Coach Cal adjusting to new roster

Ira D. CombsTri State Sports Media

December 10, 2012

You want to know one of the reasons Big Blue Nation isn’t getting the opportunity to watch an Indiana or a North Carolina come through Rupp Arena this particular season? Because John Calipari saw the light at the end of the tunnel for this team last spring, before anyone else ever laid eyes on them when he was finalizing the roster through recruiting and at the same time putting this team’s schedule together.

So, for those of you who think the schedule is soft, well, just be thankful the Duke game was scheduled three years ago and the Maryland game was scheduled two years ago.

This isn’t Cal’s first rodeo, and remember, he’s having to learn and adjust on the fly with the new twist to today’s college basketball season breakdown since everyone in the college basketball free world is either envious or just purely hates Cal and UK.

Usually, in past college basketball seasons (in particular the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s), the October and early November practice sessions were used strictly to develop roles and team chemistry for the upcoming season without the worry of game preparation tainting that process. But that was when the games never started until late November and without exhibition games to use in the process.

Now, with game competition beginning in late October, and in the age of one-and-done players, early entrants from the upperclassmen to the NBA, and soon to arrive on the scene an even more tender teenage player of the reclassification variety, the present day college coach must use practice time during the November and December months to get his roster of players all on the same page while having to game plan and get a win or two to start building an NCAA tournament resume.

So, the present day state of college hoops practices at the Joe Craft Center during the month of December have extreme ramifications on the final outcome of a team’s seed in March Madness no matter how they are conducted or to what length in my eyes, and I’ve seen a few in my days both on the high school and collegiate level.

With that being said, I’m sure no one in college basketball is taking any pity sake on Cal or UK nor do they want any.

While sitting underneath the stands of Rupp Arena before a recent game and having a friendly conversation on these very same topics with Coach Joe B. Hall, his final remark to me was, “As long as Cal is in charge of UK basketball I have no worries of anything in or out of season.”

I don’t either, coach, but apparently Jerry Tipton does. Read on.

Herald-Leader beat writer question’s Cal’s coaching tactics

With the numbers that John Calipari has put up so far in his three years plus a few months tenure at UK, it’s extremely difficult to find any criticism. But fear not, for the UK beat writer over at the Herald-Leader, Jerry Tipton, has once again come through. Tipton, who has himself had a tough time over the years getting any love from the mass portions of the UK fan base, has once again attempted to stick a thorn into the side of another UK basketball coach with his journalism skills.

Through the post-game interview process, Tipton has questioned Cal’s present daily practice routine through questioning freshman center Nerlens Noel, citing that Noel seemed to have a limp in his step during his warm-ups before a recent game and asked Noel if it was related to excessive practice during “Camp Cal,” a tongue-in-cheek reference by media members to Cal’s recent demanding practices.

John Calipari has won over 500 college basketball games, taken three teams to Final Fours and just coached arguably one of the most talented yet unselfish teams in the history of college basketball to an NCAA championship.

Yet, here is a veteran sportswriter covering a team who has himself never made out an NCAA starting five lineup card, called a TO in a game, nor even blown a whistle to start or stop any type of college basketball practice questioning the coaching skills of one of America’s most successful coaches.

But then again, here I am, a meager retired high school coach and A.D. questioning a Hall of Fame sports journalist .

Isn’t America wonderful!

No. 1 UK recruit makes another appearance in the Bluegrass State

Andrew Wiggins, the combo forward with a very special skill set and carrying the No. 1 tag as this year’s top recruit by most recruiting services, is bringing his game to the Bluegrass once again for the second time this season this coming weekend. This time the setting will take place in northeastern Kentucky at Boyd County High School this coming Friday and Saturday night. Wiggins’ team, Huntington Prep out of Huntington, West Virginia, will play Cincinnati Walnut Hills at approximately 9 p.m. in the third game of a tripleheader on Friday night, then return on Saturday and play Arlington Country Day of Jacksonville, Florida at approximately 7 p.m.

Boyd County’s home games are played at Summit Junior High, which formerly was the host site of the 16th region tournament and seats approximately 4,500 spectators. Ticket info can be obtained by contacting Boyd Co. High at 606-928-7101.

Also headlining the card at Boyd County is Kentucky’s very own Shane Hall, a junior power forward from Johnson Central who is swiftly moving up the recruiting service charts at an alarming rate since he broke on the AAU summer circuit two summers ago. Hall’s Johnson Central team plays right before Wiggins’ team on Saturday around 5:15 p.m.

Another feather in the cap of SEC football

As if the SEC needed any more fodder for its mega-talented image of college football, it garnered another high profile trophy for one of its players/teams last Saturday night when Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M won the annual prize of the Heisman Trophy, becoming the first freshman to ever win this award.

This means the SEC now holds four of the last six winners of this special award to go along with the last six BCS Champions.

Now the bad news, Mark Stoops, go get ‘em and jump head first into this pile of football talent not seen this side of the NFL.