Pressure. Pressing down on me, pressing down on you.
It’s not that people don’t know he’s a good coach. Sure, you have your outliers, like you always do. People still claiming he rolls the ball out to super-talented, super-egotistical high school stars and sits back on his velvet blue bench to sip macchiatos and eat Orange Leaf and tell stories with Joe B. Hall. Which, who am I kidding, sounds like the life. But anybody who really watches college ball knows that, at this point in his career, John Calipari has little left to prove.
So why does Myron Medcalf still think he does?
Well, let me tell it like this: I went running on Monday. I don’t know exact mileage, but I know I spit five times. Let’s say 500 yards between spits, and that’s like a mile and a half, right? Pretty sure that’s how the metric system works. But I went running, even though I’m terribly out of shape, have bad knees, and like to complain the whole time. And the weird part is, I ran the whole 5-spit distance without stopping.
Well, not really. First, I almost died. And second, people now know that I can do that distance without stopping, so they’ll expect me to the next time I go running. They don’t know how hard it was for me to do that, and how much I dread having to do it again. I put this burden on myself because of an (admittedly pathetic) achievement in recent memory.
Such is the way with John Calipari. He won the title in 2012 with a ridiculously talented team sprinkled with veteran leadership, so now that he’s got essentially the same thing in his locker room, everybody (especially UK fans) expect him to do it again. To recreate the magic that was Anthony Davis, and MKG, and New Orleans, and all of that. He pulled the rabbit out of the hat the first time, the encore must be better, right?
On paper, it already is. As vaunted as the 2012 class was, this one is… vaunted-er. There’s no sure-fire #1 pick at the top, but the depth of the class is astounding. So what happens if Cal takes more talent, and does less with it? According to Medcalf,
Anything short of [a championship] could be considered a disappointment.
Fair or unfair, it’s like that for Coach Cal.
Thankfully, he knows he’s at Kentucky, and he knows the millions of eyes he has on him. And it looks like he’s up for the challenge, along with his players.
So, no pressure Coach. We’ll be happy with just a Final Four.