All this sudden changing of minds and scratching of heads about John Calipari is probably to be expected. A month ago, all his detractors could could point to the fact that Calipari was, according to conventional wisdom (and Dickie V.) unable to get to college basketball's last weekend having to replace large parts of his roster with freshmen every year. That conventional wisdom now looks a little more like a form of wishful thinking than anything else.
With all that said, the big star of the media so far this week has not been Cal, but Josh Harrellson and DeAndre Liggins. What happened to Darius Miller is anyone's guess, since his intangibles were and shooting were just as critical to winning both games last weekend, and he assisted on both the late baskets, the one to Brandon Knight and the one to DeAndre Liggins, that sealed the deal against the North Carolina Tar Heels.
I suppose it's more about the huge distance between expectations and reality that went with Harrellson and Liggins. Miller is widely perceived by Kentucky fans to have underachieved somewhat this season, although I think that characterization is completely unfair. The reality is, Kentucky fans set our expectations for him a bit too high, but right now, I would say that he has at least reached the level of which we all thought he was capable.
Here are today's links:
Here is where the similarities end. Calipari is vilified by the media and basketball establishment (including by me once). Bob Knight has ripped him. Some coaches are privately snarky when his name is mentioned. Writers from Alaska to Arkansas have called Calipari dirty since two of the programs he coached ended up having their Final Fours vacated despite Calipari himself not being punished by the NCAA.
And Calhoun? There may be no coach in all of sports who has received a pass from so many despite being caustic, nasty and actually busted by the NCAA.
Well. Not exactly what you would expect, but very much welcome.
- Derrick Rose praises his college coach, Kentucky's John Calipari - Wire - Lifestyle - bellinghamherald.com
- Kentucky's Liggins plans to make UConn's Walker work harder than in last meeting :: Lexington Herald-Leader
- Buzz on Kentucky Basketball: Hickey is Mr. Basketball Edition
- UK's Harrellson more than Kanter lite :: cincinnati.com
Mike Anderson is exactly the kind of coach that can awaken the sleeping giant that is Razorback basketball. His "Fastest 40 Minutes" tempo is exciting and will remind Razorback fans of Nolan Richardson’s "40 minutes of Hell." As well it should. Anderson was the top assistant for Nolan Richardson for 17 years when the Razorbacks owned college basketball back in the late 80’s to the late 90’s. Recruits will gravitate toward the system, the coach, one of the best on-campus basketball arenas in the country, and the rich tradition that is Razorback basketball.
Jay Z To Be Fined Over $30k By NBA For Talking To Kentucky Players :: Hip Hop News Daily -If It Ain't Here... It Ain't News
That just shows you what I know -- I had no idea Jay Z was involved with the Nets.
- After a tournament of upsets and Cinderellas, Butler and Connecticut will advance to the final :: NYU's Daily Student Newspaper
- Mark Story: Kentucky boasts a six pack of inspiration :: Lexington Herald-Leader
After the NCAA ruling denied UK's final appeal on Kanter's eligibility on Jan. 7, UK made him a student assistant coach. It's a role usually reserved for players who have exhausted their eligibility or been sidelined for the rest of their college careers because of injury.
Student assistant coaches are not supposed to participate as players in practice, but the NCAA does not regularly enforce the rule.
I have no idea what this means.
Last Friday I saw it. Everybody saw it. And we saw it some more on Sunday against North Carolina. And the reason I love it — and it's hard for anyone not to — is that Harrellson is a guy few of these schools would even recruit today. Nobody's out there looking for the next Josh Harrellson.
Eric Crawford comes out with another good one.
"He is one of the most conscientious, hard-working players that I have been around," Calipari said.
I believe him.
- Are these the "Payback Cats"?
- From the Pressbox: John Thompson impressed with Cats :: Tom Leach
But will Calipari get the same accolades? Old habits and assumptions die hard. One regular critic, ESPN's Dana O'Neill , said on television that it's worth noting in the UK-UConn semifinal, is that UConn was "on probation too." The statement seemed to assume that Calipari lives on perpetual probation (she later apologized for misspeaking on Twitter). But it cannot be ignored that Calipari's previous two Final Four trips were vacated and one can most certainly guarantee there will be numerous articles written bringing up the various issues from his coaching past.
Kudos to O'Neil for correcting her error. I do wonder, though, how many sportswriters actually think Kentucky is on probation right now? I doubt O'Neil does, but the slip of the tongue makes on wonder
Tom Leach's Wildcats Links.
Be sure to check out Tom's radio show, on every day in Louisville on 1080 WKJK at 12:00. There are archives of his show at The Leach Report site.
- Coach K - Rose Comment in Documentary 'Insulting' - NYTimes.com
- Jalen Rose Faces Drunken Driving Charges in Michigan - NYTimes.com
- Video: DeAndre Liggins talks about his maturation as a Cat :: Vaught's Views
- Ranking the Final Four: Point Guards :: Beyond the Arc
The McDonald’s All-American game is tonight at 10 p.m. on ESPN. Michael Gilchrist,, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer, all UK signees, all will be playing. Next Cats has all your links.
With four future Wildcats in the McD, you can bet I'll be watching.
Kentucky relies on three: leading scorers Brandon Knight (17.3 points), Terrence Jones (15.8) and Doron Lamb (12.3).
I think this is overstated. Kentucky really starts 2.5 freshmen, considering how many minutes and starts Liggins gets.
This is a very likable piece by Jared Smith of SB Nation if you overlook the factual errors -- Tubby Smith got fired, the UK players are no-names (Brandon Knight was Gatorade player of the year two years running) -- but I think the rest was mostly on point.
It's hard to blame fans of other schools for not knowing every nook, cranny and nuance of Kentucky basketball. If they did, they'd most likely be fans of Kentucky, after all.
My perception of Kentucky coach John Calipari has changed.
Read the whole thing. We're winning them over, one at a time. C'mon, guys, jump on the bandwagon! We don't resent it, there is plenty of room up here.
And then there's this guy:
Maybe naivete has infected the Blob, but I don't buy that for a second. I think there are still coaches out there who, as they say, Do It Right. I think you can navigate around the street agents and various other leeches who hang around the Optimus Prime recruits at AAU tournaments and come out clean on the other side. So, no, I don't Calipari's any less shady because he's coached the game off its feet this March.
Sadly, people with less than two brain cells to rub together do get to write for a living. A pity, but a fact of life. This guy doesn't think at all, he emotes. He just knows, facts be damned, that Calipari is "shady." He would probably call it "common sense," an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Calipari Requests Space for His Players on Trip to Houston
Makes sense. But Calipari does need to remember who he coaches for.
Calipari: Final Four not validation for any coach :: Vaught's Views
I think this is right. There is as much luck as skill in getting to a Final Four.
Calipari on Jim Rome
Very good listen.
Rush The Court :: Around The Blogosphere: March 29, 2011
Much good stuff in here.
- Wildcats Thunder Blog: Kentucky vs UCONN....A Preview 2011 NCAA Final Four Tourney
Calapari the best "manager" in the game.
With all due respect to John Pennington, I feel like this is almost a "Cal can't coach X's and O's" piece. It understates his value as a bench coach and casts him in the role of a Billy Martin or something. Doesn't work for me.
Should Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris enter the NBA Draft? - Rocky Top Talk
Both Hopson and Harris should feel free to test the water, but both should stick around for their own sake. They can do a lot next year, depending on how hard the NCAA comes down on the Vols. I hope the NCAA announces its decision soon.
- Best Of The SB Nation Network: March 28, 2011 - From Our Editors - SBNation.com