John Clay

John Clay’s notes: John Calipari’s early exit strategy; Kentucky basketball’s three-point accuracy

Those who think the Wildcats play better without Coach John Calipari screaming at them might want to look at UK’s record when he does.
Those who think the Wildcats play better without Coach John Calipari screaming at them might want to look at UK’s record when he does. Herald-Leader

Random notes:

▪  I, for one, don’t think John Calipari’s ejection at South Carolina last Saturday was a premeditated ploy to fire up his team.

For starters, South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said that he thought Calipari was “on edge” before the game. Calipari made a point on Friday about Carolina’s physical play. Also, there are enough stories of Calipari becoming emotional and “losing it” with regard to his temper to make me think that’s what happened in Columbia. Of course, only Calipari knows for sure.

▪  As for Calipari not speaking to the media after the game Saturday in Columbia, I didn’t really have a problem. He was only around for 2:26. In 2014, when he was tossed with 10 minutes remaining, he should have faced the media.

▪  Speaking of getting on the officials, the more I listen to Jay Bilas the more I hear ESPN’s lead color analyst criticizing officials’ calls. And Jay seems so certain that he is right and the official is wrong.

▪  As for those who say, “See, Kentucky’s players perform better when not subjected to Calipari’s in-game screaming,” UK has won a national title and been to the Final Four four times in six years listening to Cal scream. In its previous two games before traveling to Columbia, UK beat Florida by 19 and Georgia by 34 while listening to Cal scream.

▪  Reason behind Kentucky’s recent surge? Three-point shooting has played a big role. Over the last three games, UK has made 33 of 66 threes. You’re going to win a lot of games shooting like that.

▪  Could Tubby Smith and Texas Tech make the NCAA Tournament? The Red Raiders have won three of their last four, including victories over No. 14 Iowa State and No. 21 Baylor (on the road) to go 15-9 overall and 5-7 in the loaded Big 12. A win over visiting No. 3 Oklahoma on Wednesday night would greatly help the cause.

▪  After Duke’s Grayson Allen hit a twisting one-hand shot to beat Virginia on Saturday, Virginia Coach Tony Bennett said he joked with Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski in the handshake line that he thought Allen walked. Coach K replied, “I thought he got fouled.”

▪  The fact that Allen intentionally tripped Louisville’s Ray Spalding during last week’s game in Durham — Allen did receive a flagrant foul — passed without much attention.

▪  Over his last three games, UK’s Tyler Ulis has 31 assists and three turnovers.

▪  According to Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post, only four NBA players have averaged 20 points, nine assists, four rebounds and two steals in a season: Isiah Thomas, Tim Hardaway and Chris Paul (twice). Russell Westbrook and John Wall are on track to do that this season.

▪  Alabama takes a four-game winning streak into LSU on Wednesday night. Avery Johnson will be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC.

▪  Looks like Calipari’s successor at Memphis, Josh Pastner, is about to be pink-slipped. The Tigers are 14-11 after losing in overtime at Tulane on Saturday. He’s 161-66 in seven seasons at Memphis, including an 18-14 mark last year. Memphis hasn’t advanced past the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament since Pastner took over.

▪  A stat lost in last week’s shuffle: Georgia made 23 of 27 free throws in Rupp Arena last Tuesday and still lost by 34.

▪  Reds fans should be encouraged. ESPN’s Keith Law, a man not easily impressed, has bumped Cincinnati up from 17th to 12th in his annual rankings of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball. Law ranks the Atlanta Braves’ farm system No. 1.

▪  UK is now requiring a K-fund donation for the right to buy a parking pass for UK football games. That makes sense in one aspect. Fans have long said tailgating is usually the most enjoyable part of Kentucky football.