Skip to content

Is criticizing John Calipari’s ability to coach unfair?

Mar 5, 2012, 1:51 PM EDT

Georgia v Kentucky Getty Images

John Calipari is an easy coach to dislike.

If the fact that he has slid by unscathed as the programs that he ran prior to Kentucky had Final Fours vacated isn’t enough, the fact that he is the face of Big Blue Nation and completely unapologetic for recruiting players with the main goal being to get them fast-tracked to the NBA while rumors swirl about the NCAA violations he commits on a daily basis is probably enough to put him on your bad side.

Perhaps the harshest criticism that Coach Cal has taken over the course of his career is the fact that he cannot coach. That he’s a recruiter, a coach that simply rolls the balls out onto the floor and allows the talent he has amassed to take over. As one columnist put it, Coach Cal runs “a glorified AAU team.”

And that is, perhaps, the most inaccurate critique of Coach Cal. When it comes down to it, Coach Cal can coach. As Luke Winn (and John Ezekowitz before him in the College Basketball Prospectus season preview) noted, the past two seasons, he has changed the style that his team plays during the season to highlight the strengths of his team. More specifically, he’s slowed down the pace that his team plays at. This season, Kentucky has gone from a team that averaged 70.7 possessions in non-conference play to one that averages 62.6 possessions in SEC games — a massive change — and it has resulted in Marquis Teague becoming a much more effective point guard. He did the same thing last season and it was a key factor in Brandon Knight‘s transition form an overwhelmed freshman to the No. 8 pick in the draft.

Calipari took the time to sit down with Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News for a long question and answer session, and he addressed this very topic.

“They’re not ‘all one-and-dones,'” he said. “That is the disclaimer so you don’t have to say, ‘Boy, he really gets guys better. Their program, their style, prepares kids.’ You’re telling me that Eric Bledsoe was a “one-and-done”? You’re telling me Daniel Orton was a ‘one-and-done’? You’re telling me Shawne Williams, when I was in Memphis, was a ‘one-and-done’? Can you tell me who thought that? Because they need to be drug-tested.”

You can dislike the way that Coach Cal runs a program. That’s your prerogative.

But criticizing his ability to develop talent and coach a team is both unfair and incorrect.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Summer highlights for five-star center Stephen Zimmerman (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Stephen Zimmerman is ranked the No. 10 overall recruit by Rivals.

  2. Record number of tents camped out for Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness (VIDEO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Via @_Shanabon Via @_Shanabon

    Kentucky fans camped out on Monday in order to officially camp out for tickets on Wednesday morning.

  3. Rhode Island big man returns to the floor for 2014-2015 season

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Rhode Island v Butler Getty Images

    The Rhode Island forward is eligible after missing the 2013-2014 season.

  4. Maryland transfer eligible this season at Georgia Tech

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The 6-foot-8 forward has two years of eligibility remaining.

  5. Georgia Tech will hire former Marshall coach, promote another assistant

    Sep 19, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Tom Herrion AP

    The Yellow Jackets have added two new assistant to the coaching staff this offseason.

  6. Syracuse won’t know Dajuan Coleman’s status until November

    Sep 19, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    Villanova v Syracuse Getty Images

    The Orange holds the first of two exhibition games on Nov. 2.

  7. South Carolina lands commitment from three-star power forward

    Sep 19, 2014, 4:08 PM EDT

    Scott Stuart/Rivals Scott Stuart/Rivals

    The Roselle Catholic (New Jersey) product picked the Gamecocks over Seton Hall and Rhode Island.

  8. Former Chattanooga assistant to join UAB coaching staff

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:46 PM EDT

    Chattanooga Athletics Chattanooga Athletics

    Interestingly enough, UAB visits Chattanooga December 22.

  9. CBT’s Recruiting Roundup: Boston College, Illinois, LSU have big visitors

    Sep 19, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    johnnyjones AP

    News and notes from around the world of college basketball recruiting.

  10. USA Basketball debate reaches new low with illustration of John Calipari (PHOTO)

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Matt Jones/Kentucky Sports Radio Matt Jones/Kentucky Sports Radio

    Thought the recent debate about USA Basketball and advantages gained by college coaches was getting tiresome?

  11. Mike Krzyzewski, Dawn Staley make list of world’s greatest leaders

    Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Mike Krzyzewski Mike Krzyzewski

    Fortune Magazine has the Krzyzewski and Staley ranked 20th (along with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich) on the list.

  12. NCAA still dealing with lawsuits regarding scholarships, cost of attendance

    Sep 19, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA is hoping to have two lawsuits dismissed, with the plaintiffs in those suits arguing otherwise. And three U.S. senators voiced their displeasure with the lack of progress being made by the NCAA.

  13. Washington will need Fresno State transfer to step forward in 2014-15

    Sep 19, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    Lorenzo Romar Lorenzo Romar

    Lorenzo Romar spoke positively of Robert Upshaw’s progress, and with the Huskies’ lack of interior depth the Fresno State transfer will be a key figure this season.

  14. Four-star 2015 guard/forward narrows list to five

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Among the schools still in the running for this Top 100 prospect’s services is LSU.

  15. 2013 Sweet 16 run pays off in a big way financially for FGCU

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT

    2013 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic - Florida Gulf Coast v Radford Getty Images

    FGCU’s Sweet 16 run in 2013 paid off in a big way for the athletic department.

  16. Missouri announces plans to renovate Mizzou Arena

    Sep 18, 2014, 7:04 PM EDT

    Kim Anderson, Mike Alden Kim Anderson, Mike Alden

    Mizzou Arena’s just ten years old, but the school has found some areas that need renovating.

  17. Former College of Charleston assistant joins staff at The Citadel

    Sep 18, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman Chuck Driesell, Tom Koopman

    Freeberg makes the move from the College of Charleston to The Citadel, with J.D. Powell headed in the opposite direction.

  18. Kentucky’s John Calipari offers his thoughts on USA Basketball critiques

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    John Calipari AP

    Calipari tweeted that if the coaches gained an advantage from helping revitalize USA Basketball he “doesn’t begrudge them in the least.”

  19. Top-40 Class of 2015 guard sets a decision date

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    kerwin roach AP

    An important member in a 2015 class lacking guards has set a decision date.