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Guest post: Players have to play for more than individual dream to win national title

Kentucky fans want to see a national title, not just players going to the NBA. (Amber Tyler Photo)

By KEITH PEEL

With the recent loss on Saturday to #2 Kansas many fans are wondering if this team can get it together by March to make a run towards a National Title. Sometimes it appears these players and coaches are not willing to do what it takes to win a National Title.

Here is a post gamequote from Josh Jackson after the Kansas-UK game talking about Kansas going from man to man to zone defense to change the tempo of the game. 

“It kind of slowed the game up, gave us a chance to catch our breath on the defensive end. I think it was pretty good. Hopefully we don’t have to do that moving forward. We take pride in playing man on man and guarding our man, but whatever helps us get the win we’re willing to do,” Jackson said.
That last statement in bold is very telling about which direction both programs are heading. This quote from Dominique Hawkins, after the Kansas loss, is also very telling. “I felt like, at times we weren’t communicating on defense and (were) playing lazy defense and they took advantage of that,” Hawkins said.
 
If fans will remember back to May of 2016 this quote from John Calipari may also shed some light on our recent woes as a basketball team: “The mission statement for me would be to be a vehicle to help others reach their dreams, to be the stone that creates the ripple in their lives that goes on and on and on. Now, in our state, they want my mission to be WIN NATIONAL TITLES! WIN NATIONAL TITLES! But my mission is bigger than that.”
I am not saying that John Calipari does not want to win National Titles. I am saying that players read and that coaches set the tone for the program and that being a “players first” program can sometimes send conflicting messages to 18 year olds that will next year be playing in the NBA regardless of the won-loss record of the team this year.
In a “me first” society it is very difficult to motivate players to play for a goal bigger than themselves if you first tell them your goal is to get players to the NBA. It appears that the goal of getting multiple players to the NBA next year is well within reach but the National Title might be a little ” iffy” unless players take it upon themselves to play for a goal that is larger than the dream of each individual on the team. 

1 comment

  1. TheProfessor

    in my opinion, this should team should belong to Willis and Hawkins, and these two seniors should be regulating their younger teammates egos and conduct on and off the court. That does not necessarily mean that these senior should be leading the rest on the game box scores, but it does mean instilling and fostering this team first attitude. This is a team sport. Nowhere in the game does the team aspects go on display than the defensive end, but even on offense, the team elements should work to supplement individual achievement and contributions via offensive rebounding, assists, etc.

    Over the last 3 weeks, this team seems to have lost its way with regard to the team emphasis. Let’s hope that Willis and Hawkins can get it done. It is their team afterall is said and done. It is their last dance.

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