We are now in the midst of John Calipari’s 3rd season as the coach of the University of Kentucky. Over the next few months, we’ll see whether he will finally be able to do what he’s being paid to do: Win an NCAA Championship. The stakes are high, but so are the pressure and expectations. Will the team flame out of the 2012 NCAA Tournament the way it did the prior two years? Will it suffer (almost) double-digit losses like it did last year? Will Coach Cal once again produce fewer NCAA Championships than first round draft picks? (h/t: Rick Bozich.) Stay tuned. In the meantime, to stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Do They Know It’s Christmas?: Against Indiana, Kentucky took 7 three point shots. Obviously, they will never win a championship that way. As Dick Vitale often reminds us, three pointers have revolutionized college basketball, and no team can expect success if it completely ignores the deep ball. In order to win big in this day and age, a team must shoot threes, and shoot them often. In their next game, against UT-Chattanooga, Kentucky took 33 three point shots. Obviously, they will never win a championship that way. As Bobby Knight often reminds us, three pointers have cheapened college basketball, and no team can expect success if it is constantly shooting the deep ball. In order to win big in this day and age, a team must focus on its inside game, and resist the temptation to fall in love with the three. As postseason play approaches, one wonders if the Cats are capable of figuring out exactly how to play this game.
*Blue Christmas: After having a bad game against Indiana, many UK fans expressed optimism that Terrence Jones would bounce back. However, it became evident in the UT-Chattanooga game that this optimism was completely unfounded. Incredibly, Jones put up even worse numbers against the Mocs than against the Hoosiers. In the UTC game, he was held scoreless, and only grabbed a single rebound. While some starry-eyed Kentucky fans will likely try to come up with an excuse for Jones’s poor play against Chattanooga (e.g., he was sick, he was distracted, he was having personal issues, he suffered a grotesque finger injury, etc.), do not count John Calipari among those Terrence Jones apologists. He was so unimpressed with the way Jones was playing last Saturday, he only gave him 10 minutes of playing time in that game, and then sent an even stronger message by not playing Jones at all in the games against Samford and Loyola.
*Do You Hear What I Hear?: Recently, it has been reported that several Kentucky players have started getting together in the morning and working out, practicing, lifting weights, etc. Though they have deemed themselves “The Breakfast Club,” they would have been better off calling themselves “The Bad News Cats,” because this is not good news for John Calipari and UK fans. Specifically, this leads to several troubling conclusions: #1, several players on the team felt like they weren’t learning anything in practice and thus put it on themselves to improve on their own; #2, the team and coaching staff do not get along at all, or else they wouldn’t feel the need to practice outside the presence of Coach Cal; #3, Calipari’s eye for talent isn’t as keen as his supporters would have you believe, or else he wouldn’t recruit players whose skill level is so low that the NCAA-mandated 20 hours of practice per week simply isn’t enough. In other words, to put all of this “Breakfast Club” business in a neat little bow, the takeaway from this is as follows: The players aren’t learning anything in practice, they hate the coaches, and they aren’t really all that good to begin with. Merry Christmas, Cat fans!
* On this date: On this date in 2004, UK junior Patrick Sparks hit three free throws in the closing seconds to beat Louisville, 60-58. He traveled before he was fouled, though. (And he really wasn’t even fouled to begin with.)