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:
*Sorry You Asked?: Recently, freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went to John Calipari and asked that senior Darius Miller be inserted in the starting lineup in his place. Needless to say, this is bad news for Cat fans. The fact that Kidd-Gilchrist has no desire to even be on the same court as his teammates is a bad omen for UK going forward, and is apparently the reason he so often commits two early fouls, in order that he will be allowed to leave the game and get away from the rest of his squad. Unfortunately for the Cats, MKG-Hates-This-Team-Gate didn’t end there. In a defiant display of one-upsmanship, Calipari opted to publicly embarrass Kidd-Gilchrist by temporarily removing Doron Lamb from the starting lineup instead. And even though Kentucky fans no doubt hoped that Lamb would take umbrage at the demotion, he instead was perfectly happy with the move, noting that he had “no problem” coming off the bench, and that he “wasn’t upset at all” that he didn’t start. Apparently he hates his teammates too.
*You’re The One: In the first four games of the season, freshman point guard Marquis Teague had 11 assists and 18 turnovers. In the last four games the Cats have played, he has 18 assists and 11 turnovers. Needless to say, this is bad news for Cat fans. A team is a reflection of its point guard, and the November version of Marquis Teague was quite aggressive, as evidenced by the 18 turnovers he managed. However, these numbers have significantly decreased, which indicates that the freshman is not nearly as willing to make a big play as he was earlier in the season. Also, his assists have gone up dramatically, which suggests that Teague has become scared to shoot, and instead is content to give the ball up, apparently because he is tired of Calipari yelling at him. Coach Cal has repeatedly said “if you can’t play, I can’t hide you.” This is obviously not a concern with Teague, as he is doing all he can to hide himself.
*Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose: On Tuesday, Kentucky easily defeated Georgia in a game it led by double figures the entire second half. Needless to say, this is bad news for Cat fans. The day before the game, John Calipari said that this Kentucky team probably needed to lose a game, as be believed it would force the Cats to come together and get tougher. Rather than taking this message to heart, Kentucky went out and put together a complete performance on the road, and was never even close to getting beat. Calipari has a reputation as a great communicator and motivator, but it seems he is having a hard time getting through to this bunch. When asked after the game if the Cats were actually trying to win, each Kentucky player actually said “yes.” Wow. It’s not often that you see a team so publicly and brazenly defy its coach like that, but these Wildcats apparently have no interest in doing what their leader tells them to. There is still a lot of basketball left to be played this season, but if this team has any desire to get on the same page as their coach, they better hurry up and start losing.
* On this date: On this date in 2009, the University of Mississippi beat the University of Jodie Meeks, 85-80.