The cliche about being as “excited as a kid in a candy store” should be changed to “excited as John Calipari in March.”
“I’m excited. You can tell I’m jacked up to play basketball,” was the most concise quote from his show, but it doesn’t accurately describe his giddy hour of radio. He reached peak-Calipari when describing his team player-by-player.
“Woo! is he playing better?” That rhetorical question was asked about four different players, starting with De’Aaron Fox and ending with Bam Adebayo, until he realized his exciting exclamation was becoming redundant. His emotions led him all over the place…
— Early NKU Evaluation. “I was really impressed with how they play and what they do. They have a five-man who shoots threes, so they play a little bit like Vandy.”
— He knows Indy will be a tough ticket. “If you got tickets, do NOT put them in your back pocket.”
— This year’s bracket reminds him of 2012. He ain’t lying. They started with WKU in the first round, followed by Royce White and Iowa State. The Sweet 16 game was a rematch of an earlier season loss. They could also see Louisville in the Final Four, again. How he described the tough 2012 draw: “It was basically like ‘they ain’t winning it this year.'” (SPOILER: They won it that year.)
— Selection Committee Talk. I won’t bore you with too many details, but he commended them for being more transparent more than once. “It’s never easy what that group does, but I tell you what, it’s the best that group’s done in years.”
Cal wants more. Moving forward, he’d like to see the teams selected exclusively on the S-curve line, a la snake-style where the worst one-seed is paired with the best two-seed. He believes geography is silly because the players are missing three days of class, regardless of where they have to play. “I think people are going to start agreeing with me, but they hate to do it.”
— Lineup Tweaks. At the end of the Alabama game Cal went to the four-guard lineup with Briscoe guarding the four, something we could see more often. “I’ll be honest, I kind of liked it.” He also plans on trying to go big a little this week during practice. “I gotta get at least a couple of segments with Bam in with Isaac. In case we need it.”
— “Win or go home” is a silly way to coach in March. He doesn’t want to add more pressure onto his players by relaying the ultimatum shared by many. “It just doesn’t work.” Instead, he wants his players to be fearless on the floor. “You want players on that court that aren’t afraid to miss shots, that aren’t afraid to lose.”
— Threes from Bam? He still hasn’t shot one, but Cal knows he can knock them down. He shared a story about a three-point shooting drill during their SEC Tournament shoot-around at Bridgestone. Unfortunately, it did not go well during the pressure-packed, competitive game. “He got so excited, he missed it.”
— Cal likes his team. In case you couldn’t tell, these quotes will reinforce just how much he likes his team right now.
“This team had to learn how to grind it.” Citing tough games like UCLA, “Those are all experiences you have to go through to learn.”
“There’s been so much growth with this team…These kids are focused right now. They’re locked in so we’re getting better.”