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Calm John Calipari fooled Cats, says “losing doesn’t enter my mind”

UK coach John Calipari yells during the Cleveland State win. (Victoria Graff photo)

UK coach John Calipari yells during the Cleveland State win. (Victoria Graff photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Even when UK was behind Monday against Cleveland State, Kentucky coach John Calipari insisted he was “calm” and ready to accept a loss if it happened.

Did the players sense his calmness?

“He was loud. I couldn’t really tell (if he was calm),” Julius Randle said.

So he fooled you if he was calm?

“Yeah, I guess,” Randle said.

Calipari insisted he was calm no matter what it may have looked like during the game.

“I was. I mean, I know when I wasn’t (calm). The main thing is, this is a process of getting this team to change how they approach the games, how they think about the games, their mentality of the games,” Calipari said.

“The only way that can change sometimes is a crisis. So you got to get beat and you got to lose. Not to a Michigan State where you come back and you almost win and you think you’re okay. All right. You know, Cleveland State now. They deserved to win this game. But you guys fought the last seven minutes, down seven, and played. So these are good experiences for a young team.

“I told them after the game, ‘Don’t worry about losing; you play to win.’ That’s how I coach. I’m never thinking that we’re losing. My whole mentality is we’re going to win, how are we going to win. Losing doesn’t enter my mind until the horn goes off, I look up and say, ‘Dang, they got us.’”

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3 comments

  1. Jim Harris

    Fooled me too. I thought I saw a very worried look on his face in one of the camera shots when the TV guy seemed to notice it also. Calspeak I think. But Cal knows what to say to the players. Whatever is fine with me.

    I thought the MSU game was enough attention getting. Wouldn’t have thought that they could play so lazily as to let C State outplay them for most of a game.

    When the TV guy talked about how different the two teams’ shoot-a rounds were with C State really getting after it and UK sauntering through theirs in a most casual way, I couldn’t help remembering the day I met Larry V.

    That was years ago at an NCAA 1st two rounds here in Columbus. During the shoot around as the overall No. 1 Cats prepared for the 64th place team, you couldn’t believe how cool and relaxed they were. That Hayes, et al, team knew they were Kings of the Walk and acted like it. They won the first game in an unconvincing manner.

    2nd game, UAB with Nolan Richardson lending help from just behind the bench. Same Cool Cats. Tubby joking around with the folks down around the court. NOBODY had a single thought that UK could lose, except UAB. I had paid the scalpers a small fortune for a couple of good seats for the games and actually felt cheated when “my Cats” coasted too long and couldn’t pull it out when they got serious. Very much like the C State game, just a different outcome.

    That memory makes me very nervous about our schedule. Our guys will play well against Baylor, UofL, UNC. I’m not too concerned about their attitude against major foes. And when they play well for 40 minutes as a team, nobody can beat them. It’s those lesser teams and an over-confident attitude that Cal must guard against. As irritated as I get when I see how good these Kitty Cats are and how well they COULD play all the time, I imagine it is real misery for Cal. But he never considers losing and I do.

  2. King Ghidora

    Well said Jim.

  3. Little Baron

    When Rupp, Hall, Pitino & Calipari have been on the bench coaching, I have always expected to win every game… before the game, during the game & even if trailing very late in the game, as we have done many times through the years. When Tubby & Billy Clyde coached, I always was concerned we could lose any gam… that was my concern before the game, during the game, and even if leading late in the game. I do understand a little bit how Calipari feels, and believe that Rupp, Hall and Pitino felt the same way.

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