Most Recent Posts
- Swiss Cat Part 2: Larry continues his adventure in Switzerland
- Brumbaugh understands junior college talent, feels he can bring JUCO players to UK
- Volleyball training, personality will both help Marcus Lee at Kentucky
- UK coach Mark Stoops was patient with Neal Brown because he was “all-in” on hiring him
- UK signee Marcus Lee overcame early education struggles to succeed in academics, athletics
- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
- Stoops: Hiring Neal Brown to run Kentucky offense was a “no-brainer for me”
- Nunley, Cumbess Propel No. 12 UK Softball to Super Regionals
By LARRY VAUGHT
Chris Woolard, Kentucky’s associated athletics director for basketball operations, said team play defined UK’s championship more than anything to him.
“Everybody was skeptical when Cal got here about could you develop a team when players are leaving after a year or two (for the NBA). In most cases, you can’t. It’s really hard with guys coming in that have been stars, coddled and given so much in terms of playing time and shots,” Woolard said. “They are used to being stars. How do you break some of those habits and get guys to come together in a year or two to be a team?
“I don’t think many coaches can do that. One coach who can do it is John Calipari. He is thinking about his team and thinking basketball and how to win a championship 24 hours a day seven days a week. When I was with Conference USA and he was coaching at Memphis, I would get calls at midnight from him and then at 7 a.m. the next morning. His mind never stops with ideas about how to become better.
“We had great practices last year, but even more than on the court what defined the team’s success and the reason we won the championship was every day in the film room before practice when he met with the team. From day one his message never changed. It was all about teamwork and all about coming together and sacrificing for each other and winning the national championship. When one guy would get off course, he would bring him right back the next day.”
Woolard said from day one Calipari told point guard Marquis Teague the same message day after day.
“It never changed in the film room. He told him, ‘If you want to get to where you want to go and lead the team to national championship, you have got to buy in to what we want you to do.’ By the end of the year, he was one of the best point guards in the country.
“Same with Doron Lamb. He told him, ‘You can be one of the best players in the country, but you do not play hard enough.’ He would watch film and run it back and back showing him that. Coach had visions for this team and he articulated things the same way every day and then the team practiced those things on the court.
“Coach loves his players. He has them over to his house two or three times a week. That is what builds family, builds teamwork. Guys have to commit 24/7 and he wants to build family. That’s one of the main reasons that team came together and why this model works at Kentucky under Calipari. He never wavers in his message to the players or his commitment to them.”