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Calipari admits Teague’s early departure surprised him, but blames only himself for last year’s woes


Finally John Calipari is admitting that perhaps Kentucky’s biggest problem during the 2012-13 NIT season was not having Marquis Teague.

Teague was UK’s starting point guard on the 2012 NCAA championship team, but he played so well late in the season that he put his name into the NBA draft and became a first-round pick. Calipari had expected to have Teague for at least two seasons, so that left UK with Ryan Harrow as its starting point guard last season and he was not a match physically or emotionally for the type of point guard Calipari prefers.

“I never thought Marquis Teague would leave after a year. That kind of got us last year. Even as the year wound down, I thought this kid’s going to stay,” said Calipari. “When he comes in, ‘I’m going to go,’ now all of the sudden I’ve only got this guy (Harrow) in the program. Do I want to go out and get one or two more? How do I do this? He’ll be good enough, we’ll do … Then all the sudden you get trapped.

“That’s what happened. But it was my choice. Part of my choice was I didn’t want to bring anybody scaring away the class I knew we had coming in. All right, then eat it. You just went through what you went through, and it was your choice. So, that’s why  I didn’t blame anybody.

“And I’m not taking the credit for us winning the national title. I had good players. Went to a Final Four. I had good players, good players. They wanted to come together. They were good kids. We’ll do our job, but I’m excited about coaching this team.”

That’s because this team includes twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two players Calipari did not want to “scare” off by adding another point guard last year. Andrew Harrison was the top-ranked point guard in the 2013 recruiting class — and projected NBA lottery pick. Aaron Harrison is a talented two guard who can also play the point if needed.

How is Andrew Harrison’s approach to point guard in comparison to Teague or former Calipari point guards like Brandon Knight, John Wall, Tyreke Evans or Derrick Rose?

“We’re trying to figure out,” Calipari said in an interview last month. “I don’t know everything these kids can do yet, and that’s one of the reasons why I want to do pick up, controlled, coached five-on-five. So I can watch and see, ‘OK, wow.’  Everybody’s saying Andrew is way above Aaron, that’s not true. You won’t believe this: they really look the same. Like, they do.

“ And I’m telling you he (Aaron) went to his left hand, shouldered and laid easily, like lefty. And I’m like saying, ‘He may be a strong left driver.’ Andrew seemed to want to go a little more right. When he went left, he didn’t do it as well. I told Aaron after, ‘You need to teach your brother what you’re doing going left because I’d like him to be able to go left and maybe start the offense on the left side instead of the right side.’ But I can’t do that unless he can go hard left like that. But Aaron did stuff, like, I’m like ‘Wow, I didn’t realize.’ So, I’m going to learn about them. I don’t know all the stuff about these kids. But there’s a lot of stuff we can do with them.”

Calipari is not using last year’s season to motivate this team. Instead, he’s barely mentioning what happened last season.

“That thing is so far behind me, it ain’t even in my mindset. I don’t want them to think about last year. They have nothing to do with last year. The only thing we’re talking about is, ‘How do you get better? How do you come together as a team? How do you sacrifice for your teammates?’” Calipari said.

“Do you know we played Louisville in the Final Four (in 2012), no one on the team took more than nine shots and we win the game. Go back and look, I bet it’s never happened in the history of the Final Four that no one on a winning team took more than nine shots. So my thing to my team is, what happens, they all sacrificed for each other. Are you willing to do it? And now, what happens here? And they’re telling me they’re sharing the ball, like it’s amazing, they’re passing it to each other.

“I think they know what’s out there. I think the twins know. They know what’s said about them. You don’t think they look on the Internet and this stuff? Whether it’s James (Young) … James will defer a little bit like Eric Bledsoe, so he’s…’Don’t defer. You’re as good as any of these guys. Don’t defer. But you’re not being selfish. Just attack, be strong, know you can play with these guys.’”

Calipari says the best way to “cure” what happened last year is by having better players, and he has that thanks to a recruiting class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans.

“Some of it wasn’t their fault (last year). I had guys in the game that needed to be out,” the Kentucky coach said. “I’m worried about this group moving forward, not using last team to try to say, ‘Hey, this could happen.’ No, that doesn’t happen unless we chose to make it happen with this group.”

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/calipari-admits-teagues-early-departure-surprised-him-but-blames-only-himself-for-last-years-woes/


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  1. Kokamo Joe

    Calipari’s tool for getting recruits to UK is a quick exit to the pros. The vast majority of his exceptional recruits come to UK expecting that. It was not surprising that Teague chose to leave, after all he likely expected to do that when he chose UK. And he was drafted.

    Calipari pointed out a difficulty with his system. Had he gone out and recruited another guard, he would have placed the recruitment of the Harrison twins in doubt, unless the newly recruited guard would have been of the caliber of the one and done. After all our type of recruits do not come to Calipari expecting to play behind anybody. Our kids have ego, which is the mark of all truly successful people.

    Calipari must recruit with the understanding on the part of the recruit that he expects them to be a one and done. Otherwise, why would a kid with one and done ambition want to come to UK? When he has an occasional player like Teague who could have stayed for another year, he has to consider those that he is recruiting for the next year before seeking a recruit to replace the one who departed.

    1. Larry T Clemons

      WRONG KOKO JO…..Teague had no chance of being a One & Done, but believed with a Coach like Calipari and working with his Brother going into his Sophomore year…Teague felt he may have a chance to play in the NBA, after TWO YEARS. Also Are you saying that Our Top 5 Recruits this year would not be one & done if they were at another College Basketball Program ?

    2. King Ghidora

      Cal became a victim of his own success IMO. Teague came to UK as a second tier player unlike so many others. But like others in Cal’s system he excelled and became a one and done guy. Do you think Cal expected Bledsoe to get drafted or Orton? No one has ever drafted players that didn’t even start in college that I know about. Maybe there have been some but it has to be very rare except at UK. That’s very hard to predict.

      I think what the team lacked last year was the dedicated KY kids that will play at UK and ride the pine for 4 years and be happy to maybe get their shot someday. Polson got his shot. IMO Harrellson got his too. Yes I know he was a St. Charles kid but there are lots of KY players willing to play for the Cats on the chance they might get to shine. I see Hawkins and Floreal in that role this season along with Hood. I think Hawkins and Hood will see a good bit of PT but Floreal may not. But he’s a Lexington kid who probably wanted to play for the Cats his entire life. Guys like that with some talent can come through when they are needed. Yes Polson was on the team last year and he did well but there’s no reason not to have some of the best KY talent on the team. I remember a bunch of KY kids that won the hearts of the BBN forever when all the top flight players left the team. They ended up playing in the best basketball game ever. It was 2 years before I got over the shock of that game. UK needs those KY players waiting for their shot at greatness. A lot of them will come through when they get their chance.

  2. Kokamo Joe

    I am relying on memory here, but I believe that Teague was rated the fifth best basketball recruit in the country by Rivals. Many thought and I believe that I read this in either the Danville Advocate or Lexington Herald Leader that Teague was the one of the best, if not the best point guard recruit in the country.

    He was projected to go high in the draft and wound up being drafted by the Chicago Bulls as the overall number 29th pick. I believe that he remained on the Chicago roster all season. According to the net, his salary was $1,874, 720.00. From his standpoint it sure looks like he made a wise decision.

    The majority of players that our coach recruits expect to be professional players. Calipari makes no secrete of his belief that it is important to the University to place players high in the draft as soon as possible. Calipari does not recruit 4 year players with the expectation that they will play before his super freshmen and the occasional sophomore. If a less heralded junior or senior ever plays before one of his super freshmen, his recruiting will suffer.

    If you remember the publicity about Ryan Harrow was that he was a super prospect and Calipari had a year to get him ready. Stories were written that Harrow was playing as well as Teague or in some cases better in practice. Teague may have believed that he would have to share playing time with Harrow and that could have helped him decide to be a one and done. I expect that when it came down to the final choice, it was the money and who could blame him.

    No I am not saying that our great freshmen this year will not be one and dones. I

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Woops…pushed the wrong button…to continue

      I think that we will have up to 8 lottery picks this year. Just like Wiggins, had they gone to another school they would also be lottery picks. I am saying that Calipari expects them to be early lottery picks or he would not recruit them. He says this frequently and his history is important in recruiting our yearly batch of great players.
      What other school can realistically dream of a national championship with a new team made up mostly freshmen and a couple of sophomores?

  3. Larry T Clemons

    So Calipari expects them to be Early draft picks ??? How about Coach Cal drafts the best Players with the right attitude and Personality to fit in a TEAM Concept….” Koko, you just said they would be One & Done elsewhere, so WE (YOU) should drop the One & Done Issue, Period ! And, with Teague, He and the Sports World, thought he would be back at UK til his March/April run gave Him,(Teague) a major lift in ” Potential ” & Confidence….And don’t you recall the one on one Coaching and Talks that the Coaches were having with Teague in Dec., Jan & Feb…It obviously helped. Koko Jo, I think we see the same things We just interpret it differently….And, That’s OK.

    1. Larry T Clemons

      Oh ! Koko Jo, Coach Calipari actually thought Teague would be back for his Sophomore year…and he said that.

    2. Kokamo Joe

      Re: would be one and dones else where

      Larry, what I am trying to say is that Calipari recruits the best. The best are likely to be one and dones wherever they go to school. Wiggins went elsewhere and he will likely only play one year of college basketball.

      Our system is different from other schools. The best players that we have will be freshmen and they will go. But they will be replaced by others just as good. Our players are ready made. Calipari has but to mold them and figure out how to deal with their egos, and he is good with that.

      Compare that with UL. Pitino also has success. But his recruits do not project as one and dones when they are recruited. He must develop his players and his system can work, as it has the past two years. But, talent usually trumps experience, and I’ll take Calipari’s system every day of the week.

      1. Larry T Clemons

        How many YEARS did it take for Pitino to win a Championship & How many years did it take for Calipari to win A National Championship…..Wise choice picking Calipari’s System. Remember FOR BBN, it’s all about PASSING WOODEN….I believe Coach Calipari’s System can do that. And I believe Calipari’s System has more Integrity than Wooden’s…

      2. UKFMLY


  4. Kokamo Joe

    Do you actually think that Calipari thinks that the Harrison Twins, or any of the other McDonald All Americans, or his two sophomores will be back next year? He recruits players who, by the very nature of their skills are going to be spoken of as high draft picks even before they play their first game.

    Look down the list of the most highly thought of recruits for 2014. He won’t often dip below the five star list, although he does have a commitment from Tyler Ulis who is a high four. Beside Karl Towns and Ulis, he has already made a scholarship offer to 9 other five stars for 2014. And he is in the hunt for more. He won’t get all of them, but you can bet that he will field a new team next year, and it will be another number one class.

    That is the nature of his system and it will work most of the time. Nothing works each and every year, but with the talent that is coming—-and going—-I like our chances.

    Here is how I see the Teague situation: like all of Calipari’s recruits, he came with great anticipation. He was highly ranked. The pros liked him. That is what Calipari recruits. None of should be surprised, including the coach, when the a player with his ambition decides to go for the gold, and reach his dream. After all, that is why players come to UK.

    But, why should we fret? We can follow the recruiting. We can watch Calipari mold his players and if one class does not work out, we can start over ON TOP every year. No other fan base can do that.

  5. Larry T Clemons

    UCLA and John Wooden’s System, was unlike any other System in the Country also….This is not New, only the Method is New…!

    1. Kokomo Joe

      Aside from Michigan’s “fab five” a few years ago I cannot remember a program that relies on freshmen as much as Calipari.

      I see his system as an entirely new thing. Never has a coach brought year after year number one recruiting classes. Never has a coach sent so many young players to the pros so early. Never has a coach been able to crook his finger and bring such a high percentage of high profile recruits to any program.

      We have the luxury of a plug in program. This program, as long as Calipari is in Lexington, will almost always be in the hunt for a national championship. Before each new season we will always be able to marvel at the talent level of this program, and the fact that most will be new is an added bonus since we have the excitement of watching Calipari mold the players into what he hopes will be a perfect team which will have a perfect season.

      Who cares if the players stay more than one year. A new plug in is sure to be there next year.

  6. King Ghidora

    I think Cal could well expect some of his recruits to be back for round two. Jones did it. Patterson stayed. Poythress did it too. WCS did it. All those guys would very likely have been first round picks if not lottery picks when they chose to stay. It does happen and with playing time being shared so much this season it could well mean some players will be back. Hawkins will almost certainly be back too and he gets rave reviews from what I’ve read. Ulis will have a solid backup or maybe the other way around. Cal makes no promises to players.

    1. Kokomo Joe

      Could it be that Poythress and WCS might have gone if UK had not had such a bummer season last year?

      IMO it serves the players well if the program excels. I expect that Calipari makes sure that his young players know that wins means more cash down the road.

      Hawkins is an interesting case. He most certainly would be a prize college player for most programs by the time he hits his junior year. The interesting thing for me is this: how can Calipari bring him along and have him playing a significant role if he always has super recruits who are on the national radar and will likely play ahead of him………or on the flip side…….if Hawkins blossoms will he back off on his recruiting in order for him to become a starter by his junior season?

  7. Jim

    Maybe I am the only one of this opinion, but I don’t mind getting caught short of a talented point guard for last season, because my star guard proved better than thought and helped me win a championship the year before. By the way, I would imagine that it was difficult for Cal to get another top guard, because the players thought Teague was going to be there another year as well.

    By the way, UK may very well win a championship this year and be good but not great next year as well. Maybe Cal can get enough talent to make a run the year after. But if he doesn’t, he will still have brought home the hardware the year before. Long live King Cal!

    1. Kokomo Joe

      With Calipari we will have a very good team each year and great talent year after year. Noting is perfect and last season proved that. Your chances are better if you buy a Mercedes Benz, but there can be a lemon even with this brand.

      The type players that Calipari recruits don’t seem to worry about competition about playing time. They have the super ego that great players must have in order to be good.

      As you post, we may win a championship this year. Be that as it may, I’d bet a dollar to a donut that at this time next year that we will be talking national championships again and we will be talking about the new plug ins and how great they are.

      1. UKFMLY

        Wow how long did it take you to figure out that last paragraph

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