[T]he biggest challenge when you win is complacency.
Such is the unofficial motto of John Calipari during the first post-championship offseason he’s ever experienced. Clearly, the celebration is over, and the work has resumed in full force. That’s not to say that Cal isn’t enjoying himself: I think he loves recruiting in the summer. And now that he’s added hardware to the hoopla, it’s gotta be even more fun than usual. As he discusses in his most recent blog,
I look at this as though we are pushing a snowball down the hill. At some point there is going to be a hill and we’re going to have to go up, but the harder we push now and the faster we get this thing rolling now, the easier it will be to overcome that hill later.
I just want to make sure that neither my staff nor my team is complacent as we move forward. Wearing the Kentucky uniform and being the coach at Kentucky does not guarantee success. You have to work at it. Nothing is automatic. You’re not going to automatically recruit the best players and win games just because you’re at Kentucky.
We understand there is the Kentucky Effect, but that only comes into play when you’re driven to be the best and you work to be the best. For my staff and players, are you willing to put in the time and sacrifice certain things to achieve elite status?
I always love to keep you informed. I know you are starving for any recruiting information, and I want you to know we are not going to take any steps back coming off our championship season. We are going to continue to push the snowball down the hill.
We know from past experiences that the admonition against expecting success “just because it’s Kentucky” is well-merited. To think that four years ago, Billy Gillispie was taking his team to the NIT amidst a swirl of rumors and suspicions, while many of us expected him to do well with the tools the Kentucky job offered, is proof enough. It’s not enough for the staff to expect success, any more than it’s acceptable for the players to expect it.
In the same way, I think this is a good opportunity for Kentucky fans to sit back and appreciate just how much this coach “gets it.” Cal is fresh off his first championship, working to secure what could be the best recruiting class anyone has ever seen in college basketball. We should not take this success for granted. This is an unprecedented era in modern college basketball; where parity was supposed to be abundant, Cal has seemingly furthered the gap between himself and the competition. I’m still amazed at the level of excellence the program has achieved, and sustained, in his tenure. As he and the staff works to secure the future of the program, we should be (and are) extremely thankful for its present.
Also, in typical Cal fashion, there’s the ever-so-sly Pitino dig:
I want us to stay humble in the fact that five different coaches have won national titles at Kentucky and none have won any at any other school.
Brilliantly played, Coach. That was so subtle, you could almost think it was unintentional. I like to think that everything Cal does is intentional, even if he leaves some wiggle room in the interpretation every now and then.