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Hamidou Diallo opens up about “talking back” to John Calipari

Hami is learning to control his emotions.

NCAA Basketball: Texas A&M at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the season. we’ve seen John Calipari and Hamidou Diallo develop an interesting relationship.

It hasn’t been a main story this year, but it’s obvious that the two have had their struggles.

Throughout the games, we’ll see Cal get angry with Hami, and every time, he lets it affect his play. There’s a reason you haven’t really seen his presence on the floor lately - he doesn’t do well when he and Cal butt heads.

“It’s just emotions and mistakes,” Diallo said Friday. “That’s just something that can’t happen and something that’s been addressed. Coming from me as a leader, I’ve just got to do better at that and I’ve got to know coming into every game I can’t be talking back to my coach on the bench.”

This is exactly what I’ve been waiting to see from Diallo - ownership. After watching the way he presents himself both on and off the court, it was clear he had some mauring to do.

In the beginning of the season, Hami was playing great. Defenses didn’t know how to contain his athleticism, and he knew exactly how to take advantage of it.

When Kentucky started league play, that’s really when we saw Hami start playing under the level we were used to.

Defenses started to figure out his game, and this caused Diallo to get frustrated throughout because he couldn’t find his flow anymore. This is where the banter between Cal and Hami really got started.

“They’re just learning it’s OK to be wrong,” Calipari said. “It’s OK to say that’s on me…It’s not like a needle shot to your arm, but we’ve got a young team that’s learning. They’re trying to figure this out and trying to figure out who they are. It’s all part of it.”

Seeing Hamidou taking ownership like this is huge for both his confidence and this team’s confidence.

Cal always has his hands full, but this season is even crazier than past ones. There are seven freshman in the rotation to go along with two sophomores. Seeing comments like these is extremely encouraging and it shows growth.

This team still has plenty of time to turn things around. Can they start with a big win at West Virginia?