Keion Brooks battles for a loose ball during Kentucky’s loss at Auburn last weekend. The Wildcats take on Georgia Wednesday night in Athens. (UK Athletics Photo)
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — John Calipari is frustrated and admitted he’s not happy with the way his team is playing going into Wednesday night’s contest at Georgia.
“There is a frustration out there, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s unacceptable where we are right now — unacceptable,” Calipari said Tuesday. “I’m trying to figure out everything I can because I am not happy.”
The Wildcats (4-8, 3-2 Southeastern Conference), opened the league schedule with three straight victories but reverted to past habits last week with a blowout loss to Alabama, followed by a narrow setback at Auburn.
“It’s been a really tough season,” transfer guard Davion Mintz said. “I can’t lie. It’s been hard. We understand that we have a job to do. We obviously can’t give up. We’ve got a lot of people depending on us, a lot of people supporting us still. There’s no reason to put our heads down now. We’ve just got to keep pushing through it.”
Calipari isn’t giving up either as he navigates through an unprecedented season with a team that’s juggling a losing record, combined with the ongoing pandemic.
“I’m trying everything,” he said. “I’m tweaking everything. I’m working out, running, sleeping, getting my rest. I’m in a fighting mood. I’m mad. I’m disappointed. I’m not happy in any way. But, these are our guys, and I’m going to say this to all of you and to our fans: We can’t trade them. This is who they are.”
In addition to feeling the frustration, Calipari also knows his team needs to get into desperation mode going into the heart of the conference schedule. During his radio show earlier this week, the Kentucky coach hinted at possible lineup changes.
“You have to play with some sort of desperation, especially with where we are right now in the season,” Mintz said. “He’s made it very clear that he’s only going to play the five guys that are going to go out there and play with desperation. At this point, everyone is trying to be that bull, chasing that flag at this point, trying to be one of those guys at this point.”
Calipari believes the Wildcats are getting closer to a breakthrough and added, “no one wants us to bust through, because all of a sudden we become a team that’s, ahh, you don’t want to play them now. But we got to do it on the court. We’ve got to bust through.”
Mintz agreed and recent past history suggests the Wildcats have the ability to turn things around.
“We just have to put a few games together and go on like that three-win stretch that we had,” Mintz said. “Let’s try and bump that up to a four and five. Let’s try and take things going one at a time. Ready, win or lose, that pressure is going to always be there because there’s always going to be somebody trying to hunt you down or you’re going to have to be the hunter.”
Calipari added that it traditionally takes time for his teams to develop the right chemistry and added this year is no different than the previous 11 seasons he has coached the Wildcats and added his main objective is to win.
“The cream also rises,” Calipari said. “It always does here. … We’ve got to break through at some point. If it’s not this week, this Wednesday, then it better be this weekend. Time to break through and make strides.”
Gametracker: Kentucky at Georgia, 7 p.m. (EST), Wednesday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.