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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: Calipari Lifetime Contract Edition

Coach Cal has agreed to a “lifetime” contract with UK that includes work after retirement in response to a UCLA job offer. Take that, Bruins. Plus, a look at UK’s overtime loss in the Elite Eight.

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Auburn vs Kentucky Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

It’s been two days since Kentucky’s loss to Auburn in the Elite Eight, and I really have no idea what’s being said about it. I have a routine where I tend to shut off input after a big loss to allow my system time to process it. I think this is partially due to advancing age, where I find that rest is often the best way to let wounds heal quickly, including injuries to pride and the psyche associated with tough losses. Commiseration no longer seems to work well for me.

Having said that, it was another very good season, and another tough loss in a series of tough losses stretching back seven years now. To be honest, that’s how the NCAA Tournament often does teams – it is cruel, unforgiving, and mercilessly final when your team gets dropped. Getting dropped in a game you had a decent chance to win leaves a scar, albeit one that heals after a while.

Two out of the last three seasons have ended in the Elite Eight in heartbreaking games, which reminds me of earlier in the century, 2003-2005, where we had great teams that lost tough in the Elite Eight, first to Dwyane Wade and Marquette, then two years later to Michigan State. MSU has been a particular bugaboo of Kentucky, knocking UK out in the regional final round no less than three times: 1957, 1999, and 2005. In fact, UK has only defeated MSU in the NCAA Tournament one time in four tries, so it was supremely satisfying to me for Duke, the tournament #1 seed, to go down to MSU as UK has so many times, and in the same spot.

The article of the day asks this question: Do John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski need to come up with a new way to built their roster? Dan Wolken seems to think so, writing for USA Today.

For my part, that decision is what Calipari gets paid the big bucks for. He was on the cutting edge of the “one and done” revolution, and now that teams composed mostly of freshman have failed to get championships a few times, people are second-guessing it. Now that “one and done” has been shown to be pretty much as problematic as any other system when it comes to winning the tournament, a little self-reflection may be in order. I think I’ll trust him to make the right call.

Winning the NCAA Tournament usually comes down to having the right mix of experience and talent. I think one problem with both Kentucky and Duke are freshmen point guards. We see, all too often, how hard it is to win the NCAA Tournament reflected in freshman point guard play.

But beyond that, winning this thing is hard, and seems to get harder every year. Teams learn what works, teams get hot, and teams make big shots, and all they have to do is be the best of the two teams that play that day, not over a series.

To me, that’s the most important thing to keep in mind. The days of building dominant basketball teams over a period of years seems to have been over for a while now. We have to look at it year by year, and I think it’s fair to say that both UK and Duke have a decent chance to win most years, along with others.

Tweet of the Morning

Heh. And, indeed:

Up yours, UCLA. Finally:

Ouch. That’s gonna leave a mark. In fact, you might want to get that seen to…

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Duke should take UCLA’s situation as a warning – when a legendary coach retires (and judging by how frail Coach K looked this season, he can’t be far away), it’s hard not to miss a few steps. Just ask Kentucky, North Carolina, and Indiana.

More about Calipari’s new contract here.

  • Did Duke’s victory at the beginning of the season have a domino effect on the Wildcats that cost them a trip to the Final Four? Jay Bilas makes the implication, and I think he has a defensible argument. Tyler Herro was never the same after that game, and he never quite found the confidence he had in August after that.

But that pales in comparison to the decline by Nick Richards

This is not to minimize what Auburn did. They made big shots, they dominated guard play, and they rebounded very well despite major foul issues and roster problems. In the end, their age and experience served them well, as so often happens in very close games. Kentucky’s guards looked callow, and Auburn confident, throughout the entire overtime period. PJ Washington was a man, but he wasn’t enough and was asked to do too much.

  • I don’t think “underachieved” means what some people think it means.
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