Coach Calipari Articles

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Remember

Last night UK lost the National Championship to UCONN 60-54.  You'll see plenty of analysis around the interweb today telling us what we should have or could have done better.  The truth is, all of that is irrelevant.  We played poorly and we lost.

All thats left to do now, is appreciate the effort the players gave this year and remember how much fun this run was before last night.

Remember Julius Randle's relentless effort.

Remember James Young's sweet stroke and that nasty dunk over 18 UCONN players.

Remember Aaron Harrison becoming Mr. Clutch.

Remember Andrew Harrison become the 5 star PG we all knew he could be.

Remember the development of Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress.

Remember the grit of Dominique Hawkins.

Remember Willie Cauley-Stein's enthusiasm and joy in cheering on his teammates (try to forget that shirt he was wearing last night though).

Most importantly REMEMBER how this team came together despite all the adversity and chose to FIGHT like champions for their brothers.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

10 reasons why Kentucky won't win the National Championship, and 10 reasons why those reasons are stupid

Kentucky will not win the National Championship. Here's why:

1.) They have no Final Four experience (with the exception of upper class reserves who were witnesses to the 2011 Final Four run and the 2012 National Championship.)

2.) They are a young team.

3.) Coach John Calipari has built a team around 'One-and-Done' players.

4.) The atmosphere. These freshmen will not be able to handle an environment of this magnitude playing on this big of a stage.

5.) The other three Final Four teams have veteran leadership that we don't have.

6.) Coach John Calipari has struggled with making this team cohesive in such a short period of time. (We have 10 losses on the season.)

7.) We are an 8 seed. 8 seeds do not win National Championships.

8.) This team isn't a team, but merely individual players only seeking a quick trip to the NBA.

9.) We played in a weak Southeastern Conference.

10.) Florida has beaten us three times this season already.

Now that you've read all of the above garbage, take it to the trash heap and toss it. It's a big pile of ______ (You fill in the blank.)

Kentucky will win the National Championship. Here's why:

1.) Kentucky actually has as much, if not more, Final Four experience than the other Final Four teams (with the exception possibly being UConn--2011 National Champion)

2.) This young team has proven they can win in the tournament. Hence, why they are in the Final Four.

3.) Those 'One-and-Done' players seem to be doing fairly well. See #2.

4.) Coach Calipari made sure that this team was exposed to this type of environment early in the season. Remember the loss to Michigan State at the start of the season? Who is still playing? Who is not?

5.) Veteran leadership has helped the other three teams reach the Final Four this year. Freshmen leadership has helped us get to the Final Four. Which leadership style has proven better? Which team has had the toughest path to the Final Four? I'll give you one guess.

6.) We do have 10 losses on the season, but Coach John Calipari has made this team gel when it counts. Each loss made this team stronger, and here we are sitting very pretty at the most opportune time.

7.) Our seed has no bearing on winning a National Championship. Think Villanova (#8 seed) in 1985. Oh, where did they win that National Championship? Yep, Lexington, Kentucky at Rupp Arena. Omen.

8.) This Kentucky team is a team, and that is why they are playing so well. Have you checked the season statistics? If you do, you'll notice our balanced scoring. That is good distribution of the basketball and good teamwork.

9.) That weak Southeastern Conference has two representatives in the Final Four. Yep, Florida and Kentucky. No love for the SEC for most of the season, but the SEC is representing. Now which conferences are the weak ones?

10.) Florida has beaten us all three times they have played us this year. If it turns out that we meet them again in the title game, they won't beat us for a fourth. Why? We are Kentucky, plain and simple. We will not lose four times in a row to the Gators. Period.

*Bonus---A solid Kansas State team (We sent them home), Undefeated Wichita State (Shocked them and sent them packing), the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals (No repeat for you), and last year's National Runner-Up Michigan Wolverines (Not happening this year either).

Monday, March 31, 2014

Kentucky Basketball Isn't a Store

The University of Kentucky men's basketball program is historical and adorned in rich tradition. We have been called the Camelot of college basketball, identified as the greatest program in the history of the collegiate game, and noted as a place that helped elevate the game into mainstream popularity. We are the Big Blue Nation, or the Big Blue Mist, or whatever it is that you want to call us. We are everywhere. Our fan base is expansive, and the well from which we Kentucky basketball junkies drink, is limitless in supply. Now, we have become the Walmart of college basketball as a writer has stated in this article.

Walmart is a chain of superstores that has become iconic for American consumers. With the rise of Walmart, the blue-light special of K-Mart appeared to fade off into the sunset. Walmart's rise has been spectacular. The goods and services they offer make it appealing to the majority of people, as well as the ease in which those said goods can be purchased. It's undoubtedly a one-stop shop for your daily needs. Walmart has been both magnificent and prosperous. A model for success by those who wish to imitate it.

However, I am going to have to disagree with the comparison of the University of Kentucky basketball program to Walmart. I will agree that Walmart is big. I will agree that Walmart's influence is enormous, and that their reach is likely bigger than that of other consumer stores. Similarly, the University of Kentucky basketball program is big, both in the height of this year's team, as well as our abundant fan base. It is true that our influence on the game of basketball is enormous as well, and our reach is likely bigger than that of any other college basketball program.

So why the disagreement? Walmart is a business, and a very good business at that. Basketball in this state has been likened to a religion, not a business. No, we don't worship basketball. Basketball is not an idol. Basketball in the bluegrass is a focal point for families. There is a tradition amongst many where Kentucky basketball is a common area of conversation. Outside of families, Kentucky basketball spills over into our friends, former classmates, and other fans who make up this giant Big Blue Nation. Kentucky basketball means something different to every fan who bleeds blue.

For one individual, Kentucky basketball may bring back memories of listening to games over the radio with their father. To another individual, it highlights wonderful memories of attending games in Memorial Coliseum as a Wildcat student while earning their prestigious degree. Yes, prestigious. For others, Kentucky basketball represents childhood dreams of one day representing the state with Kentucky across their chests. Dreams that includes hoisting another title banner to the rafters where it shall live on forever. 

Kentucky basketball is not Walmart. Walmart is not Kentucky basketball. The message that the author is making is understandable, and the article itself is very well written. It's just that I don't go to Kentucky basketball games to buy something for the purpose of consumption. I go to Kentucky basketball games, watch Kentucky basketball games, and listen to Kentucky basketball games because there is a very deep meaning behind it that I will carry with me for life. It is a bond. I don't share that bond with Walmart. Although both Walmart and Kentucky basketball are very big in their own right, Kentucky basketball is deeply rooted in the lives of those of the Big Blue Nation. Roots that likely extend into generations prior, with tales that have been handed down as an oral history. 

So, I respect Walmart and love the ease in which I can buy the goods that I need. Walmart is for shopping. I love Kentucky basketball, and I cherish the memories it has given to me. Although both are similar, they are also inherently different. Both will likely survive the test of time, but Walmart isn't my family. Kentucky basketball is. That family is called the Big Blue Nation, and that family has given me a lifetime of memories, with many more to come.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's Not the End, It's Just the Beginning as Destiny Calls On Kentucky

Destiny defines us. Sometimes that destiny will break us, but in other times it lifts us up and we rise above, shocking even the biggest of doubters. The Kentucky Wildcats have done just that. Their destiny a month ago looked bleak. Ten losses painted an ugly picture of a team that most believed had once been destined for greatness. Then the University of Kentucky men's basketball team grew up, and have done so in such a way, it has been a shocking sight to behold. Who are these men in blue? The youngsters who most believed were en-route to an early NCAA Tournament exit, now find themselves on the brink of an unprecedented path to a National Championship. Do you believe? I do. Banner #9 is awaiting, and it is painted in Kentucky blue.

We must give credit where credit is due. Coach John Calipari and his 'tweaks' have been remarkable, and in many ways magical. Magical. The players have found their stride, located a confidence that has been absent for most of the season, and most importantly, found one another. Kentucky is now a team. A very good team at that. With a 75-72 victory over the Michigan Wolverines, the Wildcats solidified their spot as title favorites. Okay, maybe not by Vegas odds, but in the Big Blue Nation. Here in Wildcat Country there is only one team that can win. That team? Yes, the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

The victory over Michigan was a battle from start to finish. After the Wildcats had fallen behind early, and it appeared that the Wolverines may run away it, college basketball was introduced to Marcus Lee. Lee, who has seen only spot minutes throughout the season, stepped into the limelight where he shined brilliantly. He was huge, and a catalyst that provided the energy and spark to propel UK for the rest of the first half. With the score tied at 37 at halftime, Lee's 10 points allowed Kentucky to gain their footing. From that point to the finish line, the game was a sprint.

Michigan's Nik Stauskas was a sniper from the outside. His 24 points was a game high, but 18 of those points came in the first half. Kentucky's adjustment on defense slowed him down in the second half, and was likely a game changer. Julius Randle led Kentucky with 16 points to go along with 11 rebounds. James Young and Aaron Harrison also finished in double-figures with 13 and 12 points respectively. However, it was the shot heard around the sports world that sealed Kentucky's Final Four destiny. Aaron Harrison's three-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats a 75-72 lead, with only a last second mid-court heave from Stauskas for the finale. Stauskas' desperation shot missed wide right, and finished off the victory for Kentucky.

The win sends Kentucky to the program's 16th Final Four appearance. UK takes their 28-10 record with them southward to the state of Texas. 16 years ago, the Wildcats claimed National Championship #7 in the Lonestar State. Hopefully history will repeat itself for a team that not long ago seemed to be closing in on a disappointing season. Only Wisconsin stands in the way of a National Championship appearance. From there, I truly believe that Kentucky will bring the championship trophy back to Lexington. Why you might ask? Because it's Kentucky's destiny, and when destiny calls, the Big Blue answers.