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Kentucky Basketball: Calipari Lays Out A Strategy And Dares College Basketball To Stop Him

John Calipari is not known for being a shrinking violet, and this season, he's throwing down the gauntlet.

Andy Lyons

John Calipari’s latest article at talks about his desire to make this season the next "watershed" moment in college basketball, much as the 2010 NBA Draft was — at least as far as his "players first" objectives go. Calipari is a master of hyping just this kind of thing, moments that appeal to absolutely every top-level recruit in the nation and even those somewhat below who have realistic expectations of playing in the NBA.

Let’s let Coach Cal tell you in his words:

If you wonder why everyone is panicked outside of the Big Blue Nation, why everyone is curious as to how we are going to make this work, why writers with agendas to another program or coach are pitting player against player, platoon vs. platoon, it’s because they are afraid of what could happen. They know that if this turns out the way they think it could, it becomes a watershed moment for college basketball. There will be no going back. No player will ever worry about who else is in the program or who may stay. They will know we have their best interests at heart.

My goal – and I am on a mission – is to make sure that everyone of these players’ dreams comes first, that no one is left behind, and that this becomes an experience for the ages that people look back on and wonder, "How in the world did this happen?"

If you get past the somewhat obvious hype to the meat of what he’s saying — which is the way he intends to play next season — this is hopefully quite revealing. What he’s saying is that he can no longer subscribe to the John Wooden advice and play fewer guys. This year is not only a watershed moment for Kentucky, but also one for Calipari. We’ve seen how he’s played over the last few years, deep bench or almost no bench — he’s allowed five or six guys to get the lions share of the minutes, and everyone else leftovers except for foul trouble or disciplinary issues.

But this season, he’s telling us here and now that’s not really on the table. If he wants to achieve this watershed moment, if he really wants to immerse himself and the program into the "players first" mentality, he’s going to have to play between 8 and 12 people per game, a truly unlikely feat considering what he’s done to date. It certainly showed promise in the Bahamas, but that’s a completely different thing from a college basketball season. It’s also bound to show cracks at some point — will he show the same determination to stick with it under pressure?

No matter what, this promises to be one of the most interesting basketball seasons in Kentucky Wildcats history. With this much talent, things could easily go sideways if a bunch of guys are languishing on the bench that could be starting at other high Division I universities. We could wind up with disaffection, misbehavior, discord and worse. That’s what many Kentucky haters are hoping for, and openly "concern trolling" about — you know, rival fans "worrying" about how Calipari is going to feed the beast of too much talent.

Calipari is, in a way, laying it on the line here. He’s basically publishing his strategy for next season and daring the rest of college basketball to do something about it. Sounds just like him, and at least for my part, I’m all in.