Is it time to dub the 2021-22 Kentucky Basketball season “The Revenge Tour”? On KSR this morning, new associate coach Orlando Antigua said that in the few days he’s been back in Lexington, he’s noticed a “hunger” in the current members of next year’s roster that suggests they’re eager to avenge last year’s 9-16 mark.
“When you have the kind of turnaround and the amount of kids the team lost last year compared to all the newcomers and the experience and then you get into the pandemic, you have a lot of variables that come into play that make for a challenging year but these dudes now are seasoned together. They have a hunger about them in just my conversations with a few of them, that’s exciting. We’ve got to add some pieces to that and keep building on that.”
Two players that will soon join Keion Brooks, Dontaie Allen, Lance Ware, Jacob Toppin, and Oscar Tshiebwe in Lexington are transfers Kellan Grady and CJ Fredrick. When asked, Antigua said he’s confident they’ll fit right in to what Calipari and his new staff are trying to build.
“Those kids that you’ve mentioned, Kellan and CJ, all those guys are built for this. They’re Cal kind of guys because the conversations are the same with them and the challenges are the same. They’re deciding to sign up and come in and represent this university and this program the same way that many of those other kids who have come through here have done.”
Of course, Kentucky still needs to add a few more guards to the mix. Antigua isn’t allowed to discuss specific recruits like five-star point guard TyTy Washington or potential additions from the transfer portal, but said the staff’s pitch remains the same as it was during his first tenure in Lexington: find kids who crave the pleasure of the pressure.
“It takes a special kind of character, a special kind of kid to want to be able to take on that challenge,” Antigua said. “When Cal says it’s not for everyone, it’s not for everyone. You have to want to come and attack that and understand what comes with that. When kids decide to want to take on that challenge, our fanbase should be extremely excited because they are stepping into that challenge and that’s not an easy thing.”
As for Calipari himself, Antigua said his old friend is champing at the bit to take Kentucky back to the top.
“You guys heard him. You know he’s ready. You heard how excited and fired up he is about this season. He’s ready. He can’t wait for this season to start. He can’t wait for these kids to get back from their break to get back in the gym and working and when have your leader that excited and that fired up, man, it just runs through everybody. Our staff is pumped and we’re ready. There’s not gonna be a whole lot of talking. There will be a whole lot of working.”
It’s nice to be excited about Kentucky Basketball again. Listen to all of Coach O’s appearance below.