Apr 3, 2012, 3:32 AM EDT
John Calipari maintains Kentucky’s 67-59 win against Kansas on Monday night isn’t that big of a deal for him.
For the program and the hoops-mad state of Kentucky? Oh my, yes.
But for Calipari, a coach on his fourth trip to the Final Four and who had the 2008 title in sight before one 3-pointer, his standard line all week was that a victory wouldn’t change him. It wouldn’t change how he approached coaching, recruiting or life. It’s just another win.
“I feel the same as I did before the game. I don’t feel any different. I’m not going to change who I am,” he said.
That’s actually a fairly standard line among coaches. Roy Williams said the same thing in 2005 when North Carolina gave him his first national title after four previous trips to the Final Four with Kansas. It was something Dean Smith ingrained in Williams and makes sense. One victory shouldn’t define you as a coach. Not in a season a season that can include 40 games.
But it does. And it’ll undoubtedly alter the perception around Calipari.
Not the negative stuff. That’ll never disappear. But any idiotic notions about Calipari’s coaching credentials should finally vanish like a clean look against Anthony Davis.
The Wildcats (38-2) were superior to Kansas in every aspect Monday night, from their defensive scheme to the offensive discipline and unselfishness. There was one hiccup when Kentucky coasted a bit and gave Kansas an opening, but a few adjustments ended that.
The notion that Calipari just recruited the best players, then let them play was always foolish. No coach whose teams post superior numbers year after year is lousy at his job. And to do so with a continually changing group of players, well, that’s not easy no matter how talented those players are.
He’s won using different styles of play, by adjusting to each group’s strengths and by motivating them as well as anyone in the game. Count Kansas coach Bill Self among the people who marvel at Calipari.
“They’ve done a fabulous job coaching their team. They share. They like each other, the appearance is. And they certainly defend,” he said. “I don’t think their staff gets the credit sometimes that they deserve on how well they coach because they’re so talented”
Same goes for his players.
“It means a lot just because he gives us so much credit anytime we win and he’ll take all the fault if anything goes wrong. Just to win for him is something special,” sophomore Terrence Jones said.
Expect more of the same from Calipari. When his first season in Lexington ended with a 35-3 season and a spot in the Elite Eight, five guys went to the NBA. It delighted Calipari, who wanted more of the same. That’s an awfully canny move now.
“The reason was, I knew now other kids would look and say, ‘You got to go there.’ What I’m hoping is there’s six first-rounders on this team,” he said. “We were the first program to have five, let’s have six. That’s why I’ve got to go recruiting on Friday.”
When Calipari wins on the recruiting trail, he wins on the court, too. That’s his game. Now that he’s got a title to use when he recruits, who’s gonna slow him down?
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
Jun 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
Former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg returned to Hilton Coliseum to give one final pre-game speech before a fantasy camp.
Jun 29, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT
It should not be a surprise who the best player from this class ended up being.
Jun 29, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Tony Hawk approves this court.
Jun 29, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Ryan has never finished below fourth in the Big Ten.
Jun 29, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Mullin has completely turned over the St. John’s roster.
Jun 29, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT
Knight’s most famous outburst may be lost to history.
Jun 29, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
There are 22 total players participating in the trials.
Jun 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Steve Alford now has a pair of 2017 commitments.
Jun 28, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT
This is a very well thought-out statement from Martin.
Jun 28, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT
Johnny Jones has done an excellent job of recruiting his state in recent years.
Jun 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
South Florida brought in an experienced guard who can contribute after sitting out a transfer season.
Jun 28, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT
Maryland transfer Robert Carter has worked on his conditioning since arriving from Georgia Tech.
Jun 28, 2015, 1:19 PM EDT
The USA U19 team is off to a 2-0 start at the FIBA World Championships.
Jun 28, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
A top-100 player in the Class of 2016 is down to 10 schools.
Jun 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Syracuse picked up a transfer big man that should help in the future.
Jun 28, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Trae Young has been one of the best players of spring.
Jun 27, 2015, 9:05 PM EDT
The violations weren’t deemed severe, but the sheer number of them led to the NCAA adding a second year of probation.
Jun 27, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
Tatum was one of three 2016 phenoms to lead the United States in scoring Saturday, with these two points being one of the game’s highlights.
Iowa State’s Georgios Tsalmpouris, Oregon’s Tyler Dorsey help lead Greece in U19 World Championships opener
Jun 27, 2015, 6:06 PM EDT
Also of note is the presence of center Georgios Papagiannis, who could play college basketball next season.
Jun 27, 2015, 4:38 PM EDT
Arizona, Gonzaga and LSU each have multiple players in attendance.
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