UK Men's Basketball

John Clay: Wildcats share load of their '100-pound coats'

Kentucky head coach John Calipari talked with his assistant coaches as the Wildcats played Montana State in Rupp Arena on Nov. 23, 2014. UK won 86-28.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari talked with his assistant coaches as the Wildcats played Montana State in Rupp Arena on Nov. 23, 2014. UK won 86-28. Herald-Leader

After Kentucky crushed poor Montana State 86-28 on Sunday night at Rupp Arena, John Calipari unleashed the latest in his long line of motivational metaphors: The hundred-pound coat.

Yes, the hundred-pound coat.

The Kentucky coach first used the "100-pound coat" analogy when talking to the SEC Network broadcast crew after the game, then repeated it in front of the microphones and the cameras outside the team's locker room.

"Let me just say this to everybody, this what these kids, and I've told them this," Calipari began. "What these kids deal with to be here, to play here, to be a part of this program, they wear a hundred-pound coat."

Explain?

"What I mean by that is, it starts with me," Calipari said. "I am rough on them, I am tough on them, I'm holding them to high standards. I'm like a hawk. I see everything. I'm coaching them the entire time. They're getting better. It is not an option, you will get better. That's me."

That's Calipari, alright, and he was just getting warmed up.

"Then they have got this environment we live in here, which is like ridiculous," said the coach. "That's another 20 pounds of the coat."

What about us in the media? What about us? It's got to be about us, right? You're not going to leave us out?

"Wait a minute. What about the media? (We're going to win) 45 straight," Calipari continued, though actually it was his friend Larry Brown who said Kentucky should go 45-0. But back to us, Cal said, "Can they beat the 76ers? Let's take a vote. What?"

And now, the big finish.

"Then, they got their own clutter that's around them, individually, that they got to deal with. That's a hundred pounds," Calipari said.

"The people coming in to play us got windbreakers. They're loose as a goose, they're just going to go play. If I make shots, if I don't, watch this, I'm trying this — (that's) every game we play."

Also known as: Kentucky is everybody's Super Bowl.

"And I say this: If you're not willing to wear the hundred-pound coat, you don't come here, you can't come here, because it's not changing," Calipari said. "I'm not changing. I don't think our fans are changing. I really don't think the media's changing. And the clutter around these kids, whether it's these kids or any other kids, it's all the same."

While other coaches might lay in bed at night thinking of Xs and Os, Calipari thinks of how he's going to motivate his team. And as Calipari metaphors go, and Calipari is the coaching king of metaphors, have to admit that's a pretty good one.

Wouldn't you agree, Dakari Johnson?

"The what?" said the sophomore center before it was explained to him exactly what the coach meant.

"No, we're not wearing a 100-pound coat," said Johnson, laughing. "I mean it kind of is, just knowing the expectations that are put on us, stuff like that. But I think because we're so together as a unit we don't really feel it that much."

When Karl-Anthony Towns was asked if he had heard about the 100-pound coat, the freshman first said, "Not really, but I tell you what, the coats are really big."

Of course the coats are big. There are like four seven-footers (or close to it) on the team. But no, not "the" coats the players actually wear, but the Calipari metaphorical "coats" the players must deal with compared to the other team's metaphorical "windbreakers."

"Windbreakers?" said Towns. "I don't even think they're wearing anything. They're going to the beach. Sometimes you have those kinds of days when you have to step back and realize how much pressure really is on us. I think you all know how much pressure we really have on our shoulders every time we step on the court."

So how do you deal with the "hundred-pound coat"?

"I have great teammates. My brothers. My brothers really help me all the time," said Towns. "It's hard to say even that they're my teammates or this is a team. This is a family. We really treat each other like a family."

A family that shares the coat?

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