There have been moments this season in which you can tell Kentucky’s youth has worn on John Calipari. Calipari himself has admitted that he’s forgotten how difficult “the process” of rebuilding a team with freshmen every year can be, and on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, said trying to get his freshmen to play disciplined basketball has physically worn him out.
“Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m getting tired because I’m having to – I mean, physically tired – because I’m really having to hold these guys accountable and I’m having to be on this because it’s the only way I’m going to help them create discipline. Create habits that they have to have, is to hold them accountable when we’re practicing. And we’ve done a lot more scrimmaging, I don’t know if it’s going to help, but it’s the best way to teach. And I’m not going to let them play through mistakes. I’ll stop it and say, no, that’s not good enough; that’s not what you’re supposed to do. We cannot trust you if you’re not doing your job.”
This message seems to be most directed at Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis, for whom Calipari says the biggest issue is trust.
“The biggest word with those two is the word trust. That your teammates have to trust that you’re going to do the job you’re supposed to do. And if they can’t trust you, it’s hard to keep you on the floor. And then I talk a lot about you know, trust is looking through the eyes of those glasses, that if you don’t believe you trust your teammates, then you probably can’t be trusted. And I said, you’ve got to do stuff and trust your teammates are going to have your back and you’re going to do your job, whether it be pick and roll or post defense, trapping, how we’re playing certain screens, down screens.
“They just – again, we’re trying to, and Derek less than Wenyen, just letting them know, we’ve gotta trust you. If we don’t trust you, we have no team. And the only way we can trust you is you’re disciplined in your approach on offense and defense and that you do your job. What is my job? I’m going to do it. And if I need help, a teammate’s going to have my back. We’re just not there yet.”
When asked if he’s surprised he’s still having to go through this process with Willis, a senior, Calipari clarified that Derek’s improving, but it’s Wenyen he’s having to work with the most.
“No, Derek’s not as bad as – Derek’s gotten better. His thing is, I’m focusing so much on defense and rebounding I can’t make a shot. Because I thought he was better last game, he really was. But Wenyen is typical,” Cal said. “When you’re starting four freshmen, and the freshmen off the bench and the other sophomore is 18 years old, the age of a freshmen, you know, I mean, this stuff happens and it’s a process, and that’s my job.”
Thankfully, he’s better at it than anyone in the country.