New Castle News

Z_CNHI News Service

April 15, 2014

Wildcats aren't champs but we're all still watching Calipari

After winning a big case and accepting compliments from his fellow attorneys, the man thanked his colleagues and responded that he really would have liked to represent the opposition.

“I think I could have won arguing their side, too,” he told them.

He was cocky, confident, convinced.

I've recalled that courthouse exchange many years ago in watching Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari. He’s always the man with the last word. Come to think of it, he’s probably the one getting the first word, as well.

The NCAA tournament finished in North Texas last week with Connecticut winning the championship, but it's Calipari who remains the subject of the media’s fascination. Officially he's pushing his newest book, “Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out."

Calipari has revolutionized college basketball by recruiting untested freshmen and taking them deep into the NCAA tournament - including a championship in 2012. He acknowledges his ability to make the system work, sending his stars to NBA fame and fortune, but says he doesn’t like it. Given a choice, he said, he’d prefer to coach players throughout four-year college careers.

Maybe Calipari is just saying, “I can beat you either way.”

Calipari has proven himself as a college coach, and one with a savvy understanding of marketing. His teams are in the middle of every discussion about trends in college basketball.

He is a master communicator. His Twitter account has 1.27 million followers. For people back home in the Bluegrass, it’s Kentucky basketball all the time.

His approach is fascinating, if for nothing else than because it’s never been done. The 2014-15 season looks to be another run built around new faces and high expectations. His incoming freshmen will rank among the nation’s elite classes. Four players - led by Trey Lyles and Karl-Anthony Towns, both towering front court players - have currently signed scholarships.

Some draft experts say as many as eight UK players on this year’s team could get drafted, but it’s more likely about half that number will turn in their blue jerseys. In a surprise move this week, center Willie Cauley-Stein announced he will stay in college next year.

In Calipari's first four years at Kentucky, 17 players have been drafted into the NBA, including 13 in the first round. That's likely to continue as long as he's in control.

Calipari’s approach has forced other coaches to change how they recruit. Even successful coaches once cool to the idea of chasing players who saw college basketball as a one-year nesting spot are beginning to emulate Kentucky. Perennial powers Duke and Kansas have incoming talent just as heralded as Kentucky’s; all are likely future lottery picks and short-term college players.

The argument over the wisdom of filling rosters with “one-and-done” players in what is supposedly a four-year college experience is academic. The National Basketball Association and its players association established the rule that requires players to be at least 19 years old or a year removed from high school to be eligible for the draft. Calipari and NCAA officials may not like it, but there’s little they can do, short of passing on the best players.

The system teaches the young and talented that the pros are their ultimate destination, and the sooner they realize their dreams, the better. Younger players are convinced if they don’t get to the NBA before they’re 21, they might not ever make it.

It’s a conundrum for coaches, as well. Teams that reach college basketball's championship round need players with NBA credentials. The problem is most of those players spend only a short time on campus.

Success as a college coach is a combination of winning and recruiting. Each is a talent unto itself.

Calipari has proven that he is good at both. Now he’s got to show that he can succeed when others are copying his keys to success.

Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com.

cy.



Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at tlindley@cnhi.com. - See more at: http://www.cnhinews.com/cnhins_sports/x1535562011/Too-much-of-a-good-thing-at-UConn#sthash.gvg3ryW9.dpuf

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Z_CNHI News Service
  • HallofFameBraves.jpg Hall of Fame adds businesslike Braves, Frank Thomas, managers La Russa and Torre

    Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and their manager, Bobby Cox, dominated much of baseball during the 1990s. This weekend they went into the Hall of Fame together.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's brother claims he's owed $1.7 million that he loaned to keep a family carpet out of bankruptcy in the 1980s.

    July 25, 2014

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.
     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Poll

Where can you get the best ice cream cone this summer?

Forbush
Handel's
Bruster's
Dairy Queen
     View Results