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I’m Willing To Give “Ten-Win Cal” A Pass This Year

That Georgia loss did it for a lot of people. Did what you say? It smacked you right up the side of the head with the reality that Kentucky Basketball just isn’t very good. Come March, there’ll be heck of a lot of free time to get your lawn seeded and that deck stained. These Cats aren’t going anywhere when post season comes a callin’.

In this age of finger pointing, all digits are aimed toward John Calipari. The hall of fame coach just hasn’t been his usual self of late—either on the court or in press conferences. In fact, “Swaggy Cal” has been noticeably missing in action on the postgame podium, replaced by a bumbling stumbling shell of a man unable to soothe the blue masses with his usual gift of gab.

So far this year, Coach Cal has “stepped in it” on several occasions already. From his “not wanting to take a player’s heart” comment, to his dismissal of the importance of Kenny Payne as his assistant, to his blaming the fans and media for their support of Dontaie Allen, this just isn’t the Calipari we’ve come to know and love.

This year’s John Calipari appears stressed and strained. Gone are the pin striped suits and the perfectly coiffed hair. He’s uncharacteristically skipped out on several pre-and post-game pressers. When he does show up, he takes a limited number of questions. There’s also not the usual and customary back and forth banter, playful put downs, or good humor we’ve become accustomed to. My gosh, he’s even complimented Jerry Tipton for asking good questions on not one, but two occasions. Who is this guy?

This season is truly like no other. A campaign which began with so much hope and optimism for raising another banner has suddenly morphed into an abject nightmare. Kentucky stands at 4 – 9 with a murderer’s row five-game schedule beginning this Saturday. The team lost six in a row earlier this year. They’re now on another three-game losing streak. An eight-game skid isn’t out of the question. That’s almost as bad as when the 1923 UK team lost nine straight and went 3 – 10. Hide the women and children. UNFATHOMABLE!

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of hope on the horizon for a quick reversal. This team can’t shoot, score, hit free throws or find the open man. They try hard and listen, but as Calipari has said, “they don’t really hear.” Their basketball IQ seems a bit substandard. They’re often clueless of time and score. It’s a unit that will be lucky to win ten games this year. That’s, by all accounts, an outright travesty. There’s way too much talent on board for this team to be this bad.

If Kentucky were to just win the remaining games that they’ll probably be favored in, they’ll finish out the regular season at 8 – 18. That’s not anywhere close to tournament worthy. The only chance of postseason play occurs if they win the SEC tournament. And that’s not highly likely with the way things are going. It’s going to take a lot more than a tweak or two this time around. The Harrison twins aren’t walking through that door. Furthermore, the SEC tournament may not even be played due to pre-NCAA tournament precautions being taken against Covid-19. You might as well start praying for a full-blown miracle.

Miracle turnaround or not, I’m willing to give Coach Cal a pass this year. Truth be told, he’s been robbed by the ‘Rona of his biggest coaching asset—his ability to mold a talented but fledgling team into a cohesive unit by the end of the year. The lack of team bonding opportunities and cupcake tune-ups early on have taken their toll and snowballed. Throw in the fact that your recruits aren’t nearly as good as advertised, and you can see why the dumpster fire is raging.

Sometimes, you have to experience lows to really enjoy the highs. Calipari has certainly provided our share of highs over the past 11 years. He’s coached and won a lot more college basketball games than we have in all our fantasy leagues put together. That’s called equity in the bank.

Plus, the man lost both his trusted lieutenants—DeWayne Peevy and Kenny Payne—in one fell swoop. Now he’s been humbled by this season from Hell. I’m throwing it all out as a horrible outlier. You should too.

Be careful what you ask for.

Here’s hoping that “ten-win Cal” quickly gets back to his winning ways.   

Dr. John Huang
Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist and military veteran. As a lifelong Wildcat fan, a fledgling author, and an occasional guest host of Just the Cats Radio, he's now living out his dream as a UK Sports columnist. Dr. Huang also covers professional sports on a regional level. You can follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs or contact him If you enjoy his writing, you can also read more at

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