John Calipari builds his team with trust and the lure of the NBA

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, John Calipari does make the NBA overture to these players as well.  Like a carrot on a stick, he dangles the prospects of a NBA career to his players and that it can all be theirs with hard work.  That is a big difference in Calipari’s coaching method.  He has instilled in them that if they are ready for the NBA, he will let them go with no pleading and gnashing of the teeth and if they still need to improve their stock, they still have a home in Lexington.   And as a result, this is one of the most complete teams in NCAA history.

"“They trust us enough with their careers to come back,” Calipari said. When they do, they’re well-schooled on the idea that by playing well, sharing the minutes and the shots at Kentucky, the NBA will take care of itself. “They have respect for each other and kind of knew that the minutes would kind of even out, as far as points per game and who the superstars were,” said Joe B. Hall, the Kentucky coach from 1972 through 1985 and a frequent guest at Calipari’s practices. Seven different players have led the team in scoring since Christmas. Nobody averages more than 11 points a game. They pride themselves in defense — allowing 35.2 percent shooting from the floor, a mark no team has reached since Stanford in 1999-2000."

I will admit.  I was not a huge fan of the “one and done” refrain from Kentucky and like most of the Kentucky fan base, I wanted these players to stay around for as long as they could.  It hit me hard when Patrick Patterson left after his junior season, but John Calipari has drug me reluctantly to accept his view-point.  And I’m a huge fane of it.  I get it.  I used to spend my end of the season fretting and worrying about who may leave, but when you trust in Cal, it makes it a lot easier to enjoy this run.

I thought that due to the influx of talent on this team that players like Devin Booker and Trey Lyles would be around a few years, but their stars have only brightened as freshmen and it may be time for them to go.  Other players like Briscoe will take their place on the roster and in our hearts, but it does not make this current batch any less of a TEAM even though most of them will depart for the NBA.  The NBA is the last thing on anyones mind right now.  This team wants a NCAA Title and a perfect 40-0.  The last 2:00 of the Notre Dame showed how united and what a band of brothers Calipari has put together.

You will hear the comparisons on Cal’s and Bo Ryan Saturday when Kentucky faces Wisconsin and their experienced seniors.  It will be a great game and only great teams get to play in April.  Regardless of how they are built, they all arrive to the Final Four as a team and are much more than the sum of their parts.  And if you are willing to look past the clutter, you will see that John Calipari is as much of a team builder as any other coach in the Final Four.

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