Found October 25, 2012 on Fox Sports South:
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.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Is ESPN’s ‘All-Access Kentucky’ show a recruiting tool for John Calipari?

In a developing story that should surprise literally no one, ESPN’s new “All-Access Kentucky” show has caused a stir among college basketball coaches, analysts and fans. The new reality show, which has aired two episodes, documents Kentucky’s preparation for an upcoming season in which they will defend their NCAA title. But is it fair? Kentucky coach John Calipari says he...

UK's Calipari: 'We're not very good right now'

Kentucky coach John Calipari insists this building job lacks the usual foundation. The defending national champion Wildcats lost six NBA draft picks and every starter, then reloaded with another top-rated recruiting class. Calipari said at SEC media day Thursday anyone who picks his team preseason No. 1 ''needs to be drug-tested. We're not very good right now.'...

Calipari: Scrimmage shows Cats need work

Freshman guard Archie Goodwin scored a game-high 32 points to highlight Kentucky's Blue-White Scrimmage on Wednesday at Rupp Arena, but it was a night that UK coach John Calipari said proves the Cats are a long way from where they need to be.

Kentucky's freshmen mesh well in scrimmage

There were many moments during Wednesday night's Blue-White scrimmage where Kentucky's freshmen justified the lofty expectations placed upon them. Archie Goodwin showed some flash while scoring a game-high 32 points. Willie Cauley-Stein was a formidable post presence with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Swingman Alex Poythress added 25 points with quickness and athleticism....

Plenty of work ahead for Cal, Kentucky

The college basketball season is a long one each and every year, even for the mighty Kentucky Wildcats. Coming off their first national title with John Calipari at the helm, the inexperienced group has an uphill battle ahead of itself in order to defend their crown.

Calipari says Wildcats are still learning

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) -- Kentucky coach John Calipari sounds like an exasperated professor who just started teaching Chinese to a bunch of freshmen. Smart and talented they might be, but it's still a whole new language. That's why the Wildcats coach scoffs at anybody who would anoint the defending national champions the team to beat. "Whoever did that needs to be drug...

Photo Gallery: Blue-White Scrimmage

This KentuckyScout photo gallery features several images from the Wildcats' annual Blue-White Scrimmage on Wednesday at Rupp Arena, including Willie Cauley-Stein going over Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress on this tough hook shot.

UK freshmen get off to positive start

There were many moments during Wednesday night's Blue-White scrimmage where Kentucky's freshmen justified the lofty expectations placed upon them. Archie Goodwin showed some flash while scoring a game-high 32 points. Willie Cauley-Stein was a formidable post presence with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Swingman Alex Poythress added 25 points with quickness and athleticism....

Challengers lining up for Kentucky in SEC

Lose six players to the NBA Draft and the devastation would be insurmountale for most teams, but not John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats.  Yes, the Wildcats are the only member of the 72 so-called BCS-affiliated basketball teams that do not have a returning starter, but another superior recruiting crop, headed by Nerlens Noel, who most recruiting pundits rated as the No. 1 player...

Tiger Opponent Preview: Kentucky Wildcats

The Missouri Tigers welcome the Kentucky Wildcats to the Zou for a Saturday morning SEC tilt as both teams are desperately looking for a win to jump start their seasons to a strong finish.

QUICK HITS: SEC basketball media day

Alabama head coach Anthony Grant discussed how freshman forward Devonta Pollard is adjusting to the program, while Kentucky's John Calipari fielded questions regarding their all-access show on ESPN at SEC basketball media day Thursday.

Blossoming Berna

Arkansas women's coach Tom Collen thinks sophomore point guard Calli Berna is ready to lead his team, Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is looking forward to his return to Fayetteville and Kentucky coach John Calipari thinks Arkansas native Archie Goodwin needs to slow down.
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.