Brad Calipari wants to be more than the victory cigar. He’ll never be a go-to guy or even a regular contributor at Kentucky, but he wants to play meaningful minutes and be more than the “Shooooooot!” guy at the end of the game.
Last year he saw real time that mattered: first in the first half of Kentucky’s home game against Texas A&M, and then again on the road at South Carolina. Both were very close SEC games, and he got thrown into the action before halftime.
“Being able to get first half minutes last year was nice,” he said in his preseason interview with KSR last month. “I wanted to work up from just getting in at the end of games, the less meaningful minutes. Being able to get in there and hold my own and show people I can get in there and keep the flow looking normal is always nice.”
“Then going into the games this year in the Bahamas and being able to show I can be out there too, it’s reassuring,” he added.
Calipari played in all four games in the Bahamas, highlighted by a three-pointer in the first game against the Bahamas national team.
Now going into his third year, his old man wants more.
“He expects a lot out of me, especially, he told me how much better I got from last year,” he said. “That was important for me to hear and I believe that I got better. Just knowing how hard I work consistently, it gave me confidence going into this year, especially these first practices… He’s been on me more this year in these 10 practices than he has the past two years.”
Considering he’s one of the oldest players on the team and has been around the program as long as anyone, there is no better player to ask about the new team. He sees a competitive bunch, more so than in his first two seasons on the team, and their hard work is producing results.
“It’s a lot more competitive spirit in this group, I think,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work outside of practice; before, after, whatever it may be. A lot of these guys are spending time in the gym late at night, trying to get themselves better, so I think it’s another thing that’s important for individuals and for us as a collective unit.”