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Calipari: Playing Hamidou Diallo “hasn’t been on my mind”

Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

John Calipari just wrapped up his press conference, and, predictably, the second question he fielded was about Hamidou Diallo, who is sitting out this semester to prepare for next year. Given Kentucky’s slump, playing Diallo is a tempting thought, especially given his reputation as a defensive stopper, but when asked, Calipari said he hasn’t given it a thought.

“No, because I haven’t – that’s not been in my mind,” Cal said.

One month in, how is Diallo doing in practice?

“He’s doing better. He’s doing better. He’s still – it’s hard. He’s been here a month. You’re trying to get other guys ready for games, so there are times he’s off the court. When he’s on the court, he has a spirit about him, a competitiveness about him, to go get balls, to make plays. He doesn’t play timid at all, so he’ll stand out in practice that way. But he’s just – he doesn’t know – to play with our guys and how we’re trying to play, that’s the hard thing right now. He’s only been here a month.”

Diallo addressed reporters after Cal and put speculation to rest when he confirmed the plan is for him to sit out this semester.

“Me and Coach spoke when I came here, it was with a certain plan, so the biggest thing for me is just sticking to that plan and this semester is just preparing me for next year for the most part.”

Given Kentucky’s issues the past few weeks, how hard has it been to stick to that plan?

“It’s been hard to do, but it’s a plan that I thought about — well thought about before coming, so it’s a plan that I think is best for me to stick to.”

Still, that’s the question on everybody’s mind, and yes, Diallo is aware.

“I couldn’t be able to tell you a number,” Diallo joked of how often he’s asked if he’ll play this year. “I just tell them I don’t know because at this point, me telling them the whole story would take a lot of time mostly.”

The temptation is understandable, especially after hearing Diallo’s answer to who the most difficult person to guard in practice has been.

“Nobody’s really that difficult for me to guard, honestly. They’re all good players and I’m a good defender.”

Yeah, that question’s not going anywhere.

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.

11 Comments for Calipari: Playing Hamidou Diallo “hasn’t been on my mind”

  1. MN UK FAN
    11:50 am February 10, 2017 Permalink

    For the life of me I cannot understand why he doesn’t play. Cal has forgotten 100 times more about basketball than I will ever know so I am sure this is the right move but I don’t get it. If this kid is a 5 star stud, how can he not play on a team that is underachieving?!?! I hope he is going to be as good as advertised but I cannot imagine Cal sitting KAT on the bench for a semester and letting him learn…I am probably wrong and I hope this squad turns it around but I feel less attached to this team than any of his teams before and I hate that!

    • david8577
      12:23 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

      Players first program right? He probably came to UK with the condition that he wanted to build his skills and not play the first year.

    • CatsFanFrankfort
      12:52 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

      Yea, its hard to say. I have gone back and forth on it as well. But consider this: the guys playing right now, who have been in the program for at least 5-6 months are struggling. They have defensive break downs and appear to run out of steam in some games (see: LSU). So if the guys who have been conditioning for several months are struggling with the transition to the college game (and who are also 5-star studs, as you say), then I would think that a kid who has only been there a month would have 5x the issues they currently do.

      I guess it just depends on where are problems are coming: are teams figuring out how we play, now that there is enough tape on us? Are guys reverting back to AAU style play? Would Diallo provide a spark and give us an element of surprise for opposing coaches to gameplan around (at least temporarily)?

      All things I am sure Calipari and the rest of the staff have considered. But interesting to ponder.

  2. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    12:08 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

    Well that answers that question I guess…?

    • runningunnin.454
      1:04 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

      Not exactly; if he can shoot, if he can play defense, if he can just fill in in case of foul trouble…..
      I will argue all day and night that Cal is the best coach for UK; but,
      If this season doesn’t have a decent ending, there are going to be a lot of questions.

    • AGSlater
      4:25 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

      wow runnin. I think you are starting to make some good points instead of being defensive of every negative comment. Well done

  3. runningunnin.454
    12:19 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

    I think we all saw why Tai didn’t play last year….he couldn’t run from here to there without huffing and puffing; but, this is just weird. Hope at least he comes back next year.

  4. a21CATSfan
    1:05 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

    When Diallo committed I was worried if he played right away, our chemistry would be altered. We had a great thing going and our backcourt was firing on all cylinders. He has been here a month or so and we have played some of our worst basketball. Now I’m worried his early arrival has somehow affected this team negatively. Is that possible? Are the other guys worried about him playing and taking their spots? Do they hang out since he is the new guy? Maybe I’m reaching, but finding an answer to this slump has been tough. And he is the only thing that has changed.

  5. secrick
    1:58 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

    HUSTLE, You have got to hustle and these guys are not.

  6. TonyMontana
    3:16 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

    Is this really that complicated? Put him in, if he’s good enough then he’ll be able to handle it and if he’s not ready well it will be obvious. What’s the concern here? Just because the plan was to sit the whole year out and wait til next year? Is that literally the only reason? Just because we didnt plan on it? That is not logical at all. What’s the worst that could happen? We’ll lose a scholarship or something? No… there’s no downside to putting him in. It’s either gonna be a great addition or not. I’m baffled. If he’s hanging with everybody in practice, I mean…. WTF? Give it a shot.

  7. AGSlater
    4:23 pm February 10, 2017 Permalink

    Truly absurd he wont even entertain the idea. Hey we are deep at guard though. That Hawkins kid makes every shot he takes and tbat Briscoe guy is 1st round talent