Vicky Graff Photo
After Kentucky’s 89-85 loss to Gonzaga on Saturday, coach John Calipari criticized his team for not executing a potential game-tying play in the final seconds, its overall poor defensive play in the post stopping easy baskets and getting beat to so many 50-50 balls again. Now he’s trying to think about the past hoping it could restore faith in a potential March resurgence for this team.
Calipari recalled the 2013-14 season with a team dependent on highly-ranked freshmen that lost four of its final seven regular-season games to fall to a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament before going on a mind-boggling run that got UK to the national title game against UConn.
Calipari pleaded with UK fans to stay behind this team on his postgame radio show Saturday but admitted his team’s recent play — three straight home losses — had given fans “every reason to be discouraged” at this point.
“I can remember the year we lost four of seven to finish the year out and the fans stuck with us and we came and fought and all of a sudden we’re in the championship game,” Calipari said. “We’ve got stuff we’ve gotta get done.”
“But again, this is still a good group. We’re giving you every reason to be discouraged. Just don’t. Just keep being with these kids.”
Calipari said he was disappointed with the recent losses because he hates to lose for a lot of reasons.
“I hate to lose for the fans and the team. Hopefully, I win many more games than I lose but there are going to be times when there are things that I could have done,” Calipari said on his postgame radio show. “But here’s what I would say: stay with these kids. Stay right with them. Let them know.”
Kentucky hosts Ole Miss Tuesday night and that will not be a gimme win for this team. Calipari said he will hold individual meetings with players before that game.
“To go through what these kids are going through at their age is not easy,” Calipari said. “And you’re going to get everybody’s best shot. It’s Kentucky. And if they see that you’re wounded, they’re even more excited because they got a chance to beat you. So we’re gonna have to deal.
“But being able to get through this will prepare them for the rest of their basketball career and their life. The sun comes up tomorrow and now we’ve got to get better and we’ve got to change it.
“And then when you go down that road, you start kicking it in and all of a sudden, you go on a run, you have a different feeling and wow, how did I go through all that and survive?”
At this point, Kentucky fans are starting to ask how they are going to go through all this and survive, too, because the high hopes fans had for this team are fading away.