Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/25/12
HOOVER, Ala. --There is no mystery with John Calipari. If you want to know what the man thinks, just ask him. "The biggest challenge is we're not a very good team right now," the Kentucky coach said the moment he arrived at SEC Basketball Media Day. "We don't defend very well as a team or as individual players. We don't rebound like we should with the size that we have. We don't have leadership yet, because we're all trying to figure out how we play and what our roles are going to be. And offensively we don't execute and don't shoot as well as we need to. Other than that, I think we'll be fine." If you think you've heard this sort of thing from Calipari before, you would be right. He is notoriously harsh on his teams early in the year, often calling out individual players. Marcus Teague had to step up and get better. Doron Lamb had to show more leadership. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was "young, very young." But in hindsight, those poor-mouthing tactics are not designed to lull other teams into a false sense of security, nor is Cal using the media to embarrass or motivate his team. He was asked a question, and he answered it. What he says at any given time is how he feels at that moment. So, you can bet that the scrimmage in Lexington on Wednesday and the defensive practice Thursday morning before he boarded the plane for Birmingham didn't go as Cal had hoped. "Leadership develops," he said. "We replaced 90 percent of our team, so guys are still trying to figure out who they are and what they can do. They don't know each other; they don't talk to each other; they're way behind. We're way behind where we should be." Forget that Kentucky is ranked third in the country in most pre-season polls behind Indiana and Louisville. Forget that Cal has taken teams to the Elite Eight, the Final Four and the National Championship in the last three seasons. Forget that he has a couple of freshmen that are 6'10"and 7'0" with athleticism to burn, and another freshman, Archie Goodwin from Little Rock, who was one of the most sought-after guards in the country. Forget it all. They aren't very good at this moment, and that is all Cal wants to say. "They don't break down and play defense the way we do," he said. "We're not going to guard you all the way up the court and we're not going to try to steal every ball. And guys like Archie aren't accustomed to breaking down and staying in position for an entire possession. So he's got a lot to learn, a long way to go." But tomorrow, they might be better. And the day after that, they will likely be better still. And next week -- given Cal's relentless obsession with details and up-tempo drills -- they will be even better. Until, finally, perhaps sometime in November or December, maybe January, but certainly by February, he will answer the question differently. He might then admit that his team is, in fact, pretty good. But that time is not now. Now Cal is what he has always been: the relentless, pre-season taskmaster, Adolph Rupp for hard-asses, the guy who holds up your every deficiency and shouts to the world, "Behold, an underachiever!" "We are a very 'October' team right now," he said. "Mediocre for October." Word will filter back to Lexington. The wheels of his plane won't touch the ground before chat-boards will light up with angst over the plight of the Wildcats. That is exactly how he wants it. Because while he isn't lying -- this Kentucky basketball team probably isn't that good by Calipari standards -- his standards are in a league of their own. The Wildcats will work harder tomorrow than they did today, if for other reason than to get their coach off their back. They might not be "Calipari good" by the time they tip off against Maryland on November 9, but they will be much better than they are today. And in the rest of the basketball world, that is usually considered very good indeed.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Minnesota fans desecrate Philly's 'Rocky' statue with Vikings gear

Report: Giants GM wants Eli Manning to remain starting QB in 2018

Robert Kraft: Tom Brady’s hand injury less ‘severe’ than it could have been

Report: Del Rio 'leading candidate' to become Giants DC

Congressman wants Diddy to buy the Jets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Todd Haley in 'serious talks' with Browns to become offensive coordinator

Philly greasing poles to prevent Eagles fans from climbing them

Report: Adam Thielen to play through ‘extremely painful’ back injury

LeSean McCoy takes funny shot at ‘little short coach’ Chip Kelly

Sedins looking to re-sign in Vancouver for another year

Tom Brady hides right hand while walking into Gillette Stadium

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: History will be made in the NFC

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Greatest NFL Conference Championship moments ever

Top 10 X-factors for Conference Championship Games

Case Keenum deserves better than the also-ran description

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

15 underrated NBA players having tremendous seasons

Wildcats News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

The 'Baby I'm a (All-)Star' quiz

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Ranking baseball's GMs entering the 2018 season

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: The Saints miss an important long-distance call

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames hope layoff won't cool them down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker