LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 21: John Calipari the Head Coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team during the 88-44 victory over the Drexel Dragons at Rupp Arena on December 21, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky. The victory was the 2,000th in the history of Kentucky basketball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Tonight, No. 2 Michigan State knocked off No. 1 Kentucky 78-74 at the Champions Classic in Chicago. The game was a tightly contested battle and Calipari’s freshmen held their own against a veteran Spartans team, although they eventually shot themselves in the foot at the free throw line, where they missed 16 crucial attempts.
However, despite a great second half that made the game extremely competitive, “hanging tough” was no consolation for the Wildcats. In his postgame press conference, John Calipari mentioned that tears were flowing in the UK locker room, and argued that it’s a good sign — here’s video of the comment, via WDRB:
This isn’t exactly a major surprise — the current Wildcats probably dominated all of their high school competition, so losing isn’t exactly familiar to them, and definitely isn’t acceptable. Obviously the loss stings for the team, but it’s a great early-season experience and the players showed that they can in fact respond to adversity after battling back from a first half in which they were handily beaten.
As Calipari noted, he wants the team to be upset after losses — coaches often express that they want players who hate losing more than they like winning. All in all, Kentucky should take tonight’s game as a good experience, and hopefully learn some lessons that can help them grow moving forward. If they can do that, there likely won’t be many tears for the Wildcats in the future.