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A Sea of Blue EXCLUSIVE: Calipari Reined in Performances

A Sea of Blue has learned John Calipari intentionally held the team back this season prior to its postseason run.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple sources with first and second hand access have confirmed to A Sea of Blue that John Calipari and his staff intentionally held back the men's basketball team this year in the months of January and February. Improvement noted by the end of December was considered "too accelerated" at the time. Sources within UK Athletics went on to state Calipari felt the team ran the risk of "peaking too soon," and would be better served to start playing effective basketball at "the last possible moment."

In response to their improvement, Calipari mandated shorter practices, refused use of the basketball facilities outside of normal practice hours, and decided on a loss to South Carolina (Originally, the loss to South Carolina was not planned because that would make the "tanking" strategy too obvious, but Calipari eventually decided "[T]o hell with it; I'll throw [Frank] Martin a bone. I don't need to be on his bad side.").  Calipari made clear to our sources that his approach of usually signing the best high school talent at every position, and then going on to stockpile additional talent to sit the bench, was forcing his hand.

Calipari evidently also made a bet with former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall that he could set the NCAA record for fewest timeouts called in the month of February.