I love Coach Cal, but some of the stuff he says to motivate this team is just silly. At halftime, Coach Cal told Shannon Spake of ESPN that the Cats looked like the worst offensive team in the country. Bear in mind that this was said after he watched a team go 8-27 from the field, 0-7 from the three point line and get blocked ten times. That team was St. Johns. So if UK was the worst offensive team in the country after that first half, the Johnnies had to be a close second, right?
Cal is notorious for his coachspeak. Earlier in the season he said that there were 100 different teams that could beat UK. It’s all a concerted effort by Cal to keep his players from pooping ice cream and they’ve caught on quick. When asked what he would rank the team on a scale of 1-10, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist gave the squad a four. Bear in mind, this was asked of Gillie the day after the Cats had achieved the number one ranking.
The best part of Cal’s criticisms is that they’re done from a place of love. Like a proud parent, Cal will jump to the defense of his team and players if anyone else questions their play. He is quick to diffuse the praise, though. Let’s take a look at how Coach Cal might handle some questions from the media leading up to the North Carolina game.
On Darius Miller’s dunk:
“It was a great dunk. I know Matt Jones over there at KSR was saying it was the best dunk in Rupp since who knows when, but I’m out here before the games seeing Jarrod Polson get up and thrown down that same dunk five, six times in a row. Jarrod Polson is 6-2. Darius Miller is 6-8. So was it a good dunk? Yes, but if Jarrod wasn’t out with a back injury would we be talking about Darius now? No probably not.”
On Marquis Teague’s four turnovers through the last three games:
“He’s been playing better. He’s young. He’s learning. When you turn the ball over almost 20 times in the first four games it’s hard to play any worse. Marquis Teague will get better, but it’ll take time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marquis go out there against North Carolina and turn it over 75 times. He’s a young player and he’s learning. And guys, let’s not forget that he’s missed more layups than I’ve ever seen a player miss. Right now, Marquis Teague is the worst layup shooter in the country, but he’s young. He’s learning. Remember: he’s young and learning.”
On Terrence Jon-
“Now let me talk about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He goes out, gets three turnovers and two quick fouls, I yank him, he comes back in the second half and commits two more dumb fouls. I pulled him aside and said that if there’s someone playing worse than him in the universe, I’d be eager to meet them. I pointed out a girl that must have been seven or eight sitting with her family in section 34 and said to him, ‘If the NCAA wouldn’t be all over my ass for it, I’d put her in the game right now’. He’s a young player and he’s learning, though. What was your question again?”
On the struggles of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist:
“What struggles? Michael is one of the best young men that I’ve had the pleasure of coaching. We needed a spark in the second half and Michael went out and provided that. Our offense was the worst in the country during the first half, but Michael scores five quick points to start the second and really key this team. No struggles. I was very pleased with Michael. We lose this game without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.”