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Kentucky head coach John Calipari blames himself for team’s struggles

Mar 8, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

John Calipari AP

During John Calipari’s time in Lexington it became the norm to watch Kentucky find a way to be highly successful despite essentially having a completely different roster every season.

But that hasn’t happened in 2012-13, and with the Wildcats (20-10, 11-6 SEC) losing 72-62 at Georgia on Thursday night there’s a chance that the reigning national champions won’t return to the NCAA tournament.

So who did Calipari blame for this group’s struggles following the loss? Himself, stating that he’s disappointed in the way he’s coached this season.

“The biggest thing is: I am so disappointed in the job I’ve done with this team, I can’t even begin to tell you. I look at a team – I’ve done this 20-something years; I’ve never had a team not cohesive this time of year. Every one of my teams (was) cohesive. Every one of them had a will to win more than how they were playing. Every one of them had a fight. Well, if this team doesn’t have that, that’s on me. What in the heck did I do? I’ll tell you: I’m going to go back and evaluate how we practiced, what I accepted, because they’re giving us what I’ve accepted – which is, ‘It doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, I’m going to play the way I want to play.’

In regards to the on-court chemistry it’s difficult to argue with Calipari’s statement. In the aftermath of Nerlens Noel’s torn ACL the Wildcats need each other; there isn’t a “star” among the current group that can lead Kentucky to consistent success.

Sure there are talented players such as Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein, but none of the players still on the floor have the ability to not only raise their level of play individually but also take their teammates with them.

Also in those postgame quotes were comments from both Goodwin and Cauley-Stein, with the former lamenting the lack of fight that some of his teammates display at times and the latter saying that “you can’t coach a mentality.”

Those comments sound good because it’s essentially what fans seemingly “want” to hear when their team is struggling. But making those statements and doing something about the issues are entirely different things. That’s why Kentucky is in the position they’re currently in.

Can Calipari be blamed for this group’s struggles? Sure, but at a certain point the team has to take ownership and the play of this group shows that they have yet to do so. Calipari’s words seem to be as much about relieving some of the pressure on his players as they are about him taking the blame for a season that hasn’t panned out as many expected it to.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    I don’t know if I blame him for Kentucky’s struggles this year. After all…they lost a boat load of serious talent. But I damn sure blame him for allowing the IU/UK rivalry no longer being a part of College
    Basketball. Damn coward. Grow a pair and agree to the home and home.

    • pauleky - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:50 PM


      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        Yawn = I know you are right.

  2. anythingbutyanks - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    I live in Lexington and was at Big Blue Madness at the beginning of the season where they introduced this year’s recruits and hung the banner from last year’s championship. I big part of me believes that this group was exposed to the “we are the champions” mentality out of the gate and didn’t realize that a lot of other teams would have the will and the ability to shove that back in our faces.
    Between being present to raise the banner, being the preseason #3 (if I recall correctly), and generally being so highly regarded, these guys simply thought they’d be dominating a bunch of high school teams like they were used to. Whoops. Considering that most of these guys haven’t done enough to pave their way to the NBA, plus the quality of next year’s class, perhaps next year we’ll be good enough for the Elite 8 or even the Final 4. If we have 2nd or 3rd year starters to mix with heralded one-and-done players like last year, then we can talk championship aspirations.

  3. cleonslamminsalmon - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Cal’s a genius. Publicly holding himself accountable because his players do not. Always teaching.

  4. florida727 - Mar 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Calipari is doing what he needs to do… fall on his sword to protect his players. Valiant, but the reality is he has a bunch of “me” players who don’t understand what it means to play like a T-E-A-M. That’s the problem with the proverbial one and done crowd. They’re used to being the show, the star. They were undoubtedly the best player on their high school team, probably in their state, and now they’re being told they have to give up the ball for the good of the TEAM. And unfortunately for Calipari, their collective response is one, large “f— you, Coach”.

    The ironic part is, they’re hurting their NBA stock, possibly even to the point of having to spend a 2nd year in college. And Kentucky’s recruiting class for next year might just put a lot of these prima donnas on their collective asses on the bench for the 2013-2014 season.

    • schlom - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      This year shows the perils of Calipari’s system of reloading with one and done’s. If he makes a mistake with player evaluations like he did for this current class the whole system gets clogged up. If Noels, Goodwin, Poythress, and Cauley-Stein don’t all turn pro (which they all probably won’t) where does their current class of five Top 20 players play? I doubt any of them were recruited with the idea they’d sit on the bench.

  5. 6stn - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Have they exceeded their salary cap?

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