By LARRY VAUGHT
Finally John Calipari thinks his team is empowered and playing the way he wants — or close to it.
“The best part of last game (at South Carolina) is I could step away — didn’t do it on purpose — but I could step away and see that this team was empowered. That they were running and doing the things that we had taught and they didn’t need me there,” Calipari said referring to his ejection less than three minutes into the game.
“There were calls from the sidelines, so it wasn’t just random stuff. We watched tape, who made that call, we made that call. Who did that? We did that. So it wasn’t just random. There were things we grounded out guys played aggressive, and I walked away saying this team is empowered now.
“They need to take us for the drive. It’s not me driving them anymore. It’s not me battling them any more. I don’t need to. Today I had a couple guys we’re telling you how to play, just go do it.”
Calipari’s team led most of the way to beat Tennessee 80-70 Thursday night.
“So there were a couple guys we got on and mostly just for scrappiness and stuff like that. They’re dragging us now, and that’s what I try to do every year,” the UK coach said after the game. “If I don’t have a team empowered and it’s us and we’re dragging them, it’s hard to advance.
“If your team’s empowered and they’re playing and holding each other accountable, I don’t have to do it, they’re doing it more than I am, that’s the way you want it.”