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UK coach Calipari not happy with play of Willis or Hawkins against Transylvania


Kentucky freshman Derek Willis had 21 points in UK’s Blue-White Game and earned himself an early spot in John Calipari’s playing rotation in the exhibition game against Transylvania Friday night.

Willis was 2-for-3 from 3-point range and had six points in 10 minutes. However, he didn’t get a rebound, steal or assist — or even commit a foul — and left Calipari frustrated with his overall play. The coach was also not happy with freshman Dominique Hawkins, who threw a terrific lob pass to Jon Hood for a dunk in the second half. Hawkins missed his only shot, made two turnovers and had one assist in 12 minutes.

“They didn’t perform as well as they have been in practice and what they did in that scrimmage. When the other team did some things that confused them a little bit, they didn’t perform,” Calipari said. “Derek gave up more than he scored. He scored a couple baskets, but he gave up like 11 points. You can’t give up 11 and score 4. You can give up 11 if you score 20. You can’t score 6 and give up 11. You can’t be in the game.”

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  1. Mike

    Not sure I agree with Cal calling these 2 out in public after first game. Might have been better to have left in locker room.

  2. Jim Harris

    Agree with you 100%, Mike. Sounds to me like Cal knows the BBN will be clamoring for these Kentuckians to get some realistic PT if they are playing well—and that just doesn’t fit into his plan to play no more than 7 or 8 players. Cal is successful because he’s a genius at staying ahead of the game— in his recruiting, fan relations, media and people of renoun contacts, etc. and this is just another example of his selling before the questions even come up.


    Just a different spin than the two posts above(no disrespect intended). I think Cal knows exactly how to motivate certain players. Both of these young men WILL be a big part of the core of next seasons team. They both looked good in that scrimage because they hustled all over the floor to prove they belonged. Cal does not want them resting on the success of a single performance. Their success and UK’s future success will depend on their consistant effort. Both are very coachable tough minded young men so I think they can handle being called out especially if it is deserved just like the praise they got after the B W game. Just MHO.



  4. Little Baron

    I tend to agree with most of what all 3 posted above. I do believe Calipari is a bit over-the-top going public with some of his criticism (including Wiltjer last year, who left). On the other hand, Alex took a whoopin publicly from Calipari a lot last season, and in spite of the fact he could have been a 1st round (possible lottery) draft pick, he chose to return. So, the master motivator may not always do it in the way that I think is best, but as long as he continues to have the top recruiting class and hanging banners, including the big one as well as FF’s, he is not likely to change and there is not need to.

    1. AndyP

      Little Baron, Alex deserved every criticism Cal leveled at him last year. It’s clear to me watching Alex play that he’s a superior athlete trying to play a game that he doesn’t really understand. The kid has no feel for the game. Willis is a better player, so it will be interesting to see how Cal divides the minutes between those two.

  5. kyjohn

    It looks like Cal really looks hard for reasons to limit playing time,especially for the guys who weren’t 5 star recruits.

  6. Don

    Cal doesn’t need to do interviews after a game. not only does he ramble a lot, he says stuff like the above that he probably shouldn’t be saying publicly. I just think he gets too carried away a lot of times. and I wish he would quit saying UK is not for everyone,because a lot of good recruits are starting to believe him and going elsewhere to play.

    1. Karen Sprinkle

      IMO, better to warn recruits from the outset that Kentucky is not for everyone than to have a recruit sign to play here and be blown away (in a bad way) by the attention, expectations, etc.

      I may be wrong but I believe Cal just repeats in his press conferences what he tells the guys in the locker room. Given his track record, he appears to have motivating players well in hand.

      1. Kokamo Joe

        Re: track record…motivating players

        There are times when some of us, including me approach our coach in the way of this old hymn:

        Praise Cal from whom all blessing flow
        Prase him, all creatures here below

        Calipari is not perfect. To promote him as perfect is a disservice to him, IMO. Clearly he did not motivate his players last year. He takes responsibility for that. I applaud him for doing that.

        He is a master motivator and PR man. Clearly such statements as “Obviously our talent isn’t playing with enough energy and effort.” and “We have a nice collection of guys, but we are not a good team.” and his statements about Willis and Hawkins are meant to motivate as well as warn the fan that all may not be jelling by Michigan State time.

        Likely his motivation of his players will work wonders as the season goes on. He will find his rotation of 7 or 8 and he will use the others to keep these players on the ball. Yes, he can motivate, but each and every team will be different and we cannot always expect that his magic will work. A miracle man he is. God he is not.

        1. Karen Sprinkle

          I don’t believe that I promoted Cal as perfect or as God in any way in my comments (which were in response to some of the other comments posted above).

          1. Kokamo Joe

            I really was not addressing the “like god” comment to you. It was a reaction to the statement about track record and about having motivation well in hand. The track record does include last year and obviously the motivation did not take. No human being can motivate all people all the time.

            The Doxology quote may have been a little overboard, but some of get to thinking that what ever and when ever Calipari says or does something that it is always correct. Calipari is not god and he is not perfect. I think that one can question his treatment of Harrow last year or calling out players without being disloyal to the program or the man.

            Go Cats.

  7. grant

    My first knee jerk reaction is, ok he is calling out these 2 because he really doesn’t think they are going to be a vital cogs in this championship run wheel, and what better way to get them out of the picture is to publicly complain about them. So its on record now and he can point to this game when he starts to answer questions about them to the local media about why they are not playing.

  8. Larry Pup

    I look at it as an honest answer to the question he was asked about the two. Listening to the interview, Calk was not happy with many of them.

  9. Casual Observer

    Poythress – 1 rebound in 20 minutes of play. Not good.

  10. Kokamo Joe

    Calipari says what is on his mind. He called out his players last year even implying that some were not coachable. He was especially hard on Harrow, a player that he had coached during his sit out year. He does ramble and again he says what is on his mind. Motivation is probably behind most of his player criticism.

    But with these two Kentucky kids, he is probably sending word to us that we can’t expect much playing time for either. We have a talented team, perhaps the most talented recruits in the history of college basketball. He already has the number one class for NEXT year and he is still hunting. I simply cannot see how either of the two will ever play ahead of the type of talent that Calipari brings. Both could make good college players with experience and maturity. They may need to do it at another school. Wiltjer saw the handwriting on the wall and did the only think that he could do if he wanted to play…transfer. Unless Calipari changes his style this may be the route that these two may take. On the other had they may actually play some and endear themselves to the BBN and bask in glory for the rest of their lives.

  11. Little Baron

    Darius Miller is a prime example of a player who is not a 1st round pick, but can play with the Best of the Best, and play he did. Every year, he was vital, and started until UK had a load of talent including the top 2 draft picks.

    Wiltjer could have (and should have) red-shirted at UK and would have developed into the player who can contribute on a Calipari coached team. Willis and Hawkins can do the same as Darius, and work hard, until they get some serious minutes, whether as a starter or top-sub, with professional play awaiting them after graduation. It’s just a matter of working, working, listening, learning, and more working…

    Calipari can and will develop players willing to listen and work, or he would not have offered them a scholarship.

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Miller was recruited by Gillispie and already had experience before Calipari came. Calipari’s first team also had Perry Stevenson, Patrick Patterson, Josh Harrison, DeAddre Liggins, Ramon Harris, and he brought Darnell Dodson whom he had rectuited to Memphis from a junior college.

      With the exception of Patterson I doubt that Calipari would recruit any of them today. But their experience helped Calipari go to the great 8, and if you remember that was a great improvement over Gillispie’s NIT team.

      The problem is with wave after wave of exceptional talent, how in the world can his lesser talented players ever get on the floor enough to provide the leadership that Miller and the other players that helped Calipari, but who were less talented that what we are used to now.

      It is my opinion…and it is only a personal opinion…that Calipari wants a little Kentucky flavor on his teams and that he will always offer a scholarship or two and some walk on status to players who can help the fans keep their local pride in their boy who now plays for the Cats.

      I believe that Calipari’s leadership must come from his young players.

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