Kentucky head coach John Calipari has spent a good portion of the summer away from the Wildcats basketball program coaching the Dominican Republic National Team. Now back in Lexington after leading the the Dominicans to a bronze medal in the FIBA Americas Championship, Calipari has decisions to make about his future with the team.
ESPN's Andy Katz reports that John Calipari is uncertain if he will coach the Dominican Republic in 2012. Per Katz, Calipari recently spoke with D.R. officials, but was adamant that no final decision had been made. In John Calipari's words:
"At this point, I just got through this. This was challenging. The time element certainly was and we were on campus for the first half and then Brazil [for a pre-tournament] and then Argentina.’’
While next year's qualifying tournament would last only a week, the prospect of additional weeks of practice time, not to mention a possible spot in the London Olympics, could put a further dent in Calipari's ability to stay focused on his full-time job at Kentucky.
While the opportunity and exposure for Calipari has been great, I'm sure there's a Kentucky fan or two grumbling that any time away from the program isn't good for the team. For example, Calipari missed the first day of the Fall Contact Period on September 9th, taking away a valuable recruiting day from the coach.
Then again, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has been the head coach for the far more demanding U.S. National Team since 2006, and that hasn't prevented him from recruiting blue chips, competing in the ACC, or winning the 2010 NCAA National Championship.
Oh by the way, in the same article, Calipari gives some insight to how Kentucky might run its offense next year. Some thoughts after the jump.
One pleasant consequence about Calipari's tenure with the Dominican team was how much he learned about their style of play. After experimenting with the pick-and-roll with Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson late last season, Calipari noted that he plans to use more pick-and-roll sets with new point guard Marquis Teague.
"The dribble-drive is more European than anything else and the way they use their 4s is something we can do,’’ he said of the Euro-styles of Argentina and Brazil. "We’ve got Kyle Wiltjer and, who might be two of our best shooters. Now we can do some pick-and-rolls like these Europeans do. It was good watching and learning and I’ve got some great ideas to come back with.’’
It's such a revealing quote that I almost wish Katz hadn't buried it in with this headline. But since he did, I'll follow suit and expound a little more on it below.
Oh, and I'll go ahead and toot my own horn: I mentioned this possibility in my Recruiting Spotlight on Marquis Teague.
Personally, I'm excited to see Teague run the pick-and-roll. While he was an explosive one-on-one scorer during his days at Pike High School, Teague's skill set would easily translate to a pick-and-roll offense. It would even ease up on some of his decision-making, which has been cited as questionable at times. The screener would naturally roll to the basket with Teague, giving him an easy, big target. Further, the shooters would be assigned more defined spots where Teague would know to pass, as opposed to a rolling dribble-drive, screening offense.
Adding fuel to that fire are Calipari's spot-on comments. Kentucky's entire roster, save for Eloy Vargas, has the ability to spot up and knock down outside jumpers with consistency. With a big man like Anthony Davis drawing the shot-blocker to the top of the key, and Teague drawing wing help defenders into the paint, there will be ample space on the floor for Kentucky's triggermen to spot up for wide open jumpers.
It'll be an exciting offensive season next year, maybe the best Calipari has had in his tenure at Kentucky. The Wildcats should be extremely flexible, with the ability to switch between the DDMO and pick-and-roll sets seemingly at will. Get ready to be blown away.