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John Calipari tries to clarify comments about Terrence Clarke

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What did he really mean?

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Kentucky Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After yet another ugly loss at Missouri on Tuesday, questions flew John Calipari’s way about why Kentucky Wildcats guard Terrence Clarke was not on the bench.

Clarke has not been available to play since December 26th, and his ankle injury came shortly after he was moved into the point guard role for the team. He also may be the most talented player on the roster. So, in many ways, his injury helped to derail this horrible season.

After Tuesday’s game, Calipari talked about why Clarke stayed behind in Lexington instead of traveling to Missouri with the team.

“Joel (Justus) stayed for that reason, and I want to see the kid practice tomorrow and Friday to see if there’s any chance he can play against Tennessee,” Calipari said. “So he didn’t need to be here. In basketball, when you’re looking at a guy who — what, we needed a cheerleader? He didn’t need to be here. He needs to get ready to try and play that game Saturday. If he can’t practice, without limping, Thursday and Friday, then he won’t play Saturday.”

However, he went on to say some things that seemed to indicate that this was the final opportunity for Clarke to get on the court. He even referenced the fact that this entire injury has been based on Clarke’s pain and no tests have showed an actual injury.

“The idea is, if Terrence can practice tomorrow without limping, that’s been five weeks. If he can practice without limping tomorrow and Friday, then we may play him Saturday,” Calipari continued. “If he’s limping, I don’t see how he’s going to play. After five weeks, you’re still limping? And there’s nothing wrong — there’s no MRI, there’s nothing there.”

These comments could be interpreted a number of ways. And, of course, fans and media have been picking them apart. The backlash was so much that Calipari felt the need to issue a statement clarifying what he actually meant.

“After listening to my postgame comments about @terrenceclarke_, my comments were clear to me, but I understand they could be taken many different ways,” Calipari tweeted. “@terrenceclarke_ has been in pain. I have never asked a player to play that is injured and I never will. We are just trying to figure out — with the approval of our medical staff — can he play through this or not.

“And he might not be able to, and that’s OK! @terrenceclarke_ will try to practice tomorrow and Friday and if he does well, he will play Saturday. Believe me, I hope he does well and can play. I know Terrence wants to play! He and I have had conversations about it since he’s been out. I support Terrence no matter what!”

Calipari claims that his comments were meant to support Clarke in his recovery, whereas many interpreted what he said as questioning Clarke’s injury and being ready to keep him out for the year.

You have to wonder if this pressure makes it even more likely that we see Clarke on Saturday, a la the Dontaie Allen situation...which has oddly become a problem again after he didn’t play in the second half of Wednesday’s loss.

Just another day in paradise.