John Calipari Shows His Young Wildcats They’re Not Tough
That headline may seem odd, but UK head coach John Calipari wouldn't think so since he doesn't believe his Wildcats ARE tough and felt like he had to show them their performance against Tennessee to get it through their heads.
The 'Cats played some seriously finesse hoops in the first half in Knoxville Saturday night. They were defending the three-point line with what appeared to be skill beyond their years.
Students of Kentucky basketball might remember recent teams that didn't put defending the perimeter high on any sort of priority list.
But for the first 20 minutes Saturday evening, these Wildcats did.
They're shot-making and defense led to a 37-29 halftime lead.
Then came the second 20 minutes--as woefully executed a basketball half as I've ever seen. The Volunteers outscored UK by 19 in the second half on the way to a 76-65 victory.
Since Duke, North Carolina, Arizona, and Michigan State all lost this weekend, it might be easy to blame "something in the blue-blood air," but that's too easy.
We know and Calipari knows that these Wildcats aren't tough.
After the game, the coach said this:
"Tennessee just threw us around. First of all, you show it on tape so they can accept it happened."
(I love how he still calls it "tape," even though it has been "tape" in, probably, a couple of decades.)
So, he has to show them they're not tough. That, more than anything I've seen, exemplifies how young this Kentucky team is.
I've seen plenty of examples of that youth, but not knowing how tough you are...or AREN'T...is what happens with a team full of freshmen.
Hey, they're getting better. They are. They seem highly capable of learning. But they are still not ready for EVERY situation...like facing a ranked team on the road that's trying to avoid a three-game losing streak.
There are all kinds of situations for which you have to prepare.
They will. I believe that.
But, right now, they literally need to be SHOWN what they are and what they are not.
It's really nothing unusual for the nation's youngest team.