Kentucky Coach John Calipari faced the fans on his weekly call-in show Monday night and took responsibility for the team’s struggles this season and grudgingly acknowledged some fans might be feeling down.
“Are there people being negative? Are they? If they are, I feel bad for them. I would just say, stay positive,” Calipari said. “And if people are being negative, how about this one? Be negative toward me. Don’t be negative toward the kids. Be negative toward me that I have not figured this out. I cost us a game against Tennessee. I tell you right now I did.”
What is Calipari’s advice for fans who want to vent about the team’s troubles?
“Send me your stuff on Twitter and Facebook. Send it all. I’m not going to read it, but send it. It will make you feel better. It’s kind of like sending a letter. Send a letter. My secretary will read it. She won’t give it to me, but you’ll feel better. You sent it! But the kids, they deserve you to be with them. They’re representing this state and they’re doing it in a very positive way even though on this court, at times, we’re not where we need to be.”
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While Calipari claimed repeatedly on the show that he doesn’t listen to any of the criticism of the team readily available on social media, he showed a good grasp of some of the complaints in a mock conversation with himself, playing the devil’s advocate fan.
“I got all these young guys and …,” Calipari began.
“‘Cal, it’s your fault we don’t have veteran players,’” Calipari answered as a “negative” fan.
“‘And you’ve got Jarred (Vanderbilt) in, and you haven’t figured it out, and it’s slowed us down a little bit.’
“Yeah, it has.
“‘Well, why wouldn’t you just wait?’
“Because he earns the opportunity to play too,” Calipari finished.
Like in years past, Calipari said his players have to learn that Kentucky will get every team’s best shot.
“Look, at some point, here’s what it is and I’ve done this a long time: You’ve got to win a game,” Calipari said during his opening statement before taking questions. “We’ve lost a couple in a row now. You’ve got to win a game. And we’re going into a top-10, top-five, whatever the heck they are on their court and last game two players from A&M cramped up. What does that tell you? They’re going so hard, because it’s us, two guys cramped up. One guy hit the floor and cramped. I mean, we’re going down there and I’m saying it will be a hard game. But, you know what? It’s exactly what’s called for right now. It’s exactly what we need to have thrown at us. A road game. A bunch of young players. You’re in a hostile environment against a really good team that’s playing great on offense.”
Calipari said he knows his team fell apart against Texas A&M on Saturday and he knows why.
“A veteran team when it gets hairy, they tighten it up. The make less errors, they take better shots and they break down less on defense,” Calipari said. “What we’re doing right now, when another team banks a three or does something crazy and it goes to 13, we take two bad shots, break down on defense, don’t run back because we’re disappointed and all of a sudden … That’s what we’re trying to get to and trying to cure.”