John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats are peaking at the perfect time. A Coach Cal tradition at Kentucky, the 2018 Wildcats have won six of their last seven games. The secret to their success might surprise you.
“The best thing that happened to my team, not me personally, was the four losses in a row,” Calipari said. “Me, I was ready to jump off a bridge. But I knew and I told them, I’ve been through this before. They needed that. They needed to be told you’re not good enough, and you’re not going to do this by yourself. You’ve got to unpack your bags, and let’s get this together as a team and figure this stuff out.”
Tough losses forced the team to grow together. It helped them learn how to handle adversity.
“What you’re seeing right now is these kids have committed to each other. They’re working really hard,” Calipari said. “They had to learn to conquer themselves. Things have to go wrong, and you’ve got to take stock and say it’s me…They’ve got to conquer themselves, which is take responsibility for how you’re playing. Take responsibility for who you are right now.”
It took a little longer than usual, but it finally clicked for Coach Cal’s Cats.
“It’s taken time. And I knew it would take time. I said it at the beginning of the year, this is going to be ugly before it gets good.”
He added, “The stuff we’re doing is really hard. You’ve got to sacrifice. You’re going to be less, but be more by being less. You’re going to take less and be more. You’re going to share more, you’re going to be about your teammates, and when it all ends, everybody’s going to say, wow, you can really play. That’s what is just hard when you’ve got all these young kids, and then everybody, when they’re this talented — and this team is more talented than everybody’s giving them credit for.”