When it comes to big surprises, Kentucky's loss to Wisconsin in the 2015 Final Four was on a scale that cannot be expanded, John Calipari suggested Thursday.
"When we had a four-point lead with five minutes left, I don't think there was anybody in the universe that didn't think" Kentucky would win, he said. "We were winning the game because we always did."
No one at a state-of-the-program news conference mentioned possible outliers in a parallel universe who doubted a Kentucky victory. Or the possibility of contrarians in this quadrant of the Milky Way.
But Calipari was surprised.
"I never thought we were going to lose last year," he said. "When we won a couple of those games (and) how we won them, and then what we did to West Virginia, I just didn't think we'd lose.
"It hurt because we had a chance. Even though we made history, we had a chance to be one of those iconic teams."
The loss to Wisconsin was as painful as it was surprising, he said.
"It hurt us all," Calipari said. "We all thought we were winning the whole thing. We thought we were going 40-0."
When asked why Kentucky lost, Calipari reminded reporters there were two teams playing in Lucas Oil Stadium.
"We didn't play well, but Wisconsin played great," he said. "Wisconsin at their best, they're good. ... You have to give Wisconsin credit."
UK enhanced NBA stock
Putting on his salesman suit, Calipari noted how this past season helped several Kentucky players elevate their stock in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Calipari acknowledged for the first time publicly that Karl-Anthony Towns resisted the coaches' request that he focus on being a low-post player.
"We forced him to do stuff he didn't want to do," Calipari said. "Like you're going to get in the post and you're going to be tougher, because that's what" NBA teams want to see.
Not coincidentally, Towns is widely projected as the first player to be selected in the June 25 NBA Draft, Calipari said.
Trey Lyles, widely thought to have played out of position as a small forward for Kentucky last season, "added value" by showing perimeter skills, Calipari said.
Of Devin Booker, Calipari said teams that advanced the furthest in this year's NBA playoffs were leaders in three-point shots made.
"Obviously, it says if you have a good three-point shooting team, you have a chance to be one of the last five teams standing," Calipari said.
Three other UK players are not considered certain first-round picks: Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison.
"Got good reports on Dakari," Calipari said. "Got great reports on Andrew."
Of Aaron Harrison, Calipari said, "Somebody's going to look at (him) and his size and ability to make big shots and play with courage, and they're going to pull the trigger on him, too."
Not for the first time, Calipari described next season as an opportunity to unveil a fully flowered Marcus Lee.
"It wasn't as though he wasn't ready last year," the UK coach said. "The problem was he was playing behind the No. 1 pick (Towns) and the number four-five-six pick (Willie Cauley-Stein) and Dakari (Johnson) who is going in the 20s.
"He was ready, but they were more ready."
In the 2015-16 season, Lee can be the player who is more ready.
"This is your time to go do what you're supposed to do," Calipari said he told Lee.
The coach noted how Lee must be a credible scoring threat from the elbow area of the court. Maybe more importantly, Lee must improve on his 32 percent free throw shooting (8-for-25).
"Because you're going to get fouled," Calipari said he told Lee.
After taking his seat, Calipari began a 30-minute news conference with a playful announcement.
"So, today, I'm announcing I'm running for president," he said before adding, "like the other 30 people.
"I think I have a chance."
As reporters laughed, Calipari was asked which party's nomination — Democrat or Republican — he would seek.
"Independent," he said with a smile. That caused another eruption of laughter.
When asked what his platform would be, Calipari paused for a moment and said with a satisfied-with-himself grin, "Everybody eats."