John Calipari Never Quit On Kentucky Wildcats

03/14/2013 04:20 PM

We praised Nerlens Noel’s hustle on all plays, and we love Willie Cauley-Stein’s energy throughout the game. But one thing overlooked in this up-and-down season is that John Calipari never gave up. He never stopped trying new tactics to get players to give their all, he never stopped adjusting lineups, especially after Noel’s injury, and he never stopped coaching.

Before leaving for Nashville, Calipari said, “I’m going to do everything to try to get the team across the finish line. As a coach, you’re doing everything that in your heart of hearts, in your bones, you know you normally wouldn’t do… or wouldn’t even consider to try to get your team across the finish line.” This team pushed Coach Cal out of his comfort zone, and instead of giving up after a few failed attempts, he’s kept on coaching.

Against LSU, at home and up by three with four seconds left on the clock, Coach Cal called for his team to foul. Not a strategy he usually takes, but with the way that game was going, Calipari said “There ain’t no question he would have banked it and that three would have gone in.” After the Florida loss, Coach Cal shook up the lineup, giving Jarrod Polson his first career start. The scorer’s table has been more of a revolving door with Calipari subbing in player after player. To loosen up his players, Coach Cal challenged the team to a game of dodgeball with his staff. The players beat the coaches at dodgeball and, the next night, won against Vanderbilt on the court.

At times, Coach Cal seemed down, upset, and frustrated, but who hasn’t been at least once this season? John Calipari practiced what he preached this season. As a coach, he hustled, he gave energy, and he never gave up on any possession. Of course, a lot of this hustle and energy came out as yelling. The last practice at Rupp Arena before heading to Nashville was a good, hard practice, according to Coach Cal.

“They can do it if they choose to do this,” Calipari said. “They just choose not to do it. Then by not choosing to do it they don’t understand it’s selfish. Giving less than your best effort to cover for your teammate is selfish. When you’re dealing with 18- and 19-year-olds, they don’t know this stuff.”

Lucky for this team, their 54-year-old coach does know this stuff. That selflessness and experience from their head coach may help Kentucky this postseason.

Be sure to watch KSTV tonight as Thomas Beisner and Bradley McKee come to you from the SEC Tournament in Nashville.

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