The season’s over. To stay apprised and educated, follow me on Twitter @NotJerryTipton. Here’s the weekly notebook:
*Make Some Noise: Earlier this month, UK assistants John Robic, Kenny Payne and Orlando Antigua received multiyear extensions. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Clearly, the best assistants are those who are in demand across the country, year-in, year-out. The UK assistants, on the other hand, are apparently not. Compare this situation to the one at Louisville, where hot commodities Steve Massielo and Richard Pitino, Jr. have been given head coaching jobs elsewhere. It stands to reason that the impressive UofL postseason runs of the past three years (which include a Final Four appearance, etc.) was based in part on the coaching acumen of those young assistants. The younger Pitino, for example, was such a hot commodity that (in a move involving no extenuating circumstances whatsoever), he was snatched away by Billy Donovan at Florida in 2009, before being wooed back to Louisville by his father a couple of years later. This is especially eye-opening when you consider that Kentucky has a long history of assistant coaches who are considered attractive candidates. Scott Rigot, e.g., had another job once. One would think that John Calipari would only hire assistants who are good enough at what they do to get noticed by other programs, but one would be wrong. In hindsight, maybe those losses to Indiana and Vanderbilt last season weren’t so surprising after all.
*Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun: Last month, John Calipari won his first national championship. This does not bode well for Kentucky. Ever since he won the title, he has been missing out on recruits left and right. First, Shabazz Muhammad told Cal to get lost, and picked UCLA. Then, Anthony Bennett told the coach to go to hell by picking UNLV. And just this week, Amile Jefferson made it clear that he despises Calipari and everything he stands for by picking Duke. It is worth noting at this juncture that since winning the national title, Calipari has yet to sign the nation’s top recruiting class. (Note: Some services have this current class #1.) Also, even though it has been well over a month since winning the championship, Calipari has yet to garner a commitment from a single top 100 recruit. (Note: Not including Nerlens Noel, the nation’s top recruit.) At any rate, if winning national championships means that UK’s recruiting will totally fall apart like this, the guess here is that most UK fans don’t want to win any more national championships.
*Heart Attack Man: On Tuesday night in game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Pacers beat the Heat. This does not bode well for Kentucky. John Calipari and LeBron James have made no secret of their relationship, and it is clear that James considers Calipari somewhat of a mentor. This is why it had to be so disheartening for UK fans to watch King James wilt in the 4th quarter of that game, as he passed up open shots, looked tentative, and missed a couple of key free throws. Before that game, the conventional wisdom had been that Kentucky’s championship run this Spring had helped Calipari shed the perception that he choked when the stakes were highest, and that his teams tend to play tight in high pressure situations. To the extent that he got that monkey off his back in April, that little sucker is squarely back on now. To make matters worse, the Pacers’ roster features one Tyler Hansbrough, who played his college ball for Roy Williams at North Carolina. While Hansbrough didn’t actually play in the game down the stretch, there is no doubt that recruits will notice that he was on the winning end of that contest, and — by extension — so were Roy Williams and UNC. Unlike Calipari and UK. Kentucky fans undoubtedly enjoyed the team’s eighth national title last month, but now it looks like they will once more have to start asking themselves the same question they were asking before then: Can John Calipari win the big one?
* On this date: On this date in 2009, 2010 and 2011, John Calipari had never won a national championship.