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Calipari calls this season one of his most rewarding

Whether Kentucky wins the national championship or goes home after the Sweet 16, John Calipari says this season will be one of the most rewarding of his career. On The Jim Rome Show this afternoon, Cal said getting the youngest team in college basketball to surrender their egos and play as a group hasn’t been easy, but moments like Hamidou Diallo’s breakthrough vs. Buffalo make it all worth it.

“I’ve done this a long time. You would think the greatest reward is the win over — no. No. It’s seeing a player that was down in that rabbit hole, he was so bad he couldn’t see straight. He had terror. He had anxiety. He couldn’t sleep. His life flashed before him and he slowly got out of that hole and started to play and had a breakthrough. When Hami walked in our locker room after the last game, the team put him up on their shoulders they were so happy for him. Same thing happened to Kevin Knox, who was struggling. He goes to West Virginia and goes for 30 [points] and they went crazy for him. This is a process. You can’t skip steps.”

I think that calls for another viewing of the Hami locker room video:

Hami’s breakthrough is exactly why Calipari is refusing to give up on another player that’s struggling: Nick Richards.

“I stick with guys. Hami, they were saying he shouldn’t be starting, why are you playing him? Because he deserves an opportunity, he’s working hard. Now, if a kid doesn’t work, that’s not on me. Right now, Nick Richards — we have to have Nick Richards playing better. And you know what? I’m still starting him. Is he better than some of the guys that aren’t starting? No. Right now, they’re playing better than him but I’m starting him to give him his opportunity. Get out there and bust through this. I can’t do it for him. I can’t think for him. I can’t perform for him, but I can give him an opportunity, love him and hug him and tell him we’re all here for you, but you’ve gotta do it.”

Calipari’s next statement belongs on an inspirational poster in the Joe Craft Center.

“This has been a rewarding year, maybe one of my most rewarding because I had a team of young kids that went from the look of terror, the look of fear, anxiety to a look of joy.”

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Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

24 Comments for Calipari calls this season one of his most rewarding



  1. ScottGreene22
    4:34 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    GO CATS!!! Keep it up!!!!



  2. kyle heavy
    5:14 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    In reference to Nick Richards… “Is he better than some of the guys that aren’t starting? No. Right now, they’re playing better than him but I’m starting him to give him his opportunity.”

    I”m asking a fair and honest question here… what about the two sophomores who are playing better right now? Do they not get their opportunity to start? You can look at it from both sides. Killeya-Jones (who was also a 5-star MCD’s AA) and his family may be silently asking that question.



    • Parker_UKFanNC
      5:29 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      I think they’re fine with his pt. That’s what matter mores in the end. Plus his recent highlights are great.



    • 4everUKblue
      5:33 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      Feel like his confidence is rising, he’ll be an important player next season. I enjoy watching him play, seems like a really good kid, as the all do.



    • Booby Petrino
      5:39 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      He plays more than Richards, perhaps he is best off the bench.



    • Booby Petrino
      5:42 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      Cal spends more time with these kids, he knows what he’s doing… And he does it well.



    • J-Dub421
      5:44 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      Who cares who starts. The others are getting more playing time, so it’s not like Cal is leaving Richards in for a long time.



    • IAmTheDanger
      5:57 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      Valid point Kyle



    • 4everUKblue
      6:10 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      I totally trust Cal’s judgement, no question he knows what he’s doing. I like my team and my coach and there’s no other coach I would want at Kentucky.



    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      6:35 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      I’m not sure who can even be coach after Cal. Everyone is replaceable but it won’t be easy. There’s a reason Memphis fans were so upset.



    • chris43
      7:10 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

      Good question….I’ve wondered this myself. I love Cal and wouldn’t have another coach. I can understand giving minutes to all deserving players BUT the ones who are playing best should get the most besides in a blowout win.



    • UKfan4TwoDecades
      4:38 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

      Well thought out and exceptional post.



    • Aar
      5:22 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

      Well thought out and valid question. Personally, I like the “rotation” as it is. Gabriel, SKJ, Green & Vanderbilt seem to play really well coming off the bench, They give the team a boost when they enter the game. Likewise, it seems that Richards take pride in starting and almost willing to accept (grudgingly at times) whatever playing time he gets as long as he starts. To some degree, Diallo seems similar. So, Is this the best way to keep each player happiest and to get the most out of them?

      Another aspect I think of is fouls. Often the first foul or two of the game against UK is/are on a big. Washington’s foul troubles seem worse when he starts than coming off the bench. If SKJ & Gabriel are more important to this team’s success than Richards and they both tend to run into foul trouble, who do we want those first few, cheap fouls of the game hung on? I doubt this enters Cal’s reasoning but it’s something I started paying attention to when Gabriel was starting at the 4.



  3. Wade
    5:36 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    If Nick starts we don’t lose him and he can build confidence bc he’s raw and Sasha Understands and has grown from last season. he’s only a soph far from a upperclassmen but deserves to start but knows they can’t have nick quit bc practices are tougher than games. They need each other which is hard to handle especially for family’s but I think both are going to do something special. Go cats. Trust cal.



  4. Wade
    6:04 pm March 19, 2018 Permalink

    we need a deep bench with this team and don’t want to see a quality player ride pine when obviously cal sees we’re gonna need him with vandos injury’s and we’re not very deep at the center position and March is here so time for magic. I care about how to get the best production from a player and this is how cal doing it ,like what Hamis doing right now. Not long ago people wouldn’t utter his name and now he’s being hoisted on the teams shoulders after having a few good games and he’s playing for the team now. I like my kiddy cats I think all would beat me in one on one by 90 and im alright. Stay loyal that’s why we’re Kentucky.



  5. UKfan4TwoDecades
    4:35 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    I have been truly enjoying the UK players turn around after the Florida game which carried over to the SEC Tournament and now the NCAA Tournament.

    IF this tea ever gets clicking on all cylinders they will be a nightmare to defend.

    Selfishly I would like to see a healthy Vanderbilt return and contribute. But I have thought throughout this year that Hami was the lynchpin and he gets going, along with 1-2-3 other UK players UK will be a tough out for anyone.

    Thanks KSR for all of your posts, videos, opinions, photographs, interviews, interesting facts, and allowing UK fans a place to get up to speed and read them, sometimes laugh out loud funny, comments/exchanges with fans.

    God willing I will be watching the next UK game and rooting for them along the way.
    Take care and may God bless you in all of your professional, and personal, endeavors.



  6. UKLugo
    7:10 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    And he hasn’t stepped foot in the green room.



  7. jr1122
    8:15 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    Kinda like how he stuck with the Twins instead of putting in Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis? Might have had another title if that was the case.



    • TheBiggestRoy
      8:44 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

      You do realize Booker was a liability on defense in that final four game, right?



    • BBNDan7
      11:07 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

      Right, the twins only won like 60 something games as starts. Terrible



  8. UK51Fan
    8:20 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    Forming, storming, norming, performing …. (its a process)



  9. Sentient Third Eye
    9:20 am March 20, 2018 Permalink

    I’m just enjoying seeing God overrule the NCAA and give us a Duke-style bracket. So this is what their typical brackets feel like! Wow!



  10. UKinIN
    12:01 pm March 20, 2018 Permalink

    Interesting how Calipari seemed to have an epiphany about helping kids after the Nets while Pitino made everything about himself. I’m not saying both coaches don’t have huge egos. To me it just proves a lack of self-awareness is the reason Calipari has a job and Pitino doesn’t.



  11. MR.BIG BLUE NATION
    3:04 pm March 20, 2018 Permalink

    Tomorrow tomorrow