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Kentucky Wildcats Musings: Return of John Calipari Swag, Postseason Expectations and more

John Calipari is talking tweaks and is laid back, what constitutes a successful postseason, and more!

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Texas A&M Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but now is as good of a time as ever to throw together a musings post. The postseason is upon us, and John Calipari is feeling pretty damn good about his team even if Big Blue Nation isn’t as much.

The Return of Swaggy Cal

As Big Blue Nation is still trying to figure out how much they like/trust this current team of Kentucky Wildcats, John Calipari certainly likes his team. In fact, one can argue that he loves them.

After a stretch when Cal was questioning his team’s toughness and basketball IQ, he’s now done a complete 180. Why? He’s seeing his team win in a variety of ways and they don’t have to rely on only one or two guys. Last season, if Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis, or both were having an off game, it was curtains for the ‘Cats. This season, multiple guys have stepped up during multiple injuries/illnesses for De’Aaron Fox, a low scoring game from Malik Monk, and a bad stretch from Isaiah Briscoe.

Cal thinks this team is flying under the radar after winning eight straight games and he is right. This puts him in a better frame of mind as some pressure is relieved and as his guys continue to mature:

I’m in a better frame of mind than I was with the 34-0 team. I don’t know what that means.

There is no doubt that being the favorite can be stressful. Cal has been the favorite heading into the tournament three times during his tenure at Kentucky: 2010, 2012, 2015. He has an Elite Eight, a National Title, and a Final Four to show for it. But to me, he thrives more off of teams that are not expected to go far. The 2011 and 2014 teams are prime examples of lower expectations equaling a chip on his shoulder that he chisels into the shoulders of his players.

While this team isn’t quite the underdog as the Brandon Knight and Julius Randle teams, there is something to the fact that Kentucky is being dismissed because; A). They play in a weak conference; B). They didn’t blow the doors off of their weak conference foes every single night, and C). The team isn’t "deep."

In my humble opinion, that’s all a load of BS. Last time I checked, Cal has played in the SEC every single season he’s been at UK, and he’s still done pretty well in the tournament. Last time I checked, all of his teams have struggled against, and **gasp** even lost to SEC teams in the past. People need to get over the "SEC is garbage, therefore, Kentucky isn’t elite" mantra because it’s proven wrong time and time again.

And now, Swaggy Cal is tweaking again:

"We're still not quite where we want to be but I'm loving the fact that this team has learned to fight and has a will to win," Calipari added. "There's something that's not quite right that we have a couple days to try to fix."

Ladies and gents, Cal is feeling it. Buckle up; it’s going to be a fun ride. He knows what he’s doing, and you better believe the "fix" is in place.

What Are Your Expectations?

Right now the ‘Cats are 26-5, they are the SEC regular season champs, they are the number one seed in the SEC tournament, and they are tracking towards a two seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Yet, I get the sense that the fans still aren’t totally on board with this team and I cannot put my finger on why that is. The players are likable dudes, Cal is still the coach, and they are WINNING.

I think it’s because my above statement about how they are winning. They aren’t blowing out every team they play by 30. Guess what, folks, that’s a lot harder than some of you think it is.

So what are your expectations for the postseason?In my opinion, making an Elite Eight constitutes a successful postseason. Some fans think that only a Final Four or even only a national title means the season was successful. I know the standards are high at UK, but a Final Four every season is almost impossible.

Let me know in the comments section what a successful season means to you.

Cal has His Rotation Set

John Calipari likes a six-to-seven man rotation. He complained about not having the type of rotation he likes during the 38-1 season, and I think that it ultimately caused the demise of the team against Wisconsin.

Cal is big on trust and putting guys he trusts in winning basketball situations. As of now, his rotation consists of a starting five that includes De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, Derek Willis and Bam Adebayo. His sixth man off the bench is Dominique Hawkins, who is playing a bigger role with every game. He will play Wenyen Gabriel in relief of Derek Willis, and he plays Isaac Humphries sparingly in relief for Bam. Mychal Mulder has also been logging more minutes lately.

But I think when it comes to the tournament, he will shorten his bench. I think we will see less of Gabriel in the tournament as long as Willis is solid and just about the same as Humphries as long as Bam isn’t in foul trouble.

Hawkins is set as the sixth man and his minutes will not diminish. I don’t think we will see much of Mychal Mulder unless Cal absolutely has to play him due to foul trouble.

I’ll take a team with three NBA players, Briscoe, Willis, and Hawkins into the postseason with great confidence.

Football is Here...kind of.

Mark Stoops has been in the news lately even though many of us missed it because we are so consumed with basketball right now.

Spring practice has begun, and Stoops is showing increasing confidence in Stephen Johnson as his starting QB. He’s also excited about the depth he has in the secondary, and he loves the attitude and work ethic of Benny Snell.

Although there won’t be any great revelations during spring ball, one has to like to confidence and excitement of the coaching staff. Guys are finally set at most positions, and Eddie Gran has his offense installed. The players are no longer adjusting to his coaching or his playbook.

Over the next few weeks, we will hear about progress and position battles. But don’t fall into the Spring Football Trap of making broad proclamations. For the coaches, spring football allows them to, to borrow a word from Cal, reboot and knock the rust off of some winter off time.