Calipari says he is leaving the teams’ success up to his players


Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats screams at Wenyen Gabriel #32 during the game against Harvard Saturday, December 2, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated Harvard 79-70. Photo by Carter Gossett | Staff

Abbie Long

Although the UK men’s basketball team defeated Harvard 79-70 on Saturday afternoon, head coach John Calipari says that it’s ultimately up to the players to determine their destiny and the amount of success that they’ll have.

Calipari says that he has some players that might not give 100 percent during some moments of the game. He gives his players opportunities to substitute themselves out of the game when this occurs.

“It’s what freshmen do,” Calipari explained. “They might take a few plays off, but you can’t do that here (at UK), you don’t take plays off here, you sub yourself.”

Despite Calipari giving his players this self-evaluating power, he said he will step in and make substitutions when it’s necessary.

“We’re not subbing for missed shots or turnovers,” Calipari said. “But I will sub for energy, if you’re not talking or helping your teammate, you don’t dive on the floor, you don’t come up with a tough rebound, and I’ll take you out.”

UK tied its season low for fewest turnovers against Harvard with 10. The last game that occurred was against Vermont nearly three weeks ago. That classifies as a huge improvement for the Cats as they have been averaging 15.9 turnovers per game.

The Cats are also in the top 10 in defensive efficiency in the country, but Calipari says he still is not pleased because he thinks that his team can do better.

“I’m asking the impossible of this team, but that’s what I do for a living,” Calipari said. “I’m asking individuals to do stuff that’s probably impossible for them to do right now. But I’m asking them to strive and do it.”

Freshman forward Kevin Knox disagrees with Calipari when he asks his team to do the impossible.

“It’s not that hard, he thinks he is asking us to do the impossible, but it’s not that hard to be honest.” Knox said. “I think if we just come together as a team and step into our roles, Cal will be happy finally.”

As the season progresses, the competition and the opponents will only become more difficult for the Cats. Calipari wants to continue to leave most game time decisions up to his players and he believes that they will grow as a team as the season continues.

“There are guys that will break through,” Calipari said. “I mean, I’m playing all freshmen right now.”