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Coach Cal’s 5 keys to building a “Culture for Success”


It’s been a while since we’ve seen one of Coach Cal’s updates on the state of the Big Blue Nation; so long, the phrases “be your brother’s keeper” and “players first” nearly faded from my memory. Not anymore! With a few extra days between games, Cal took a moment to reflect and let his followers know about the “culture for success” he’s building in Lexington. Take a look:

1. Players first

It starts with the players. What it truly means is creating a family atmosphere. Like our own children who come first in our lives, they understand that we love them, that we’re not afraid of them, but we respect them and we have a job, which is to get them to learn and grow. It’s that kind of culture. Players first basically means creating a family.

2. Unbreakable work ethic

Part of that is we recruit in a way that we don’t promise them anything. This will be the hardest place for you to come and play basketball. I’m not promising you shots, minutes, starting positions, none of that. You’ve got to come in and work, so a lot of them come in with the idea that they have to work. That’s how that culture is built.

3. Burning desire to win

One of the greatest compliments paid to any of my teams was when I was at UMass. Fran Fraschilla, who at the time was the head coach at Manhattan, grabbed me and said, “My players said it’s like your team, if they lose, they’re going to the electric chair.” That’s that burning desire to win.

4. Devour practice

Practice is where you break barriers daily. My best teams would just devour practices. They would set out to beat the practice every day, and that’s how they began to break barriers. Nobody is going to feel like coming to practice every day, but you’ve got to fight through that and bring it single day. That’s what I’m trying to convince this team of.

5. Love of team before self

In order for us to accomplish our goals as individuals and as a team, each individual has to play for each other. They’ve got to become their brother’s keeper. It’s a little harder here because we have a new roster every year with a few returning players, but a lot of it’s done with how we recruit and who we recruit. Even after our players leave here, they remain a family.

Someone want to send this to Shabazz?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

15 Comments for Coach Cal’s 5 keys to building a “Culture for Success”

  1. GoCats2
    11:21 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    6. We never storm the court.

  2. Mr Schwump
    11:25 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    6. Hit FTs.

  3. Salem Cat
    11:27 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Coincidently, Roy Williams put out his five, too:
    1. Me first
    2. Unbreakable effort to delay players from living their NBA dream.
    3. Have all fans wear sweater vests and practice golf clap everyday.
    4. Always sub 5 players when I am having a bad case of short man’s complex to get the attention back on me.
    5. Have class unless I get real pissed off at questions, then drop F and S bombs on live TV.

  4. bhtxcatfan
    11:31 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    ” Salem Cat ” , # 4 made LOL .

  5. Han
    11:48 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I know it’s finals week, but Saturday cannot come quickly enough. I’m starved for UK having to wait a week after such a loss. Not to mention the rumors that Stokes will end up at Tennessee. Adding another body this year inside would have been nice (though I don’t blame him for not wanting to walk on and fight for minutes if he doesn’t come here).

    Need some good UK news.

  6. WildcatLogic
    11:50 am December 15, 2011 Permalink

    #2 I think it’s understood that BECAUSE of the BBN, UK is able to say that it’s a players first program. Why? Because of US, the university has 100% unconditional support. What I mean by this is: UK has massive ticket sales, a devoted fanbase with purchasing power and a loyalty like non-other. We purchase anything and everything covered in a U and a K from t-shirts to q-tips. Kentucky’s basketball program doesn’t HAVE to worry about branding itself or attracting national media or getting the best TV times and network carriers for our games. Because of US (and the success of our team), the challenging roadblocks that other schools face become non-factors. The tradition at UK and having such a devoted fanbase enables our program to focus more on the players which very few other universities can do. This is also WHY Coach Cal preaches about the “Kentucky Effect”….no other college program can offer what comes with the experience of playing at UK. And, to a very huge extent, that includes the fanbase.

  7. Eric
    11:54 am December 15, 2011 Permalink


    The game winning shot IU had against us has been best of the best like 3 times in a row. We neeed to fix that, it’s pissing me off seeing it everytime i watch top 10 plays…

  8. Cat Lady
    12:05 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Someone needs to send this to Jones.

  9. StateStreetforlife
    12:07 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    statements like these by Cal are all recruiting pitches, Cal doesnt owe the fanbase, we owe him. all we have to do is support and cheer on the the greatest program in college basketball which Coach Cal has built for us

  10. Kernel Sanders
    12:22 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    #15 I will give you a pass if you are 12 years old. And I will say I fully support Calipari. BUT, Cal didn’t “build” this program. And neither did Pitino. The foundation of UK’s program was built 60+ years ago. Cal has indeed revived the program, but even he knows “the program” is bigger than any one coach. sigh

  11. Stan
    12:32 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    Well said 16! I love Cal, but he isn’t UK, just a part of it nite. GO CATS!

  12. Mack
    12:51 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    I agree with (2), the CATS make FTs we win no problems or heated discussions except maybe about Jones; I guess there will always be something.

  13. beepthacreep
    1:22 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    i love cal but hate this players first crap, for me no player is bigger than uk, SO UK first

  14. bung
    1:29 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    adolph built uk basketball to what it is and i thank cal for continuing it

  15. MIDDAY
    4:46 pm December 15, 2011 Permalink

    This really kicks the crap out of the UL football codes of honor.