The Duke hangover lingered in Kentucky’s 71-59 win over Southern Illinois, and afterwards, John Calipari opened up about the reality check his team has been facing this week.
“We had some guys that got mad last practice. Got mad for holding them accountable. No, do it again. And I had to explain to them, you’re not supposed to be mad. I’m supposed to be mad. You got this backwards.”
Cal once again accepted the blame for Kentucky’s poor effort vs. Duke and said he’s going back to holding his team’s feet to the fire in hopes of making them more disciplined.
“What you’ll see is a much more disciplined basketball team. That’s not on these kids. That’s on me. The way they played up there, each of them looked bad. Not one of them looked good. That’s on me. And I let them go out there and play that way. I got a lot of work. We got a lot of work to do to get this team where it needs to go.”
Cal hinted that the players have been reading criticism from fans on social media, but said they need to block out the noise and toughen up if they hope to make it at Kentucky.
“They talk about the fans. My guys are saying these fans. Our fans are the best. Do you know how many people showed up in Indianapolis? It was crazy, people were blown away. They deserved a better effort than we gave them, but guess what, fans, we’re not ready for that yet. Please stay with us. And if you’re mad at anybody, you should be mad right at me, not these kids.”
“They’re going to do what I’m asking them to do. Obviously I wasn’t as disciplined myself or asking enough from them. But they get here, they find out, wow, this is hard. Tyler’s figuring it out. Keldon’s figuring it out. Ashton’s figuring it out. Stuff’s hard here. And you can’t just do what you want to do.”