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John Calipari says ‘tweak’ he made was having Andrew Harrison pass more

John Calipari KentuckyThe Kentucky Wildcats were a completely different team once the NCAA Tournament began. After a season of disappointing results and tumbling in the national rankings, Kentucky knocked off some of the best teams in the tourney field en route to a National Championship appearance. So what changed?

When reporters asked how the Wildcats were able to make such a deep run, John Calipari credited a minor “tweak” he made in the team’s approach. That apparently involved freshman guard Andrew Harrison. Calipari elaborated on Monday.

“I was trying to make the game easier for Andrew,” Calipari told CBS This Morning, via The Dagger’s Jeff Eisenberg. “I got tapes of Deron Williams, who averaged nine assists throughout his career in the NBA. We had a game where he had 11 assists and I showed Andrew and I said, ‘Look at this. Let’s watch. Would you have passed or shot?’ He said, ‘I would have shot.’ ‘Would you have passed or shot?’ Well, Deron was throwing balls to everybody.”

The only regret Calipari had was not making the change sooner.

“And so I said, ‘Monday, you will not shoot one basketball. You will pass,” he explained. “We’re going to run less plays. You will create shots. We will chart. We’re not telling our team.’ He comes in and has 26 assist attempts. Twenty-six assists that Monday. I’m mad the whole practice because it’s changed my team. Why didn’t I do it earlier? And then I apologized to him, I apologized to the team and I said, ‘I messed this up, make me look good now.’”

It obviously worked. Kentucky probably wasn’t going to beat UConn in the National Championship game regardless given the way Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were playing. Guard play almost always carries a team in the postseason. By realizing that, Calipari was able to defy the odds.

Rex Chapman clarifies John Calipari to Lakers comment

John CalipariFormer Kentucky star Rex Chapman set the internet on fire Monday night when he tweeted prior to the national championship game that John Calipari will be leaving the Wildcats after the season to coach the Los Angeles Lakers. Calipari is linked to NBA coaching rumors every year, but this is by far the most high-profile job he has been associated with.

Chapman went on “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday to elaborate on his tweet. He did a lot of chuckling.

“I treat Twitter like I’m talking to my friends,” Chapman said. “I’m not a journalist and never pretend to be. I interact with people. I’m not going to refrain from giving information I hear just because it might upset some people.”

Chapman said he did not say Calipari to the Lakers was a “done deal” but instead that he was told it’s a done deal. If there’s a difference between those two things, I don’t understand it. He also went on to say that he heard from one source that Calipari is leaving Kentucky for LA win or lose and from another that the Lakers reached out and “of course Calipari has to listen.”

When Patrick asked Chapman if he believes Calipari is going to leave the Wildcats, he seemed to start backpedaling a bit.

“I believe that John is very savvy when it comes to these things,” Chapman said. “I would hope he’s not going to leave. He deals with this every year. Whether it’s to (get his next deal at Kentucky), I don’t know. There obviously is something to it. Come on.”

The interview had backpedal city written all over it. In one breath Chapman was saying he thinks Calipari will ultimately remain at Kentucky. But after Patrick reminded him several times that his tweet said “done deal,” Chapman confirmed that he heard from two “reliable sources” that Calipari to the Lakers is a done deal. Does that make any sense?

If Chapman’s sources are so reliable, why does he still think Calipari is going to stay at Kentucky? Something doesn’t add up, and my gut tells me that something is Chapman feeling stupid because he sent a tweet he shouldn’t have. The full interview is below:

John Calipari’s daughter Megan sends sweet tweet about dad after loss

Megan Calipari

John Calipari may be feeling down about his team losing in the championship game to UConn, but at least he has his family to pick him up.

Shortly after Kentucky lost 60-54 to UConn, Cal’s daughter Megan sent these nice tweets:

We figure she meant “couldn’t” be more proud of the team, because she followed up with this:

How sweet was that? That would easily make any father feel instantly better.

Things took a humorous turn when John’s other daughter, Erin, responded to her sister with this tweet:

Erin always has had a sharp edge. She also sent this to Rex Chapman after the former Kentucky player started a frenzy by tweeting that Calipari was headed to the Lakers:

As soon as those rumors pop up, Erin and Megan are the ones who hear it from the fans the most. We don’t envy being in their position. At least they’re both supportive of their father no matter what happens.

John Calipari explains why Kentucky didn’t foul at end of game

John CalipariThe last minute of competitive basketball games generally takes a long time to play out because the losing team tends to foul to try keeping the game close. That did not happen in the NCAA Tournament title game on Monday night between UConn and Kentucky, and John Calipari explained why after the game.

The Kentucky coach told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson that Kentucky didn’t foul because UConn was too great at their free throws.

“I needed to do a couple more things to help [my team], to get them over the hump, and we just didn’t have enough,” Calipari said.

He then went on to explain why they didn’t foul.

“We couldn’t foul late. I know everyone’s [asking] ‘why didn’t you foul?’ Because they’re not missing! Those two guards never miss! Our best chance was two-possession game, stop them, make a basket, timeout, try to steal — that was our best chance.”

Calipari also added that he thought at halftime that they would win the game. They came close, but fell short.

Calipari’s reasoning actually makes sense. UConn went 10-of-10 at the free throw line in the title game and set a tournament record for highest free throw percentage. Hoping for them to miss at the line was a longshot. The real problem was the same one Calipari has experienced before; his team couldn’t make free throws.

Rex Chapman: John Calipari is going to coach Lakers

John Calipari KentuckyFormer Kentucky star and NBA player Rex Chapman created some major waves on the college and pro basketball scene when he tweeted prior to Monday’s National Championship Game that current Wildcats coach John Calipari would be taking the Los Angeles Lakers coaching job.

The feeling has long been that Mike D’Antoni, fairly or unfairly, would not be back as Lakers head coach next season following this year’s disaster. The rumor received more credibility when another report said Kobe Bryant did not want to play for D’Antoni.

As you could imagine, the Lakers have denied the rumor.

“I spoke to [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak and he said the rumor is untrue,” Lakers spokesman John Black said via the Los Angeles Times. “Mike D’Antoni is our coach. There have been no conversations about any specific names for any replacement.”

D’Antoni is currently employed by the team, so what would you expect them to say? Yeah, we’re firing Mike and hiring John? Of course they were going to deny it.

The question is would Calipari actually leave Kentucky for the Lakers? Cal is only 55 and still has plenty of years left in him. His run with the Nets did not go the way he wanted — he was fired during his third season — so maybe he would want to prove he can coach at the highest level. Plus, let’s be real here, it’s not like he has huge ties to Kentucky; this is only his fifth season there and he’s already won one title and been to two championship games and three Final Fours. Maybe he felt more inclined to leave after all the fans started crushing him amid the shaky season at Kentucky this year.

John Calipari: I know nothing about UConn

John Calipari MemphisJohn Calipari is back in the NCAA championship game after leading his Kentucky Wildcats to an improbable run in the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman Aaron Harrison stepped up for the third straight game and hit a huge 3-pointer in the final minute to help the Wildcats advance, and now they are set to face UConn in the championship game Monday as a 3-point favorite.

In his interview with TBS after the big win, Calipari praised Huskies coach Kevin Ollie and the UConn program while admitting he knew nothing about them.

“I don’t know anything about them,” said Calipari. “The issue now I gotta be up all night watching tape getting ready for them. I know their guards are good and I know I recruited a bunch of their guys, so I know how good they are, but I don’t know how they play.”

Are you buying that from him? If he’s telling the truth, then he really won’t have much time to prepare for the game on Monday night.

We’re guessing some of his assistants have been watching tape on the Huskies and will have him up to speed before long.

John Calipari ejected from Kentucky-South Carolina game (Video)

John Calipari ejectionJohn Calipari has seemed frustrated with his Kentucky team all season, so it was pretty fitting that he ended up ejected from the team’s game against South Carolina on Saturday.

Calipari may have been upset that no foul was called when Alex Poythress attempted a baseline leaner with just under 11 minutes left and his Wildcats trailing by 12. He could have also been upset that no foul was called when Julius Randle had the ball stolen from him after Poythress’ airball. Cal stepped out to around the 3-point line to confront the referee, and he was immediately given a technical foul and ejected.

The way that disaster was going for Kentucky, it was probably just as well to have him watch the ending from the locker room instead of the bench.