Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: "Not in Shape" translates as "Not Tough Enough"

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Dec 1, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari reacts in the game against the Baylor Bears at Rupp Arena. Baylor defeated Kentucky 64-55. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

One of John Calipari’s favorite phrases is “I really like my team”. Just because he likes them, doesn’t mean he isn’t angry with them. John Calipari was visibly upset after the Wildcats’ 88-56 victory over the Samford Bulldogs. Why would a coach be upset with a team that won by 32 points? Because it should have been more of a fifty point disparity, that’s why.

The score at the end of the first half was Wildcats 42, Bulldogs 13. Kentucky was laying the wood to Samford in epic fashion. But, the visiting team made the first six baskets in the second half, Kentucky started off looking lazy and apathetic, and before you know it, the second half score was UK 41, Samford 38.

Did Samford find some heart at halftime? Did they break out of a shooting funk? It doesn’t matter. Even if Samford did come forth with a renewed effort, the Wildcats didn’t match it. They got complacent, as Alex Poythress admitted in his post game comments.

Being young and not knowing what to do in certain situations is understandable, and coach Cal will take up for his guys when that happens, as he has done multiple times. But lack of effort is inexcusable in Cal’s eyes. And his eyes saw a lack of effort and a lack of toughness in the second half against Samford. And he’s been seeing it more often than he likes in recent weeks.

He even positioned infamous Kentucky strength coordinator Rock Oliver on the bench during the Samford game as a kind of warning to his players. Oliver has worked in the NFL and is the guy that almost made Richie Farmer quit back when Rick Pitino was trying to toughen up the scraps left over from the Eddie Sutton debacle. Oliver’s conditioning sessions are legendary for being especially brutal and effective. This year’s team apparently didn’t take the warning seriously and they are paying the price.

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