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“Is John Calipari Fatigue Real?” and Other Musings

Some fans are fed up with Cal. Not so fast, my friends.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Basketball Tipoff Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to the Seton Hall Pirates in overtime 84-83 after they had to fight back to tie it with a miracle half-court shot from Keldon Johnson.

The Big Blue Nation was irate afterwards. Why? Well, for starters Seton Hall is a three-loss team. Two of those losses came from the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Louisville Cardinals.

Secondly, this isn’t the season that John Calipari promised everyone. Back in August, directly after the Bahamas trip, Cal was telling everyone that would listen about how he no longer has to coach effort. This team was way ahead of schedule. Guys are leaders. They’re already talking on defense.

And then the Duke Blue Devils laid waste to the Cats in the first game of the season. That was followed by a string of cupcakes that tested the Cats’ three-point defense and UK failed miserably.

This latest setback has fans angry not only at the team, but at John Calipari.

Which leads me to my first point...

Is John Calipari fatigue setting in for the Big Blue Nation?

Cal has been the coach at Kentucky for ten years now and it’s been one of the greatest eras in the history of the program. Cat fans have celebrated a national title, multiple Final Fours, SEC championships, and some of the greatest players to ever do it at UK.

But recently there’s been a bit of a decline. Expectations remain high but the results have been disappointing. The Cats were a Luke Maye shot away from another Final Four in 2017. But two out of the last three seasons have ended in the Sweet Sixteen or worse.

Kentucky hasn’t been back to a Final Four since the Wisconsin loss. Recruiting was once something the fans could point to for pride but Duke has overtaken that crown. And yes, Coach K stole Cal’s playbook, but Cal has not adjusted to take back the throne.

John Calipari’s selling point of the NBA has become stale to recruits. But has his entire schtick become stale to the fans?

I took a lot of phone calls on the post game show Saturday after the loss to Seton Hall. The callers were frustrated and many of them pointed to John Calipari as the source of said frustration.

Many fans are tired of every season having to go through the same old thing: brand new class, same old growing pains. Things were different when Calipari was landing the cream of the crop in regards to recruiting, but now that he’s getting the second tier of the five stars those growing pains are lasting longer.

To his credit, John Calipari isn’t backing down. He remains staunch in his belief that his team will turn the corner and will be a force by March. But I’m not so sure fans continue to buy into that. The message is old and tired. And Cal looks the part.

Personally, I’m not fatigued by Calipari. I’m not happy with the team as it stands right now, but I do think it has the parts to become really good in time. The problem is Calipari doesn’t have a lot of time.

After the next three games against Utah, North Carolina, and Louisville, we will have a very clear picture of how good this team really is/can be. I’ll withhold my judgement until then.

There’s no one else that could do this job like John Calipari does it. He has tireless energy and he’s working all the time to spread the gospel of Kentucky basketball.

But once that message loses luster it starts to fall on deaf ears.

It’s okay to be a point.

One of the things that upsets me the most is when fans tell other fans how they should behave.

Case in point:

Made the mistake of reading comments on KSR. Man, #BBN has a lot of spoiled little bish’s. We have the best coach in the game and this team is full of fighters. If you ain’t with us you against us. Step off.

That’s a tweet from Josh Hopkins (@MrJoshHopkins), a “celebrity” UK fan and KSR acolyte.

I really hate the “if you ain’t with us you’re against us” thing. The entire notion of “I’m a better fan than you because I never criticize the team” is lame. It’s human nature to be disappointed and it’s human nature to lash out when you’re angry.

People are mad at Calipari. Fine. They can voice their opinions. It’s okay to disagree, but let’s stop with this entire fan pissing contest coming from Josh Hopkins and the like.

All that being said, tweeting at players, coaches, and their families should be off limits.

Another case in point:

Megan Calipari shouldn’t have to listen to fan rage. She didn’t call any of the plays and she didn’t fail to call a timeout.

If you’re mad, that’s cool. It’s healthy to be mad. But don’t tweet people. Call into radio shows, unload on blog comments sections and message boards, or go yell into a pillow. Hell, call into Cal’s call-in show tonight and tell him what your issues are. He’s a big boy. He’ll listen and he’ll respond.

Get it out of your system, but don’t be a jerk about it.

Cats need to go 3-0 to finish December

I was expecting Kentucky to go 3-1 in the final stretch of the non conference schedule but I didn’t expect the one loss to be against Seton Hall. The smart money was losing to North Carolina in Chicago or Louisville at the Yum! Center.

Now that the team has exhausted their one loss, it’s imperative they don’t lose again. Why? Because the SEC is going to be a slog and they don’t need another ding on their tournament resume. In fact, it’s about time to start adding some positive points to that resume.

Going 2-2 wouldn’t be a disaster, but going 1-3 or (gasp!) 0-4 would damn near be close.

The good thing is Calipari is going to have ample time to get this right as the Cats have a week between games, no class, and Camp Cal right around the corner.

Things that need to happen between now and January:

  • A point guard MUST step up
  • Keldon Johnson needs to take the reigns as the leader and the go-to man in the clutch
  • Tyler Herro has got to get consistent
  • Three-point defense HAS to improve
  • Calipari needs to figure out a seven/eight man rotation and stick with it
  • Just win, baby


Are you fatigued by John Calipari?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    No, not at all
    (359 votes)
  • 61%
    No but he has some things to fix
    (972 votes)
  • 15%
    Yes, he’s been here too long
    (242 votes)
1573 votes total Vote Now