John Calipari joined Jay Williams, Seth Greenberg and Jay Bilas on College GameDay Saturday morning to reflect on the Kentucky Wildcats’ season and share some of his coaching philosophies. He was his swaggy-self per usual.
Coach Cal started by discussing the randomness of the NCAA Tournament. He mentioned the 2016-17 postseason loss to the North Carolina Tar Heels on Luke Maye’s buzzer beater. He also noted that the Cats were one free throw away last year from possibly beating the Kansas State Wildcats.
This was in response to a question about his measurement of success. He wanted to point out that he’s less than a handful of points away from another couple of titles in Lexington.
“One coach is going to be happy [at the end of the season], the rest of us aren’t going to be happy,” Cal said.
Calipari also went on to discuss how he wants to leave the sport better than it was when he started. His goal is to change the lives of as many people as possible. One way he’s been able to do this is his recent acceptance of grad transfers, like Reid Travis and Nate Sestina.
However, the NCAA doesn’t always make that possible.
“Now that we took a graduate transfer, they’re trying to do away with graduate transfers. So, if there’s anything you want changed, just tell me and we’ll do it. And in most cases, they’ll say, ‘Oh, it takes us years to change,’ unless I do something, then they change right away.”
But he also said that Travis did as much for him as he did for Travis. He talked about his leadership and experience that he brought to a team that badly needed it. He had nothing but great things to say about the Stanford graduate transfer, as he left everything he had out on the floor.
Jay Bilas asked if his philosophy has changed regarding one-and-dones considering most people say that experience wins titles. He also added that Calipari has had the most success in the NCAA Tournament in recent years, despite his one-and-done approach.
“I think it’s false, because again..we’re like right there, and it’s one play — all I can tell you is I want to coach really good players, who are willing to share [and] that understand it’s about the team.”
He likes coaching talented players, but he doesn’t want the guys who are just using school as a stepping stone. He wants the guys that are willing to work everyday. He wants the people around the guys he’s bringing in to say, ‘I knew he’d be good. I never thought he’d be this good.’
As for this year, sometimes you’re just a whistle or two away. Maybe even a few minutes from glory.
“What happened to us this year a little bit, we kind of turned into freshmen for the first time for about four minutes. It was only four minutes. And we kind of like went ‘Who are you?!’
Regardless of the outcome, this team was special and Calipari knew it.
“I gained my years back coaching this team. I mean, I had a ball, they tried, they were gym rats...it was fun.”
So, yeah, the veteran guys won this year, but that’s not always the case. His young guys were in the gym at 11 o’ clock at night working their tails off. They just fell a little bit short.
The one-and-done approach wasn’t planned. It just sort of happened, and it worked. So, don’t expect Coach Cal to be changing his ways any time soon. But the experience and leadership of guys like Reid Travis and Nate Sestina certainly doesn’t hurt.
Check out the entire interview below.