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:
*I Wanna Talk About Me: After it was reported that walk-on Sam Malone would undergo season-ending knee surgery (his 4th such procedure), a handsome and charming reporter raised the possibility that these repeated injuries were the basketball gods telling Malone to take up a less physically demanding sport, such as chess. Everyone in the room laughed at the dashing scribe’s wit and insight. Along those lines, it appears that Malone isn’t the only UK player the basketball gods have been trying to reach. To wit: Jon Hood also suffered a knee injury. Why not join Malone on the chess team? Terrence Jones jammed his pinky. Why continue to play this game when dogged by such buzzard’s luck? Darius Miller endured a coaching change at UK. At what point does he say enough is enough? Doron Lamb has yet to reach his lifelong goal of playing in the NBA. Isn’t it time to cut your losses and come up with another plan? Marquis Teague missed a couple of layups against Indiana. If basketball were in his future, wouldn’t he have made those shots? Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist almost had to come back to college for another year when the NBA flirted with ditching the “one and done” rule. They avoided disaster this time, but what if fate isn’t so kind next time? The point here is that every player on the UK roster has been the recipient of repeated messages from the basketball gods to just walk away from this game. For whatever reason, they’re not listening.
*Getcha Some: Last Monday, Kentucky conducted a practice that was streamed live on the internet. Thousands upon thousands of Kentucky fans watched in horror and disgust, concerned that coaches and players of rival teams would also be tuning in, and preparing detailed scouting reports on the Cats that they would then incorporate into their game plans when preparing to play Kentucky. According to a source, Louisville coach Rick Pitino was in his office with the door locked on Monday at about the same time UK’s practice was being conducted. When an assistant knocked on the door, Pitino yelled at the assistant to go away and come back in a few minutes. A female voice (presumably an I.T. specialist teaching Pitino how to access the streaming practice online) then added “Never mind. He’s done.” This was apparently in reference to the fact that the information gleaned by the surveillance was so detailed and helpful that it only took a few seconds for a Hall of Famer like Pitino to put it to good use. At any rate, while Calipari likes to portray himself as ahead of the curve on reaching out to fans, you have to question the prudence of this decision.
*Wish I Didn’t Know Now: At his weekly press conference a few days ago, UK coach John Calipari complained that the media gave undue attention to poor academic performances of his players, while ignoring it when the Cats received good marks on their report cards. However, an overview of recent history reveals that this claim by Calipari is somewhat disingenuous. Specifically, a review of the scholastic transcripts of the Kentucky men’s basketball team reveals that the UK basketball team has achieved the following GPAs since Calipari took over: 2.02 in Fall 2009; 2.18 in Spring 2010; 2.82 in Fall 2010; 3.14 in Spring 2011; and 2.7 in Fall 2011. In other words, in the nearly three years that Calipari has been in Lexington, there have only been three occasions that the team has achieved a GPA above 2.18. Meanwhile, a full 40% of the time, John Calipari’s UK squads have achieved a 2.18 or lower. Before Calipari bemoans the media’s coverage of his team’s academic performance, maybe he should get his facts straight. If the Kentucky players do their homework as poorly as Calipari does his, no wonder they struggle in the classroom.
* On this date: On this date in 2009, John Wall racked up 14 assists in a 37 point win over UNC-Asheville. Wall, who attended UK only because he was forced to by the NBA’s one and done rule, is best known for going 7 for 18 from the field in UK’s Elite 8 loss to West Virginia later that season.