Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Calipari Effect- The Positives and the Negatives

As the University of Kentucky just signed it's third #1 recruiting class in a row, one has to marvel at the difference John Calipari has made in just two years as the head basketball coach. That being said, you have to take the positives with the negatives. Many of the UK faithful may be shouting BLASPHEMY! at the top of their lungs, but hey, I try to be a realist as much as possible and I try to take off the blue shades on occasion. So what exactly am I talking about?

Coach Cal Positives:

  • Before Cal hit the scene Kentucky was pulling decent classes but had not secured a #1 class since Tubby did it with Rajon Rondo, Randolph Morris, Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley in 2004. The Tubster's classes started falling and then Billy Gillispie's were almost nonexistent. The year Cal hits the scene the Cats vault to #1 with the commitments of #1,, #2, #22, and #23. He follows it in 2010 with #3, #6, #13 and #21. This year's class boasts #2, #3, #6 and #26. Nobody can touch UK on the recruiting stage. (Rankings according to

  • The excitement level from the fan base has gotten to levels not seen since Rick Pitino was blowing out teams and going to Final Fours back in the mid-90's. You know, before he went to that garbage program and ruined his life. It is now common to see celebrities at games as well as UK being the talk of ESPN, talk radio and the NBA. We are in the spotlight and it is fun to be a Cats fan once again.

  • We are back to our winning ways. It had been unbearable to watch Kentucky go out the first, second and third rounds all too routinely. The year before Cal came the Cats went to the NIT. Something unheard of for over 20 years. Within Cal's first season the Cats lost only three games and went to the Elite 8 just a year removed from an embarrassing NIT run. A very difficult task. Ask Tom Crean how difficult of a task it is to resurrect a once great program. Calipari did it in one year.

  • Calipari has also returned UK to that elite status once again. UK will be elite no matter what with 7 national titles, over 2,000 wins, the most tournament appearances, etc... UK, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and UCLA are in a league of their own and will be for the rest of NCAA basketball history, no questions asked. But the shine of the program had lost some of it's luster due to the sub par years from about 2005-2009. Now the Cats eclipsed the 2,000 victory mark before any other school, something I doubt would have happened without Calipari.

  • And finally, Calipari just gets it. He understands what it means to be the head coach at the University of Kentucky like nobody else since Ricky P. He is good with the media, he is good with his players and he is great with the fans. Fundraisers like Hoops for Haiti and calls from the President shows the bright side of his personality and dedication. He thrives in the spotlight and welcomes being the center of the basketball world.

Coach Cal Negatives-

  • Continuing on my last point that spotlight can get awful hot sometimes. Now that Cal has brought the Cats back on top, it seems that the microscope lens is firmly fixated on the program. Every recruit and every player is scrutinized. From Wall's one game suspension, Boogie's so called "attitude" problem, Bledsoe Gate, Thamel's Kanter boner, the ridiculous Davis rumors of being paid and everything else written about UK, it comes with Cal as the coach. He can never erased what happened at UMass or at Memphis. Regardless of he was directly to blame or not (I doubt he was), it happened under his watch. If there was a song to represent Cal's personality it would be "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers.

  • The one and done argument is one of the more hotly debated ones in basketball. With the elite players that are now coming to Kentucky, many of them are headed to the NBA after just one season. Calipari has been on record as saying that he would like a system where players can go pro right out of high school or have to stay in college for 2-3 years. He works with the system in place. He goes after the best and that's all there is to it. Sometimes the best are so good they only hang around for a year.

As you can see the good far outweighs the bad. There are positives and negatives to every coach. After yesterday I realized how great we have it at UK with Calipari as our head coach. UK has become a destination school for high school players again and in time, a short time I think, banner #8 will be hanging in Rupp.


  1. Outweighs? In the meantime, I'll believe a bunch of freshmen can win a NC when I see it. Not holding my breath.

  2. Wow, thank you Bob for the grammar check! It shall be fixed immediately. And to your point, I don't think we will ever see again the mass exodus that we saw last year. At least I hope not.

  3. I think Jones is the only sure fire 1 and done this year.

  4. I believe Kanter and Knight will be around for a couple of years. But we shall see.

  5. I agree on the Jones and Knight statements. Cal has stated that Knight could graduate in 2 years. He's already a sophomore.

    I think if Kanter is eligible he is one and done. Again, I THINK. I sure hope not but we shall see.

    And don't forget Lamb. I think he is a 2-3 year guy. But I said the same about Orton and Bledsoe last year as well.