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Calipari says bench will be best friend next year and ‘this team’ could be back to join elite recruits

By LARRY VAUGHT

Not only will this season benefit any Kentucky players that return next season, but coach John Calipari says his team’s struggles at time will help him in the future as well.

““It’s a learning experience for me. It’s going to make me a better coach for next year’s team, some of the stuff went on that won’t go on next year, holding the bar to a higher standard, not accepting we’ll have enough guys,” Calipari said. “The bench is going to be my best friend. All of those kind of things that will come back into play.

“You start to figure out why have my teams been so good for so long. Can we now get this stuff going? Can we turn this? This is about when we did it two years ago. Those guys made an effort to listen, to say we’re going to do what we’re asked to do, we’re going to play at another level, we’re going to take it up a notch. We’re going to really fight like heck and play to win. This group can do that same thing, but we’ll see.”

Calipari even hinted that several players could be back even though freshmen Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein are being projected as NBA first-round draft picks.

“You could have this team and next year’s group on the same team. Now all the sudden your bench your best friend, practices are at a level that are ridiculous,” Calipari said Tuesday. “My hope is as we wind this down, we go to this tournament, next tournament, that these guys just say ‘enough’s enough,’ and they hold each other accountable and they get each other to do what they need to do cause this team’s good enough. I still believe in this team.

“This team could do whatever they want, but you can’t say ‘Well, I want to do that but I don’t want to do this to get to that.’ You can’t. It doesn’t work that way.”

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/calipari-says-bench-will-be-best-friend-next-year-and-this-team-could-be-back-to-join-elite-recruits/

46 comments

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  1. Larry Pup

    Love it. Cal is always throwing punches. The guy is just so much fun to watch and listen to. So much for all the talk about these guys leaving and UK starting over. His talk kind of douses the flames of that fire now don’t it. Can you imagine the team next year if two, three, or all these freshmen are back and with the new arrivals. Now that would be something to see. It would also be very difficult for opposing teams to deal with.

    1. Anonymous

      Nah, you just WANT him to come back.

  2. LindaS

    I would like to know what is not going to go on next year that went on this year. Is it something we don’t know about, is it something that we know about, is it something that went on behind the scenes?
    Since Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein are being projected as first round pics and we know how that goes, how can the bench be stronger? That leaves Ryan, Kyle and Polson. 3 dudes do not make a bench unless I am missing someone.

    1. Karen Sprinkle

      I think Cal is talking about having to accept guys playing placidly and not working as hard or playing as hard as they could this year, and that he hasn’t had to accept it in the past. I don’t read anything sinister into it in any way. Clearly, Cal has had players before that worked a great deal on their own, and this team basically had to be forced into it (per his statements earlier in the year about mandatory conditioning practices). We’ll have to see if any of the four freshmen return to next year’s team. At this point, who knows?

    2. Anonymous

      He’s saying they have a huge recruting class coming in again so starting lineup aaron and Andrew harrison starting guards randle/wiggins/Gordon maybe forward willie and noel and then bench is lee, young, alex, archie, kyle, dakari.. Looks alot better doesnt it

  3. eddie

    Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein could make a HUGE mistake in leaving next year they need to work on their game right now they are just not that great but off season workout’s could benifit them and be huge players next year for kentucky but hey it’s them going to the D-leuge and riding the pine

    1. Anonymous

      i totally agree!!

  4. coldspringmike

    Eddie, you are correct. Nerlens is a sure fire NBA roster keeper. Now if WCS, Alex and Archie leave they will be year long player in the DL. However if one plays their way onto a NBA teams roster we will know who the fox in the hen house was.

    1. Larry Pup

      Nerlens surgery is late and rehab is in the future. No sure call on him going pro at this point. I think he comes back.

  5. Kokamo Joe

    Calipari is a master propagandist and motivator. He has often said that a full allotment of scholarship players is unnecessary and that it creates jealousy. I expect that his statement about a full bench is a message to the four freshmen that unless they make a statement with their play that they will be back next year and on the bench.

    I have often posted that Calipari’s hook to get these great freshmen is the assumption that they will leave early and that if the number one recruiting classes are to continue he must continue to move his players out early.

    Even with this year’s lack luster team, the freshmen are projected to be high draft picks. Are they ready to step in and be pros right away. No, and the D league will be in their future. But will sitting on the bench next year make them better? Big Bucks wait. Bench sitting will destroy that dream, not improve it. And don’t think that next year’s freshmen are coming here to sit on the bench themselves.

    1. Larry Pup

      That ain’t what coach said Joe.

      1. Kokamo Joe

        Larry: Calipari says a lot of things. Gold standard. Biting lip. Soft. players first. I respect his efforts to motivate and promote. But let us wait and see who leaves and who stays.

    2. Karen Sprinkle

      It may be that this year has given Cal a lot of food for thought about that recruiting philosophy. I’ve often thought that the fans are more attached to the idea of a #1 recruiting class than Cal is. He just wants the best players who fit in, and if that’s a #1 class, then that’s great, but I’m not sure that’s the goal. That being said, getting several of the best players often results in the #1 recruiting class.
      We’ll just have to see how it plays out.

      1. Kokamo Joe

        Frankly I would like a bit of change in recruiting. Do I want to turn away great recruits? No, but I would like to see kids like Hawkins get a shot at a scholarship and actually compete for playing time. A combo of outstanding freshmen and some old heads who are at UK because they dream of playing AT UK would be awesome. But I can’t see how that is possible. Outstanding new talent begats pro prospects and pro prospects begats new talent. It is sort of like a religious snake handler. The handler wants to hold on tight to the snake, but is afraid to turn loose.

  6. TheColoradoWildcat

    Here’s a thought:

    I have been wondering where all the scholarships are going to come from for next year as it is. We only gain two from this year, already have six new ones for next year, and he is still looking to add a couple more.

    If two or three of these guys come back….how do we scholarship everyone?

    1. Anonymous

      I’ve been a UK fan since I ate lots of blueberries as a child and wore blue diapers.
      When Rupp’s rafters no longer have room for more championship banners, a larger arena could be called “CAL’S CASTLE!” Wait and see you debunkers!
      Tom-Bob

  7. Larry

    I wonder of dropping hints that some of this year’s team may be back next year might have a negative effect on Wiggins or Randle. Unless there is a big off-season turn-around, I can’t see Harrow, Goodwin or Poythresss starting on next year’s team.

    1. Larry Pup

      Larry, I believe they could start, they have a year’s experience under Cal, and have real competition pushing them. I can see them all playing a great deal. They can play more aggressive defense knowing they have backups just as good or maybe better coming in. The starting lineup would be interesting for sure. As for Wiggins or Randle, who knows? They just may be attracted to a team as talented as this one would be. I’ll say this and shut up. It would be a good problem for UK to deal with, don’t you think?

      1. Kokamo Joe

        I expect that Wiggins and Randle are waiting to see who will leave this year. Do you really think that these kids or the other signed freshmen don’t have ambition of playing big time and leaving as soon as possible?

        1. Larry Pup

          Not necessarily. Other athletes have stayed around and still gone pro later in their college careers. It does happen Joe. Why not at UK once in a while. None of these guys are ready for the NBA. I think they know that. Another year or two might due them more good than harm. There is no sure thing Noel is leaving I don’t think. He has unfinished business at UK. We will see.

  8. craig rowekamp

    I love coach Cal. he is always working on ways to teach these kids to do good trying ways to get the best out of them .This is a very good team they don’t get it yet but Cal is doing his best to get the most out of them.I would say that with all the things that happen to them this year they did a fine job .Thanks guys this is just that kind of year that people say negative things but I think it has been a good year way to go.GO BIG BLUE

  9. Irememberwahwah

    While these young BB wildcats have been dodging a horrendous amount of knives to the back I’ve noticed an awful lot of ‘fans’ settin’ on their hands as if to say “I’m here in the stands now entertain me!! These guys are freshmen. Give them more energy from the stands like we did during the Florida game and they will surprise you at how far they can go.

  10. JohnH. DeRossett

    The main person we want to come back would be Noel. I don’t think he is ready to leave the Big Blue Nation. WCS would be next, and Poythress would be third, and a great keep. We have the Harrisons, and James Young for guard duty, and I am sure there will be another freshman guard. We are thin at the big positions. Johnson and Lee should be great, but Wiltjer is not a capable backup. There is no other big unless Randle commits. I would love Randle for his height 6’9, and 250 pounds. Go Cats, and lets win in 214.

    1. UKFAN197TONE

      You left out Gordon. He could be the icing on the cake. Talk about BEAST! He is it!!

      As far as who “we want to come back”, I hope they all come back. I’m greedy like that.

      1. Larry T Clemons

        WCS and Gordon down low…” WOW ! “

        1. Larry Pup

          That is a game winner Larry T!

    2. Kokamo Joe

      I’d love to see Noel come back next year. Even with a torn ACL the kid will be a top five draft pick and immediately earn millions of dollars. What if he came back and tore the other knee. That happened to a UL player. Kid was projected to play major minuets last year, but tore out his knee. He rehabbed it for months and tore out the other knee in the first 15 minutes of practice this year. Let him go. Think of the kid.

      1. Larry Pup

        Joe, a limb could fall out of my tree and hit me in the head killing me, do I cut down all my trees? Let Noel do what Noel wants too do. Many great pros have stayed in college for 4 years for crying out loud. I say let the kid do what he feels is best for him based on the all the facts at the time he must act. I will be happy either way he chooses.

  11. Gigi

    I hope the gym is SOLID BLUE and the fans are on their feet the whole game !! Wish we could be there. GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!

  12. Yvette

    I love my coach. I will be glad at the conclusion of this basketball season! I am tired of debating if Kentucky is in or out of the tournament!I hope Goodwin, Cauley Stein and Polytress stay put here at KY to hopefully be part of a possibly magical season 2013-14. The experience of this season will be valuable to the new comers. Stay and make a championship run! GO CATS!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Yvette

    NERLENS

  14. Tampa Satchel

    It sounds like a bunch of religious scholars on here trying to interpret what Jesus supposedly said. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Go Cats!

  15. UKFAN197TONE

    You guys keep saying D-League, you do realize that they will make more money there, than they are at UK right? So what its a minor league deal, they can be called up in a days notice. They won’t be the first to go there (Terrance Jones) and they won’t be the last.

  16. Joh

    If these kids all go in the top 15 then they should go pro. If there are questions that knock them out of that level then they should consider staying so long as they believe they can get a higher pick next year. I think Noel will be top 5 no matter so long as his surgery goes well. WCS could be that high too if he works out well. Goodwin is such an athlete that he is an NBA GMs dream. He also averaged 14 pts a game at UK. Poythress is a monster PF right now. Put up better numbers than Patterson his SR year and averaged double digits at UK. Harrow is a different story. He showed some ability, but not what Cal needed to run the team. He isn’t a for sure PG, but he can score, has speed and there are so many PGs in the NBA like that it makes me sick. I think he comes back though unless he transfers which makes no sense.

    1. Gene T.

      I hope he (Harrow) tranfers. He is too soft and could be trouble in the locker room. He won’t start next year. I got so tired of not knowing if he was going to show up for the game or not. We needed a point gaurd this year and he was not the answer. I’m sure Cal thought Teague would be here 2 years and he should have instead of sitting on the bench.

  17. Don

    O.K. here is my take. Uk will probably get both Randle and Gordon but definitely not Wiggins. Those already committed will hang with their committment. Nerlens will go pro, as he should. I think even Goodwin will go but that could be up in air. Poythress will go pro but should not and blow his entire career. WCS will return as will Wiljker. WCS will be a beast next year. Harrow may return but if he does he will get limited playing time, as he should. He had his chance. Wiljker wll also get limited playing time next year just for his “3″ shooting, but plays only if he can get hot and make three’s. Otherwise he stays on the pine. The rest of the bench this year will transfer except maybe Polson and one other. Most should probably not be there anyway.

  18. Larry Pup

    Here is my take, WCS, Poythress, Goodwin, and Harrow are all back. Noel decides to join the party after his surgery. Our new recruits arrive, and we add Randle and Gordon to the class., Many on our current bench warmers transfer. Hawkins becomes a preferred walk on. UK is crowned national champions in March 2014.

    1. Larry T Clemons

      To the point…an Honest Possibility and one I would Love To See !

    2. LindaS

      What about Hood and Polson, that is two scholarships. But I like your way of thinking.

      1. Larry Pup

        That is where it gets tricky Linda. With all that talent, somebody’s number is up under my scenario. Would they be willing to give up their ride and still be a part of this team, for the good of the team. I don’t know. I don’t think either one would want to transfer. Those thoughts are painful to deal with. It probably will never happen anyway.

  19. Dale Sine

    Okay, here is my take on the situation. Noel will be a high round draft pick and should go. Goodwin has a better chance to go pro this year than next year, because of the guard situation. Willie has a huge upside and should go pro. He may not be ready right now, but his potential is through the roof. I would love for him to come back, but it would be hard for him to turn down the big bucks he could make. Poythress would be a D-league player at best. It is not ability, it is his attitude. He has obviously never had to work hard before and now he is not the best player on the court. He will have to work very hard in the weight room and on the court to improve his skills, but should come back for another year.. Harrow will not have his scholarship renewed. I like Ryan, but he is a mental case that cannot get his act together. I am pretty sure that Coach Cal has some cred when it comes to getting PGs to the NBA. Why would Ryan not cling to every word that comes out of Cal’s mouth? And he has had two years to digest Cal’s wisdom. I’m sorry Ryan, but you had a great opportunity and you blew it. If Ryan comes back, he will not often get off the bench. Polson will get playing time before Harrow. Kyle must get better or his PT will go down next year. It would behoove him to go to a specialist in the off season, such that Patrick Patterson went to before his final year at UK. P.Pat came back as a changed player. He was stronger and quicker that he was before. Kyle needs that type of training if he wants to extend his basketball career beyond college. Hood and Polson are Kentucky boys and have earned their scholarships. That being said, Polson’s family could afford to pay his way and he deserves to be on the team next year. I’m not sure about Hood, but he is close to graduation and he may decide not to come back. I’m a Jon Hood fan and would love to see him back. He has given everything he has to the program, especially this year when they needed him the most. I can’t wait for next years team. This year has been a disappointment. Cal has worked harder this year than ever, but cannot get these guys to perform up to their potential. Noel and WCS have been remarkable, but those are the only two freshmen who have given their all. Here are my grades for this years team. Mays, A+, Noel, A+, WCS A, Polson, A, Hood,A, Goodwin, B-, Poythress, C, Harrow, C-, Wiltjer, C-, GPA team, A+. I hate that Twany was not able to play this year. He has been a great addition to the team, but he has not been able to contribute like he, and the fans would have liked. I wish him well. Go Cats!!

    1. John

      Most of these players will not return,they will havre to attend class

  20. Bradb

    I think one or more of this group will transfer…harrow especially.

  21. John

    It would be hard for Harrow to transfer and loose aother year, he would have to go to div. II. Hood and Polson could come back on academic scholarships and free one up for Hawkins who love to come to UK, and has already said that practicing agaist the Harrisons would only make him a better player. He would be here for 4 years and would be better than any of the high profile players from outside the state that didn’t grow up here. Then go after the kid from Holmes and the Justice kid from Knott Cty. and you would always have Ky. kids with heart and push the out of state kids to play their best.

  22. ILOVEKENTUCKY

    I don’t think WCS is so quit to head to the pros. He seems like a mature guy for his age and I think he understands the importance of an education, both on the court and in the classroom. Alex will not have a choice but to comeback as no GM will give him a contract based on his resume of work. Archie I see as could be leaving. Harrow will be in the perfect setting for him, five minutes a game of playing time backing up the Harrisons. Not sure what happens with Noel but would love to see him come back.

  23. Greg

    Here is my view!!! Hood is the key and should graduate and be happy he was here for 4 yrs and received a Nat Champ ring and a education !! Thanks for the hard work Hood !!
    Wiljer ,Harrow , will be back . Polson should transfer to a school like Transy. WCStien should come back and improve his potential both on the court and draft status sky is the limit for him he has the most to benefit from coming back he could be a lottery pick next year with some hard work this off season. Noel would also benefit but not as much ,however the difference in 5 th and 1st is about 3 million dollars a year for 3 years Davis is making over 5 million a year. Now for the good stuff Wiggens should be a no brainer for me if it were my kid he will have a good chance of getting a Nat Champ and a coach that will be in his corner for the Draft ,TV an media that are going to improve your status at the next level and tech you the things that you will have to deal with if you want to be in the NBA and all with in a short distance of his current guardian family and friends!!! Randel is the best chance to go to UK of the 3 from what he has said !!!! Gordon would be a better fit for UK with the type of athletisim and multi position potential he can play and ball handling quickness

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