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Calipari might have found the perfect blend

 

It’s February now and college basketball is starting to heat up. The last couple of weeks of the regular season are always crucial to any team with national title aspirations. Ultimately, it will be a final tune-up of sorts heading into the NCAA tournament. Looking further ahead, a national championship game is about two months away, and one person who understands the importance of being a participant in that game, moreso than anyone, is John Calipari. The next couple of months will be nothing less than career defining for the Kentucky coach, and here’s why.

Calipari undoubtedly has the best team in the nation, a gift and a curse. With the unquestioned best team in the country, expectations are, at least, to be one of the two teams battling to raise a national championship banner. That alone is pressure enough for anyone, but to add to the heaviness of Calipari’s burden, he has yet to stand on the mountain top of college basketball. Fair or not, the position of head coach is defined by how many banners you hoist. To be considered a top coach in the college basketball world you have to win a national title. That’s just the nature of the beast.

In his third year at Kentucky, Calipari might have found the perfect blend for what it takes, in his style of recruiting, to finally get the national championship monkey off of his back.

His first team at Kentucky, a team that sent an NBA record five players to the first round of the draft, certainly didn’t lack talent. This team was clearly one of the best teams in the nation, but was eventually outdone by a Bob Huggins-led West Virginia team with more experience. His second team, stripped of talent by the NCAA, surprised a lot of people by making a final four run in an extremely tough bracket. A number of times this team came back after halftime deficits or found a way to win close in late game situations. That team certainly did not lack heart.

The current team is a perfect blend of both. They have the talent of the first team; a presumed number one overall draft pick in Anthony Davis (John Wall), and if all major contributors on this team decided to leave, about five 2012 NBA first round picks. To go along with the talent, this team has an abundance of heart, and you sense it when they take the floor. They exude a championship or bust mentality which is part of the formula to win it all. They want to prove that they are better than everyone else in the country while possessing superior talent to any possible opposition. It’s a lethal combination. 

The best thing to happen to Calipari’s career might have been the poor performance of Terrence Jones at the end of last season. It forced Jones to forego a NBA career for at least a season and return to Lexington to work on his game. In the last ten games of Jones’ freshman year he only reached his season average of 15.6 ppg three times. Among those three times not one of them came in the NCAA tournament. Still, he and Doron Lamb returned with experience and stability of premiere players that any team with serious national title dreams desperately needs.

As the Wildcats head into the home stretch of the SEC schedule, they seem to have hit a stride. Calipari will certainly bring the best coaching performance of his career with him to finish what could be a magical season, but he might not need it. This team has everything it needs to finish strong, but most importantly they have the will to be a champion. The young Wildcats want to win as bad as their head coach needs to win, and it shows. Barring any unforeseen circumstances it looks like the third time, at Kentucky, will be the charm for John Calipari.

 

Article written by Rashawn Franklin

30 Comments for Calipari might have found the perfect blend



  1. Snapperlicious
    9:33 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    1st, baby!



  2. SUPREMECATS
    9:44 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    A little early for talk like that … But I like the tone.



  3. jmoney
    9:44 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I’m a huge UK fan, but its February 1st…everyone needs to keep it in their pants and relax. They might drop a couple in these last 8 games, but when tourney time rolls around, they’re going to do work. This team is going to be head-over-heels better than they’re now. Everyone get the hell out of the way because UK is cutting down the nets!



  4. stevie
    9:48 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    UK might lose one more game–might. But, that’s it. This team will win at least 38 games & the NT. Who agrees?



  5. Back to Earth
    9:52 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    “Calipari undoubtedly has the best team in the nation” and “Barring any unforeseen circumstances it looks like the third time, at Kentucky, will be the charm for John Calipari.” Are you for real? I had no idea the championship was a foregone conclusion… How presumptuous.

  6. 5, this is the way ppl were taking in 96 also, so it’s not new.



  7. Shrimpngrits
    9:59 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Too early for this. It is what we should be/are thinking…not saying.



  8. catcrawler
    10:00 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    It’ll be UK and Syracuse in the finals.



  9. alaeotus
    10:02 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    We can talk about these things without consequence. But Cal and the Cats must focus on the next opponent. And they do, so that’s not a stumbling block.



  10. Loyal_UK_Fan
    10:03 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Funny how IU’s only road wins in 3 years came this year. Against mighty Evansville and PSU. I beleive there is some home cooking up @ IU. See Ohio State games. They will be a bubble team along with UL come tourney time.



  11. stevie
    10:04 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    My opinions are based on my observations. Who among us actually thinks this current team is less capable than all these other teams in Division I? And, if so, why?



  12. Loyal_UK_Fan
    10:05 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Everybody was talking number 8 at the beginning of the year, now everyone wants to pump the brakes. I say let’s beat these b*thches and take our sh*t back.



  13. Maxwell
    10:10 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Too many things can happen in the big dance. All it takes is one time with one shooter to get hot and the best team falls. I will be a nervous wreck come march madness. Number 8 is so close…yet so far away.



  14. JosephHeller
    10:12 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    No matter what happens, it is a lose-lose situation for Coach Cal. Lose, and he will hear he can’t win with one and done talent. Win, and it becomes, of course he won he had 6 NBA draft picks.



  15. Mike
    10:12 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    If this team can keep the defensive intensity shown in last 2 games and continue to get key contributions from 3-4 of our starters, we could go undefeated, but it is too early for this conjecture. We are only about 1 key injury away from having this train derailed. We have avoided the injury bug so far so maybe this will be our destiny year.



  16. Steve
    10:13 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Lets not get ahead of ourselves. Every national pundit will put UK down as title winner which only means more pressure on Cal and the Cats. Their remaining schedule is brutal. And let’s be honest, winning 6 straight in NCAA’s is as much luck as skill. I want 8 as much as anybody but this will not be easy. Enjoy the ride b/c it is about that as much as the destination.



  17. Steve
    10:14 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    comments 7 and 14 are spot on!



  18. Orlando cat
    10:16 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Does anyone else have a swastika come up when they google image “ksr college”…bad omen?



  19. ColoradoCat
    10:28 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink


  20. ukfan
    10:34 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    how is it “too early” for this? the Cats are rolling right now! We are a missed three pointer at the buzzer away from being undefeated for crying out loud. Even Stevie Wonder could see how special this team is and how they have recently started to take their game to the another level, a level no other team in the country has yet to reach.. undefeated in SEC play with a hand full of games left? bring on the title talk!



  21. UKUKUK1865
    10:34 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    All that talent and heart will get them into the elite 8 without any problems. To win the title they will also need a little luck too. Go Cats!



  22. LuvDaCats
    10:40 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    The last three years have been awesome. Cal rocks. ALL the Players are awesome. What a time to be a wildcat.



  23. Blueball'n
    10:55 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    But the Goblett says unc is better than us!!!! I’d like to punch him in his ear!



  24. Ghostofbearbryant
    11:08 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    Glad to hear Cal’s solved the free-throws in march issue.



  25. expat cat
    11:43 pm February 1, 2012 Permalink

    I completely reject the idea that Cal’s legacy is riding on the NCAA tourney, or that coaches have to win one to be great:

    1 – The NCAA is a crapshoot. It’s hard to win 6 games. Everybody elevates it over regular season performance (including me), but that’s sort of insane. There’s a lot of luck involved.

    2 – It’s flatly absurd to say that coaches have to win it all to be great. If Memphis hit free throws, Bill Self is still a great coach. If Nazr hits free throws, Lute Olson is still a great coach. If Roy Williams retired in 2004… you get the point. See also #1. Cal is a great coach and this tourney (while important) is not legacy/career defining.

    Don’t get me wrong — I’m a UK fan since my first memories of the 1984 Final Four in Seattle. But this is precisely the type of stuff that drives me crazy. I want to win it all really badly. But if not, this has been a great year — just like the last 2 years. I remember the Tubby/Clyde era, and I’m more appreciative.

    The larger point of your article is that this is Cal’s best shot. That’s true. So stick with that and drop the opening setup



  26. Aaron Bunch
    8:11 am February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Enjoy the ride people! I am content with just beating the crap out of everyone they way we are and continual demolishment of Louisville, (which now doesn’t exist). Coach Cal will win the title it’s a mere matter of enevitability at this point in time. Relax, enjoy the wins, recruits, and jealousy of the other programs. GO CATS!



  27. Lou eaton
    9:34 am February 2, 2012 Permalink

    Reality says that yeah, we have a great shot BUT then there is always a chance for a average game against a hot NCAA team ala WVA. Remember that although Calipari hasn’t yet won it all, please go back and check how long it took Jim Boheim to win his first and I believe only title….20 something years? Guessing but a long time. Yet he is considered to be a great coach by some.



  28. Dave Ball
    10:10 am February 2, 2012 Permalink

    I will dig that scene…of course, I think that most of the other “contenders” will lose before reaching the Final Four (with the possible exception of Ohio State)…wouldn’t that be fun….Ohio State and UK battling for the title…give me some…



  29. Charles
    10:17 am February 2, 2012 Permalink

    NEWS FLASH: Kentucky lost to WV in 2010 due to poor three point shooting, not experience! UK’s ONLY problem going into that season was its three point shooting period! Had Jodie Meeks returned, they would have possibly gone undefeated!

    I believe that the 2010 team shot 28% from the three after January. That’s why we lost to WV, NOT experience!!!



  30. JerryC
    11:00 am February 2, 2012 Permalink

    My question is this: When UK wins the National Championship which player do you think the NCAA will target for investigation?