John Calipari doesn't hold back: 'Want to keep losing? Keep acting that way'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Sunday December 15, 2013


Before the college basketball season started, Kentucky fans were making “40-0” shirts for what some called the greatest recruiting class of all time.

But after a loss at North Carolina on Saturday, the Wildcats are sitting at 8-3, and John Calipari isn't very surprised.

Before facing Michigan State last month, Calipari publicly questioned his team, saying they had little chance to beat the Spartans. The Wildcats lost, and the concerns he had then have manifested. He got very specific at his post-game press conference on Saturday, pointing to emotion and a lack of teamwork.

“What we are right now is we’re not a good basketball team,” he said. We’re not a good team because our emotion is all based on our individual play, instead of our team play. Like, we just got a great stop, let’s all chest each other and let’s go nuts. We’re not close to that right now.

“Our stuff is all based on, ‘Did I miss a free throw? Did I get beat on the dribble? Did I miss a shot?’ We’ve got to get through this. … If you want to keep losing, keep acting that way. We’re not a good team, and players aren’t looking very good. That’s what happens. When your team doesn’t play well, individual players look bad, too. When they really hit that spot where it’s like, ‘OK, we really have to do this together,’ we’re just not there right now.”

Calipari compared it to a quarterback and receiver not being on the same page on a play, and one putting the blame on another.

“The quarterback runs down to make sure everybody knows (the receiver) was wrong,” Calipari said. “'It wasn’t my fault.' You can’t be a good team. We’ve got a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve just got to clean it up. I do have good kids, and I’m coaching them hard. I’m all over them at times. They’re not bad kids. It’s been a tough road.

“It’s hard to play here. Every game we play, it’s a white-out, a blue-out, a red-out. Every game. Not just this game. You knew that when you signed up for this, so you’d better get ready, because it’s not changing. Our schedule doesn’t get any easier. We did this kind of schedule because we had to find out right away what are we? Where do we need to go?”

Did Calipari expect this kind of start?

“My hope was we’d be the best team in the last 12 years,” he said with a smile. “Reality says, until they get knocked in the teeth a couple times and then accept responsibility for what happened (it won’t change).”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.