By Nick Gray | UK basketball beat writer
Head coach John Calipari is changing his tune in a big way.
Calipari was ejected during Saturday’s game against the University of South Carolina as a result of his second technical foul, which was issued for arguing with officials.
He adjusted his coaching style on Tuesday, acting noticeably calmer in UK’s game against the University of Alabama.
Calipari did not jump around and out of the coach’s box, as has been his custom this season.
And he announced Tuesday that he now has even more reason to be less active around the bench.
Calipari complained publicly about hip problems earlier in the season, and said after Tuesday’s game that he will need a hip replacement sometime in the future. He also said that he took painkillers for four days before quitting his dosage early this week.
Senior guard Jarrod Polson did not know about the ailment, but is not surprised that Calipari has coached through the pain.
“He’s a tough guy. He doesn’t like to show pain at all,” Polson said.
Calipari was as vocal with the officials as he was with his players on Saturday against South Carolina. UK struggled to top 20 percent from the field while their head coach was on the floor.
He did not speak to the media after the game. But on Monday, he took the blame for his team’s lack of success.
“If we lose — I’ve said this for five years — who is taking responsibility? I will take responsibility,” Calipari reiterated after Tuesday’s game. “If we win, they get all the glory.
Calipari did not attribute his verbal ruthlessness on the sidelines to his hip ailment, however.
“I have no excuse. I’m just a negative guy,” Calipari said before laughing and relaxing in his chair.
The subject has led some national analysts, including ESPN’s Michael Wilbon and Fox Sports’ Dan Patrick, to speculate that Calipari would leave UK after this season.
“When I went in the office, my secretary asked me, ‘Are you not coming back next year?’ She said it was on (ESPN’s) “Around the Horn,” it was on (ESPN’s) “First Take” and they’re doing a “30 for 30” movie on it,” Calipari said. “Then (radio host) Dan Patrick talked about it. (ESPN college basketball reporter) Andy Katz already has my replacement. Because I didn’t do a postgame interview?”
Tuesday, Calipari did do his post-game interview. And he relaxed, acting as candid in front of the public as he has been all season.