I decided I'd just make this one full post and recap everything that John Calipari said on his final radio show of the 2021-22 season, as Kentucky heads into another offseason and the 14th go-around under Cal.
As you know, he decided to prerecord this week's show and not allow phone calls like he normally does because he is out on the road recruiting, which normally I think many of you would say is completely fine, except for in this one moment I wouldn't agree for that to be true. This was one of those moments that he needed to read the room and give the fanbase a chance to voice their opinions directly to him because those emotions seem to be at an all-time high right now, and unfortunately, this is another one of those things he has failed on by just prerecording and not accepting any phone calls with this being the last one of the season and on top of that, the result of the season. I do think it was to avoid the backlash from the fanbase, which was very much expected, but after what happened Thursday night I think this is one of those times where you (Cal) just have to sit there and take your inflictions that comes with the job, instead of running from it. This fanbase can be ruthless, but they can also be so supportive, and that's what makes this place so special - he has to take the good with the bad and he should've allowed phone calls for his final show, but anyways, he didn't, and we're just going to dive into what all he said.
Calipari starts off by addressing the season that just concluded. "My concern is yes for the fans, but also for these young people. The joy Tom (Leach), that they brought to all of us, you think about people saying this was one of the most fun teams to watch, one of my favorite teams ever here, and all that kind of stuff, and then ending the way it ended.. I mean, devastating. But it's not going to take away the joy I had from coaching these guys." He continues with, "Our team wins I'm always going to give them credit, our team loses I'm always going to take responsibility like I did here."
On having timeouts late in the game, and most of the time not using those, John Calipari addressed why he coaches that way. "I don't like calling timeouts in those kind of situations unless two guys fall down, or something happens, because the other team is saying don't foul. So you're going to get something at the rim, something if they collapse easy on the perimeter. I've always coached that way, very rarely would I call that timeout, and there's all kinds of ways of doing this and this is just how I've always done it over my career." Says, "When it works it's like 'What a great play,' and when it doesn't work it's like 'Why didn't you call a timeout?' and I get that, that's a part of coaching." He said as fast as this team has played this year he felt it was the best route his guys to not call one, but "obviously it didn't play out that way."
The UK Sports Network allowed fans to tweet in questions they had for John Calipari and here are the ones he answered. To make this post a little shorter, I'll paraphrase how it went.
Q: Despite dominant wins throughout the season, the team seemed to digress towards the end of the season, what do you think contributed to this?
A: The team never got back to their best form after the two guards (TyTy, Sahvir) kept getting injured.
Q: What defensive adjustments could you (Cal) have made?
A: They worked on trapping the pick'n'roll, but ended up not using it because the game was too close. The backdoor cuts were very disappointing because they worked on defending that in practice for two full days.
Q: Do you think you (Cal) should have played more of your bench throughout the regular season to have more options come the postseason?
A: The plan was to get Daimion (Collins) and Bryce (Hopkins) in once there was a big enough lead, but they never reached that point against Saint Peter's.
Q: Do you have any regrets/changes you wish you would have made from this season?
A: They wish they would've had a better answer on how to handle TyTy Washington not ever getting back to 100%, wish he would've had a better adjustment there. Says their best basketball was right before his backcourt started to get injured.
Q: How busy do you plan to be in the transfer portal this offseason?
A: Doesn't know how much just yet, but they only plan to bring in players that have talent, character and the will to win/competitive spirit. Those are the only players that work here.
Q: What offensive philosophies might you change moving forward?
A: Calipari adjusts every year, and they're usually in the top three of four every year, but it depends what the team looks like and who will be out on the floor. Each team is different. They're always open to changes made by people (coaches) involved in the game.
On moving forward into the offseason John Calipari says they have a bright future ahead, despite what the result was this season. "You've got Chris (Livingston) and Cason (Wallace) coming in, I'm feeling good about where we are going, I'm just, you know, it's hard to get by that last game. Me as the coach, I mean fans are mad but the players, me, the staff, we coached it. We lived it. We lived the season where you end up fifth in the nation. And if we would have played better in the tournament, we could have been in the top four in the nation. We lived it! And then to have it end the way it did? Look, we're not happy, and I'm not trying to convince anyone that's upset to not be upset, I'm not. I'm just talking from the heart for me and these kids."
It's very apparent that the loss is really affecting John Calipari, how could it not, and it feels as if he is trying his best to take all the blame for how the season ended, but we are at the point of his tenure where there are a lot of fans that aren't happy with him, and nothing he does will be good enough for them, so unfortunately there isn't a whole lot he can do this offseason that will 100% be right. He'll just have to try to guide this program in the direction, and take a lot of criticism as he moves forward and hope with an elite level of postseason play next March it will bring some of those fans back to his side. Until then, things will be interesting and heavily debated.
Once John Calipari was finished with the show, UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart jumped on for a few minutes to voice his opinion on this season and moving forward with the program. Of course the radio show went into more detail as I only paraphrased, so if you'd like to hear the full conversation you can listen to the recording here.
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