John Calipari says he will become cheerleader for Kentucky as tournament approaches
John Calipari has a reputation for being somewhat hard on his players. If a member of his team makes a mistake, coach Cal has never been afraid to embarrass them on national television. Given his track record, it must work in some ways. However, Calipari said he plans to lighten up on his team this year as they head into the home stretch of the regular season and into tournament play.
“Fresh legs and fresh minds,” Calipari said of his new approach according to the Herald-Leader. “… I’m coaching their minds right now.”
Calipari said his mentor, Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, gave him the idea to ease up late in the season.
“His thing is you’ve got to be their cheerleader at the end,” he added. “That’s his thing to me all the time. You’re not changing them now. They are what they are. Cheer them on.”
The reasoning makes sense. Players go through an exhausting season with one goal in mind: to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. You can continue to coach and preach conditioning, but the teams that are the most confident and loose generally make the most noise in March. Take Kemba Walker for example. Walker showed more confidence in the Big East Tournament and NCAA tournament a year ago than any player in college basketball history. Jim Calhoun is more of the in-your-face type of coach, but he sat back and allowed Walker to lead last year. The end result was a national championship. Maybe Calipari’s new hands-off approach will allow his players to relax a bit and actually hit a few free throws in the tourney.