By LARRY VAUGHT
It was interesting Monday to hear Kentucky coach John Calipari explain how certain recruits sometimes eliminate themselves from being high priority targets for Kentucky.
â€œNormally theyâ€™ll let you know. Theyâ€™ll say I am not interested,” Calipari said when asked how he determines if a player can handle the spotlight and pressure at Kentucky. “Iâ€™ve had kids that Iâ€™ve really wanted and kids that I wasnâ€™t sure of but that kid convinced me that he could do this and the other kid was shaky even though I thought he was right. But the kids know. In most cases, they donâ€™t want to put themselves in positions of being exposed and they wonâ€™t come.
“Every once in a while I will see a kid that is selfish, not a good teammate that you have to be here. My question to all these recruits is do you want to win a national title. Yes. Can you do it by yourself? No. You have to be on a team with eight or nine other players like you. Which means you canâ€™t take every shot and you are not scoring 30 points a game. Itâ€™s not going to be all about you. Is that right. ThisÂ is not for everybody, itâ€™s the toughest place to play basketball; we are everybodyâ€™s Super Bowl. All that stuff. ”
Calipari also emphasized that he pays little attention to criticism, or praise, of his coaching.
â€œWhat happens when we are all done with this is that history will tell you what kind of job you have done. What kind of men you have molded, how they have turned out, what you have done in the community and the campuses where you work, in the community you work,” he said. “It all comes out. If I am worried about what everyone is saying, I am cluttered.
“I have a sign on my wall upstairs that says â€˜coach your teamâ€™, and thatâ€™s my job. Coach the individual players, and help them get better. At the end of the day, I want this to be about those players. If they keep saying, â€˜Well, he has better players than everybodyâ€™, and I get the connotation â€˜he canâ€™t coach,â€™ then thatâ€™s OK. Then I have done my job because they are saying my players are better. That gives me satisfaction.
“This is about these young people. You are never going to hear me say that â€˜this guy canâ€™t do this and this guy canâ€™t do that.’ Iâ€™ll challenge them physically to mentally be tougher in all of those things, but I have always said that Iâ€™ve got good players, and our job is to get them to play harder, get them to play together, get them to talk to one another. Mental and physical toughness is the key to all of that.â€