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UK coach John Calipari on Cats: “Their basketball habits stink. They’re just the worst.”


How hard has it been for Kentucky coach John Calipari to balance finding the proper playing rotation the first two months of the season with also trying to get players like Marcus Lee and Derek Willis into games?

“Here’s the thing that’s happened: If I had a team of juniors and seniors, there’s no question they would be in because I would know the juniors and seniors. I’m still figuring out this group. We’ve changed how we run transition, so all the stuff we practiced for two months, we’re not running it that way anymore. I didn’t like it. It didn’t fit this team, so we changed. If you have a veteran team, you can play nine and 10 guys, and then when you hit the real games, you’re down to eight. But those other games, you play nine, 10, 11, because you’re not doing it to see what these guys are about. You already know,” Calipari said.

“That’s the difference in coaching young teams, and I’m going to say it again: This is the youngest team I’ve ever coached, and I coached all the young teams. This team is—and good kids. I still, people say, ‘How is it coaching so and so?’ I say, ‘This is the greatest group of kids I’ve ever coached.’ Their basketball habits are bad. Their response to situations: bad. But they’re great kids. I mean, these kids—we have not an issue of anything. I mean anything. But their basketball habits stink. They’re just the worst. I’m telling you. But they’re changing. I’m seeing it right before my eyes. If we can get them where we need to have it, it’s on. Right now, it’s still, ‘Let’s see it in games now.’ ”

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  1. Jim

    I heard this on the radio as well. I wonder if this is an attempt by Cal to publicly shame the team into working harder? I would venture a guess that if the team gets upset by the comment, Cal will tell them to prove him wrong.

  2. Ira

    Well when your recruiting philosophy is 1 an dones can’t expect anything less. Everyone expects the best talent for their team and we are no exception, but until we recruit something that is built with high quality and stability we will always see these problems.

  3. King Ghidora

    Ira I don’t think your comments are fair. Cal has certainly had high quality teams at UK. The first team he had was made up of 3 really good pro players including one of the best centers and one of the best pg’s going. And he had a second pg that is a mainstay on a pro team. That’s talent and their record showed it. Plus they had several other pros on that team from Orton and Patterson to Miller and Liggins they were busting at the seams with quality players. They also had Harrellson but he didn’t blossom until another pro was denied the right to play at UK in Kanter. Then there was the 2012 team. And the 2011 team had some great players too. Yes they had their problems last year and the extreme young team of this year started a little slow but they looked really good against UL. I’m not giving up on this team yet. They can still do great things.

  4. Bryan M.

    Do you really think that there are a lot of talented athletes just itching for the opportunity to not make millions of dollars? Don’t think for a second that any basketball player that plays well won’t be gobbled up by the NBA as soon as possible. We’re blessed that WCS and AP both stayed for another year. In fact, while I can never prove this, I absolutely believe that every person that complains about the one and done system would themselves jump to the NBA after one season if they had that opportunity. I’m also positive that if Coach did not recruit the best athletes in the country these same people would be screaming out that we need a coach who can get the best of the best to come and play at UK. The bottom line is that Coach Cal, like every other successful coach, tries to get the best athletes that will work best for the team. That means the chances are increased that their time as students will be short. But he’s proven that it works. If you doubt that, then I guess you can continue to believe that last year was a normal year and that Coach just got lucky the three prior years.

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