By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky goes into Southeastern Conference play with more confidence than it probably has had since early November.
“They gotta understand, their confidence comes from within, not exterior. It’s not someone else that builds your confidence and it’s not someone else that takes your confidence away,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said.
“By working hard — what a coach can do is drive them to do more than they think they can do to push them so they look at themselves and say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I could do this. Man, this is making me better. I love this.’ And you can be hard on them; you can challenge them. You can be tough. That helps them build their own confidence.”
Calipari said if players build their own confidence, it cannot be taken away by coach, fan or media criticism.
“They have their own confidence. So we had to explain that to them because I think a bunch of them were thinking exterior things are making my confidence wane. No, it isn’t. No. That’s your excuse, but no one here is buying it,” Calipari said.
“The second thing as a coach is you put them in positions that they can build — don’t have them do stuff they can’t do because that doesn’t play into them building their own confidence, because it’s hard work, demonstrated performance, on the court, in games that builds your confidence. So my job is to drive them. Second thing is to put them in the great position. But they have to understand, I don’t build your confidence. And I don’t take your confidence away. You do that yourself.
“And we kind of went at it, and then we tried to tweak a couple things that put them in better positions, for them as individual players. And should have done it earlier. I didn’t. I’m still figuring out this team. But I’m proud of them and proud of what they’ve done.”