After averaging only 6.6 points and nearly two turnovers per contest over Kentucky’s last ten games, Hamidou Diallo has not been a fan favorite as of late. His arguing with teammates and coaches have only made it worse.
He made comments earlier in the week about how bad it hurt to struggle the way he has and how hard he’s going to work to get out of his rut. He wanted to earn some faith back from the Big Blue Nation.
Last night against Alabama, Diallo again struggled shooting the ball, finishing with eight points on 3-9 from the field. But the effort and intensity were there, and the Rupp Arena crowd appreciated him for that. It looked like a step in the right direction.
After the game, John Calipari was asked about Diallo’s slump, how he was balancing nurturing him and getting the team back on the right track, and if his performance against the Crimson Tide was a step in the right direction.
For Coach Cal, Diallo is someone’s son, and if he’s willing to put in the extra time and effort, there’s zero chance he’ll leave him behind.
“Let’s think about that, it’s your son, and he’s struggling. It’s your son now, not somebody else’s son, your son. Would you want me to just bench him and say, we’ll worry about it next year? That’s what you’d want me to do with your son?”
The Kentucky head coach said his starting shooting guard has bad habits to break, but he’s in the gym late at night to fix them.
“I’m with Hami,” said Calipari. “He’s trying. He’s working. He’s got some habits that are so bad, and they are habits; that they pop out sometimes at the wrong time. My job is to make sure he’s not hurting the team — ready for this — or himself, and to keep working with him. But when I go in my office at 10 o’clock at night or 11, I’d better see him in there every once in a while, and you know what, I am.”
Calipari then took ownership of the team’s struggles and told the audience it was okay to be mad at him, but said he’s going to continue to put the players first, even if it costs the team some games.
“Don’t be mad at the kids. Be mad at me. I recruited them. I’m coaching them. I’m the one that’s buying time for guys which may be costing us some games, but I’m going to continue to do it. I told you when I walked in the door, this is going to be about the players first, and I’m trying to stay that course.”