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Do media members sense any uneasiness over John Calipari by UK fans?

This is the final part of a series with media members offering their opinions on Kentucky’s season.

Question: Do you think, in general, Kentucky fans are still solidly sold on what John Calipari is doing and has done at UK or do you sense some uneasiness after the last two seasons?

Ryan Lemond: “There has definitely been some uneasiness lately, and I think even Cal would admit it’s justified. There is no way this team should have underachieved the way it did this year. No way! I think UK fans love Cal. They believe in him, but the last two seasons have been a disappointment in everybody’s book. That’s gotta change. I would still take a national championship for two underachieving years, but most fans can’t do it. Win, and win now, and win a lot!”

Larry Glover: “I think all would agree he can really coach. You don’t get to Final Fours at three schools without really knowing what you’re doing.  However, some are legitimately questioning the ‘restocking the roster with freshman every year’ as the best long term approach. I think a balance between experience and talent needs to be struck.

“Honestly,  I think his promoting UK as a ‘Player First Program’ is a bigger issue for lot of folks in the BBN. Some of his quotes on the matter are giving the impression that winning games and championships are not a high priority.  I don’t share that point of view. I think Cal is very motivated to win big. I think he feels, and I share this opinion, that if you recruit and produce great talent … titles will come as a result.”

Keith Taylor: “Based on what I have heard there are some doubts about the one-and-done players. Fans miss the connection they had with four-year players. I sense they are missing the bonding and building relationships with the veteran teams and an experienced team.”

Tyler Thompson: “I think most of the fan base is still on board with Calipari. Given the right ingredients (talented freshmen plus veteran leaders), his recipe hasn’t just proven successful, it’s won Kentucky its eighth national championship.

“I think the one thing UK fans have learned this season is that you can’t rely on freshmen alone. The learning curve is too steep. Cal’s first three teams at UK have all had veteran players step up and give valuable contributions. Back in 2010, it was Patrick Patterson; 2011 Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins; 2012 Darius Miller. Even last year, Julius Mays tried to put the team on his back after Nerlens Noel went down. Coming into this season, most of us thought Willie Cauley-Stein or Alex Poythress would take that role, but so far, neither have, and the lack of leadership haunts this group. In turn, the freshmen have been expected to do it all on their own, and unfortunately, none of them are Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, two unique players mature beyond their years.

“Fortunately for Calipari and Kentucky, there is talk that the one-and-done rule may give way to a two-year rule, which would improve things immensely.”

Mary Jo Perino: “I think there’s definitely been a referendum on one and done players, but I don’t think that’s the problem. You don’t turn any of these guys away and you don’t truly know who will stay and who will go. But I do think there are some fans fed up with it. On the whole, it’s really tough for me to have a legit conversation with someone who really doesn’t think Cal is the guy for the job. I still believe he is 100 percent. Now if this happens again next year.”

Mark Buerger: “Not based on what I hear on Sundays. The tiny minority that wants a new coach is out on the far limit of sanity, but when you make a big production of telling a passionate and dedicated fan base that you are going to run the program they love in a new way and immediately follow it with seasons like the last two, you pretty much invite people to ask questions.”

Jennifer Palumbo: “UK fans want the team to compete for a national championship every season. Obviously last season was disappointing, but it also showed how hard it is to create the 2012 level of success. I think most rational fans appreciate that Cal is doing everything he can to bring the best players to UK.  The preseason hype by recruiting analysts and the media raised Big Blue Nation expectations to unrealistic heights. Every time I heard 40-0 talk, I cringed.  I want Coach Cal and the Cats to believe they can win every game, but that can be their goal. And if it ever happens, I’ll be first in line for the T-shirt.”

Tom Leach: “There’s always going to be uneasiness when things don’t go well.  Fans set the bar high at Kentucky but that’s why this program continues to win championships through almost every coaching transition.  Kentucky fans love to get to know the players and so they, along with Calipari, would love to see the rules changed to enable players to stay in the program longer.  I think the overwhelming majority of fans–when not in the moments after a loss–would say they believe in Calipari but they’d like to see that “tweak” in the rules that would provide a little more continuity of rosters and add a little more experience to each team.”

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22 comments

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  1. LindaS

    I never bought into the 40-0, the top ranked team preseason in the Nation, hanging a banner every year. I would like to see players stay more than one year and so would Cal but it is not up to us….thank you NBA, you spineless, selfish money grubbing entity.

    This is from my post today on my FB page…before I ever read this…I think this 2013-14 class, the best ever, the unremarkable season as some see it this year, the 40-0 talk at the beginning of the season and the NIT last year and than being ranked #1 before the season ever started has made KY a laughing stock among some journalist and other schools. We still have over 20 wins this year that is nothing to sneeze at. If it were not for the journalist egging on the schools, wanting sensationalism with their stories, wanting to pound Ky down as far as they can maybe things would not look so bad to them. They don’t to me. I never went along, as stated before, with the 40-0 and the #1 preseason ranking. Also, I hate to repeat myself, you should never rank a team with so many freshman before they have stepped on the hardwood court. It is unfair to them and the rest of the college basketball world. I still think ranking players in HS needs to change…AAU system needs to change…

    1. jeff

      You always make sense, Linda….. a UK fan that actually thinks with some logic. I agree with everything you said, especially the preseason rankings….. I NEVER for once bought the 40-0, as a matter of fact thought we would lose 5 or 6 games, but would be a team to be dealt with by the end of the year….. ridiculous expectations every year will always lead to some disappointing seasons. Go Cats!

  2. TheProfessor

    Gee, I think I agree with most of what these people have to say. There is a growing uneasiness, and that uneasiness will continue to grow if the trends established by the last two seasons continue into next season.

    I believe Coach Calipari is a great basketball coach. His record establishes that. However, his formula for success at Memphis and UMass, and in his first 3 seasons here are not reflected in how he is conducting his business in each of the last 2 seasons. My hope is that Coach Calipari will recognize that he must return to the formula he used to bring himself such great success, and makes the changes that dictates. Otherwise, he will not last here more than 3 more seasons.

  3. Steve C

    I have a problem with just two things,”Player First Program’ and not mixing in his bench like he said he would do. Now if they gets in fowl trouble he has no experience tp put in as was proven recently when he ‘had” to put in Lee .He cannot blame Willis,Hood ,Lee etc. for not being able to contribute. I think we have the right coach for the job but he has to make some changes .He is supposed to be the coach for all the players not just “7″.They can’t get game experience in practice.

  4. UKFMLY

    Not disappointed with Coach or players(number of losses yes). Never bought in to the 40-0 B S. I have a 19 yr. old. I’m amazed that people actually believed that stuff. Thought the BBN was smarter than that.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK

    GO BLUE OR STAY HOME

  5. Mike

    I am starting to feel a little anxious about Friday and beyond. I don’t think anyone could argue that this team has vastly under-performed their star ratings and a lot of that would fall on Cal for taking so long to reach the guys. I certainly hope we didn’t peak last Friday night. Saturday was good but not quite as good. Sunday was also good but for only a 1 point differential we only played good for 10-15 mins. of that game. These freshman continue to make me nervous as well especially when a little adversity hits. Stein and Poythress’s play will be as instrumental as anything if we have a chance to knock off next 2 opponents and move on from there. Good Luck Cats and we are nervously behind you.

  6. OldFan

    Like I have said on here many times, I do think Cal is one of the best coaches in the country, but he needs to recognize what got him there: It was not one-and-done players. It was a mixture experience and talent; and as many of you have stated on here, he needs to get back to that. The only other problem I have is I want a coach that says what he means and means what he says. Many times Cal has talked about using his bench as a way to not have to put up with players not listening or not giving effort; however, he still has complained many times this year about players not being focused or ready to play 40 minutes but he has never just pulled one of his starters and left them on the bench to prove a point to them. Kids have to know you mean what you say or they will keep doing whatever it is that you are not satisfied with. When someone is not ready to play, pull a Joe B and bench them. Maybe they will be ready the next game, if not, go with those that are giving the effort.

  7. Larry Pup

    I think there is growing uneasiness, much of which has been brought on by an overly zealous and unfriendly media, and by a small number of disgruntled UK fans to date. Should this trend continue to develop, it will hurt the program. If UK exits this years NCAA Tournament early, and if Cal fails to win big next year, the chorus of complainers will grow in number. They will eventually run him off and UK will get a new coach, one who probably can’t recruit, and the process will start all over again for the next guy. That is precisely what that question is alluding to. I think Cal is a great coach and ambassador for UK basketball, and one of the best coaches in the nation. UK is very fortunate to have him. Many fans and media types think they can run his program better than he can unfortunately. If he were to be forced out in the next year or so it would be a huge mistake for UK IMO. Stay as long as you want Coach Cal and GO CATS!!!!

  8. Grant

    The only way cal goes 40 and 0 is if he gets one of these stellar classes to stay 3 years. And even then it would be tough.

  9. BobbyBlue

    The main thing hurting Coach, right now isn’t his coaching,its because he,and the staff have made some recruiting mistakes.Yeah I know they were all touted as all world,can’t miss..but
    over estimating the Maturity,Basketball IQ,Coachability, and Toughness,of some of the guys he’s recently brought in,is the cause of consecutive,Tubby like seasons of disappointment, and not his coaching…..Recruiting mistakes in a “One and Done” scheme,just can’t be overcome,if you are only going to play 6,maybe 7 guys at the most..
    Personally I believe he needs to recruit some tough guys like a Charles Hurt.Larry Stamper,Dale Brown,.or a Magliore,who’d take your head off for a rebound,rather then all nice,sensitive,pampered kids that esentially back off,from physical play.

    1. Anonymous

      Six McDonald’s All Americans is a recruiting mistake?!!!!! That is a good one right there now.

      1. Barry

        Six McDonald’s All Americans was a recruiting mistake…there is only one ball. There were people talking about how the Twins would not play well with Randle which is exactly what happened. Recruiting twins should be rethought as well. What if one is better than the other, like Aaron is obviously better than Andrew. Both want to start, but one shouldn’t. If you bench one, you have an issue with both. If they were frontcourt players, it could have worked. When they control the ball like our Twins do along with a ball hogging Young, you end up with an 11 loss season…we are very lucky it wasn’t more.

        1. Anonymous

          We do have some idiots among us. *sigh*

        2. Basteballer

          We do have some idiots among us. *sigh*

        3. Anonymous

          Barry you sound like a broken record. How many times are you going to post that BS.

        4. Larry Pup

          Hey Barry, six McDonald’s All Americans was a recruiting mistake? Go sell that to about 80% of the college basketball teams in the nation. They would laugh you out the door. One of the problems all you experts used against Tubby was that he couldn’t recruit. You all can’t have it both ways. Yeah, Cal could recruit a different type player, and may start doing so, but that is not a guarantee he will win more games, and there is a strong possibility he would lose more with less talent.

      2. BobbyBlue

        Lots of people call it reading comprehension but that most likely,will also go over your head

    2. Anonymous

      He didn’t play just 6 or 7 guys at the most for one thing. He played at least 10 players for significant mins. and in many games. I can name them for you if you like, Randle, WCS, Johnson, Young, Andrew, Aaron, Polson, Poythrus, Hawkins, Hood. That is 10 players that saw playing time this year. Some of that number did not play a lot, but they played. All of UK’s losses were close, so he kept his starters in for crucial games at times. The notion that Cal only played 6 or 7 players all the time is BS and if you are honest you would admit that. Maybe the rotation was not what all you experts thought it should be, but that is the truth. All 10 can’t be on the floor at once, and five have to start.

      1. Stevec

        Do you think you could depend on his bench in a cridical game and your “5″ are in fowl trouble? If not who’s fault is that.

        1. Anonymous

          Look, Cal played Polson in for Andrew a lot. He played Johnson and WCS in and out, with both starting at time., He played Alex off the bench all year, and played Hawkins in for Aaron some, but the kid needs to work on his shooting. He tried to play Lee some, but Lee needs to get stronger physically. Hood was hurt and out with a concussion half the year, and couldn’t play. Willis played some, but evidently did not show coach enough to play him more. The games UK lost went down to the wire, so he could not play more bench people in those situations. Hell, at times UK was trailing by double digits. You people who say he did not use his bench are not being truthful. Bench players are developed when the starters get substantial leads on an opponent. It is then where less experienced players can see the floor and develop. Cal did not have that luxury this year IMO due to the extremely tight games. If Cal had run this team like some of you suggest, UK’s won-loss record would be reversed. Just let the man coach his team. Here is a question for you Stevec. What was the average point spread in all of UK’s losses. Go check it out. The games were in you face tight hard fought games. He had to have his best on the floor.

  10. David

    One poor season coming on the heels, uh make that paw prints, of a national title is tolerable for Kentucky fans. This is especially true when the team’s best player gets injured in February.

    This is the second straight season that UK will not end the regular season in the top 25. A second straight season to not win the SEC or to suffer through home losses is frustrating.

    Two years is a trend. Coach Calipari was correct that Kentucky fans don’t extpect to win the national championship every year but we do expect to be in the hunt. For the past two years that has not been the case.

    Of course the jury is still out on the 2014 season and the tweak showed promise in Catlanta. Hope springs eternal for Kentucky fans. So while we have a level of uneasiness about the state of the Program, there is great confidence in Coach Cal himself.

    The combination of good but not elite NBA ready talent in the past two incoming classes has hurt UK. I also think that Coach Cal’s health with the hip pain, is worse and has bothered him more than he would care to admit.

    Nagging, painful injuries can impact a person’s mood and judgment. I think Cal has not worked as effectively with the past two teams as he has most of his other squads.

    His own physical pain could have been a factor for his shortened temper.

    I considered hiring John Calipari to be the best 31 million dollar investment I had ever seen at any level for any purpose.

    I have got my coach and I am still shooting for Dallas.

    1. UKFMLY

      I have got my coach and I am still shooting for Dallas.

      I feel the same way

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