Here’s why John Calipari was so upset with Tyler Herro
After a 71-52 defeat Saturday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari described his interaction with freshman Tyler Herro as if at first you don’t succeed, then try, try, try and try again.
“Because I’m telling him what to do, and he’s choosing not to do it,” Calipari said with a composed tone of voice. “Like, you know, ‘Here’s what I’m telling you to do. Why don’t you do it?’”
In Calipari’s re-telling, his repeated attempts at coaching Herro came with increased volume and, to be polite, urgency.
“So, first of all, you say it in the huddle,” he said. “Then you say it nicely. Then you go and see what I did. The fifth time, then you tell him very aggressively that it ain’t happening.”
Calipari lamented how several players seemed to put individual scoring ahead of the team. He did not mention Herro by name when he said, “It was the first game in a while we did not play for each other.”
Herro seemed to display the inconsistency that comes with being a freshman. Four days after setting career highs with five three-pointers and 29 points against Arkansas, Herro made two of 11 shots. That included none of his five three-point attempts. His six points snapped a streak of nine straight games in double figures.
“‘We’re putting you in position where you look good,’” Calipari said as if speaking to Herro. “‘Not turning it over. You had (a career-high) five turnovers. Just threw the ball away. That’s not who you are for us. You’re the finisher, not the play-starter. We got play-starters. I need you to finish.’
“So we got away from all that today.”
Calipari all but predicted an overreaction to the game, and to any game.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Now, they’ll say we’re not good. But when we beat them, they’re not that good. Now, they beat us on their court where they haven’t lost in two years (25 straight victories), now we’re not that good. What?”
You gotta believe
Calipari lamented how UK did not take advantage of an opportunity. After reducing a 20-point deficit to 50-36 with 12:57 left, the Cats went scoreless on four straight possessions (three misses by PJ Washington, then a turnover).
“Only one guy was thinking we can get this to seven or eight,” he said. “Me. That was it. No one else.”
When asked if a 19-point loss might jeopardize UK’s chances at a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, Calipari said, “No. No. Because other teams have lost and they moved up in the poll.”
Calipari accompanied this sly they’re-out-to-get-us comment with the hint of a knowing smile.
Tennessee limited UK to its lowest point total since a 64-48 loss to Vanderbilt in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament.
UK’s 31.8-percent shooting accuracy was the program’s worst since 31.3 percent (21 of 67) at Missouri on Feb. 3, 2018.
“Defensively, it’s something they should be proud of,” Tennessee Coach Rick Barnes said.
‘Sea of Orange’
Tennessee star Grant Williams saluted the fans that filled Thompson-Boling Arena. The attendance was announced as 21,729.
Looking ahead to the SEC Tournament in Nashville, he said, “You don’t think there’s going to be a sea of Orange there? I think Tennessee fans travel. If we were playing in Washington state, they’re going to come all the way there and support us. Best fans in America, and we really feed off them.”
Calipari returned to the absence of Reid Travis more than once in his post-game remarks.
When asked what UK missed with Travis sidelined, Calipari said, “Toughness, and his consistency of play is amazing. … Reid is going to give you what he gives you every minute he’s on the floor. So you miss that consistency. …
“For us to win (this game) without Reid, we were going to have to play one of the best games in the last 10 years.”
Scared of PJ?
Williams acknowledged that Tennessee players were aware that Herro had suggested after the first game that the Vols were afraid of PJ Washington.
“We joke about it little bit,” Williams said with a smile. “We respect him (Herro). … I was shocked that he said that. But, uh, we just joke about it. … It’s just a comedy thing for us.”
‘Best point guard’
Jordan Bone had career highs with 27 points and five three-pointers. He also had zero turnovers in 35 minutes.
“That’s the best point guard in America, man,” Williams said.
Calipari said of Bone: “He played great. He ran downhill on us. We were trying to run some stuff to get our guy to run downhill. Didn’t quite accomplish it the same way.”
Ashton Hagans scored five points.