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Calipari still struggling to convince his players to pass the ball

It’s going to take more than Kentucky’s imaginary assist column for John Calipari to get his team to share the ball. The Cats are still too selfish and unwilling to distribute the way Calipari expects, and it was the main focus of his postgame comments after the loss to Missouri.

“It’s obviously not working,” Cal said of his new method of recording assists, which he thought would inspire his players to become better passers. “I’ve done this a long time but I haven’t had a team this young. And when they’re this young, each player is trying to establish who they are as a player, and it just takes time. I was disappointed with a bunch of guys.”

The point guards were especially disappointing, at least in how they facilitated the offense. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was UK’s most aggressive penetrator in the game, but Calipari said he would like to see Gilgeous-Alexander reel it in a little bit and do a better job running the offense.

“We need Shai do some of the stuff he’s doing, but he took 16 shots. He needs to take about 10 shots. The two point guards took 27 shots.”

“Shai had six assists, but he still had four or five other plays where he could’ve passed it to guys. Quade the same thing. It’s almost like I don’t care if you’re open or not, you’re going to have to pass. I don’t have the answer right now. We gotta create shots for each other. The game’s too hard.”

Calipari sees youth as the driving force in his team’s mental lapses and unwillingness to buy in to what he is telling them.

“What young guys do when they’re trying to establish themselves, is they’re defensive and they’re into their own self. So they lose some of the team stuff. Well we gotta get through this.”

He added, “I’m just waiting for them to break through. Most of it is — ‘play this way.’ And guys are fighting that, like ‘I’m going to play my way,’ which means ‘I am not passing,’ which means none of us pass, which means no easy shots. And you’re in dog fight, which we’ve been in 15 times this year.”

More dog fights to come.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

51 Comments for Calipari still struggling to convince his players to pass the ball

  1. Chacosrule
    5:31 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    2 things. If Darryl Isaacs ad doesn’t stop popping up, you’ll lose a bunch of us. Also, duke lost to st John’s. Everybody is losing games this year.

    • makeitstop
      5:36 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      Both true

    • Bobbum Man
      9:35 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      Yup lol, will be going somewhere else if the pop up ad crap is gonna be a thing

    5:36 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Exactly! This is my last post until that garbage is gone.

  3. classof68
    5:37 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Kinda looks like Knox plays when he feels like it. This was one of the days he didn’t feel like it. If the rest of the team hustled like Vanderbilt, they could have at least made the game close.

    • syrin23
      6:52 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      Cal isn’t being honest and trying to turn attention away from the fact he hasn’t recruited a good shooter since Doron Lamb who won the national title. We got tall fast “athletes” (meaning no skill) who are still learning how to play basketball. Apparently, the NBA will draft tall fast guys who can’t shoot, play defense or pass.

    • KYJelly
      9:57 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      I guess you missed out on getting to watch Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Malik Monk …..

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:25 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Syrin23 you should be trying to distract us from the fact that you’re an…ummm…uh….a misinformed poster (or a troll). Devin Booker called. He said you’re an….ummm….uh…a misinformed poster.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:34 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Oh. I apologize. You added the national championship qualifier. Gosh, that’s not an unreasonable point.

    • runningunnin.454
      12:53 pm February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Bunch of unreasonable and delusional “fans” scurry from their holes after a loss. LOL, I didn’t know Lamb won the title all by his itsy bitsy self. And Booker is laughing his ass off.

  4. Han
    5:40 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    What I notice way too much is guys drive and don’t look to pass even when the defense collapses. That’s part of why we get a lot of charges (the rest is garbage officiating). Like Shai was still driving to get a layup when we desperately needed to hit a 3 because we were trading a layup for 2 made foul shots at the other end.

    We all want the Streak to live, but from a practical perspective, we need to hit those 6-7 threes a game that Cal wants to keep the defense from collapsing on drivers.

    Also, for the love of God, someone teach Richards to finish dunks. Right after he missed the one, there was a pick and roll where he was ride open to the rim and his teammate didn’t pass it because they probably didn’t trust him to finish..

  5. kjd
    5:43 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    The broken record, “we’re so young”. Just not a team that is real basketball smart. Not a team that can win six in a row.
    So be frustrated with the losses and celebrate the wins. Just don’t see a run for this team.

    • callitlikeiseeit
      3:47 pm February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Sit them, you have other guys on the bench, just not your NBA list additions. I’d rather lose with guys playing the right way then hear Cal complain I can’t get them to pass, really who is in charge here. We have the most upside {yeah when you are bad there is alot of upside}, we are so young {you created that problem don’t use it as an excuse}. Seems obvious SKJ, Gabriel and all this years class except Shai are not as good as you thought they were Cal, now you have to rely on coaching and we know that won’t go well.

  6. makeitstop
    5:44 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    My father just said “if we’d played that selfishly, Rupp would’ve run us till our legs fell off THEN cut us off the meal plan in the cafeteria.” Ahhh the good ole days. But, I don’t understand having to “convince” kids to play the way you direct. You want to play or you want to watch? End of story. You want me to tell the scouts ur an uncoachable primadonna or a team player? Your call.

    • timewilltell
      9:29 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      I agree with you. But Cal says we are a players first program. It would tarnish his record and ego if we don’t have 2-3 guys go on to the NBA. Our old coach had a rather simple philosophy- do what I tell you or ride the bench. This year’s team has 5 star players. But they are the elite players that step right on the court and overwhelm opponents. May want to recruit some good basketball players. Not just athletes.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:46 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Hypothetically, if Cal were to coach here for the same amount of years as Rupp, he’s on pace to win the same number of championships and make nearly 14 more Final Fours. And mind you, do all of this in a farrrrrr more competitive era. Folks need to step away from the ledge.

  7. WildcatForever
    5:46 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    I back up the Isaacs posts. However I do think we will be poised for a good run in March. It’s there, they just gotta keep working at finding it. Vanderbilt is a beast!!

  8. marion county
    5:50 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Time to recruit kids that will listen to the Coach. Give me a couple Dominique Hawkins and Calipari and Ill give you a good winning team. We have a group of individuals not a team this year.
    There is no reason not to pass the ball. Calipari needs to take the Kentucky team to Knights Hall in Louisville and watch Bellarmine play basketball. They play team ball.
    I dont care if we lose if we play hard and with effort…………….but we dont.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:49 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      How many times has Bellarmine done that with a starting five of all freshmen? 10 years of explaining it’s a process and hardly anyone seems to have listened. This team definitely needs to mature and play more selfless ball but based on Cal’s history the odds are still in favor of that happening.

  9. classof68
    5:54 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Missouri at Rupp may be our only win the rest of the regular season.

  10. jim tom
    5:57 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    I think I’ll just go fishing

    • KYcats11
      6:38 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      Good luck, sometimes I can get the smallmouth to bite in the cold weather. Nothing else.

    • BlueDew
      11:07 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Makes me laugh that people think this group will make a run. We can wish all we want to, but it isn’t going to happen. We can’t score on a consistently. Proof, we go 4-5 minutes at a time and not score. We get beat off the dribble. We have no defender around the basket. It’s only about 25 days until tournaments start. Someone tell me how they have improved that would indicate a major run in the tournament. People have started to justify us losing by the fact that other teams are losing. That’s like a child telling their parent, well all the other kids are doing it.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:03 pm February 4, 2018 Permalink

      This group may not make a run…that would be a pretty safe bet, huh? But, some of us choose to support the team and our Coach.
      Here’s what you do…get you a Duke t-shirt, sweatshirt, and a baseball cap with the goofy “D” on it, and you’re all set.
      By the way, all the other kids were doing it, wink wink.

  11. Chacosrule
    5:57 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Florida getting smoked in Gainesville by unranked Alabama. Kansas lost at home to unranked ok st. It’s a strange year.

    • callitlikeiseeit
      3:51 pm February 4, 2018 Permalink

      No just no really good teams outside of maybe UVA and Nova. SEC has no contender.

  12. JDG3566
    6:01 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Team has to play with more emotions and effort. Play defense for 25-29 seconds then foul or miss the rebound and then have to play defense again. This brings the team down

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:55 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Funny, I think this team actually needs to play with much less emotion. Different people certainly see things differently.

  13. big cat
    6:16 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    Same ole excuses from Cal…blah, blah, blah…will tell fans did you see? You’re guy…but they’re kids…I like our team…

  14. big cat
    6:25 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    TEAM DYSFUNCTION…no dribble no drive

  15. terwilliger
    7:23 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    I do feel like Cal blames the “selfishness” of the players too much instead of just admitting he doesn’t actually teach them halfcourt offense. He hasn’t since he’s been here. If the last few minutes of the Wisconsin game didn’t convince people of this fact, I don’t know what will.

    • kjd
      9:08 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      No, Cal took the ball away from KAT and gave it to the way over rated twins.

    • Luether
      11:20 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      Many would say that “he doesn’t actually teach them defense” either…

    • jrdh13
      8:25 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Hell we cant even guard opposing teams inbound plays. But dont run any ourself.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:35 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      @kjd which over rated twins? The ones that went to successive Final Fours…those over rated twins?

  16. binarysolo
    7:26 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    It’s almost like Cal purposely puts together mostly-freshmen rosters so he has something to blame. I mean, why else would he constantly bang that “we’re so young” drum year after year after year?

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:57 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      He says it every year because we’re so young every year. He also says it to remind fans that it’s a process. We start five freshmen. For ten years Cal has said he’d rather have talent than experience and it’s a process but seemingly no one listens.

  17. Irememberharrylancaster
    7:59 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    SOOOOOOOO tired of hearing Cal talk about how young we are…..HE put this team together. THIS is what he wants.

    • KYJelly
      9:59 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

      We ARE young. Getting guys to gel is Cals greatest coaching asset, but it is difficult, hence why Coach K is having troubles with the team that was supposed to be the best this year

  18. Aar
    10:34 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t like to be critical of young men as they learn the game but when a player drives he needs open teammates to pass to. There needs to be more motion off the ball for player to get open. This team needs to stop ball watching and start making the defense move in order to get good shots.

    Vanderbilt, SGA & Green are willing and effective passers but their teammates need to give them open targets. Knox, Washington & Gabriel have been the most effective at that all season, Diallo in spurts has done the same. SKJ is more of a put back guy but did a good job finding open jumpers today. Cal is working at getting them there. I’m confident they’ll get it before the SEC tournament.

    • RealCatsFan
      8:32 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Finally, a comment that addresses our real problem on offense! This team has no concept of motion and spacing on offensive sets. These guys were most likely given the ball in HS and AAU and told to score. When the going gets tough, they revert to old habits.

    • EdC
      11:36 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      You nailed it. Watch the guys who are supposed to receive those passes. They are often essentially statues standing there like 1st year rec. kids, no cuts, no nothing, just pass me the ball if you feel like it.

    • runningunnin.454
      11:36 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      You’re both right…there is a lot of standing and watching…especially out at the 3 line.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      11:59 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Finally some reasonable fans with some quality observations. The types of observations people who actually know what they’re watching make.

    • runningunnin.454
      12:44 pm February 4, 2018 Permalink

      Yep, it’s easy to guard a statue…you have to make the defense work. I guarded a guy in high school, he wasn’t a great talent or big time scorer; but, he was constantly in motion.
      I think he only scored 11-12 points; but I remember thinking….would you stand still for just 20 seconds.

  19. luke_emberton
    10:42 pm February 3, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t understand how you can think it’s easier to play 1 on 1 instead of swinging the ball around to get an open shot it just doesn’t make sense

  20. BlueHeaven
    8:39 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

    DUKE and UK showing the rest of the NCAA why too many one and done’s suck! When UK won in 2012 and Duke won in 2015 it was the older players that righted the ship. Both UK and DUKE are in trouble this year and next year based on the current formula.

  21. rcope58
    9:37 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

    We will be fine! Just accept the fact that until the NBA changes the one and done rules or coach Cal retires this is who we are!

  22. BLUEsky
    10:50 am February 4, 2018 Permalink

    #1 This “selfish” label is overdone. If we make a few shots and win, this would never have been an issue of discussion.

    #2 The dribble drive offense in itself IS one-on-one basketball. Does that make it selfish?

    #3 Missouri was the more aggressive team. End of story. That is why they won.

    #4 Chill out. Enjoy your Sunday and be thankful for the good in your life.

    That’s all folks!

  23. dismore
    5:09 pm February 4, 2018 Permalink

    I love all the self righteous fans here that think they have a right to badmouth other fans for their opinions. Hypocrisy runs high here.