John Calipari’s messaging has felt all over the place throughout the tumultuous 4-9 start to the 2020-21 season. The message after tonight’s 63-62 loss at Georgia was clear: Coach Cal is frustrated.
“How many turnovers did we throw to them for breakaway layups? You’ve gotta be better than that. Don’t tell me you’re not better than that. You can tell my frustration and even after the game, like come on. This is getting ridiculous,” Calipari told Tom Leach on the UK Sports Network postgame show.
Georgia scored 25 points off 17 Kentucky turnovers, the Wildcats’ third straight game with more than 15 give-aways. The ugliest stretch might have been at the start of the second half when UK had five turnovers in the first five minutes, four of which led directly to Georgia layups in transition.
“Here’s what’s happening right now to this team. They turn it over. They make a hard play instead of an easy play, which leads to turnovers and layups, and then they break down in other areas and that’s what we’ve gotta keep addressing and telling them. You gotta play through mistakes man,” said Calipari.
“We’re just not what we need to be and I’m going to keep working with the guys. It’s… I’m at this point a little frustrated because I can’t believe we’re not better, one as a team, and individual players aren’t better.”
Even though Calipari is frustrated, he’s not giving up on this team. Finding a balance in his lineups has proven to be difficult. He started his seventh different starting lineup Wednesday night and it did not improve how UK started the game offensively at all, scoring just nine points in the first eight minutes of action. Most importantly, Calipari is searching for a way to get his players to respond to his coaching.
“They’re listening because they’re respectful. They’re just not hearing yet. We just gotta stay on ’em and make it — the trick is holding them accountable and still being positive enough that they can play through this stuff. But it’s, you know, it’s just disappointing.”
It was certainly a disappointing loss. At least Calipari’s fiery comments to the fans are somewhat reinvigorating.
“Let me just say this to our fans, we gotta break through at some point. We gotta break through. I thought today would have been the day. The way the game started, you know what I said at halftime? I don’t really care,” he told his staff. “I don’t care we just got to win a game. Let’s just go win this thing. Now, we go forward.”