Sunday, March 28, 2010

Calipari Blows It.......Again

UPDATED AGAIN: 4/1/2010; 11:21 am: Click here for my latest post stirring the pot on the Cal saga

UPDATED: 3/30/2010; 11:37 am:  Click here to see my new post in response to some of the attention my original post (below) received on the UK message boards


Regular readers know that I don't care much for John Calipari.  He's a know-it-all, cheating, attention-hound, bully of a man who -- quite frankly -- couldn't coach his way out of wet paper sack.

Don't get me wrong.  The guy is a great recruiter.  And a great motivator.  But he's awful with the X's and O's.  He has no vision or ability to put a plan together to beat a good team/coach, or to make any useful in-game adjustments whatsoever.  Coming down the stretch last night in the West Virginia game, he looked totally lost and out of his league.  It was the exact same look on his face in the last 2 minutes of the National Championship game against Kansas where he blew a 9 point lead while coaching at Memphis.

Players sense that panic.  They sense the fear and desperation -- the I'm-not-sure-what-to-do-next look -- and they react accordingly.  I mean, can you imagine?  Here's a guy who yells, screams, bullies, and micromanages each and every aspect of the game from the sideline 99.9% of the season up to that point.  In fact, he does it so much that his players often end up yelling back at him in the huddle out in front of God and everybody.

But as the clock wound down last night on the most important minutes of the most important game, Cal had.....nothing.   It was as if suddenly he went mute.  Indeed, if you watched closely, there were significant moments when the always-standing, always-shouting Cal was sitting down -- yes, sitting! -- while the game played out.  He bailed on his players.  Although, mind you, it wasn't intentional -- he just didn't know what to do.  He was lost.

The guy can't figure out a zone?  He's a college coach for goodness sakes.  He gets paid millions of dollars, and best of all he gets to attack a zone with 4 guys who are projected in the top 15 picks of this year's NBA Draft!  Are you kidding me?!  How do you not win the National Championship with that team, much less not even make the Final Four?

The guy apparently doesn't know that a guy should flash to the high post and/or the short corner, which are the most vulnerable parts of a zone defense.  Or to overload one side.  Or to send cutters through to make the defense shift.  He apparently also didn't think to try to simply avoid the zone altogether by turning on the full-court pressure defense to generate some easy buckets, force tempo, and prevent the number of times WVU had the opportunity to even set up their halfcourt zone defense.  Which is crazy given the horses he has (or rather had) on that team.

Apparently Cal isn't very good at math, either.  I mean, after your team gets to its 20th 3-point shot with no success, don't you think you call timeout and say something along the lines of: "Hey guys, this long-range shooting thing ain't working out so well today, so no more outside shots.  We've got 3 huge post guys -- in fact, 2 of 'em are gonna get drafted in the top 10 in a couple of months -- so let's pound the rock down inside to those guys and get some rhythm going."

But even apart from Cal the coach is Cal the man.  I had the opportunity to watch the guy up close for years while he was at Memphis, and basically, he's a fraud.  He holds himself out as this wonderful, selfless saint of a man, and lots of folks buy it.  Including most of the national media types.  He's good.  But where the rubber meets the road on a day to day basis, he's nothing more than an arrogant, selfish bully -- to the fans, to the local media, and to anyone else (i.e. the "miserables" as he calls them) who dare to disagree or question him.

The way he left Memphis is unconscionable -- not that he left, but the way he left.  I'll never forget the image of him holed up at home for the weekend "struggling" with his decision while Memphians -- ironically, looking back -- fawned all over him, begging him to stay while giving him just enough time to shore up his position with recruits before bolting out of town with them.  Unconscionable.

All in all, the the UK debacle from last night couldn't have happened to a better guy.  I could go on and on but here are some links to a few articles that say it better than I ever could:



Anonymous said...

Does Bruce Pearl yell until his face is flush red throughout Vol games? How about the drugs and guns your Vol basketball players tote around Knoxville? Huh, how about that Lang? Why don't you stop throwing stones North and worry about your own dirty laundry pal.

Lang Wiseman said...

The revenge of the UK homer! Nice... haha

I will say this, though. You pulled a useful technique out of your bag of tricks -- useful, that is, if you're in the seventh grade. Indeed, changing the subject doesn't work on most adults who have even a modicum a attention span.

My post wasn't about UT. It was about Cal. And mindful of that, the most noticeable aspect of your comment was that you did NOT disagree about one single thing I wrote.

Trust me on this (as someone speaking from the experience of watching Cal for the last 9 years) -- you're still in the honeymoon phase. Cal is good at winning people over in the beginning, and new coaches are afforded some latitude on top of that. It's understandable for you to be defensive.

But after awhile you'll begin to see it. Mark my words. Assuming he doesn't bolt for the Nets this summer and you begin to hate him sooner than later, you'll be on probation within 7 years, if not 5. That is, if you don't get tired of the excuses and arrogance in the meantime.

Check back with me in a few years. You'll owe me a cold beer.

[As an aside, if you gave Bruce Pearl a team with 4 kids who will get drafted in the top 15 of the NBA draft this year, he would WITHOUT A DOUBT win the National Championship. As would Izzo, Coach K, Tubby, Roy Williams, Gary Williams, Donovan, Pitino, etc. etc. No question about it. Mark it down. Sorry you can't wrap your brain around that, but there is simply no excuse whatsover for not winning the NC with Wall (#1), Cousins (#2-3), Patterson (lottery), Bledsoe (top 15), and the remaining cast of HS All-Americans. There's just none. Nada. Zero.]

Sean said...

You're own venemous hatred for Coach Cal totally disqualifies anything you have to say about him as a coach. The fact, whether you like it or not, is Calipari has never been in trouble with the NCAA. No amount of blogging on your part can change that fact.

Lang Wiseman said...

You're right. If you've never been in the trouble with the NCAA that means you're a wonderful person. And a great coach!

Give me a break...

Sean said...

Again, what ground do you have to stand on? Do you know Cal personaly? With all due respect, you can't substantiate anything you wrote in your original post. All you have is sarcasm, as demonstrated in your last reply. Show me documented cases of illegal/shady activity, and I'll eat my words. But leave out the vitreous comments.

Lang Wiseman said...

You win. Indeed, turn a blind eye toward common sense if it makes you feel better. By all means. Doesn't matter to me. Something tells me that you know better, though, or you wouldn't keep coming back here to engage me in an effort perhaps to convince yourself.

Read the links I posted. Never has anyone been so good at cozying up to the seedy side of sport while at the same time pretending to be so much better and far above it all. I've watched it all firsthand. The problem, of course, is that you can't have it both ways -- i.e. you can't sell yourself as the consummate mastermind/wizard-behind-the-scenes, and yet plead ignorance when it goes bad.

Having said that -- you win. Feel better now? I mean, don't get me wrong: watching Cal pull the wool over everyone's eyes up there in UK-land sorta gives me a kick in a way.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything you said about Cal. Awful person, awful coach.

On the "attention-hound" bit, though, there is one guy who gives him a run for his money, and might actually out attention-hound him, and most assuredly would if he were at as big of a program as Kentucky, and that is one Bruce Pearl. There isn't anything that guy won't do for attention, including parading around half-naked. I like Pearl, I think he is a good coach, but he is a media wh*re if there ever was one.

Anonymous said...

I'm neither a UT nor UK fan but Calipari did blow it versus UWV. Kentucky missing 20 of its first 3 point attempts is one thing but Calipari didn't make any adjustments on defense either. You mention the fact that they could have easily applied a full court press on the Mountaineers when Mazzulla was on the bench and UWV had NO PRIMARY BALL HANDLERS. But you have to wonder what Cal's been teaching the kids all year on defense when UWV was scoring easy point after easy point on simply junior high school level backdoor cuts and pick and roll layups totally uncontested.

I actually don't think Calipari has a track record of terrible coaching at all, in general he's done well with what he's had in the tournament. He's no Izzo but he's not terrible at Xs and Os. But on Saturday the lack of adjustments was very clear to any basketball fan. He cost UK a game they should have won by all rights.

Terry said...


You were one of my favorite Vols. Great comments! I love the poster that said Coach Cal has never been in trouble with the NCAA.... He is just slick enough to not get caught. Every program he has left ends up having to forfeit games and reduce scholarships due to problems that happened while he was coach. My 15 year old son looked at me as KY was losing the other night and made this comment, "Dad, if he can't win with all that talent, how can he ever win?"

Jerre Haskew said...

Lang, it simply amazes me that this sleaze bag gets away with all these one & done mercenaries from "Worldwide Wes" Wesley, the notorious street agent. I watched the point guard Josh Selby in the dunk contest at the McDonald's HS All-American game last night on ESPN. He was simply amazing and as you know was committed to Tennessee for over a year before Worldwide Wes & Lebron James got hold of him at the Lebron James Nike skills academy a few months ago and got to his mother and him there. I can flat tell you he's a one & doner and look for him to announce for KY the minute after John Wall declares for the NBA- unless Brandon Knight commits to UK before then. Heck, Cal may get both of them like he did Wall & Bledsoe. This is a scam, a sham and a shame!! Tobias Harris our 6-9 235 signee from NY City and # 3 rated player in the nation is playing in the game and finished 5th in the 3 pt shooting contest, which is amazing for someone his size.
Jerre Haskew

lori mckelvy said...

I agree with you. The only good thing about Calapari leaving Memphis was that he went to Kentucky. Tennessee would rather beat Ky than Memphis and Calapari being the coach makes it far easier. Best line of your post. Can't coach his way out of a paper bag.

Sean said...

Hey Lang, I'll be the first to admit Cal didn't coach very well against WV. I don't think that was the only reason they lost, but it definetely played into it.
As far as me "winning", that's not my goal here. I'm taking a "look at the facts position", or a "innocent until proven guilty" approach. Might Cal be shady? Or done something wrong? Perhaps. But don't discount the good things he's done either. The man raised $$ for Haiti when no other division I coach would. He started a very successful charity in Memphis that contuinues to this day. Cut him some slack. He's not the devil you make him out to be. And I'm not some UK zombie following my coach to ruin. I take very seriously honesty and fair play. But, unlike you, I haven't condemed the man with scetchy evidence.

Marcus said...

I agree Cal can't coach, but refuse to comment on his character. I believe it was screwed up the way he waited until he knew his recruits would follow him to Kentucky before he made his deal.

But why would any of these guys mother's Selby, Knight, Leslie allow their kids to be sold to higher bidder? Everyone loves money, but somewhere values should come in. These young men will be stars in the league one day, do they actually believe Cal will make them better, he can't coach?

BPowell said...

Where have all the journalists gone? The majority of "writers" might as well sit at home and draft rants for the opinion pages. How about a crafted, well-reasoned stance, instead of spewing venomous personal feelings for ten paragraphs and calling it an "article"?

BPowell said...

Where have all the journalists gone? The majority of "writers" might as well sit at home and draft rants for the opinion pages. How about a crafted, well-reasoned stance, instead of spewing venomous personal feelings for ten paragraphs and calling it an "article"?

Lang Wiseman said...

BPowell -- I suppose I should thank you for the unintended compliment. But for the record, I should tell you that I'm not a journalist. And it's not an "article."

I wrote this post on my private blog for the enjoyment of my readers -- albeit as few and far between as they may be.

All you UK folks can believe what you want. Really. It makes no difference to me. Remember: I didn't post my thoughts on your message boards or try to persuade you not to like Cal. You came looking for my opinions on my blog. Don't like like 'em? Then don't read 'em. Love Cal? Great. In fact, it sorta gives me a kick to know that he's at UK laying the foundation for later NCAA sanctions.

Have a nice day...

williams1tw10 said...

This isn't an attempt to refute anything you've said about Cal in this diatribe but I would like to pose a question for you. You claim Cal isn't a very good coach in one breath but then you turn around and compliment him (albeit backhandedly) on his ability to steer clear from trouble with the NCAA. It would stand to reason that if the man had the intelligence to navigate his way through and around thousands of NCAA rules and regulations, then surely he would have the intelligence to diagram a few plays to bust a zone. Am I wrong in that assumption? Look, it isn't about the x's and o's with you is it? It's about the ENVY. It's readily apparent with every stroke of your keyboard. Nice, well constructed piece though. See, that's how you acknowledge talent properly. Jealousy and vitriol is such a wasted and unnecessary emotion.

Lang Wiseman said...

williams1tw10 -

Nice try, but no dice. By your logic, the "intelligence" of guys like OJ, Madoff, and Capone would make for great basketball coaches.

Ultimately, the proof is the pudding about Cal's ability insofar as x's and o's go. Noticeably, none of the UK homers have refuted my actual observations about what Cal could've done differently but didn't. Insulting me and changing the subject don't qualify as a substantive rebuttal.

As for your armchair psychology, thanks but no thanks. I can assure you that I'm not jealous or envious of Cal. I don't want to be him, nor would I want him to be the coach at my school.

Sometimes there are people you simply don't care for in life (your ex-wife, arrogant coaches, etc.), and there's just not anything more to it than that. Trust me, I don't lose any sleep over the fact that Cal is a crappy bench coach, or that UK fans are a little too sensitive on the topic (which ought to tell you something in and of itself). Remember: I didn't post the link to my blog on your message boards. You guys came looking for me.

Have a nice day...

Anonymous said...

I have to say I am curious as to why Cal has 16 NCAA wins within the past 5 years (more than ANY other coach right now) If he indeed "couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag"? Im not saying he didnt fall short against WVU. However I wouldn't go to that extreme.

Mick said...

Your blog is spot on! I have continually said the same thing about Calipari (X's and O's) to all the Big Blue fans here in Lexington.
Yes, he can recruit, but with the NCAA rules on scholarships and graduation, at what point can that not be done?
BTW, nice honor for both Kara Lawson and yourself posted in TBA.

beckettlndscapes said...

yea, Peyton Manning is the same way! He just always chokes when it counts!
funny hearing that from a Vol.

beckettlndscapes said...

Yea Lang was a hell of a ball player played with him in high school. The irony of it all is that Peyton (Jellynuts)Manning is the biggest choker and most over ratrd player to ever play the game!

Anonymous said...

"I have to say I am curious as to why Cal has 16 NCAA wins within the past 5 years (more than ANY other coach right now) If he indeed "couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag"? Im not saying he didnt fall short against WVU. However I wouldn't go to that extreme."

While at Memphis he stated (paraphrased) that instead of setting up a bunch of plays he would rather roll a ball on the court and "let them play." Assemble a great set of players and your inability to coach them isn't as apparent.

Lang Wiseman said...

Mick --

Thanks for your comment, as well as the compliment about the TBA poster. The funniest thing about the TBA honor is that I had no idea it was even there until I went to a game and literally walked up on it unawares. Nobody at UT even told me about it! How funny is that?