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Why John Calipari is Sticking with Hamidou Diallo

Hamidou Diallo continues to lie in the center of the angry Kentucky fans’ crosshairs.

Today the shooting guard scored eight points (3/9 FG) and had four rebounds in just 15 minutes of action.  Still, fans wonder why John Calipari is playing Diallo at all.  Coach Cal answered that question by asking fans to put themselves in the shoes of a parent.

“Let’s think about, it’s your son, and he’s struggling.  It’s your son though, not somebody else’s son; it’s your son.  Would you just want me to bench him?  Would you just want me to put him on the bench and worry about it next year? That’s what you want me to do with your son?

“You would say, ‘Coach, he’s responsible for himself, but please keep coaching him, and let him know you love him, and keep being there for him, but hold him accountable.  If he’s not going to listen to you, then you shouldn’t be playing him.’  That’s what I think a parent who’s not trying to enable their son would say.”

If you can’t get into the hypothetical situation, just know that Diallo is doing everything Calipari is asking, he just can’t seem to kick bad habits.

“In his case, I’m with Hami,” Calipari said.  “He’s trying, he’s working.  He’s got some habits that are so bad, they pop out sometimes at the wrong time.  My job is to make sure he’s not hurting the team or himself, and to keep working with him.  When I go into my office at 10:00 or 11:00 at night, I better see him in there every once in awhile, and you know what, I am.

“Now if he’s willing to do that, put in extra time and extra work, I’m for it.  Now if you’re playing awful, I may not play you as much, but I’m gonna play you.  And if you’re doing what I’m asking you to do, I’m going to encourage you.”

Calipari refuses to quit on his players.

“It’d probably be easier to say ‘you’re out,’ and I’m going with these seven.  I’m just not gonna do that.  I’m just not.”

If you disagree with what Coach Cal has to say, he has a message for the haters, especially the “agenda-driven media.”

“I’m old now.  I used to be the young coach.  I am now the old coach.  I’ve been through just about anything you could be through, including absolute bazooka shots from the media my whole career.  Bazooka shots, agenda-driven stuff, my whole career, and I’m old now.  If you shoot me now, it goes through a bazooka hole that’s in my body.  It doesn’t hit bone.  It doesn’t hit anything.  So at the end of the day, this is about these kids.”

At John Calipari’s Kentucky, the players come first.  End of story.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

70 Comments for Why John Calipari is Sticking with Hamidou Diallo

  1. 4everUKblue
    6:22 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    I like that about Cal, if he doesn’t have these kids’ backs who will?

  2. Rixter
    6:26 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Hami has been with Cal for a season and a half now. If he still has habits that are ‘SO bad’, that’s on Cal

    • maximumscott
      6:40 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Really?!?! All of the other 80% Cal has gotten through to doesnt matter? Keep in mind Hami didnt stop talking back till about a month ago. Maybe Hami hasnt listenes up until this point? Its on Hami.

    • Miller45
      4:00 am February 18, 2018 Permalink

      nothing about what you said makes any sense at all

    • Rabbi Li
      7:27 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Rixter – That’s a pretty ignorant statement. You’re approaching Luether league with that.

  3. Smyrna_Cat
    6:32 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Aren’t you one of the agenda-driven media?

  4. makeitstop
    6:32 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    It’s clearly part of his pitch. And he’s a master sales guy so he’s probably really talking to EJ’s parents, or Wiseman’s. Here’s what bothers me though, and I defend him all the time: first, ur not Hami’s parents, ur not the coach of the university of Hami, ur the coach of the U of K. Tell me u do it bc u can’t make a serious run without him and u need him to go a long way in a short time if this team has a chance to make a deep run, because THAT may be true and would be ur fiduciary duty to ur employer! Second, what the hell are the players doing there at 10 or 11 at night? Bad enough we let ESPN do 9P games mid week making a mockery of the “student athlete” monicker but now we have them in the gym at 11? Better than in trouble, but I’d like to think it’s not a Gold’s Gym, open 24 hours. Probably a little naive but could we just pretend?

    • justaregulardude
      7:03 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Really? That’s what’s bothering you? 18-20 yr old college students playing basketball at 10 or 11 at night? That’s your concern? It’s not a team practice, it’s individuals putting in extra time to get better. I’d be concerned if Hami wasn’t in the gym getting up extra shots.

    • makeitstop
      8:42 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Regulardude, unless u go to Carolina, u actually have to go to class and do the work. And an occasional night at the gym is hard work but the implication was “regularly”. And yes, it’s a concern. The difference in us and the G League is class.

    • makeitstop
      8:45 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Btw that said, Cal’s record w academics has been pretty good so it’s not a knock on the program just a warning blip… maybe it’s just best un-said.

  5. Ashleehutch
    6:37 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    My question is what about Sacha? He seems to have no problem benching him. Thats what drives me crazy.

    • kenny
      7:10 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      I agree, and I’m a fan of coach Cals. What if I’m sacha’s dad, I’m saying “you didn’t play him through his struggles last year”

  6. CliveWinston
    6:39 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    He didn’t play Sascha Killeya-Jones last year. He was a highly ranked 5 star recruit out of high school. He didnt play him because he was hurting us more than helping. Same with Hami. So I don’t get this one by Cal.

    • Ashleehutch
      6:41 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink


    • shelby
      6:43 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      There is nothing more unfair than equal treatment of unequals. What motivates one may destroy another.

    • binarysolo
      6:44 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Who knows, maybe SKJ wasn’t putting in the extra effort as much as we’re hearing Hami is?

  7. ScoggDog
    6:40 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    You’re Either With Me .. Or You’re Against Me.

    It works … on some. Hell … on Most here. There’s never a lack of “Love It Or Leave It” posters. “FInd Another Team” – or “Shut Up Lousville Troll” is pretty common.

    At John Calipari’s Kentucky … He’s gonna’ learn Players don’t pay the bills.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      7:11 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Of course they pay the bills. Who the hell else does? It’s about winning and winning is brought to you courtesy of the players. The way he handles our star players is the reason he gets more star players. As for “you’re either with me or against me” that isn’t actually what he’s implying in my opinion. It sounds more like him saying you can have an opinion, he just doesn’t give a poop about your opinion. If he did, I wouldn’t want him for a coach anyway.

    • BradCalthegoat
      10:41 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Wow. ScoggDogg is an idiot

  8. Aar
    6:43 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    I’m all for Cal sticking with kids. Eventually we always need them and they come through. Remember Marquis Teague, anybody?

    • Smyrna_Cat
      6:50 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Hami has to play well for this team to do well.

  9. callitlikeiseeit
    6:44 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Diallo is straight garbage and needs to be at the end of the bench collecting dust. We played so well today (and always) when he’s not in the game. Hopefully he misses the bus to Arkansas

    • Smyrna_Cat
      6:45 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      You are a hater and a fake.

    • ScoggDog
      6:49 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      And Smyrna … you are just another of the legion of Guardians of the Blog that seem to live to control the narrative.

      You people are as dependable as a Swiss Watch.

    • catsarerunnin
      6:54 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Thank you Dog Dude. I resemble that remark.

    • Booby Petrino
      6:52 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Your opinion is garbage. You said the Tide were gonna roll us today. You suck at life.

    • Booby Petrino
      6:52 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      I’m one too, right Scogg? And here you are doing the same for all the Eeyores on this site.

    • KYcats11
      6:55 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Is this the same guy who said we were going to lose today. That should explain a lot about his credibility.

    • vandzandz
      7:46 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Nothing I despise more is someone who sits behind a screen typing some bullshit that he/she would never have the guts to say to the persons face. You should keep his name out of your mouth b/c the kid is trying, and just like this years team, I believe he’s so close to being a phenomenal player and being the key for a late March run. I suggest you grow up b/c being a douchebag won’t get you far

    • Blue Bill
      7:55 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Just glad you aren’t coaching these kids, or anyone….. just throw the “garbage” 18 year old kid to the curb….. damn kid, just kick his ass to the street.

    • callitlikeiseeit
      8:05 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      I see I got the snowflakes fired up

    • bigal77
      9:35 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      care to meet me downtown lexington callit? Id like to get fired up in person

    • callitlikeiseeit
      10:02 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Big al!!! U mad bro

    • bigal77
      10:20 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      i thought you would puss out

    • callitlikeiseeit
      12:33 am February 18, 2018 Permalink

      I’ll meet ya Big Al. Soundbar right????

  10. channell
    6:48 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Cal has lost is way. He was hired by the university to win games and take this team to championship games. His goal is to see how many kids he can send to the NBA each year. Ego problems. These kids should be taught team first even if a player looses playing time. Cal has stated he will start his best five. He said you have to earn playing time and you can’t be in the game if you are not helping the team. Hami is not in that group now.

  11. JATR4
    6:49 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Pure unadulterated BS.

  12. binarysolo
    6:51 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    I think the bottom line is Cal has to showcase his superstars to the NBA scouts and future recruits, regardless of how they’re playing. If his stars aren’t getting drafted that hurts his pitch for the next recruiting class.

  13. KYjellyRoll
    6:52 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Did U.K. Win? Hard to tell in these comments sheesh

    • Smyrna_Cat
      6:53 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      These are just trolls.

    • ScoggDog
      6:56 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      And that … more than anything … is the Calipari Effect.

      You’re either With Us … or Against Us. And you don’t know shit. But the Draft is the most important thing. What … you don’t agree ? Well … Erin will set you straight.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      7:17 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      So if I got say a couple of million people together who have NEVER done your job to observe you doing your job then offer up criticism I can trust you to take their thoughts seriously? Keep in mind in this hypothetical situation your job is incredibly niche. Yeah I’m sure you’d really value all of those strangers’ opinions.

    • ScoggDog
      7:31 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      … Tubby Smith agreed.

      Sure … he took Back to Back NCAA Finals teams and made Back to Back 9-7 SEC teams out of it. But … you and I can’t do any better … so shut up, right ?


    • BradCalthegoat
      10:40 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Theres dumb, and then theres ScoggDogg dumb

  14. Smyrna_Cat
    6:53 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    SnoopDog … speaking of dependable as a broken watch. Some of you trolls just show up when things go poorly. Why is that? The lack of support by some writers and some fans is disappointing … the fake lamenting of trolls is just funny.

    • ScoggDog
      7:11 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      So … trolls ? You own the definition of that ?

      I say no.

      There’s a class of poster that seems to always show up whenever anyone questions anything. I’d call you … well, I dunno’. Seinfeld had an episode of “You Gotta’ Support The Team”. I think Jerry pegged your mentality.

      But Chief … there are a shit-pot of seats in Rupp. I hope you can buy ’em by the row.

    • UK Big Board Update
      9:32 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Speaking of empty seats, the Yum center attendance tonight for the ACC power-matchup versus UNC is hilarious.

  15. makeitstop
    6:55 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    I’ve been as down on Hami as anyone, but we are not in practice. Maybe there’s more “there” there than what we see, but I’m puzzled, as others pointed out, what about SKJ? Or maybe his parents are okay w 3-4,years and Cal manages their expectations better. Hami is a freaky athlete and IF he played great D or had any kind of shot, it would be a big difference on this team. If he pressed more, Hami could be very useful. It’s just an odd argument by Cal. I think the real answer is that’s all BS and he’s talking to other recruits when he says that knowing we will react…. in which case he’s real good “at this thing” as he likes to say.

  16. callitlikeiseeit
    6:59 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    I like winners and good basketball. We haven’t seen either this year. Diallo is a fraud

    • 4everUKblue
      7:51 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      You should find a team that lives up to your expectations..on and you are a fraud among other things.

  17. makeitstop
    6:59 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Bottom line is u can’t take Cal literally… he’s saying different things to different audiences, all in the same clip. It seems to work, so I’m good w it.

    • antiquefurnitureandmidgets
      7:33 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      In many ways he is the Trump of basketball and Trump is the Cal of politics. They both are entirely aware of the fact that more often than not they’re full of poo but they’re both also winning. And no, I’m not supporting or trashing them over this. It is, however, why so many of their supporters just grin when they’re full of poo and take it with an entire salt lick.

    • makeitstop
      8:50 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      They both mastered the medium. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    • UK Big Board Update
      9:27 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Never compare Cal to Trump. Ever.

  18. Mc12
    7:00 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Cal did make an adjustment today and I think he’s getting a better feel (hopefully) for his crunch-time lineups. At the 5 min mark or so vs. if Auburn he took Knox out and Diallo played. They separated. Today just about the 5 min mark he took Green out for Diallo. They got it to 2 and Green came in quickly. Green was having an efficient game today. My point is I think we’ll continue to see Diallo starting and he’ll get 15 to 20 min a game but I’m not sure he’ll play him in the clutch. Green, Knox, Sga will be on the court and imo Vanderbilt and his energy will be too.

  19. timewilltell
    7:07 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Put the best players on the court that can wi the game! Period. This is no little league where you worry about self-esteem.

  20. Swizzle
    7:25 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Yeah he’s has his back, but guess who wasnt out there the last 6 minutes. Thank you cal

  21. UKLugo
    7:33 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Ive seen plenty of players that Cal’s not played b/c they weren’t good enough to help the team win. He doesn’t play everyone and he doesn’t platoon (anymore). Hami’s minutes will continue to drop until he straightens up. We’ve seen it and will continue to see it. The lip service is for recruiting purposes. He believes in Hami and will continue to give him opportunities to show strides and contribute on gameday, as long as he’s working at it and has the right attitude. He does have talent. However, those opportunities will come fewer and further between until he helps more than hurts. Besides, who else is he gonna put in? Brad??

    • makeitstop
      8:53 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      I think parsing his statements and watching what he does, ur exactly right. And to be fair, he knows there’s no tournament run without Hami playing well.

  22. luke_emberton
    8:24 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    If it helps the team to put him on the bench then yes he should want what’s best for the team and if that’s him being in the bench then yes

  23. philbo
    8:53 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    Critics with no credentials.
    Must be a tormented, miserable soul to spew this garbage about a kid you don’t know.

    • makeitstop
      9:03 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Well u don’t have to be a coach to make observations about performance, and we have some pretty savvy fans. But personal attacks and calling people “garbage” really denigrates the fan base and lowers the dialogue. Let’s save the epithets – if at all – for players or coaches or staff guilty of sexual assault, shoplifting, that sort of thing, and remember a kid w a funky shot may just be a kid w a funky shot not a bad kid, and debate his minutes on that. Fair enough?

    • philbo
      9:23 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Well done.

    • UK Big Board Update
      9:29 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

      Newsflash: callit is not a UK fan.

      In fact, the name “callitlikeiseeit” alone just screams “delusionalcardfanwithpenisenvy”

  24. Aar
    11:26 pm February 17, 2018 Permalink

    I have a few thoughts on why we should keep playing Diallo

    Wings. Guy who can hit the three, score in the lane and pass stir the dribble drive cocktail. Cal’s best teams have had at least 3 each. This team has 1, Knox and a few candidates – Gabriel, Green, SGA and Diallo. In addition to shooting, this team needs wings.

    Basketball IQ. Diallo’s needs development. It’s only developed in games. His athleticism means that his upside is huge, once he figures out how to play within the team. Cal has to give him minutes to develop his basketball IQ.

    He does still put up offensive statistics and he’s trying hard on D than he did early in the season. He’s trying hard. He’s also thinking too much. Once he gets his confidence back, he’ll be much better. It might not be this year. I sure hope he does “get it” this year. This team needs wings in order to make a run.

  25. Miller45
    3:59 am February 18, 2018 Permalink

    I hope they don’t read this shit, and hope he proves his haters and doubters wrong. I’m not denying this isn’t the year everyone expected hami to have, should have had, and yes he’s acted out and had a crap attitude towards everyone, BUT I do believe he has as much upside as anyone on the team, so I’ll keep pulling for him and trust in the process and hope he proves the haters wrong. I do want to say that upside without results is a waste, so the burden is on him

  26. bd2153
    9:07 am February 18, 2018 Permalink

    What about Jones. He a son also.

  27. Aar
    9:10 am February 18, 2018 Permalink

    I was expecting Diallo to go through challenges like these – just on a different timeline. Players who get by on athleticism to reach a really the high level he reached in order to get here need adversity to convince them that they need to change in order to get to the next level. I know he’ll get there. He wants it, he’s working at it and he’s making progress. I just hope he turns the corner this season.

  28. EdC
    11:26 am February 18, 2018 Permalink

    There are people behind him on the bench who are also people’s sons and could be imagined as everyone’s son by the same logic.

    The difference … Calipari knows that the NBA drafts on potential upside. Cal can claim players first, yada yada yada but his actions indicate that players perceived to have higher draft potential get favored treatment regardless of results.

    • callitlikeiseeit
      1:16 pm February 18, 2018 Permalink

      Spot on Ed C! Towards the end of last season Hawkins was playing lights out but still took a backseat to another bum, Briscoe. Kills me