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James Young: “We just weren’t listening sometimes, so he (John Calipari) had to scream”

James Young dribbles against South Carolina (Victoria Graff photo/all rights reserved)

James Young dribbles against South Carolina (Victoria Graff photo/all rights reserved)

By LARRY VAUGHT

With Kentucky fans reeling more from UK’s consecutive losses than the players seemed to be after Saturday’s loss at South Carolina, it’s easy to wonder what is going to happen the next few weeks.

Kentucky freshman guard Aaron Harrison insisted the Cats could still write a “great story” if they would just play the way they know they can — something they have not done in most big games and why they have eight losses already, including five in Southeastern Conference play.

Kentucky coach John Calipari was ejected midway of the second half of Saturday’s loss after getting his second technical foul and it was obvious way before then that he was frustrated with more than the officiating. His sideline antics and facial expressions — and not just in this game — made it clear UK’s lack of focus, emotion, intensity, defense, offensive execution and more were bothering him.

Has he lost control of this team? Only Calipari and his players can answer that.

Has this team been a disappointment? Absolutely, and both Calipari and his players should agree with that.

Has UK been the nation’s most disappointing team the last two years? One certainly could make that case after the NIT flame-out last year following Nerlens’ Noel injury and the expectations on this team with one of the nation’s all-time best recruiting classes and No. 1 preseason ranking.

Last year the Cats had no hopes by mid-February of being a NCAA title contender. This year they did — or at least they did until the losses to Arkansas and South Carolina exposed many, many issues. But guess what? The Wildcats were 11-5 in SEC play at this time a year ago, the same mark this team has.

So what is going on?

The players have sensed Calipari’s frustration, and even understand it when he is screaming at them. Or freshman James Young says they do.

“It was just him coaching. He was just trying to talk to us,” Young said Saturday. “We just weren’t listening sometimes, so he had to scream a little bit just to make us listen. We’ve just got to start listening when he says something the first time and just keep executing.”

Start listening? It’s the first of March, less than three weeks to NCAA Tournament time, and his team has not learned to listen. Admire Young’s honesty, but let that help explain Calipari’s frustration and perhaps show that he never had control of this team.

Should Calipari have to be screaming at players this late in the season?

“Definitely not. It’s just, I guess, we lose focus, like I’ve been saying the whole season. Concentration,” Young said.

Lack of concentration? Again, that’s a pretty important ingredient for winning teams. And it’s not  just Young. He could well have been speaking for almost every teammate because the majority of the players have had the same issue.

Even Calipari’s ejection didn’t seem to bother — or inspire — the Wildcats even though they scored 28 points in 10 1/2 minutes after he was booted compared to 39 points in the first 29 1/2 minutes of play.

“It was just another obstacle that we had to overcome and we just — I mean, it was a tough game and it was just an obstacle that we just huddled and said, ‘We just gotta do what we need to do to get back in this game,’” freshman Aaron Harrison said.

Kentucky did get back in the game, but defensive and rebounding breakdowns enabled South Carolina to win. But it was UK’s poor shooting — the Cats had one 12 1/2 minute stretch without a made field goal and another stretch of almost five minutes without a basket — that doomed UK.

It was UK’s third straight game struggling to make shots.

“Sure it’s an issue if you don’t make shots,” UK assistant John Robic said. “I mean, the reason … We weren’t going to get any perimeter shots in the first half. We couldn’t get open. We were starting our offense near half court. They went zone, and we did a great job driving the ball and knocked down some 3’s in the second half and made a game of it.”

Robic also ruled out any lingering impact from the Arkansas loss as impacting the Cats at South Carolina.

“No. That was addressed Friday. We had a good practice Friday and went at it today,” Robic said after the loss. “Sort of a good thing sometimes when you have a tough game at home and you can redeem yourself hopefully. Obviously we didn’t today, but wasn’t a whole lot of time to dwell on it.”

But the players do dwell on missed shots — and they have had a lot to dwell on in recent games.

“I don’t think it affects it as much. Probably put our heads down a couple times, but we just tried to keep going play to play, just try to go to the next play like Coach says. Just, ‘Next,’ and try not to let shots affect us and just get back on D (defense),” Young said.

But something obviously keeps affecting this team that has gone from a team many were predicting no one would want to play in March to a team no one now might mind playing in March.

Permanent link to this article: http://vaughtsviews.com/james-young-we-just-werent-listening-sometimes-so-he-john-calipari-had-to-scream/

13 comments

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  1. Kokamo Joe

    What does that statement mean?

  2. Sean

    …and when Young says “sometimes” he means “most of the time”. Surprised that Coach Cal still has a voice left from screaming at this bunch so much. Frustrating.

  3. trublususu

    I think Cal has even said that after a time out the team goes back on the court and does something totally different from what they talked about.

  4. OldFan

    I just don’t understand why so many coaches come to UK and then change their coaching style that got them the offer to start with. Eddie Sutton changed, Tubby Smith changed what he did at Tulsa once he got to Georgia, BCG changed from what he did at A&M, and now Cal has changed from what made him great. Why??? Cal won 30 games a year for several years in a row. . The most by any coach, I believe. But he did not do that by putting teams together that relied very heavily on freshman. He has never won 30 games in a year relying mostly on freshman; even in 2012, he had a Senior and two Sophomores that contributed heavily to the success of that team. So what is making him change and causing him to think he can win with all Freshman. Once again, by usually only playing the players he feels can make it to the next level, Cal is causing holes in his future rosters where there will be no “experienced” players to fill in. Also, by putting Marcus Lee and Dominique Hawkins in the game the other night and expecting good results by players that have seldom played, was truly unfair and put them both in a situation that could not turn out well. I really think he did that just to say he played them and then be able to say they did no better than the others. What did he expect?? Someone plays less than 3 minutes a game most of year, gets thrown in the fire against players that have played 30 minutes a game and you expect good results?? The best think Kyle Wiltjer ever did for himself was to go to a coach that builds “Players,” not just blends “Superstars.” Cal has forgotten how to build players for future teams and just wants to concentrate on getting superstars to the NBA!

    1. Kokamo Joe

      Calipari’s first UK team was filled with experienced players plus those that he had been recruiting to Memphis. Three of his freshmen plus a Gillispie recruit and a Smith player were first round picks. Calipari realized what a PR piece that would be so he exclaimed that having 5 recruits was one of the greatest things in UK history. Then he hit on this “players only” thing and that coupled with placing players in the NBA has resulted in a slew of McDonald All Americans who see Calipari as a fast ticket to the NBA. Calipari now has the one and done thing by the tail and it is going to be hard to let go.
      We as fans love the recruiting. We get to follow UK all year and there is media which is delighted to furnish us with stories about what parents, high school coaches, and even what other high school kids think about our next best ever recruit.

      Great recruiting classes begat fast departure to the NBA and fast departure to the NBA begat great recruiting classes. It could be that last year and this year becomes a blessing. If some of our stars stick around for more than two years and if Calipari gives our Kentucky bred kids a chance to actually contribute we could be in store for experience and hot shot recruits. And if that happens…..look out!

  5. Phillip Barker

    I don’t have much confidence that this team will do anything this year, but it sure is going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  6. Stecec

    He made the statement after last year that he didn’t have a choice last year to take his “Stars” out because he didn’t have anyone to replace them and they knew it.This year if he would have replaced them this ya
    ear but he used the same “7″ players all year and they knew he would have to put them back in the game just like last year. So here we are just like last year with “7 “players because he didn’t use his bench enough to get them some experience to help. Some coaches use there whole bench to run you in the ground without future NBA players on the roster and win. They also have a lot more energy.

    1. Anonymous

      I wish he would use about 10 players in the first half and tell them all the 7 that play with the most effort and energy will play the entire second half. However, if said that, he would have to follow through with it; and that seems to be his problem. A lot of bark and no bite.

    2. OldFan

      I wish he would use about 10 players in the first half of each game and tell them all that the 7 that play with the most energy and understanding of what I want done will play the entire second half. The only problem is that if he says it, he should follow through with it and that seems to be his problem. A lot of bark and absolutely NO BITE!

      1. Larry Pup

        He played 11 players against SC. Some came off the bench and did not contribute.

  7. Judi Cole

    Larry Pup, I appreciate that you are the voice of reason.

    1. Larry Pup

      Thanks Judi for that, and for your posts in support of the team as well.

  8. tslexky

    In addition to the starting five freshman, Cal uses Poythress, WCS, and Polson a lot. Tjen Hood is getting more minutes than he ever did. Throw in Lee and Hawkins on occasion. Inconsistency is the big issue with the top 7. Last year you knew what those “stars” were going to be like come March. Not so with this team. Might be a great team effort or a total flop.

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