As any double-dealing statesman would do amid a sinking campaign, John Calipari has lined up his excuses, handpicked scapegoats and initiated an exit strategy in a pinch.
Responsibility be damned! A pair of first-year college rubes must take the fall for the ongoing mess in Lexington.
In his best political impression, college basketball’s most celebrated salesman threw a pair of unnamed – but not undecipherable – players under the bus following Kentucky’s humiliating 30-point loss in Knoxville over the weekend to middling Tennessee.
“We have a couple of guys that are basically not real coachable,” the Big Blue basketball boss said beginning at the 2:18 mark in the video below. “We tell them over and over and over what you want to do, what we have to do, and they do their own thing.”
The dubious “they” to whom he refers is a thinly-masked dig at struggling freshmen Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin. Poythress, a highly touted rookie forward whose on-court play hasn’t matched his imposing physique, fouled out in Saturday’s debacle after scoring just four points. Goodwin, an unabashed hotshot who is shooting just 36–percent from the floor and 1-of-20 from behind the arc in SEC play, hit just two of his nine shots in the game.
Calipari’s criticism is justified, if only in identifying the biggest wrongdoers on his team. The manner in which he deflects responsibility to his underlings – absolving himself of blame by typecasting two freshmen as unreachable – is tactless. The juvenile finger-pointing is something you’d expect of Kentucky’s young players, not the man charged with rearing them.
Forget personal accountability when plausible deniability is an option. That’s the Calipari Way.
Newsflash, coach: Just because the new kids on the block are tuning you out doesn’t mean they’re inattentive. Your inability to coach them up doesn’t make them uncoachable. Imagine a professor telling his students “you’re unteachable.” It takes two to transmit a message – sender and receiver. Who’s to say the instructor isn’t failing his pupils?
If Calipari is to take credit for grooming last year’s freshmen – without qualification of how “coachable” they were – he ought to bear blame for retarding the growth of this year’s cast.
Of course, that’s not a politician’s M.O. Coach Cal, like the typical think tank in Washington, isn’t interested in diplomacy. For as long as he’s the mayor of Kentucky hoops, don’t expect John Calipari to step down from his bully pulpit anytime soon.