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John Calipari created this mess, but is more than capable of fixing it
When it comes down to a sports teams' failure, the blame always goes on the head coach and that is no different here. Even though I personally believe that John Calipari is an excellent coach and is underrated in many circles, he has to be the person bearing the brunt of the blame for this early season start.
First of all, he did not do his incoming freshmen any favors. The team's first two games were neutral-court matchups against tough teams in Maryland and Duke. Those are good programs to open up against, and Kentucky finished that segment of their schedule 1-1.
However, after breezing through an easy nonconference run it was time to return for the annual SEC/Big East Challenge. Kentucky drew Notre Dame on the road, which is always one of the best home-court advantages in basketball.
It is questionable why John Calipari would open his team's road schedule versus the Fighting Irish and not against some weaker team. With a team full of youngsters, it is necessary to play on the road in an easier environment at first before exposing them to the full-scale hoopla that is Notre Dame.
Also, Calipari has to be judged when it comes to the non-development of Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Harrow. He obviously saw plenty to get excited about with Harrow and allowed him to transfer to Kentucky and learn the offense for a season.
That obviously has not turned out to mean anything for Harrow or this team. He has either been out or limited in every game so far this year. It is difficult to rely on a player with that sort of track record.
As for Wiltjer, the rumors over the summer that mentioned his improved athleticism were completely false, and Calipari should have had him better suited for the season. It is clear that Kyle is a smart player and deserves a chance to crack the starting lineup. But he is still a liability on defense and is being relegated to a spot-up shooter. Calipari needs to find a way to utilize his skills more often while hiding his mistakes.
Until then, this team will play sporadically as its "veteran leadership" continues to struggle on a daily basis. John Calipari knows how to take talented players and mesh them together. However, it could finally be the case that for once, Coach Cal may have screwed up his group of players.