"Win or Learn," Calipari opened up about what he has learned this season

Drew Franklin02/04/21


Article written by:On3 imageDrew Franklin


<small>(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)</small>
[caption id="attachment_332376" align="alignnone" width="2560"]Getty-CalipariTeam (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)[/caption] One of John Calipari's big quotes is, “a successful person never loses, they either win or learn." He has said that line or some form of that line many times throughout his Hall of Fame career, more times than any of his players can count. Win or learn, no losses. By that math, Calipari's 2020-21 Kentucky Wildcats have five wins and 11 learning opportunities this season, more "learning" than he's ever done in his entire career, going all the way back to his first season at UMass in the late 80s. So what has he learned? Chris Gambrell, a Kentucky fan in Florida, called up Calipari on his call-in show and asked that very question. Cal had just addressed fan frustration, and Gambrell asked him, "One of the things I think would help address that fan frustration is that phrase that comes up, 'you win or you learn'... what are some things you've learned from this season?" Calipari's answer, in my opinion, is what so many fans have been wanting to hear since this miserable season began. He was open and very straightforward, no talking in circles or cryptic comments, about how the team's struggles have hit him and what needs to change going forward. Rather than typing up some news story with unnecessary filler, I'll leave you with Calipari's exact response to the question.
That's really good. Some of it, there will be an evaluation at the end when we're totally done and we can look back at the full body of the season, but I will tell you, the summer and building our culture and what we do in the fall, we always knew it was important, but we didn't know it was this important. We didn't know that getting attitudes and non-negotiables in order before we come back in the fall, was always done in the summer. The habits, the new habits that were created, now we understand the importance of it. And then the other thing is, throughout all of this stuff, when you look, every team I've had is different and I get that, every team needs something different from me as a head coach and our staff, and I get that, but more importantly, now shooting is even a bigger deal than it's been, and it's everywhere. You've gotta be able to make shots because you can run great stuff and guys be wide open and the guy goes 1-for-8 or he goes 1-for-7 or he goes 2-for-12, and you look and 10 of them were wide open. Well, the game is changing and shooting is a premium. And then, how much defense are you willing to give up to have more shooters? Maybe you have three shooters or four on the court. I want this season to wind down and then come up with that. And the last thing, you start learning about yourself and what exactly you can take. This has been hard on the staff, this has been hard on me, and people will say, 'no one feels sorry.' I've said it before, I've been so blessed I can't feel sorry for myself, but losing and the way we're losing has really been a hard pill to swallow because you want to help more, you want to do more, you want to do something to help them get over the hump, and we haven't been able to do it yet. But I'm not done. I'm just not done. Like today they'll tell you the whole practice was the last four minutes and lowering these turnovers, being tougher with the ball, the spacing on post stuff because if we are going to post it, people are going to be trapping and then when they did, you saw Olivier throw the ball to Isaiah who dunked it. But we just have to keep going, and knowing that when you're in these situations, you can blame or take responsibility and keep working to change it.

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