Nate Sestina’s fractured wrist is the fifth injury to this Kentucky team this season, sixth if you count Dontaie Allen’s continued rehab from a torn ACL suffered in January. With Sestina out for approximately four weeks, Kentucky is down to eight active scholarship players, begging a now familiar question: why doesn’t Calipari fill out his roster?
When asked about it today, Calipari said all of the injuries from the past few seasons have him rethinking his strategy, but finding talented players who will accept limited roles is easier said that done.
“It does. I just — when I had eleven and twelve [scholarship players], it was Derek [Willis] and Dom[inique Hawkins] and they understood. Now they’re both playing professionally. Both of them are playing professionally. But they understood they were eleven and twelve. It doesn’t mean they weren’t coached. It means the opportunity to get in the game, they weren’t getting in until ten other guys got in and they knew that.
“It’s hard. Who’s that guy? When you come to Kentucky, one of the things that’s the positive is that kids learn, they take on this culture, they get there faster, they move faster and they perform at a higher level. The other part of this is, everybody expects it to be on the same pace for every kid and it’s just not. PJ [Washington]’s path was two years. Willie [Cauley-Stein]’s path was three years. Darius [Miller]’s path was four years. They’re different.”
On the flip side, Calipari pointed out that several players everyone expected to be around for more than a year sometimes end up being one-and-dones.
“The curse is, if you go to Kentucky, you leave after a year. That’s not how it is. You might. You may play yourself into it. You may be working so hard in that gym — Tyler Herro, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, seven o’clock in the morning — that you will yourself to this stuff. Brandon Knight. You may be that guy, but if you think it’s just, ‘If I play games, it’ll happen,’ it won’t. It takes you more time then. If you’re not going to get in the best shape of your life, it’s going to take you more time. But, so you get to be around me for two years. What’s the problem?”
I get Calipari’s point, but to me, it just sounds like another challenge for a man who loves them — especially if the one-and-done rule goes by the wayside as expected.