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The Kentucky Effect

What is The Kentucky Effect?

Depends who you ask.

Now in his third year at Kentucky, head coach John Calipari’s elocution is well known. He talks in conversations with himself, often switching between characters. At Media Day on Thursday, he mimicked an alternate version of himself (one that puts the program before the players instead of his players-first environment) in a high, scratchy falsetto.

He also loves catchphrases. And even before the season starts, he seems to have coined the buzz term of the year: The Kentucky Effect.

To Calipari, The Kentucky Effect is what motivates players to work hard once they arrive on campus and realize the magnitude of basketball’s importance every year. The Kentucky Effect, Calipari said, is what keeps players like freshmen Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague until 11 p.m. on some nights.

“They do this because there's a sense of, ‘Wow, this is big, and I hope I'm up for it,” Calipari said. “And that's why I think the guys perform. They go farther than people think and they go to the league and they do better than people think. It's kind of this whole environment, I call it The Kentucky Effect, just kind of does it to you.”

The theme has already extended to the team’s promotional platforms: “The Kentucky Effect” stretches across the cover of the 2011-12 media guide. It will also be featured prominently on the video backdrop at Friday’s Big Blue Madness.

Freshman Kyle Wiltjer, a transplant from Portland, Ore., landed in Lexington in June and has already experienced his own version of The Kentucky Effect.

“The Kentucky Effect is quite simple,” Wiltjer said. “We want good team chemistry. We’ve all worked hard together in the summer to build that up because we all realize that’s what it’s going to take.”

It’s unclear if The Kentucky Effect was introduced just to the freshmen or if Wiltjer was just filibustering at the reporter’s question because he hadn’t heard it; Doron Lamb was more uncouth.

Lamb was asked what The Kentucky Effect means to him Thursday at Media Day, where players’ name cards had a The Kentucky Effect logo along the bottom. His response:

“The Kentucky Effect? I don’t know what that means. The first time I’ve seen that was when you showed me.”

The idea was briefly explained.

“Oh. That’s cool. I’d never heard that.”

Either way, Calipari has a list of go-to phrases which he uses almost ad nauseum in interviews. Three years into his tenure, readers are well aware that Kentucky is “everyone’s Super Bowl” and that players must put egos aside because, after all, they “don’t poop ice cream.”

It remains to be seen if The Kentucky Effect will reach that level or if it will just appear on posters, wallet schedules and media guides.

Either way, it’s now a part of the Lexington lexicon.

No matter who you ask.

“We hadn’t really heard about The Kentucky Effect but it really is just about working hard and becoming a family,” Wiltjer said. “That’s why were here.”

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