By LARRY VAUGHT
While most Kentucky fans were devastated by UK’s loss to Kansas Saturday, coach John Calipari was a bit more philosophical and a lot more optimistic about the future.
Kentucky has now lost rare back to back games under Calipari and also lost twice this season at Rupp Arena.
“I can remember in 2014, we were dying and then they got it at one point and all of a sudden we took off (and made the national title game). This team came together a little bit faster, yet you find out all the execution stuff that I’ve been talking about will come back and haunt you,” Calipari said Saturday.
“All those little things that you, if you really want to be one of those teams, and I keep saying we’re not yet, but we got great post presence, we got long players, we got some guys that can make shots, we shoot a high percentage. Normally we don’t turn it over like we do the last few games. And so it’s all doable.
“And as a coach, you look at this and say, OK, where do we go and what do we zero in on? And I think it’s toughness and defense. We got to be a better defensive team than we are. We had some guys that just broke down on crossover moves their layups. Post-ups where we don’t help. Down screens where we lose guys. We switch and we have a chance to switch back and we just stop playing. And they make a three at the top of the key because we didn’t switch back, which we could have.
“Look, I hate losing, but I think there were a lot of people that wish they had my problems. Let me say that. ”
He’s right and Kentucky fans should remember that. This is not a great team, but it is still a team more than capable of winning a national title if it can fix some flaws. And remember, UK is not the only top 10 team with flaws. They all have them.
“Every day you start zeroing in on the areas that we need work. The crazy thing, you may not believe this, but we’re in this mode every year. There’s something that the team needs to work on that we’ll zero in on. I wish it was over the break where I was having two and three things a day where we could really go, but it isn’t,” Calipari said.
“Everybody in the country’s in the same situation, you’re going to have a couple days in between practices. You have to give them a day off. So, you’re going to normally have two good days of practice and we just have to zero in and talk to these guys. The greatest thing about this group is they will want to win and they will want to learn.
“I thought we passed the ball better today, not where we were, but better. Now we got to build on that and we just got to say, look, guys, if you really want to do this, you got to be a defensive team first. Now, if you defend and rebound, what does that give us an opportunity to do? Fly. If you can’t stop a team from scoring, how are you going to play fast? You can’t play fast. So if you want to run, you got to defend first.”