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The Leach Report: Mississippi State


A sequence in the second half of Saturday’s 69-59 win at Mississippi State displayed the kind of team-first passion that John Calipari wants to see from his Wildcats game in and game out.

Jarrod Polson seized an open driving lane but missed the shot, with his forward momentum leaving him as the player farthest away from the MSU basket.  As the Bulldogs rebounded the miss and sprinted out on a fast break, here comes Polson racing back into the play, to knock the ball loose.  The ball ricocheted off a State player and went out of bounds, giving the possession back to UK.  That’s the kind of effort-based mindset that Calipari is pushing so hard to get all of his players to embrace.

There wasn’t anything on that stat sheet to leap off the page and explain the impact of the play of Polson and Jon Hood late in the first half, when the Wildcats came from four points down to lead by nine at halftime.  It was that separation that turned the game in UK’s favor for good.

This performance should serve as your reminder of why John Calipari feels the way he does about players-only meetings for any of his teams.  They sound like a great idea but what Calipari most concerned about is actions, not words.  There was a lot of talk about the players-only meeting that Alex Poythress called after the LSU loss but three games later, many of the Wildcats displayed the same kind of effort that got them beat in Baton Rouge.  Fortunately for them, it came against an opponent with considerably less talent.

The previous Saturday at Missouri saw Kentucky players flying around the court, diving for loose balls, fighting for crucial rebounds, etc.  The passion carried over to the next game against Ole Miss but the consistent all-out effort was not sustained in Starkville.   That’s why you see Calipari pushing so hard–because he knows that is probably the single biggest obstacle to seeing this team having a chance to realize the collective potential of all of that individual talent.

Calipari has praised Hood time and again this season, for the way he approaches practices.  And when Hood got his chance, at a critical point in the kind of game the Cats could not afford to lose, the senior from Madisonville answered the call.  Leadership isn’t only about being vocal.  It can also be about setting an example.  You see the way Hood played in his time on the court and it underscores the point that the thing that leaders need most is followers.


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Article written by Tom Leach

12 responses to “The Leach Report: Mississippi State”

  1. crazycatfan

    Love to watch Jared & Jon …. always put in their best effort! You can see how hard they are trying to win!

  2. Greer

    Hood cleans them with lake water.

  3. mike

    It sounds crazy, you put them in when your in trouble to get you out, but they cant play when your not in trouble, I guess.

  4. Real Cracka

    The clueless haters will be here soon pointing out the stats. These are the same buffoons that complain about the freshmen only worrying about their stats in every other post.

  5. rainman

    SO PROUD to have guy’s like these two on the team!

  6. chuck

    Leach’s comment comes across to me as a slam against Poythress for having the gumption to show leadership. Seems to me Calipari’s anti-attitude against player meetings sends the wrong signal to an athlete who is trying to show leadership. Yes, without doubt, it up to the players to give it the very best they have, but if they don’t do well, is it [in this instance] Poythress’s fault?

  7. UK Roundball Follower

    I never saw anything this past week in the media indicating Coach Cal is against player meetings.
    All I read was, the way I interpret it, is Coach Cal wants his players to be more Aggressive and get into the Game. They need to play as hard as they can. And the Wins will follow…

  8. Dude looks like Roach from "The People Under the Stairs"

    Great movie.

  9. bung

    no hustle transition defense gave up lots of points…no hustle transition offense got 1 fast break basket the whole game on 25 defensive rebounds…randle and young combine for 1 assist in 54 minutes…

  10. asdf

    Good to see Hoodie come up big in an actual game! Not only is he from Kentucky, but he would make a great “Shaggy” if they ever make another Scooby Doo movie!

  11. Orney Focker

    Only one thing wrong with Jerod and Jon, they are not future lottery picks. Winning doesn’t matter if you are not a NBA prospect. That’s what we have become, sad,isn’t it? Everything people have pressured Cal to do, from 2-3 zone to playing the white boys, has worked, so let Cal “analyze” that, he needs an ego adjustment, and start to worry about winning, instead of his lazy uncaring, just passing through NBA draft picks; that doesn’t care about Kentucky basketball. And before all you Morons start with the crap, shut up!

    1. jaws2

      Orney, you’re on to something. Only problem is that they can’t cover in the zone either. State still got the ball inside too easily. I beginning to think these guys just don’t have it in them.