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Calipari says UK had the worst scrimmage since he’s been the coach: “I’ve got both feet and hands on the panic button right now”

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Remember all those warm, bubbly quotes UK head coach John Calipari had about his team this summer and throughout the preseason? You know, the ones where he said this upcoming 2020-21 group has a chance to be special?

“We have to play this season because I have a good team. Whew, we’ve got to play,” Calipari told KSR back in July. “… We’re really good. We got some really good players. So I’m sitting here saying, [having a special group] has happened three or four times, but let me tell you what those teams have done. The teams you’re talking about became unbelievable teams. Teams.”

At one point, he even said the only thing he was certain could slow down this team was the coronavirus.

“The only thing I know we’re not beating is that virus,” he said in August. “I’m looking at anyone else, I’m saying “Come on, bring it. Let’s go.”’

Throw all the sunshine and rainbows out the window, panic mode is back. Well, if you ask the UK head coach, at least.

According to Calipari, the Wildcats had their worst scrimmage since he’s been the head coach at Kentucky on Sunday. As a result, he has “both feet and hands on the panic button” with just two days to go until the season tips off against Morehead State.

“Just so you know, we scrimmaged yesterday and I came home smiling,” Calipari said. “I told my wife. She said, ‘Wow, was it good?’ I said, ‘It was our worst scrimmage since I’ve been the coach here.’ I’ve got both feet and hands on the panic button right now.”

The UK head coach hopes that the Wildcats are just tired of playing against one another and are looking ahead to taking on Morehead State on Wednesday evening.

If not, Calipari says Kentucky could start the season 0-6.

“I’m just hoping that they needed to play against somebody else and they just got tired of each other. Because if not, I’m going to have to be the most patient soul on the earth when we start the season like 0-6,” he said. “‘Just be patient.’ That’s what you should say to me: be patient. Because I like the team. Not playing hard enough. Not enough team defense. Everyone is still locked into their own thing. ‘I need my stuff,’ instead of making easy plays. ‘I’ve gotta make a play.’

“And so, it leads to turnovers or putting guys in bad positions. We have a ways to go. And again, we’ve got 10 new guys. ‘You do it every year.’ We have 10 new players. So, we’re not very good right now, but I think in time we should be OK.”

Kentucky guard Davion Mintz confirmed the team’s struggles during Sunday’s scrimmage, adding that it was a “humbling experience” for the entire team.

“Right now, we didn’t have our best scrimmage yesterday. Hopefully, we got the kinks out,” Mintz said. “We wrecked the car yesterday just to get it back rolling for Wednesday. It’s just one of those things where I feel like it has to happen, and it was a humbling experience. I think we’re just fine. I think we’re tired of playing each other. That was like the biggest problem for the flaws yesterday. I think we’re just really excited to get out there and play other people. I mean, it’s been the same faces for I don’t even know how many months now. We’re right there at the finish line. We’re just ready to get it going.”

UK center Olivier Sarr added that the Wildcats didn’t bring enough energy and allowed the second unit to punch them in the mouth without much resistance.

“Yesterday’s scrimmage wasn’t the best, obviously,” Sarr said. “… Right now, we’re thinking about Morehead State. That’s our next game. That’s what we’re focused on. We’re going to give our all, and like we’ve seen yesterday, we have to be ready from the jump. That’s the biggest takeaway. … I think that we didn’t bring the energy from the jump.

“The second team really punched us in the mouth from the get-go. It took us time to react. Stay organized. A lot of mistakes are going to happen, but we’ve got to stay locked in.”

As Calipari and Mintz both suggested, Sarr confirmed that the team is ready to take on an actual opponent for the first time in Morehead State.

“Yeah, I think everybody is just ready to go out there and compete for Kentucky against another team,” he said. “I think it’s been great. We worked out a lot. It was a great summer, a lot of practices together. But I think guys are definitely ready to play another opponent.”

Kentucky will host Morehead State in the Bluegrass Showcase on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET on the SEC Network. From there, the Wildcats will take on Richmond on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ESPN) to close out the season-opening event before heading to Indianapolis to take on Kansas in the Champions Classic on Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

33 Comments for Calipari says UK had the worst scrimmage since he’s been the coach: “I’ve got both feet and hands on the panic button right now”

  1. Blueballz
    9:07 pm November 23, 2020 Permalink


  2. Pensacola_Cat_Fan
    9:29 pm November 23, 2020 Permalink

    Shocker. We’re going to be dreadful the first couple months of the season.

    • ClutchCargo
      1:21 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      You have already announced you don’t have the heart to watch the football game this Saturday, and now this. Go find another team to root for, or stfu.

    • Pensacola_Cat_Fan
      9:40 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      I hear you are a UL fan. Heard it from a reliable source. So maybe you should stop posting. Football and basketball are not equal. I will be watching the basketball games but anticipate that we will struggle the first couple of months – this happens most every year due to youth. We will be good when it counts, sometime in February. Unlike most, I won’t be shouting for Cal to be fired if he loses a couple of games in December because I know he will right the ship eventually.

    • ClutchCargo
      10:04 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      Haha! Don’t believe everything you hear. But I deserved that. I hear you on the youth, though. With a couple of veteran players who are expected to be major contributors, maybe this team will get up to speed a little sooner than most.

    • Pensacola_Cat_Fan
      10:48 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      And trust me, I will want to watch the UF game Saturday, but I just can’t. It will make me miserable and ruin my weekend. It makes me sad that we are back to the point where we can’t even be competitive against good teams. We CANNOT go into next year without a major overhaul in our coaching staff and offensive philosophy, and I won’t watch anymore of this product until there is a commitment from Stoops to admit failure and an announcement of a plan for change. Losing 63-3 is over the top even for UK. I’m not a donor so I can’t stop sending money, but I can stop watching and not attend the bowl game. My main concern is that players transfer and we lose recruits – we could easily be at Vandy level next year with the talent we lose this year. End rant.

      6:45 am November 25, 2020 Permalink

      End rant…? More like, “End Grant”, am I right?!?!

  3. clarks
    9:34 pm November 23, 2020 Permalink

    My favorite was with john wall team, we started the season with whole bunch of wins but he counted all of them as losses. I think he had us like 3-15 to start the year when we was 18-0

  4. WKY Cat
    9:42 pm November 23, 2020 Permalink

    Same ole Cal. I guess when you have a team of new players every year you can say the same things every year and they know no difference. Lol

  5. BlueBanker18
    11:02 pm November 23, 2020 Permalink

    Games are starting almost a whole month later than usual and it took us until 2 nights before first tip off to have a bad scrimmage? They’ll be fine. We’ll have our usual struggles, hopefully a little less with the veteran players and new talent, but we’ll be fine. Enjoy the ride.

  6. RogerW
    11:39 pm November 23, 2020 Permalink

    If the second team punched the first team in the mouth, start the second team. Sounds like they brought the effort and fire.

  7. CahillsCrossingNT
    5:13 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    I see all sorts of cancellations and postponements coming with the virus. Plus Kentucky won’t be very good anyway.

  8. UKFanSC
    7:00 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    Here we go …….

  9. kjd
    7:32 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    Same thing, different year.
    Special team means there’ll be a lottery pick come from it.

  10. bosch8184
    8:10 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    Cal’s only had 3 teams that played well the first 3 months of the season (Wall/Davis/Platoon squad), you all actually had any hope we were going to be competent? Hilarious.

    Cal doesn’t have to care about the product as long as no one ever holds him accountable for rolling out teams that play bad basketball year after year for months at a time. Doesn’t matter as long as we’re winning the NBA Draft right? That’s why we are here.

    • wildcatdon
      10:03 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      Agree with a bunch here. Cal is a drama queen and full of shit. Miller Tim is correct too. Mintz needs to start and that is obvious. Cal needs to quit playing favorites with the freshmen trying to get them to the league and let the better players play. His ego gets in the way a lot. Mintz is very good and beeds to be out there.

  11. millertim
    8:48 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    Let me guess, Mintz was on the 2nd team…. Make life easier on you and the team, START MINTZ. He’s your best shooter and an EXPERIENCED point guard! There is ZERO reason for him to be on the 2nd team, especially when the guy in front of him is an inexperienced high school senior… Let me be clear, I love Askew and obviously cheer for his success, but he’s not ready for the keys to the Ferrari!

    • IndianaSucks
      8:57 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      You and Mintz need to get a room my man. Only if he’s consenting, of course.

    • IndianaSucks
      8:58 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      Oops sorry…I meant MINTZ. Lol

    • millertim
      9:11 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

      I want to WIN… sorry that offends your delicate sensitivites. I’m afraid Cal will screw up this team with unforced errors, like starting and playing the wrong guys. Notice how you didn’t attack the merits of my case, just attacked me… typical of a losing argument!

    • IndianaSucks
      3:38 pm November 24, 2020 Permalink

      In what way was my comment an attack or displayed me being offended? Lol
      I simply want what’s best for two young lover’s, albeit one-sided. Please carry on with your MINTZ love fest. I won’t stand in your way any longer. And I won’t tell you that you have some pretty steep competition on campus.

    • millertim
      8:19 am November 25, 2020 Permalink

      Spoken like the true weak, snowflake fool that you are. You obviously aren’t on here to talk about basketball but instead to unleash some of your inner demons of sexual disfunction and deviance. Next time you type please, try to keep the focus on the topic— basketball, not your strange perversions! Don’t address me again!

  12. millertim
    9:10 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    I want to WIN… sorry that offends your delicate sensitivites. I’m afraid Cal will screw up this team with unforced errors, like starting and playing the wrong guys. Notice how you didn’t attack the merits of my case, just attacked me… typical of a losing argument!

    • peaches76
      12:13 pm November 24, 2020 Permalink

      You know you can’t say anything deemed as criticism of Cal that won’t cause a meltdown by some snowflakes on here.

  13. WKY Cat
    11:11 am November 24, 2020 Permalink

    I’ve said it for years, Cal would rather play a struggling 5 star freshman than an experienced lesser ranked more experienced player. My guess it helps him in recruiting and he prays the freshman will figure it out but it’s clear sometimes he never will.

  14. jaws2
    12:53 pm November 24, 2020 Permalink

    Blah Blah Blah, Yada Yada Yada. New year same story. It’s a ‘players first’ program. Winning games or titles doesn’t matter. I hope he wins every game that’s played but the Cal shtick has passed me by.

    • millertim
      1:30 pm November 24, 2020 Permalink

      Totally agree! 2015 has tainted me. How can you have the greatest team on paper with talent, experience and depth at every position and still lose— shook my confidence in Coach Cal. In big games, I’m not sure he has a steady hand. MKG had to settle him down in the 2012 championship game when he tried to slow down the tempo and allowed Kansas back in a game they didn’t belong in. After that devastating Final Four loss in 2015, Coach Cal had the temerity to proclaim the record # of lottery picks as the greatest achievement in UK history— that sealed it for me— he’s more interested in sending players to NBA than winning championships at UK. Does Saban feel the same way??? Winning national championships will take care of NBA careers for those who have a legitimate shot…

    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      5:05 pm November 24, 2020 Permalink

      millertim, I don’t remember hearing that MKG did that. I have that game in my PC. Is there a particular point in the game where you can see that exchange?

      Anyway, yeah, I do remember all too well how badly we were beating not only Kansas in the final, but UL in the FF game, and he took his foot off the gas in BOTH games and let them come back. After both games, he said “I was just trying to get out of the gym alive”. SERIOUSLY!? So the UL game taught him nothing, and he did it again against KU. KU taught him nothing and he did it again in 2015. Go watch either 2012 FF game and look how easily we manhandled both teams until Cal did that. It reminds me of the documentary on the 72 Olympic team and how they defied their coach (Hank Iba, Eddie Sutton’s mentor) and started, ahem, “Runnin’ and gunnin'” (shoutout to RG454!) and came back in the game against the USSR. Unfortunately it still wasn’t quite enough to beat the cheating officials of course. Iba was a walk the ball up the court guy, like he taught Eddie, and the players knew they had no chance if they didn’t do something. It was interesting to say the least.

    • millertim
      8:47 am November 25, 2020 Permalink

      Chris G, I remember MKG saying that a few weeks after the championship game and it didn’t raise any red flags with me b/c we won. But after the 2015 FF loss to Wisconsin, I started doing a little research and found that Coach Cal sometimes panics in big games and has trouble making adjustments (2010 NCAA Elite Eight with WV). He had about a 9 point lead with Memphis in championship game with Kansas with about 4 minutes to play and pulled back the offense to run out the clock, taking away his effective point scoring guard Rose… and they eventually lost. My point is not to constantly attack Coach Cal but offer constructive criticism that may demonstrate why he focuses much of his attention of NBA draft night than games he coaches— no pressure and he makes no mistakes. If a player gets drafted, he gets ALL the credit. If a player doesn’t get drafted, Coach Cal can and does easily play NBA teams for missing out on a great kid. There’s ZERO pressure on him on draft night, but in bball games where HIS decions are under the spotlight… I don’t want any other coach but I wish he would stop being so stubborn in his beliefs that his players will bail him out of tough games (Aaron Harrison) but when they can’t (WV, K-State, Indiana, etc…) he panics, screams at his players and tries to run out the clock. His game time adjustments in big games (NCAA, or road games) are disastrous– his best tactic is to get thrown out and let the pleyers play…

  15. wildcatdon
    3:37 pm November 24, 2020 Permalink

    WKY Cat and Millertim with more good posts. Totally agree. WKY you nailed it.

  16. bbnZach
    2:51 pm November 25, 2020 Permalink

    Fire Coach Cal ASAP! We need a coach who values winning more than running kids off to the g league like Ej Montgomery