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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Calipari Reminds Somebody To Beware The Scorpion

Call me cynical, but I am convinced that for the most part, John Calipari has a reason for doing everything he does.  So what was Coach Cal's motivation for reminding Kentucky fans of an old adage on that probably everyone from the state over the age of 20 has heard -- the parable of the turtle and the scorpion.  This parable is also sometimes known as the frog and the scorpion, but the events described are virtually identical regardless of the species.

If for some reason you have forgotten the parable, read it at the link above.  Then read the moral that Coach Calipari describes, which is this:

Moral – when you connect with a scorpion that says, "I need your help, I wont hurt you. As a matter of fact, I will promote you,"  beware!!!

Stated another way, the parable means that creatures, great and small, will always act in accordance with their nature.  The same is true of people.  If a guy in a prison jumpsuit is thumbing a ride on the side of the road, most people will not stop to be told that he intends you no harm and just wants a ride.  They instinctively understand that a person like that is very, very unlikely to be trustworthy, and has a high probability of being dangerous.

So where am I going with all this, and how does it relate to Kentucky basketball?  Follow me past the jump to find out.

My reading of this is that the "scorpions" featured in Calipari's retelling are actually college basketball coaches, and the players they are recruiting are the turtles, or frogs if you prefer.  These players are being warned that coaches will act according to their nature, not their promises.

Let's take Rick Pitino for example.  Pitino has a history of increasing playing time according to class.  Now, that doesn't mean he doesn't play freshmen, but he vary rarely features a freshman in his system, and few ever start many games for him.  That's his style, and it always has been.  Even Ron Mercer, Kentucky's only consensus #1 recruit during the Pitino era, was not a starter his freshman year and in fact he only played an average of 18 minutes or so per game.  Pitino has been even more reluctant to start freshmen at Louisville than he was at Kentucky.

I am not judging Pitino's methods here, he has been very successful as a college coach, and many other highly successful college coaches follow a similar philosophy.  But they very likely minimize, or even dissemble about this fact while recruiting.  Their line would be, "everyone has a chance to be a starter," but the reality is rather different than that statement would imply.

So in my opinion only, the intended audience for this commentary is the players Calipari is recruiting.  Beware people, in this case coaches, suggesting they will do things out of character, just for you, if you'll only sign on the dotted line. 

That's a good lesson for us all, no doubt, but let's be honest -- who needs the reminder more, the UK faithful, or the young people being wooed by all these high-powered college coaches?