Calipari moving on after cursing dust-up
John Calipari’s word choice could have been better and he knows
The Kentucky coach, however, stands by his message to freshman
Terrence Jones and the rest of the Wildcats during a loss to
Alabama on Tuesday: It’s time to stop worrying about your numbers
and start worrying about your chances to compete for a Southeastern
Cameras caught Calipari loudly swearing at Jones during a
stoppage in play late in the second half. The coach later
apologized on his Facebook page and his Twitter feed for his
language and said during his radio show on Wednesday that he was
”embarrassed” by his language.
By Friday he was ready to move on, more worried about Kentucky’s
inability to win on the road than any fallout over letting his
emotions get the best of him. He brushed off questions about the
incident, but reiterated the Wildcats (14-4, 2-2) can’t continue to
be selfish if they want to repeat as conference champions.
”They think being selfish only means, ‘Well, I pass the ball, I
don’t shoot the most shots.’ It’s not that,” Calipari said. ”It’s
not what it is. It’s doing what your team needs you to do.”
And what the Wildcats need now is better communication.
There were so many breakdowns in the final minutes against the
Crimson Tide that senior center Josh Harrellson doesn’t blame
Calipari for losing his cool.
”We messed up three plays in a row. You could see it
happening,” Harrellson said.
Harrellson didn’t even notice the outburst and was surprised
when it became talk show fodder. The way he looks at it, coaches
yell. It’s what they do.
”I didn’t think it would get as much attention as it did,” he
said. ”Every coach does it, so he gets caught one time.”
Besides, Harrellson himself sheepishly admits he’s received text
messages from friends who saw him mouthing a curse here or there
during the course of a game.
Yet there’s a difference between a player doing it and a coach,
particularly the leader of college basketball’s all-time winningest
Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, who spent a decade coaching at
Kentucky, understands the microscope that comes with the job.
Calipari is hardly the first Kentucky coach to get a little hot
under the collar.
”In the heat of the battle, there are things I’d like to take
back, and I’m always apologizing to my team for things I’ve said or
the way I’ve acted,” Smith said. ”You don’t know how you’re going
to respond in those situations. Hopefully it’s behind him
It had better be if Calipari wants to avoid his first two-game
losing streak in six years. A Calipari-coached team hasn’t lost
consecutive games since Memphis dropped four straight during the
Heading to South Carolina (12-5, 3-1) on Saturday isn’t exactly
the best place to get back on track. The Wildcats have struggled in
Columbia, S.C., losing their last two games there.
Last season the Gamecocks shocked the then top-ranked Wildcats
just hours after Kentucky received a congratulatory call from
President Barack Obama for their work raising money for
The president likely won’t be on the line before tipoff on
Saturday, and that’s fine by Calipari. He’d prefer his players
listen to him – and each other – instead.
”We’re still not talking,” Calipari said. ”There were plays
(against Alabama) where two guys are working together and we make a
call. They should be talking to each other (but) they all do their
It’s an issue when dealing with a young team, one South Carolina
coach Darrin Horn can sympathize with. The Gamecocks have seven
first-year players on the roster but have found ways to post wins
over SEC East rivals Florida and Vanderbilt.
That doesn’t mean Horn doesn’t get as frustrated as Calipari at
times if it doesn’t come across on camera.
”Maybe I’m not showing it as much,” Horn said.
Not that there’s much to complain about at the moment.
South Carolina has won four of five and an upset of the Wildcats
would stamp the Gamecocks as legitimate contenders while another
loss would give Calipari bigger concerns than his language.
He insists that he ”likes his team,” Jones included.
The freshman, for his part, appears ready to move on, too.
”An arrogant man is a fool,” Jones posted on his Twitter feed
Friday. ”A confident man knows he must listen 2 the teacher and
take direction to become his best.”
AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Pete
Iacobelli in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.