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With more pressure on him than ever before at Kentucky, John Calipari’s forced to figure a way out and up

John Calipari’s had his share of talented teams that doubled as in-season, work-as-you-go projects. In some years, he’s successfully navigated the difficult, self-prompted assignment of figuring out how to get a roster lacking in familiarity to play at the highest level in college basketball. 

But only once before has a Calipari-coached Kentucky team lost at least two of its first five games. It was the 2019-20 squad that was historically horrible, going 9-16 in a pandemic-affected season that rattled Kentucky fans to their core. 

Aside from ’19-20, the only other previous time Calipari’s Cats lost at least two games in November, as this team has now done, was in 2012-13. Those Wildcats failed to make the NCAA Tournament after Nerlens Noel suffered a season-ending injury in SEC play. UK infamously went on to lose in the first round of the NIT against Robert Morris. 

This team won’t be like those teams. While it might be conceivable in a parallel universe, in the one we know and love, this Kentucky team has no chance of finishing below .500 and failing to win 10 games. Beyond that, it would register as a surprise if this team didn’t wind up in the top-15 variety come March. With the reigning national player of the year (Oscar Tshiebwe), veterans galore, future NBA talent and multiple dependable 3-point shooters, Calipari has everything he could ask for in a Final Four-type roster. 

So why doesn’t it look like Kentucky has those luxuries at its disposal? This year was the 11th time UK entered as a preseason top-five team in the AP poll under Calipari. Two weeks in, that’s not what we’re seeing. Kentucky is 3-2, its three wins coming at home against Howard, Duquesne and South Carolina State — teams that are a combined 6-11. The two losses have come by a combined 25 points to Michigan State (86-77 in overtime) and No. 2 Gonzaga. The Bulldogs strolled to a 88-72 win over the fourth-ranked…


Source link : https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/with-more-pressure-on-him-than-ever-before-at-kentucky-john-caliparis-forced-to-figure-a-way-out-and-up/

Author : Matt Norlander

Publish date : 2022-11-21 06:07:35

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2022-11-21

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