Kentucky basketball: John Calipari needs to change remembering how it began

Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari (Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky Basketball
Kentucky Basketball /

2016-Present when the downward trend started.

I am a big believer in 2015 being the year that broke Cal.

No one quite knows why, but going back that seems to be the year everything changed, and when basketball itself started to change. People will swear up and down Kentucky has still been good, and they’re not wrong. Kentucky has been good but the failures cannot be overlooked.

Kentucky squandered two opportunities in 2017, and 2018 when the Wildcats were basically given a wide-open path to the Final Four both years. The teams that stood in Kentucky’s were teams like Kansas State and Auburn, two teams Kentucky had no business losing to.

Since 2016 its been Elight Eight, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and then the post-season was canceled last year due to Covid. In those years the Wildcats have gone 59-39.

During this time frame, Kentucky has a losing record against teams ranked in the AP Poll Top 25 (22-23, .489).

Kansas is on the heels of overtaking Kentucky in all-time wins in college basketball history.

This year Kentucky is 8-13 in their last 21 games which amount to the worst record in any 21-game span in any season in Wildcat history. That despite winning three straight games.

A more glaring stat is that since the start of the 2015-2016 season, Kentucky has a losing record against teams ranked in the AP Poll Top 25 (23-25).

Cal isn’t getting the caliber of players that he has been accustomed to getting. Why is that? I think it has to do with a lot of things, players exploring other professional options outside the United States, and players are figuring out they don’t have to come to Kentucky to be a first-round pick.

While it’s hard to argue Cal isn’t getting good players when he is consistently getting the number two class in the nation, he’s not bringing in the rockstars he used to get. Players who were NBA-ready out of high school, players like Wall, Cousins, and Davis.

College Basketball is changing yet Cal has refused to get with the times. His style of coaching for lack of better phrasing has been the laziest coaching I’ve ever seen. The strategy has been to go out and get the best athletes available and just throw them out there.

That works fine when you have a squad of NBA players combined with decent role players. When you’re not getting those players, and you don’t recruit shooters to help out it’s a recipe for disaster which all of BBN is now seeing unfold.

I really feel like those are completely obvious quotes that go without saying. Yes, Kentucky needs shooters, and why hasn’t he been recruiting them? How has it taken him this long to realize that?

Aside from Cal’s questionable decisions on the floor, like not giving Dontaie Allen playing time when other players are not being effective, He has had some major gaffes when dealing with the media more so than ever.

Like calling out players in Terrence Clarke who are injured and then redacting comments saying he was misunderstood, not knowing who’s playing, and just playing coy, Cal’s quirkiness has been something fans have been fond of in the past, when he’s winning… now that he’s seeing the biggest failure he’s had to face fans no longer think it’s cute or funny.

Cal has just been off this year, it’s almost like he’s not the same person. From his disheveled appearance to calling out fans to appearing like the name on the back of the Kentucky jerseys are more important than the name on the front Calipari’s popularity is at an all-time low.

When you’re traditionally a basketball school but your counterpart on the gridiron is garnering more love and respect as well as the Athletic Director that should be an eye-opener.

Many would say this is all just a fluke because of COVID and that these players only experience the negative aspects of playing basketball at Kentucky, and none of the fun parts. I would say that there is some truth to that and it probably has had an effect on Kentucky basketball this year, but the collapse that’s been happening didn’t just start in 2020.

It’s not new, it’s been going on for the last three to four years, it’s just been hidden much better.

I’m not saying fire Cal, don’t twist my words. All I’m saying is Cal’s seat should be pretty warm and if he doesn’t start coaching and recruiting like his job is on the line, or change his coaching philosophy Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart is going to have some tough questions to answer and may need to make some phone calls in the years to come.

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