Calipari wants Cats to ante up

John Calipari has spent much of his fourth season at Kentucky trying to reach his players, not unlike his first three campaigns in Lexington. But the message hasn't seemed to nest in the recesses of the players' minds, an issue that has left the Cats struggling to find any consistency.

The latest example came at Alabama where the young Cats went away from everything that worked while building a nine-point halftime advantage on the road and ultimately dropped their sixth game of the season. The barrage of wild drives by Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow, ill-advised fouls from Alex Poythress and errors in discipline and judgement from everyone in blue was in stark contrast to what Calipari began to see in a win over Auburn just days before.

“Look, we still haven’t totally bought in,” Calipari said after the loss in Tuscaloosa. “Individual players haven’t. But they just haven’t bought in, so we’re still doing it. But this is a team that’s growing and getting better. We showed signs and now we took a step back.”

The process appears to have worn on Calipari. Both he and assistant John Robic flipped their hands in frustration at a botched offensive possession late in the Alabama game, another sign the master plan hasn't unfolded the way the staff had designed. Each step forward has been followed by what must be considered a step back, leaving the Cats grasping to find any footing as the calendar gets ready to flip to February.

“First of all, let me say when I say buy in, it starts with individual players, that each individual player has to accept his role and has to play the way the team needs him to play,” Calipari said. “That’s the first buy-in. That’s been the hard one for us.

“The second buy-in becomes we have to be in tune with each other and on the same page and we have to buy in how our team must play for us to win and have the best chance to win. Those are the two buy-ins all coaches go through. The second part of that is getting them to play. Coaches, if we have to coach emotion and intensity and effort, you’re not really coaching basketball. And so trying to get them to understand if you do that, I don’t have to be on every play.”

Calipari has been as vocal this season as any of his previous three at Kentucky. He's tinkered with his starting lineup and rotation, publicly challenged multiple players on his roster and reverted at times to reverse psychology in an effort to get his message across. To this point, the epiphany he is waiting for has not come.

“When you’re concerned about how you’re playing and you miss two shots, it’s hard to chest bump somebody,” Calipari said. “If you’re more about the other guys on the team, none of that matters. I’m trying to convince them that the wins and losses, they come and go. You’re not going to be judged just by that. You’re going to be judged by your effort, your fight, your scrappiness. At the end of your career, that’s what they’re going to look at. Did you have it or not? They’re not going to say, ‘He won 97 games and he lost four …’

“Believe me, 20 years from now, they’re going to say, ‘Are you a competitor or not? Were you a battler? Man did he play hard. This kid really made great decisions.’ That’s how you define yourself and trying to get them more on process and less on results because we’re so young.”

With time starting to slip away Calipari admitted he has to remind himself to say calm in the eye of the storm.

“It takes time to get teams together and I have to be even more patient than I’ve been with this team,” he said.

  • We've been hearing the same thing since the season started. It's not happening. It would have kicked in my now if it was. As long as Cal lets Goodwin do his thing, the rest of the guys won't buy in either. I think it all starts by reining in AG. He's the most out-of-control college player I've ever seen.

  • Cal is going to have to bench Goodwin.He is the one who won't give the ball up on a fast break to a teammate,or look for an open player on the wing when he goes helter skelter to the basket,and the guy who turns the ball over needlessly.It's hard for me to believe that Hood or Polson could play any worse than Goodwin.

  • I think Cal needs to let Goodwin play some PG and try remembering some of the things he was doing as a PG>

    To be honest, he played better being a PG. He still had those insane drives that made no sense, but he still moved the ball better. I feel like his natural position, he has been far worse of a player.

    crazy strategy, but let him play PG to learn position and moving the ball.

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  • Trade Goodwin for the bench. If we play great as a team he will not be missed. 20 shots per game avg 15 pts. lol 55percent from the FT. 0.2% assist per game.

  • Way to late in the yr for that and you waste a PG we have. Not much of a bench as there is.

    Archie cannot make FT so being a PG is out of the question.

  • Wildmoon, my thought exactly, its like he took to being a PG better then being a 2 guard, thats very strange since you would think the 2 guard would be a more natural positon for him since he wouldn't have to think too much.

  • I find it curious that we are near the end of January, and the topic remains the inefficiency of Goodwin. However, this team's problems are not confined to Goodwin's inefficiency, but his inefficiency is simply symbolic of this team's problems, thus the focus. After the first game, I think all fans were very pleased that Jarrod Polson came out of the shadows to bail out his teammates, but who would have imagined that after 18 games, Polson would be the 3rd most efficient player on this team. Not me, because if that is the case, which it is, that means that some very highly regarded freshmen and sophomores were not performing that the levels expected of them.

    Cauley-Stein is out of action, which only compounds this problem because he is the second most efficient player, a list headed by Noel.

    When I look at the tabulation of individual efficiencies for this team, and compare it to last year's team, the problems are clear.

    1. While Noel leads this group, and is posting very impressive numbers, he is not close to the efficiency that Davis maintained last year.
    2. Last year, among the players that logged significant playing time, the player with the lowest individual efficiency was Kyle Wiltjert, and this team has four players getting significant playing time with lower efficiencies: Poythress, Hood, Goodwin, and Harrow, in that order of descending efficiency.Three of them are starters, and two of them are less efficient than Hood, who most concede should not be a serious contender for a starter position.

    This is why this team is less efficient, and not efficient enough to contend for a title this year.

    The players on this team that have efficiencies in the range where they can contribute to championship levels of play are Noel, Cauley-Stein, Polson, Wiltjer, Mays That is it, and I am not suggesting that these 5 players, on the floor together, would get the job done, but that is the best this team has to offer. When Jarrod Polson and Julius Mays are two of the five most efficient players, that is not a recipe for big time success.

    Another factor about this team. This is the most inconsistent team, offensively and defensively, at UK since 2000, and I don't have the variance data for teams prior to 2000 to know whether it may be one of the most inconsistent teams of all time. I suspect that it may be, at least on defense.

    This post was edited by TheProfessor 15 months ago

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  • Professor your the man, you can boil down a season into stats better than anyone. Bottom line you are correct we are the most inefficient and inconsistent team that I have watched since about 1976. I have watched some bad basketball but this team is the prize winner. They play half the game like the basketball is a hot potato and then they turn it into a circus act. They should just slow down early and maybe play the old weave offense in the second half.

    Go Cats


  • I have wondered recently if playing a zone might help us, especially in the second half. With WCS out, we have a very thin rotation. The team seems to either run out of gas in the second half, or lose concentration. It won't cure Goodwins out of control offensive game, but it might help conserve energy for end of game finishes. Just a thought

  • Your suggestion about playing zone is 1 that should be considered but the part about them running out of gas during the 2nd half isnt possible b/c in most games this year they havent played high energy basketball in the 1st or 2nd halves of the games so they cant really be getting very tired in the 2nd half. It seems that this team lacks the ability to focus for long periods of time during the games especially in the 2nd half. They have consistantly come out in the 2nd half of most games completely flat. Absolutely nothing in the tank at all and the leads they may have had at the break disappers quickly and they struggle the rest of the game. I wonder how many of you that visit this site really are worried if this team will actually get invited to the tourney? I know they can turn things around but 1/2 of the season has come and gone with just a mediocre amount of improvement being realized and Cal is pulling his hair out I imagine about what to do to get these guys to come around.

  • First of all you cant use figures to show a teams problems all the time.

    If you have a player who hogs the ball and shoots without looking for his team mates it cause ripples down the line. Why, because you dont have a team you have a group of players playing on the court and that my friend means less D will be played because you loose focus because you are thinking about your team mates.

    Archie takes a ton of shots per game and makes very few on avg since conf play. His FT shooting is horrid fact.

    States do not come close to showing the truth about a teams play, you have to use logic as well as the stats. A team will not get better untill all of the parts are on the same page.

  • logic and stats together, what a concept.

    Can you point to a single time that I have said that statistics can show a team's problems all the time? You can't because that is an interpretation that you and others want to attach to my analysis of the numbers (hey analysis=logic) when you can't use analysis of your own (logic) to argue against the premise or the conclusions of the analysis.

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  • t75

    Some of those players seem to be concerned only with biding their time until they can get to the NBA draft--and on with their lives. Don't really want to work that hard for Cal and UK, just get thru this required year of college ball. I really believe that they feel so secure in their confidence about a pro career that they don't recognize how much they might be damaging future career earnings. But then to some a million bucks is more than they can count or imagine anyhow.

  • t75

    We'd certainly have a superstar on our hands if we had a player with Poythress's physical ability and Wiltjer's (or Noel's) willingness!

  • Dude Wiltjer just started being willing like yesterday and you're putting him on a pedestal while putting the other guys down. Give me a break. I was killing the kid on here less than two weeks ago. Then he turned the corner. A light went off and as Cal said he started to change. He started to do things the right way. That light bulb could go off for Goodwin and Poy soon too. Wiltjer has had a lot more time at the college level and has seen the right way to do things and he just now started to do things the right way. He just now started to play with some toughness about himself.

    And as far as your first post goes. I've seen that theorized by several fans around the internet and I don't buy it at all. I believe this is a process. Was Jones doing what you say Poy and Archie are doing in that post his frosh year. When he came back his sophomore year and did everything that was expected of him and became a true PF that defended and rebounded his ass off while helping us get #8. Was he thinking about biding his time his frosh year and about dollar signs. Just doesn't fit. These guys are just going through a process. I've been as hard on them as anybody believe me but in the end they have to learn the right way to do things. Sometimes it takes time.

  • I agree with this post, e.g. the process, and the light can come on at any time for these players. I also agree with the comparison of what we saw from TJ his freshman year.

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  • As I have said in other posts, I think Hood should get a lot of Goodwin's PT right now. There is a lot to be gained with Hood on the floor, and it would also force Goodwin to change his attitude and make him play within the TEAM concept. I don't think there is anything wrong with benching Goodwin for a while. Yes you will give up some of the athleticism, but you also will have less turnovers due to wild play; and the way I figure it is less turnovers=more points for the TEAM. He may score less points individually, and that itself is not guaranteed, but if the TEAM is scoring it don't matter who it is.

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