Rarely does a John Calipari-coached team look close to its best when a college basketball season opens.
That's because Cal has spent much of his recent coaching career having to deal with constant changing of one-and-dones leaving him with new players almost every season. While a few guys are back from last year's memorable 38-1 team, Calipari is once again dealing with a host of new starters and key rotation players after losing seven Cats to the 2015 NBA Draft.
That could explain why Cal doesn't think his team is very good right now. Speaking at a Louisville hotel for the Wildcat Tipoff Luncheon on Wednesday, Calipari was quite candid with how good his team is at this moment.
"This year's team, as we speak, we stink," Calipari said. "I said to them two days ago: 'There's one really good thing that's happening,' They said, 'What's that, Coach?' I said, 'We're not playing tomorrow, so we're OK. I'm not going to panic yet.'"
The good news is UK's starting point guard and maybe best overall player Tyler Ulis does not stink. After playing behind Andrew Harrison last year, Ulis is taking that spot and running with it and running his team quite well.
"Tyler Ulis, in three days of practice had 25 assists and three turnovers," Calipari said. "He’s really good. My other guards are underwater with that; they have more turnovers than assists. But that’s okay; they are learning."
There's little doubt that UK's incoming freshman class will have growing pains that keep this team from being its best early on this coming season. Ulis being a sophomore and already looking like a star could be what gets UK through those struggles and avoid early-season losses.
“I’m telling you, early on, we’re going to be ugly," Calipari said. "We’ve got to hope Tyler is so good that we get by being ugly.”
It's a good thing Kentucky still has over a month of work before facing someone like Duke.