UK BASKETBALL | Calipari stuck with slumping Harrison twins in Final Four out of "loyalty," possibly cost UK the game
09/29/2015 05:33 PM
LOS ANGELES — Kentucky’s quest for perfection ended two wins too soon when the Wildcats lost to Wisconsin in the 2015 Final Four, and head coach John Calipari says part of the blame was his decision to leaving slumping guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison out on the floor.
Speaking at a basketball coaches clinic in Los Angeles on Sunday, Calipari said benching the twins for freshmen Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis could have helped Kentucky overcome the Badgers to play for the title and a 40-0 season against eventual champion Duke.
Instead, Calipari chose to stick with the Harrison brothers “out of loyalty,” and the twins combined to miss seven of their last eight shots as UK fell in the final minutes, 71-64.
“Now you may say, ‘Why didn’t you have Tyler and Devin in at the end of the Wisconsin game? You probably would have won,’” Calipari said at the coaching clinic, according to USA Today Sports. “Because I was being loyal to those other two who led us to a championship game a year ago and they deserve to be on that court. That’s why I did it. I knew who was playing well and who was struggling. You think I wasn’t sitting there watching?
“But I owed it to those two (the Harrison twins) to do it.”
After a wave of criticism followed his comments, Calipari took to Twitter to clarify his remarks on Monday:
Let me make this clear: The twins dragged us to a Final 4 in 2014 & led us to 38 straight wins & a Final 4 in 2015. I LOVED coaching them.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 28, 2015
It never entered my mind to sub those two in that game or any other game late.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 28, 2015
Those two had come through for two years in critical moments. My loyalty was based on results.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 28, 2015
Click below to watch KSTV’s discussion on Calipari’s choice to stick with the Harrison twins and why it wasn’t the wrong decision: