By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky lost to Kansas in Chicago Tuesday and then fell behind East Tennessee State 18-8 Friday night before winning 78-61. But the Cats have to play again Monday and Wednesday nights. That means there is little practice time now for coach John Calipari to correct mistakes.
“It’s a process. I would tell our fans, just enjoy this because I’m the one dying. You should be enjoying it, watching these kids. We got great kids. I’m just here to tell you that really solid, good kids that I’ve been very tough on and probably dragging them faster than they really are capable of doing this,” Calipari said after Friday’s game.
“I’ve given them so much stuff. We’re preparing them like we would a normal team here and they’re probably not ready for all that stuff, but that’s my job, to make this — to do things that they’re not sure they can do. I mean, I think when you’re, when you’re really leading and you’re trying to do stuff, you are asking your players to do more than they think they can do, basically doing the impossible and you’re asking them to do it. But what they find out is, man, I can do way more than I thought I could do. Then by the end of the year they start saying, wow, you know what, we can do this.
“Early on, it’s talk until you get hit in the mouth and then you start thinking, man, maybe I’m not as good as I thought. And I got to get them back to say you can be better than you thought, but you have to have a desperation about your work and what you’re doing every day, and that you know you got to spend some extra time on your own to build your own confidence and then get in the game and go from there. This team needs a lot of tape work, watching tape. Just do. ”
Calipari had just two days to prepare for Kansas after beating Vermont on Sunday. He then noted again after Friday’s win that it was 3 a.m. Wednesday when the team got back from Chicago and all his players still went to class.
“They’re young, they don’t get it. And then they’re trying to get it themselves. Think about this: How about you’re trying to figure out yourself and then we got to figure out each other and then we got to learn about each other, you gotta learn about me, I got to learn about them, and we’re doing it at Kentucky where we’re supposed to win every game by 20. ‘What’s wrong with the Cats? They’re too young. Why don’t we keep kids and let’s try to make them stay longer?’” Calipari said.
“You deal with all this stuff that we hear and deal with. It’s what it is. We all bought into it. But I’m excited about this team, but I’m just, I wanted them better today than they were probably capable of being. ”