Kentucky’s struggles this season have given new life to the segment of the fanbase that is fed up with John Calipari’s players-first mentality. On his postgame radio show last night, Calipari defended his approach to that “small sliver” of fans who believe the program should only be about the name on the front of the jersey and not the back.
“We’re about [the players]. I told them, each individual player every day, I’m thinking, how can I get them better? Then, I think, how collectively can I get this group better so they can help each other get better?
If you look at me when I try to do what I’m doing for you and you have a problem with it, that’s your problem. You’re not playing for a team that says, ‘Don’t put their name on the back of the jersey, it’s only about the program.’ Now, we do have some fans who think that’s the case. But most of you — that’s a small sliver who I pay no attention to to be honest with you.
This is about these kids and we want them to win for us, too, but they’ve got to win to help each other. I told them, this is hard here. You’ve got to understand and trust we’re for you. If we’re coaching you and we’re coaching you hard, it’s for you. We’re not doing it for any other reason.”
This year’s unprecedented youth has made the process of getting guys to drop their bad habits and buy in more difficult, but Calipari’s track record should be enough for the nattering nabobs of negativity to give him the benefit of the doubt. Judging by the last few weeks, it hasn’t. Even if the payoff doesn’t come this season, a veteran squad coming back should be enough to please everyone (even though something tells me it won’t).
Listen to Calipari’s comments for yourself below. He starts the rant with about 4:15 left in the show.