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Archive for the tag “John Calipari”

This Isn’t John Calipari’s Wildcats

(photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

The Kentucky Wildcats came into this season having to replace a lot of talent. Seven players chose to leave school early and enter the NBA Draft, including #1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns. And with those seven leaving, there were plenty of spaces available. With that being said, Kentucky again had the #1 recruiting class in the nation and they were expected to roll again this year. The season started with being led by point guard Tyler Ulis and guard Jamal Murray, as they went 7-0 out of the gate. But when the Wildcats lost to the UCLA Bruins, the chinks in the armor started to show. The Wildcats would go on to lose three more times in the last nine games and there has to be some concern there. As time goes by, if they don’t get it together, they could be following the steps of the Kentucky team led by Archie Goodwin back and Nerlens Noel back in the 2012-2013 season. That team had a bunch of hype behind them and then ended up floundering in the first round of the NIT. And to boot, Noel tore his ACL chasing down a Florida player and trying to block his shot. This team was not as disjointed as that team was, but it seems they have not got it going and on the same page as of yet. So what needs to happen for this team to get it together?

Under Calipari, Kentucky has always had that one big man that could put the ball in the basket. His first one he got at Kentucky was DeMarcus Cousins. And after that there have been guys like Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Julius Randle and Karl-Anthony Towns. Along with the guard play that we have come to expect, we always look for the next big man Kentucky would produce that would get it done in the paint. Coming into this season, that guy was supposed to be freshman Skal Labissiere. He was the #1 big man in the 2015 recruiting class and he was multitalented. He was a 6’10” big man with a skill set that was more of a faceup post guy. His style, unfortunately, has not translated to the college level. He has not been as strong as many thought he was going to be and is only averaging 7.7 points while losing his starting job to senior Alex Poythress. Speaking of Poythress, he is a 6’8” small forward with incredible explosion to the rim. But he has been very inconsistent, just like his career has been to date. And if you take a look at Kentucky’s other big man, Marcus Lee, he is a guy that can finish at the rim but cannot create his own offense. For the Wildcats to go any further, they will need one of these three to step up and step up consistently. One other option to bring in up front is Derek Willis. The 6’9” junior from Kentucky can shoot the basketball, but he is not a guy that can give them much in the post. But even with that, his shooting touch would help spread the floor for the guards of Kentucky to attack.

Defensively, the Wildcats have been solid at times on the perimeter. The defense has caused havoc, led by guard Tyler Ulis. But when the shot goes up, that is when the adventure begins. Kentucky has usually been a team that boxes out and outrebounds teams. And at the beginning of the year, Coach Calipari alluded to this team needing to get better in that area. Well, it seems like they have not been getting the message. Even with the veteran players in Poythress and Lee, the Wildcats are giving up second-chance points. And when that happens, Kentucky is giving up an offensive rebound and more than likely two points. Those extra points have not hurt them a lot this season, but those extra points could hurt them at the wrong time. The one thing the Wildcats could do to alleviate some of the rebounding issues is team rebounding. What that means is instead of guards sitting around watching the big men rebound, they need to help them out and get down there to fight with them. If they are able to do that, there is some stress taken off the big men of Kentucky. It may take them out of the fastbreak a little bit, but it will be worth it if they are not giving up second and third shots.

Rebounding and scoring from their big men is a huge thing, but what is even bigger is leadership. Who was the voice of the team was never a question for the Wildcats in 2014-2015. Last year, there was leadership and focus for numerous people. And because of that leadership, it helped Kentucky have the type of season they had. With this year’s team, the leader is unquestionably point guard Tyler Ulis. He is definitely the one barking out the signals and making sure things run smoothly. He also is the guy that takes some of the big shots along with guard Jamal Murray. Both he and Murray are also carrying the team offensively, combining for 32 points per game. But for this team to take the next step, he has to ride some of his teammates. A leader is someone that is not always liked by his teammates and Ulis has to learn that. He has to push them to be better and do better. If he is able to strike that chord with them, then that means he is taking ownership of that team. Many teams have a player that steps up and does the things that a coach would do in terms of getting on guys and leading them. Ulis has all the capabilities and has shown he is capable of it, but he has to do it all the time. That is what leaders do.

The Wildcats are not doing terrible, but they are not doing as well as Calipari teams usually do. For them to take that step forward and be considered a serious National Title contender, they will need to get better play out of their big men. The Wildcats also have to have leadership take over this team along with the improved post play. Only time will tell what happens, but the Wildcats’ problems will only get worse if they lose Thursday night against Arkansas. Time is of the essence.

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It’s Time For Coaches To Embrace Social Media

In this new age of sports, there is much more to the game than just playing. The image a player projects has become very crucial in creating your own brand. These days, social media is an important aspect of creating that brand. Everyone has a Twitter or Facebook account and uses that to express themselves and their thoughts. But apparently, not everyone is a fan of players expressing themselves. The latest expression of disdain for social media with his players came from Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

rick pitino

Apparently, Pitino is not the biggest fan of social media. He recently made the following statement to ESPN’s Mike and Mike:

Pitino had some strong words for social media in regards to athletes. Even going as far as to say that “every hour on it is like taking a little bit of poison.” I could understand some of what he was saying. From a certain viewpoint and in what city he lives and coaches in, players can receive a ton of praise. But they can also receive a ton of undue criticism from overly passionate fans. And if athletes are not prepared for it, they can be blown away by it. Some learn over time how to handle the criticism, but Richie Incognito showed that some still have a lot to learn. But in the grand scheme of things, it sounds like technology has passed Rick by. Gone are the things that he did as a youth and here are the things of today’s America. You cannot hope to have players avoid something that is part of society as a whole. So, instead of trying to steer his players away from social media, Rick ought to pay attention to his in-state rival’s head coach and his way of thinking.

john calipari

Kentucky’s John Calipari is a coach that has attracted the top talents in college basketball. Some would say that he is just in it to make himself look better. People can talk until their blue in the face about what he is in coaching for, but one thing you cannot dispute is the things he does to help these players with social media. Calipari is one of the few coaches in America that seems to care about his players on social media. Here is what he said on ESPN’s Mike and Mike:

Calipari’s frame of mind is way different than Pitino’s. And he spoke the truth about him and other coaches that encourage their players not to use social media. They truly don’t understand it and how to use it. While he probably embellished when he said he did not read one response, he did drop some knowledge in terms of what social media is used for and how he helps prepare his kids for the usage of it as their careers go on.

Ultimately, the thoughts of Pitino are null and void because kids are going to be kids. Social media is here to stay, so why not embrace it and help them instead of discouraging them. Athletes more than anyone are seen in the public eye through all they do everywhere. So why not prepare them to handle social media and other things instead of having athletes pretend social media does not exist? In this instance, Pitino needs to come out of the dark ages and embrace what is there instead of continuing to badmouth it like it’s a sickness. While social media can get you in trouble, it can be a blessing when handled correctly. Maybe Rick needs to learn that and teach his players like Calipari is at Kentucky.

pitono vs calipari

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

TESM’s Inteview With ESPN Radio’s Freddie Coleman

ESPN Radio has been revolutionary in bringing sports talk radio to the forefront. One of the voices that many have gotten familiar with is Freddie Coleman. Recently, I got to catch up with Freddie and here is what we talked about!

MP: So, what’s it like to work for ESPN?

FC: I have been at ESPN for eight years and I kept waiting on that one bad day until one day, I just stopped thinking about it. Because a bad day here is still better than doing something that I’m not happy at all the time. I’m living out my dreams and doing what I love and that’s truly a blessing.

MP: Being that you work at ESPN, how do you balance your home life and your job?

FC: First, I’m lucky that I have an understanding wife, but she understands that when I’m away from the job, it’s family time. I don’t bring work home with me. When I’m at work, it’s work and when I’m at home, it’s home. I believe that you cannot bring work home with you and that you cannot let work define you.

MP: How did you first get interested in radio?

FC: Well, growing up as a kid in New York, I always loved radio. I listened to everything. But it was later when I went to college and hung around people at the college radio station, that’s when I made my decision that I wanted to make radio my career.

MP: Where did you grow up in New York?

FC: I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, New York.

MP: Did you play sports growing up?

FC: I actually played football, tennis and basketball in high school at Long Island City High School. I also played college football at Division II Mansfield University as well. I currently still stay active by playing on ESPN’s softball team.

MP: What position did you play?

FC: I played wide receiver.

MP: Growing up, what sports figure inspired you the most?

FC: Dr. J (Julius Irving of the Philadelphia 76ers) inspired me the most. He is my favorite player of all-time.

MP: What about Michael Jordan?

FC: As a Knicks fan, I’m morally opposed to Michael Jordan. He torched my team too many times.

MP: Who were some of your biggest influences in radio and broadcasting?

FC: Marv Albert has always been one of my favorites because of his sarcasm, dead pan humor and the way he calls the game. I also was heavily influenced by Keith Jackson and Chris Schenkle when they called college football games. Another radio influence was music radio host Chuck Writer. He had a major influence on me in high school.

MP: Best interview that you’ve ever had?

FC: It’s really hard to pick out just one. To be honest, not one interview stands out above any of the others because I’ve had the chance to talk to so many people like Shaq, Cedric the Entertainer, John Calipari, Bernie Mac and the list goes on.

MP: Where all have you worked in radio?

FC: I have worked for a Top 40 station in Portland, Maine, a Top 40 station in Poughkeepsie, I’ve worked for a Soul Music station in New York City and I’ve also been a program director in Poughkeepsie, New York and worked in TV in the Hudson Valley, which is one to two hours north of New York City.

MP: Have you ever had an interest in doing more television?

FC: Not really. To me, it’s not as much fun as radio. Radio is not as political and television is something that is really not on my radar to be honest.

MP: What advice would you have for young people aspiring to getting into radio?

FC: I would say that you have to make sure to be prepared. You don’t have to know everything, but make sure you do your homework. Also, be 100% real when you’re there. The more truthful you are, the most you build your credibility.

MP: What is your ultimate goal in broadcasting?

FC: I’ve never had an ultimate goal. I always just want to make sure that I love what I do and do what I love.

MP: What are some charitable things that you are involved in?

FC: I get involved with Coaches vs Cancer in New York City. Coaches vs Cancer is a program where coaches help raise awareness for prostate cancer. I’m always on board for these events.

Freddie not only is a radio host, but someone with great experience that has put in time to make it to the level he’s at now. Many thanks to Freddie for the interview.

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