teams really hard, but they’re more concerned about themselves than the good of the group.”

See Greenberg’s entire rant here:

Greenberg joined Kentucky Sports Radio on Thursday to explain his position.

First, he said his comments were meant to be more about college basketball in general, and not specific to Kentucky. He wishes the media and fans would talk more about the good teams like Virginia, Purdue and Villanova.

“We need to appreciate some of these other teams because they’ve earned it,” he said. “They’re playing at a high level. Now they don’t have the sexiness of a Kentucky or a Duke or maybe a Kansas, but they’re good basketball teams that have won games and are playing good basketball and they’re further along, and they should be further along.”

“I wasn’t singling out Kentucky. I was singling out the culture of our game. I was also singling out that there are other teams out there that deserved to be mentioned because they are playing at a high level. Plain and simple.”

But let’s get to his Kentucky-specific comments, which is why he was on the show, and why you’re still reading this.

Greenberg said, “Look, I love the Kentucky kids. I’ve spent time with them. They’re great kids. But you know what, they have to learn how to play hard all the time. They have to learn how to play harder, longer. They have to learn to trust each other. They have to learn to allow themselves to be coached. That’s a process. They’re being told ‘no’ for the first time.”

When asked about saying Kentucky players only care about getting to the league, Greenberg noted that it isn’t always the case because every team is a different; and this current team, “has not gotten to the point where they’re going to dig down and play for the good of the group.”

“This group has to learn how to play hard all of the time. Those teams were more competitive… Every group is different, but this group has not been as tough, as emotional, and they don’t have that one guy that says ‘lets go.'”

And lastly, Greenberg said some of the current Wildcats are not allowing Calipari to do what he does best because they aren’t accepting his coaching.

“Look, Cal is the best at getting guys to be the best version of themselves and giving up a little bit of themselves for the good of the group. But along that process there is a fight, and how certain kids see themselves and who they need to be to be winning players, sometimes is two different things. When Cal is not in their ear coaching them — when Cal says, ‘you know what, some guys aren’t allowing me to coach them’ or ‘they’re going and doing they’re own thing’ — that means they’re not allowing themselves to be coached. No one is better at doing it than he is, but you can’t coach someone who doesn’t want to be coached.”

“I think they’re good kids but I don’t think they’re as competitive as they need to be and I don’t think they’re as tough as they need to be.”

Hear the entire interview:

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

77 responses to “Seth Greenberg explains “unwarranted arrogance” comments”

  1. JustUrAvg

    He speaks the truth!

    1. krautdog

      You’re absolutely right-it might hurt but he speaks with a “straight tongue”!

    2. krautdog

      re; Dialllo backtalking!

    3. Luether

      Agree. Like it or not, Greenberg knows what he’s talking about…

  2. empiremaker

    Why references to Duke is blasphemy, while using UK in every example/punchline/hardline. Im curious who are these other schools Seth is talking about?

  3. rainman

    Seems Seth kind of pussed out a little?
    If your going to make a statement like that at least have the balls
    to stand behind it!

    1. Bluebloodtoo

      Or the balls to come on the local homer radio station and clarify his intent. Which he did.

    2. 206Bones

      Wow, seemed to me he kinda owned Matt

    3. unbridled

      I didn’t listen to the interview but greenbergs comments listed here sure seem like he’s crawfishing just a tad.

  4. BBNDan7

    Says the coach who couldn’t keep a job

    1. D0nc0smic

      He was a great coach who got shafted by the selection committee multiple times until the university had almost no choice but to fire him. He is the best basketball analyst out there.

    2. dballrb

      The Universities always have the last word.Not necessarily the boosters/donors.

  5. Cat68

    He has good points. I can’t really disagree with Seth! Been commenting about selfish play all season.

    1. empiremaker

      It begins and ends with Cal, he is responsible, he chooses personnel and he choose the manner in which they are coached. Im sure there are repercussions if players don’t listen, maybe it’s time to implement that but then again I am not Cal with a 7 million dollar contract.

    2. Cat68

      Yeah, I wish Cal would stick to his guns when threatening bench time. With all the selfishness and the back talking from the SC game, there are a few who could use it.

    3. Blue Bill

      And he’s done one hell of a job the last 9 years! Awesome ride, final four 50% of the years he’s been here? I’ll take that!

    4. Eazy

      Exactly, Bill! And why should we talk about Purdue. They’ve never even made a final four in their history! Pathetic. Virginia always chokes, too.

    5. Han

      If Green comes back and Vando can play significant minutes, I expect a few guys to see their minutes decrease quickly. The problem right now though is that you can’t bench some guys because you don’t have enough players, especially when the other guys giving you effort can’t stay out of foul trouble. People need to remember that we’re really light on guards with Baker not able to play and now Green missing a chunk. Goodwin played when he should’ve sat because Cal had to play him. The same goes for a couple guys on this team. The alternative is to run Brad and the walkons out there and get waxed early and often in a couple games while sending a message to the guys on the bench. And we’ve seen how fans react when Kentucky is losing, whether we’re missing guys or playing youth or any other excuse.

    6. dballrb

      So be it..I have no problem with putting them on the floor,sure as heck would boost their confidence.

    7. binarysolo

      @Han Exactly what I was gonna say. Right now Diallo is a black hole whose tunnel vision keeps him from passing to an open man for an easy bucket. But there are no guards right behind him who Cal can replace him with, just like with the Archie Goodwin situation as you pointed out. It’d be interesting to see what’ll happen when Green gets back and Vanderbilt starts logging more PT.

  6. UKfansNKY

    Well, he’s spot on!

  7. empiremaker

    Easy to all call out lowest denominator, may be he should address Cal that this one and done thing is not working. If they have established bad habits since age 13, how do you expect magical transformation in six months to be ready to compete in NCCA or next level.

    1. SanDiegoCats

      Because we’ve seen him accomplish this with other teams

    2. Han

      While we’ve arguably underachieved a few years, there’s only been one year before where Cal didn’t have the team playing their best ball in March, and that was the year we lost Noel is injury and he’d under-recruited so we didn’t have enough depth. We still didn’t miss the tourney by a lot.

      Other years, when we’ve seen teams with players not buying in, we’ve taken our lumps and lost games we shouldn’t have. Then the team gelled and we went on runs with multiple Final Fours to show for it. Cal (and now K) is doing something most other coaches can’t — win with freshmen-heavy lineups. It’s not perfect, and we’d all like to see more guys spend more years here, but the wheels are hardly falling off. And if Cal gets another title this year or next, will people still be complaining about the same things?

    3. Blue Bill

      Not working? Are you on crack??? 4 final fours and a NC? What more do you want? Undefeated every year?? Who has a better record over the last 9 years??? NO ONE. PERIOD.

    4. Eazy

      I guess some of our fans prefer Virginia and Purdue. You know, teams that never make the final 4. UK has more tournament wins than them combined.

    5. Big Meech

      Sir that is called coaching. Breaking habits and changing them into new ones. This one and done system is working, actually it’s overachieving Bc we shouldn’t have been in two of the final 4s we were in. It’s still the year no one will ever let pass is why cals system doesn’t work. He beats Wisconsin and he would be talked as one of the greatest ever but that one game can’t define him. Enjoy this, it won’t be better when he’s gone

  8. BlueDew

    One-and-done, players that attend a viable college program for one year and then submit their name for the NBA draft. If we think they don’t have one eye on NBA during that one year we are fooling ourselves. They might or might not care about winning at that university. Only those players know for sure. So it is with this group. We see the same mistakes, same lack of rebounding, lack of perimeter defense and sometimes selfishness. All indications they are not, for what ever reason, taking coaching from Cal and assistants. So, common sense says they might be looking more forward to making that jump. Remember, the NBA teams draft on a players potential not how they play that one year or how many games said university wins. NBA doesn’t care.

    1. Bluebloodtoo

      Having one eye on their personal goal is not the problem. That’s the main reason they can to UK. Having both eyes and their personal goal, and none on giving back to the program that’s enabling that goal is the problem.

    2. empiremaker

      I agree but that is the way dreams are pitched , come to KY you will move on to next level (NBA). Hard not to look ahead for youngsters to dream and may be help their families along the way.

    3. BlueDew

      That is selfishness. Me, me, me not team then. ON other U.K. teams the players were able to put the team ahead of personal goals and the draft took care of itself. It want you says is true then be are just becoming an NBA farm team.

    4. empiremaker

      Is it possible that the messenger (Cal) is not getting the message across?

    5. dballrb

      After teams start getting tired(If they ever do)of drafting on potential only to come up lame year after year, nothing will change..Rookie contracts and the pick can’t even fulfill them..But,those kind of contracts,any team can absorb w/ virtually no cap hit.

  9. Bluebloodtoo

    Agreed! Preach on, brother!

  10. BlueDew

    I was going to give them the benefit of the doubt for one eye, but since you mentioned it I won’t.

  11. dcarlinf1

    He’s absolutely right.

  12. SanDiegoCats

    He’s right. Obviously Cal’s pitch is getting the players ready for the NBA. But as we have seen with other UK teams they can still put the group first and it benefits not just the team but the individual players as well.

  13. Jesus H. Chrysler

    Seth has never worn a jock strap

  14. kampus korner

    Seth nails it. There are a few players on this year’s team who think they know better than Cal what to do. They better learn that being a good teammate and playing for the team rather than themselves will enhance their NBA potential more so than going at one their own.

  15. MegatonRange

    Uh, can’t you say all of that about any freshman? None really know what playing college basketball is all about, just like most don’t really know what it takes to be an NBA player. Some teams/players ‘get it” quicker than others.

    As to focusing on the “glamour” teams, well, ESPN & the networks are in control of that, so all they have to do is start exclusively covering all of the Purdue, Villanova & Wichita State games…….yeah, that’ll work.

  16. empiremaker

    In relation to Seth’s commentary players selfish play, I have to wonder how much of that is coaching after all this is our 18th game (plus some exhibition games) and practice. if the crime is selfish play, where is the punishment and where is the judge/jury/executioner i.e. Cal?

  17. JustUrAvg

    Every kid isnt the same..some wont buy in as fast or slow as others. Seth is trying to say they are a product if their environment and kids who dont have the fame and big name team to lift them up should be acknowledged more for what they do.

  18. oruacat2

    Seth makes his living in part by lavishing attention on college athletes, so he is part of the problem.

  19. channell

    Greenberg has his own personal rant but there is a lot of truth in what he said. This team is like no other at Ky. Not one player is first round yet. Maybe 1 or 2 may work their way into top 30. If some go they will be looking at D league, China or YMCA. The first 2 mention will make them some money. The last won’t. How did all of these guys get a five star? If this is true, what happened to number 23 at Alabama? How was he overlooked and Waters For LSU, a 5’10” point guard. Wishing for some skilled veterans again.

  20. KYjellyRoll

    Green and vandal make this squad legit. Plain and simple. Florida won’t be able to stay in single digits in RuPP. This squad doesn’t lose another SEC regular season game. Mark it down. Greenburgh just seen a chance to jump on U.K. When they let a lead slip away. Notice he didn’t give them any credit for grinding and winning two close games prior to SC??

  21. BBNBRIAN

    “‘…has not gotten to the point where they’re going to dig down and play for the good of the group.’” True statement. Looking at you Hami and Knox………….

  22. henderblue

    If you asked Cal I think he’s the first to say Greenberg is right in what he’s saying.

  23. Kat4Life

    He is 100% correct……and I loved his qualifier about “THIS group”; it’s not Kentucky, it’s this particular collection of players. The AD, KAT, Devin Booker, Tyler Ulis, Brandon Knight teams all had that sacrificial mentality…but sadly these guys do not. It will not only limit how far the team goes, but it will also doom each of them to a diluted status with the NBA. Frankly none of them profile as lottery picks, and only Knox and Richards are even draftable in the first round.
    What about Diallo you say ? I have been chastised for saying Hami Diallo is a crappy basketball player (great athlete….sh*tty player and team mate) but dammit he is. He is the poster boy for what Seth is saying. You can tell it in his body language and bench demeanor. The guy has NO allegiance to anyone but Hami, and he either needs to humble himself and help lead these guys with a servant-leader mentality….or go the hell home.

    1. Bluebloodtoo

      Absolutely agree. Hami has all the physical tools to be a transcendent NBA player, but he’s never going to achieve that status until he learns how to make the players around him better by fitting into the game plan for the team and lifting. When the team wins, everybody eats. Ask Cuz how much fun it is to be a great player on crappy team. No NBA game or season is decided on individual stats. The team must be successful before any individual player will be successful.

    2. henderblue

      To be fair to these kids, they haven’t had the senior leadership, the kind of guys around them that maybe they need when Cal is not there. He’s had to teach them so much and I don’t know that a leader has developed among them. I think that by the end of the year Cal will get the message through, of servant leadership and playing for each other.

  24. HackRichards

    Bottom Line – He’s right! And if the boys don’t grow into men soon they may be looking at an NIT bid. One other thing. Do these guys really think they can play with GROWN PROFESSIONAL MEN? It will take 4 years of seasoning for this “one and done” bunch. A couple should have redshirted the way the Football cats do.

    1. unbridled

      Again with the awful redshirt idea. You realize that these kids will be at Kentucky for 2 years MAX?

  25. henderblue

    KAT you’re right. Except if JV stays healthy he probably goes first round. And probably not “probably”

    1. Kat4Life

      If he stays healthy and starts showcasing his skill set I agree with you……but with his history of foot trouble he may be knocked down a few notches for injury concerns. I really liked what I saw of him, but too small a sample size to be much more than hopeful. Now….if he goes into Morgantown and punk dunks on WVU for 40 mins, then I’m with you !!

  26. Bluebloodtoo

    Right now the PR generated for these players is because they are at UK and in calipari’s program. The PR they need to move to the next level comes from performing at a high level. Until they figure out how to play as a team and win as a team, they are not going to get much more traction from the NBA. How many excellent players have failed to succeed in the NBA because they couldn’t grasp how to be part of a team? If the team is successful, all the players values will be lifted. That’s what they don’t get yet.

  27. TB112162

    Seth toned it down because he is gonna be here Saturday can’t wait to watch the reception he gets

  28. TB112162

    Yeah it’s not working 4 final fours in 8 years Cal doesn’t know what he is doing

    1. kyle heavy

      And what exactly does that do for you? I personally like national championships. Regardless of who the coach is, we’ve had one of those since 1998. That’s 20 years ago. Uconn has had 4 since then and Duke and Carolina have had 3 a piece since then.

    2. my2sense

      I’m with you Kyle. Kids who think they know it all and won’t allow coaching need to either get with the program or transfer out.

  29. rodney

    All freshmen youngest team ever of course they don’t play the way we want them to. There is a learning curve. But because Cal has had so much success with these freshman heavy teams it’s expected. Seth these are freshmen and not all freshmen are created equal. In case you haven’t noticed these aren’t the top players in this class. Maybe one in the top ten. Last year we lost 3 seniors and 3 really good freshmen. ANYWHERE ELSE that constitutes a rebuild year so can we give it a break please. 14/4 going 2-2 on a tough road swing anywhere else these kids are over achieving. I love this team even though it’s gonna be a tough year. And since we don’t seem to be one and done U anymore next year is looking very interesting!!!!!!!

  30. kybirdieman

    Spot on especially #3

  31. BlueDew

    It not that it won’t work. People that know basketball know that it’s not working with this group up till now. People can see freeze out, jealousy, and selfishness. They can also see the signs of players not accepting coaching. I would like to see the team goals that Cal puts up the big white board each summer, and how they expect to get there. I don’t believe Cal has ever addressed this with fans at the beginning each season.

  32. Alleykat16

    I agree with Seth and his statements a couple of the players are thinking of only me and not for the good of the team. And right now I dont know if Cal is in the spot to do to much about it with not having enough good players sitting on the bench right now. If JB gets well and catches up with the rest of the team I’m sure Diallos minutes will decrease but right now I dont thinks there to much he can do about it. It seems to me he would have seen this last year with Diallo maybe he did and just thought he would grow,out of it

  33. runningunnin.454

    Does he mean a good team like Purdue that lost to Tennessee AND WESTERN KENTUCKY?

  34. gottodoit

    Seth is right.

  35. Nolecat21

    Diallo is the only problem. He’s definitely selfish, takes too many chances on defense so he can try and make an ESPN top 10 dunk. His demeanor/body language says it all. I can watch a game and predict when he’ll force another crappy shot or run over two defenders trying to “get his”. This isn’t the first time the camera caught him being crappy on the bench. The kid never thinks he fouls anyone and doesn’t have a clue how to play solid position defense.
    As for the rest of the team, most of the problems are youth. AAU definitely doesn’t teach them how hard it is to play real defense. Though this team is built to be an unbelievable zone team, Knox, Richards, and Diallo seem to be out of position more than they’re in position. When the zone rotates, they need to be in position to see both they’re area of responsibility and the ball. Instead they focus on all ball and either don’t close out on open 3 or get backdoored. Knox is a really good offensive player but settles for fade aways and 3’s way too often. He should live at the foul line. PJ, Shai, Wenyen, and Sasha have been pretty solid for the most part. Richards has his moments but has a ways to go defensively as mentioned. Quade falls into that boat as well. Polished offensively, horrendous man to man defender. Vanderbilt looks like he’s on a whole other level and definitely has that team oriented, do whatever it takes play we need.
    All that being said, I somewhat agree with Seth’s comments, but I feel they should be more pointed at one player in particular. When/if we get fully healthy, Diallo needs to start playing for the team vs himself or he may play his way out of minutes.
    I still feel Cal will have them ready in March. It just may be with Diallo on the bench.

  36. dballrb

    Sethy G is a very good coach.Perhaps not top 10,but the guy can coach.Va Tech got the worst screw job in recent memory of snubs..Plus,how he stepped up to help the school/students after the mass shooting on campus was amazing. I’d have no problem having S.G. as coach if/when Cal retires..????

  37. dballrb

    Archie was worse.. wouldn’t surprise me if he’s playing in Lithuania if The 2 Balls can do it,then Archie can.

  38. TB112162

    dballrb your out of your mind Seth G was And average coach and he would be about as good as Billy G get out of here

  39. StuckinLville

    He’s 100% correct. I see nothing wrong with what he said because it’s the truth. But it’s also still January and there’s a lot of games to still be played.

  40. 4everUKblue

    What Seth said on the radio show does not match what he said on ESPN and that’s my problem with him. He sugarcoated it on the radio and Matt let him get away with it.

  41. a21CATSfan

    There is a small percentage of this fan base that are giving BBN a terrible name. Threatening refs is definitely not going to make the officiating better (perfect example so far this season.) And now everytime someone says something negative about Kentucky, these fans look idiotic trying to call out the media member. Greenberg is right, and Kentucky fans need to accept it. This new group hasn’t earned a damn thing. The bad attitudes, terrible body language and back talk is getting out of hand. Here’s looking at you Hami.

  42. sdchar01

    His comments about the UK players appears to be fair and are representative of many college athletes. They have made it to whatever school they are at and are all puffed up about who they are and what they do. Many of UK’s players needed this kick in the butt. I love watching them and they are very entertaining. I don’t lose it now if they have a bad game or two or fail to get to the final four. I just have to take the team for what it is and enjoy the ride. Use this as motivation/bulletin board material, whatever you call it. Just take your play to another level and focus on your goal. GO CATS!

  43. BlueGrassBrass

    The Media needs to stop ranking these teams in the top 25 to begin the season. Force them to prove how good of a team they are.

    1. Bluebloodtoo

      Didn’t the media and coaches quickly adjust their rankings and get toasted by calipari for doing it?

  44. TB112162

    Kyle Heavy Cal didn’t start coaching UK until 2009-2010 that’s 8 years we’re not talking 20!years really Duke has 2!since then and they also had some early exists

  45. NcCatFan75

    I’ll start by saying I have always liked coach Greenburg and after this, still do… But I lost a TON of respect for him now that I hear the response. 1- He clearly took the 30 minutes after Shannon called to prepare his “these kids need to work harder” comeback. Every time Matt cornered him on the “is it specific to these guys” line of questioning, that was his default response. If he were HONEST, he’d tell you it was an easy ratings uptick if you call out UK when mentioning 1andDone. It’s his employer, so he does what they ask. I can forgive that.. but 2- this garbage that it was never about Kentucky players specifically but an indictment on CBB in general was as weak as it gets. Backtracking to his audience. Duke and Kansas NEVER get mentioned in these 1andDone attacks. Feels an awful lot like someone who wants their cake and eat it too. Just sad to see click baiting from one of the few national analysts I like