After 10 seasons that included 305 total wins, 31 NCAA wins, nine NCAA appearances, seven Elite Eights, four Final Fours and an NCAA Championship that ended a 13-year drought for the Kentucky Wildcats – spent a new season in Lexington – John Calipari tells us that there was “no master plan” for this college basketball revolution.
But there was one ideal he wanted to follow.
“I knew we were going to make the program – and I said it at the press conference – it would be a first player program,” Calipari told Sporting News. “We were to make decisions based on them and their needs. And it’s not just the name on the front. This is the name on the back. This is how we will do this. “
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This is the kind of Calipari rite invited to college basketball, which is one reason it is not terribly popular, which is one reason the NBA draft age limit rule came in disbelief. (Seriously, who protested when he got Thad Matta and Ohio State in the 2007 NCAA game?) And for the way he chose SN as a college basketball player, the Decade coach would certainly not face world recognition.
Villanova’s Jay Wright (2016, 2018) and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (2010, 2015) both won the championships in 2010. Why not? Indeed, why not? Either would be a worthy choice. They are excellent buses.
No one was designated in 2010 the same way as Calipari, nor did he achieve the same degree of consistent excellence. Calipari has won more NCAA tournament games this decade than all five other active coaches have made in their entire career or 18 coaches in the history of the game. Avoid the sub-.500 seasons and first NCAA wins. Kentucky was a single basket away from two more appearances of the Final Four.
Six times during the decade, Kentucky had recruiting class no. 1, so maybe the Wildcats are expected to accomplish great things. Hiring is a huge part of what makes a great coach, though. And the number of one-and-done players rolling in Kentucky made it imperative for the elite talent landing each year. The Wildcats have also been challenged to form successful teams almost from scratch on an annual basis.
During the 2009-10 season, Kentucky reached the Elite Eight before losing to West Virginia. After the season, four freshmen left the program and were cast as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton. And the following year, the Wildcats reached the Final Four. And after losing former coach Brandon Knight from this team to the draft, the 2011-12 Wildcats won the NCAA Championship.
“What I’m basically saying is that, in the short term, there was no planning,” Calipari told SN. “As it unfolded, I said, ‘We’re for these kids, and we’re going to deal with what’s left. And then that’s what we do every year.’
Calipari’s flexibility and patience allowed him to handle it even in the most difficult of circumstances. The 2012-13 season was devastated by the injury of Nerlens Noel and the Wildcats lost to the NCAAs. The Wildcats struggled to find a winning form the following season, losing a home game in late February 2014 to fall to 21-7, after losing to Arkansas and South Carolina, and then a 19-point explosion. at No. 1 Florida. Even with a national title just two years earlier, the use of Calipari by one and only players was ultimately nationally abused. This team ends up playing in the NCAA title game.
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It was a focal point for Calipari’s approach. There were fewer complaints about it, and there were more people trying the same. Dukes moved on to compete for potential prospects for himself as a candidate for the Blue Devils program and won the United Kingdom four times between 2014 and 2018. The Blue Devils also won a national title and reached in two Elite Eights with the products of this approach.
“There were two points. One point was in 2012 to win the national title, which put everyone in their hands a little bit because we did it with three freshmen and two secondary,” Calipari said. “And then in 2014, you remember it was March before this team met. It was March. So that helped (change the perception).
“But the other thing that helped was we now have a bunch of kids staying for 2015 and now I have a lot of guys. I could have told these kids to leave, which is the old way to do it: ‘You’re leaving because we don’t need you You live longer because we need you. “I don’t do that. The kids make the choice here.”
Calipari said the teaching system that resulted in that year, which produced 38 consecutive wins and a Final Four appearance, led some hired Kentucky to point out that it would not be so attractive to an average NBA lottery prospect. term 23 minutes. But he has been able to attract players like PJ Washington, Jamal Murray, Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox since then. The recruitment class he has set for 2020 ranks first.
But this team is for the next decade – it’s 2010. The Americans are John Wall, Anthony Davis, Willie Cauley-Stein and Tyler Ulis.
This is how Calipari was able to get three players who ranked outside the top 25 in high school – Eric Bledsoe, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyler Herro – in the first round of the NBA Draft after one season.
This is how 24 out of the 25 players who left after one year completed the spring semester of their academic work – lied to those who claimed that most of the players who did it on their own went only a few categories down and then split – APR awards from the NCAA for five years and maintaining access to lifelong scholarships, Kentucky has promised those who follow the promise.
This is how it has influenced a very important part of college basketball history. Each year begins with a new group of players. And, almost without exception, it ends with a team capable of contesting the title.
“The reality is that it takes us time,” Calipari said. “It’s difficult. It’s hard for the staff. And the best I can tell you is when you have an administration that accepts what we do and why, knowing that we care about the children and that it works for all involved.”