On The Mark: Coach Cal Does It Again
04/17/2012 11:45 AM
I’ve done a lot of thinking since Coach Calipari raked in yet another #1 recruiting class after signing Nerlens Noel. I personally hate when people say, “Coach Calipari plays the one-and-done recruiting game better than anybody.” Stop that! He is the best recruiter in college basketball right now. Period. I’m going to tell you why that’s great for the Big Blue Nation and scary for the rest. High school superstars having to play one year in college or in Europe is guideline set in place by the NBA – kudos to Coach Cal for understanding the parameters of an ever-changing game.
Something I find fascinating is UK still loses some of the top recruits in the country to other schools. I know that sounds funny, but Shabazz Muhammad, who chose UCLA over Kentucky on national television last week, is the latest. I know the BBN gets worked up about this, but don’t! Think back to Coach Calipari’s last three teams at Kentucky. The common factor is talent, of course… but also the fact that each player sacrifices a little bit individually for the team. We’re talking about guys that have successful careers and a lot of money waiting for them if they prove themselves. You’d expect them to be more selfish, but they’re not.
For example, John Wall could have shot every time down the court, but his unselfish assists made the team better. Brandon Knight is 2-guard that played one hell of a point for the Cat’s Final Four run. Last season, not one player averaged a whopping amount of points. Every guy did the small things, though – hustled, got rebounds, blocked shots, and made the extra pass. That’s how guys like Daniel Orton get drafted so high, or Josh Harrellson comes from nowhere in one season to now being a contributing member of the New York Knicks.
The individual stats don’t matter when you talk about successful teams. That’s why most of the time, if a recruit looks at Kentucky and says, “What about my playing time? How many shots will I get with all this talent on the floor?” The Cats are probably better off without them. Think about it, there is no need for a player at UK to average 25 points a game, unless he shoots no more than 10 times and makes a lot of free throws. The fact that every guy contributes makes it nearly impossible for other coach’s to prepare a solid game plan.
Nerlens Noel said to ESPN.com, “Coach Cal recruited me real hard. He is a good person who cares about his players, he helps them reach their goals and the team’s goals,” Noel said. “They play as a unit and are very unselfish.”
He is exactly right, and that scares the crap out of the rest of college basketball.