Eating Crow: After Watching UK Take Down Louisville, I No Longer Doubt the Calipari Way
Pass the salt. I’m eating crow for dinner and it needs a little jazzing up. And the reason, you may wonder, for my culinary decision sprang forth from Kentucky’s 74-69 win over Louisville in Indianapolis Friday night.
I had picked Louisville to make the Final Four. A lot of people did based on statistics I’ve seen that have been drawn from the various Tournament Challenges across the Internet.
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, Louisville was playing like a house on fire. And while Kentucky seemed to have righted the ship in the SEC Tournament, I still wasn’t sure they would be able to take down an undefeated Wichita State team that played with laser-like focus all season long and never seemed burdened by the possibility that lay before them.
But the Wildcats played a near perfect game and beat the Shockers.
Up next came bitter rival Louisville and this was where even those who predicted UK would beat Wichita State jumped off the bandwagon and made the call for Louisville.
But then the game started. Kentucky went down by thirteen before battling back to a 3-point halftime deficit. And then, methodically and maturely, the young Wildcats got each of the Louisville bigs in foul trouble. Montrezl Harrell even fouled out.
In the process, their offense got better with each passing second of the final 20 minutes and the Cats pulled off the 5 point upset win.
It was just a few weeks ago that I would never have dreamed this would happen after that loss to South Carolina. In fact, I completely wrote off John Calipari’s system of recruiting one-and-done players–those kids that stick around for a season then bolt for the NBA.
I knew he was only going after the best players he could find, but this team was just baffling. There were bad losses and games where they were just standing around looking like they weren’t sure what to do next. John Calipari even–famously–had to shove one of the Harrison twins into position during the loss at LSU.
I was declaring the recruitment of these kids who would likely only stay a year a failure.
Well, it’s not.
I don’t believe Kentucky even has to beat Michigan on Sunday to prove John Calipari’s way works. I WOULD like to see players stay for more than one year, but Calipari has these kids playing the way most everyone thought they’d play all year. It’s taken a while, but it’s finally working. Clearly, if he gets the right players, it will all work out…at some point.
So, hey, I’ve blogged my last blog about my distaste for this system.
And that’s because that distaste no longer exists.
My distaste for crow? Well, that’s a different story.
BROADCAST NOTE: Kentucky will play Michigan (for the first time in 21 years) Sunday at 4:05 PM on The Country Station, 92.5 WBKR.