ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg calls out Kentucky because “they’re all about themselves instead of the good of the group”

Kevin Knox (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Rather than show his team video of Tuesday’s second-half collapse at South Carolina, maybe Kentucky coach John Calipari should let his team watch what ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg had to say about the Cats after that loss.

It was brutal, but honest.

“They’re not a good team because they’re not connected,” Greenberg said on ESPN. “We can say that’s because they’re freshmen … that sounds great. But they’re not connected because right now they’re all about themselves instead of the good of the group. I think we need to spend more time talking about the teams that are actually really good.”

Don’t believe them. Then take another glance at what UK freshman Kevin Knox, who led UK with 21 points at South Carolina, said after the game.

“Coach was trying to get us to make winning plays down the stretch. We weren’t just really doing what he was asking for,” Knox said. “We were trying to do our own thing and you could see what happened. They kind of came back and won the game.”

Kind of came back? South Carolina stormed back to dominate the final 11 minutes.

But why wouldn’t players listen to Calipari? That’s what I asked Knox — and to his credit he didn’t dodge the question.

“I mean, like coach Cal told us, you get into the game, we’re up 14, you think the game’s over with, you’re trying to do your own thing, basically. And like Cal says, instead of getting it to 20 and taking the win and going home, next thing you know we tried to do our own thing, they get back into it, not listening, people trying to get their own baskets. So we just gotta stick together as a team and just listen to Coach and we’ll be fine,” Knox said.

That sounds bizarre. Why not listen to the coach? How hard is that?

Check how Greenberg explained it on ESPN.

“These guys have been recruited since they were 13 years old. They’ve been enabled since they were 13 years old. They don’t think. It’s not about Kentucky, it’s about how quick can I get to the league?” Greenberg, a college head coach from 1990-2012, said. “It’s all about me, me, me. They don’t know how to play hard. They’re not competitive. They can’t maintain an intensity.”

Give Greenberg credit for directing some criticism at his own network for spending too much time focusing on super freshmen and not the best teams that have older, more experienced players.

“Why don’t we spend some time talking about the Villanovas, that are connected; the Purdues; what Virginia’s doing? These guys (freshmen) are spoiled by the process by the time they’re 13 years old. And they’re clueless on understanding how hard you have to play, what type of teammate you need to be,” Greenberg said.

Knox seemed to grasp that UK has to start understanding what it takes to be a connected team and start doing it now that it is 4-2 in SEC play and likely to drop out of the top 25 next week.

“We just got a lot of work to do in practice. We’re freshmen, like I said. It’s a learning experience. We’ll bounce back. This is a good game for us. Good, physical team. We’re going to see a lot more down the road,” Knox said.

Say amen John Calipari.

“We’re not there yet. We got, hopefully, I hate to say it, you gotta take some losses to get guys to start listening,” Calipari said Tuesday night. “What also ends up happening in a game like this, individual players really look like they’re not very good players.

“When you start realizing it, ‘Yeah, we’re not very good, but you’re not very good. You’re hurting yourself. Let’s get this right.’ So, hopefully we’ll move on from here and get this one right.”

Kentucky gets its next chance Saturday night when it hosts SEC leader Florida (5-1). ESPN GameDay will be in Lexington for the game.

3 comments

  1. When UK gets up like that, I would like to see them start running some plays to get Richards and Washington the ball down low. No one can stop that Richards hook shot or his short jumper around the free throw line. He has a much better chance to make those than Knox, Diallo, and Gabriel have of driving to the basket or making a 3. Going inside to Washington and Richards or having Alexander take it to the basket is how UK can increase their leads and get a lot of “and 1s.” Diallo and Gabriel are too wild and out of control when they put the ball on the floor and Knox just stands outside and waits to get open to shoot a 3.

  2. We had the game under control with about ten minutes to go. We were going inside to score and forcing SC to shoot from outside. Then the roles reversed, They went inside and we started shooting outside. KY went on a cold streak and missed 11 straight shots. They punched us in the faced and we backed down. Game over! One of our greatest strengths is our length, but everyone without the ball stands around looking with their hands at their sides. It allows the other team to concentrate on the ball handler and not worry about guarding anyone else. This has to change for this team to get better.

  3. It has been obvious that this team is not up to UK/Calipari standards from early in November. I have left it to others to explain why that is the case while presenting objective measures of the performance throughout the season. This team is poor rebounding on both ends of the court. This team commits too many turnovers and forces too few. This team’s shot selection has been poor. We know this team can shoot free throws at a high percentage because we have witnessed it, but we have also witnessed 0-10/3-15 shooting from the line, and Tuesday, 3-10 for the last 5 trips to the line.

    The least efficient players have been consuming the vast majority of the team’s possessions (Knox/Diallo) while the most efficient players have been getting too few touches on the offensive end.

    I heard Seth Greenberg earlier today, and I heard his comments a couple of days ago on ESPN. I personally believe he is right on the money with his criticism of this group of players.

    We have 2 more months for this group, and then a significant number of them will dance off to their night in the spotlights at the NBA draft. Good for them. Those that can’t make that journey, if past experience is any guide, will decide they have failed here and either go overseas to find their fortune or transfer to another school where they will feel less pressure to make it to the league after 6 months of Calipari’s training.

    Oh well. For the record, I still believe Calipari is as good as it gets for UK basketball, and I am not turning on him, but it is clear to me that this particular group of players has not responded to “the process” at all.

    We can all hang on to hopes that they will do so, VERY SOON.

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