Cal’s comments on Saturday after the game about some of his players being “not real coachable” haven’t quite faded away, despite his best efforts. If you watched the game, it’s hard not to know to whom Cal was referring, especially when you watched the body language from the players. There was one moment that stuck out more than the rest to me: an interaction between Calipari and Alex Poythress after Poythress fouled Jarnell Stokes and Willie Cauley-Stein received a technical foul for shoving Trae Golden. Watch the video below, especially at the 1:01:20 mark:
Three things interest me:
1) This interaction happened after Cal addressed the team in a huddle, which means either Cal had more to say to Poythress or Poythress said something Cal didn’t like as he walked away.
2) Ryan Harrow attempts to hold Cal back, and afterwards, comforts Poythress
3) Alex looks disgusted and defeated.
You can hear Ian Eagle say that Poythress fouling Stokes and Willie’s technical might have been a good thing because he would see “a little bit of fire, a little bit of unity and togetherness” from his players, but the interaction between Cal and Alex suggests anything but that.
This morning on the SEC Coaches’ Teleconference, Cal further explained his postgame comments, drawing a distinction between what he may tell a player during a game and how that differs from what he may say after the heat of the battle:
“First of all, let’s go to the context. During a game, on the bench, there are a lot of things I say that, if a guy is not listening, is not playing rough enough, isn’t coming up with 50-50 balls, there’s a lot of things I say. But this team is a team of a bunch of good guys. They want to do well. Some of this is overwhelming. We just lost our best player. And why a guy wouldn’t listen or why he is going out and not doing what we ask him to do, we’re just trying to say, ‘Hey man, listen to what we’re saying. You can’t play the way you’re playing.’ But like I said, I’ve got a group of good kids. We are very young. We are treading new water. It wasn’t like a postgame tirade. That’s not what this was. This was during the game that we’re talking about. Guys got to listen better.”
Was the interaction between Poythress and Cal just frustrations boiling over?