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John Calipari is still anti-zone defense

John Calipari hasn’t changed his mind about zone defense, not even after a zone defense helped his team win a big road game at Arkansas four days ago. He did give it a try tonight against Georgia, but it only reaffirmed his longstanding opinion that the zone isn’t the way to go.

After the game, Calipari said, “We went zone. I had Nate in instead of Keion. I wish I would have done it different… we gave them — my man got a three and you know me, ‘Guys, that’s it, no more zone, so don’t even tell me about the zone.’

“I mean, the guy was open, their best shooter,” he said of Georgia’s Anthony Edwards getting a good look against UK’s zone. “You’re in a zone. One guy’s not shooting: him. We gave him the shot. Well, I would rather be man-to-man and have Immanuel hanging on him or Ashton.”

On Monday, Tony Barbee, whose relationship with Calipari goes back to his playing days at UMass, said Cal has always been willing to go zone in “emergency situations.”

I don’t know if we’ll see many more of those situations with this team.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

12 Comments for John Calipari is still anti-zone defense



  1. VirginiaCat
    11:49 pm January 21, 2020 Permalink

    My heart sank when I heard his comments on zone during his presser, ‘Guys, that’s it, no more zone, so don’t even tell me about the zone.’ He implemented the zone against Georgia for one or two possessions, a guy hits a three against us, and that’s it. How disappointing. I had hoped that the Arkansas game would have proven the value of zone in certain situations. It kept Hagans in the game and prevented what appeared to be a sure loss! That lesson has been lost on Cal and it will cost us down the road as it has so, so many times in the past.



    • JT55
      6:41 am January 22, 2020 Permalink

      When you can’t stop a team from driving, there’s no reason to not mix in zone. Cals stubbornness makes zero sense, and will cost the team again



    • 4everUKBlue
      9:20 am January 22, 2020 Permalink

      Yeah let’s just fire him, after all there are so many of you out there who know more about coaching a D1 team than him. How is it Mitch didn’t hire one of you?



  2. CrystalBall
    12:10 am January 22, 2020 Permalink

    I cannot disagree with you. There are games when a change of pace zone defense could be valuable. Hardly ever question Cal’s coaching methods, but this one surprises me. His reasoning
    just isn’t enough for me.



  3. Wade
    7:53 am January 22, 2020 Permalink

    We weren’t in a situation where Ashton or one of our best defenders had 4 fouls. Man to man is the way to go and once the conditioning for these players gets better and their iq man to man is the way to go and is best. It also prepares them for the next level also.



    • VirginiaCat
      10:33 am January 22, 2020 Permalink

      Hagans DID have four fouls. He got his fourth with several minutes left in the game. When the game started going south, Cal put Hagans back in the game with four fouls and failed to protect him with zone. He continued to play man defense. Once Cal was rejected from the game, his staff immediately went to zone, which stopped Arkansas in its tracks, protected Hagans, and turned the game around. Going to zone prevented a loss. Those are the facts.



    • Wade
      4:35 pm January 22, 2020 Permalink

      That’s what I said when necessary like that situation



    • Wade
      4:36 pm January 22, 2020 Permalink

      I’m also stating when they went to zone against ga for 1 play and Edwards scores. We didn’t need it then. That’s facts



  4. VirginiaCat
    10:39 am January 22, 2020 Permalink

    4everUKblue: Did anyone say anything about firing Cal? No, of course not. Just another overreaction on your part. I have noticed that when you can’t argue the facts, you resort to childish name calling and attacking the poster(s). Surely you are better than that.



  5. HackRichards
    12:43 pm January 22, 2020 Permalink

    Before this year every time Nick Richards did something stupid Cal took him out never to play again in the game. This year Richards still does stupid stuff from time to time BUT Cal does not take him out…he gets to play through it. I said that to say this…Cal pulled the trigger TOO SOON on the zone because of 1 stupid play never to play zone again. Mistake just like the last 2 years benching Richards too soon was a mistake. Our athletic personnel could absolutely be the toughest zone defense in the country if given the chance.



    • VirginiaCat
      1:10 pm January 22, 2020 Permalink

      Cal’s intractability has cost us in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I had hoped that the Arkansas game would open his eyes, but not going to happen.



  6. Looother
    9:56 pm January 22, 2020 Permalink

    Clearly NOT playing a zone defense is way more important to Cal than losing games. Incomprehensible to most rational people…