John Calipari: What Is Truth, What Is Myth and What Is Ignorance
John Calipari is one of the most controversial figures in the game of college basketball. This smooth talking, slick dressing coach is a mix between politician and Italian Mobster. However, with great success comes great opposition. The haters have been out and spreading like wildfire. "John Calipari isn't good for the game." "John Calipari is ruining education." "John Calipari is a cheater." "John Calipari can't win a National Title." With all these accusations, what is truth? What is myth? And what is just, downright, no good, UNC loving, UK hating, jealously driven ignorance? Let's examine.
(Spoiler Alert: John Calipari CAN win a title and can do it with "one and done's")
5) John Calipari Is a Cheater
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Verdict: Myth, as far as we know
Just like every coach in the nation, there is simply no way to tell if John Calipari is a cheater. In the first violation against his program, Marcus Camby (UMass' All-American Big Man) was found to have talked to and had negotiations with an agent. Therefore, although in no way did it affect anything on the court, the final four was stripped. This, of course, was out of the hands of John Calipari. There was simply nothing he could do.I highly doubt Calipari advised Camby to illegally speak to people involving him leaving Calipari's program.
In the second case, with Derrick Rose, there is absolutely no way to prove that John Calipari did anything wrong. John Calipari is a very powerful man, but likely not powerful enough to change a players SAT score. If he had, he would have had to have sources (and multiple ones) and from experience, I know that something of that importance would have not been kept a secret. Reporters are very good at what they do, and had Calipari of been guilty, they would have most certainly found his fingerprints all over it.
Am I saying John Calipari is squeaky clean? No. But in this country, we practice innocent until they are proved guilty. As far as any of us know, John Calipari has no more done something wrong than Coach K, Roy Williams or Rick Pitino. Until some sort of wrong doing can be proven, everyone can quit with the blank accusations.
4) John Calipari Is an Italian Mobster
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Honestly, he's probably not, but how awesome would it be? If he and Rick Pitino were both the leader of an European, organized crime group. That would explain the domination in recruiting: "Commit to UK or I will send henchmen to burn down your house."
As funny as all this is, there is about as good a chance that this is true than some of the other myths going around.
3) John Calipari Is The Best Recruiter Ever
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Verdict: Hung Jury
John Calipari is often viewed in this light: he is a terrible coach, but great recruiter. This is, without doubt, myth. When you look at John Calipari's days at Memphis, he really didn't dominate the recruiting landscape. In his eight years at Memphis, he produced only one Top 5 recruiting class. A few of the years, he failed to put a class in the Top 25. His average class ranked anywhere from 12-20. However, Memphis never failed to be in the Top 10 and play well in the tournament. This clearly points to John Calipari being a better coach than he is given credit for and not quite as good a recruiter as he's given credit for.
However, in his short time at UK, he has nothing short of dominated recruiting. Yet this is still mostly due to Calipari's dribble drive and the way this system prepares players for the next level, not necessarily Calipari's ability to "recruit" the players there. But if Kentucky continues to dominate the recruiting landscape as they have under Calipari, he will be considered the 'best ever' in terms of recruiting.
2) One and Done's Can't Win a Title
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Keep in mind, if you have this view, I'm not calling you stupid. I'm just saying you have no earthly idea what you are talking about. Generally, the idea is: "freshman are inexperienced and therefore play worse in important situations like the NCAA Tournament." When it comes down to it, good basketball players are just that--good at basketball. It doesn't matter if its the first two minutes or the last two minutes and doesn't matter if its mid-season or in the national title game. Players, such as John Wall, perform like superstars regardless. Most all of these "one and dones" played their senior seasons in high school under the National spotlight.
That being said, a lot of people say that one and dones can't win a title because they never have. (Never mind that when Syracuse won the title, their two best players were freshman) But the problem is, this has only been a rule (the "must attend college" rule, that is) for a few years, so there is simply not a big enough to sample size to judge the performance of the one and done teams.
However the biggest evidence that "one and dones" can't win a title is their performance in the tournament. Take UK, for example. UK lost a heart breaker in the Elite 8 just this last year to West Virginia, mostly due to the fact that UK simply could not hit the three. Immediately, the haters came out. People wondered if Calipari could ever win a title with one and dones. But let's look at game statistics from the WVU game:
John Wall+Demarcus Cousins+Eric Bledsoe=16-38 FG (42%), 41 pts, 25 Reb, 8 ast
P. Patterson+Darius Miller+Liggins+Dodson= 7-29 FG (24%), 23 pts, 25 Reb, 1 ast
The freshman played great. Maybe if UK had a few more of those talented freshman, UK would have won. Who knows? Is it always great to have experience? Yes. But its not as important as many think. Like Calipari noted: "I will take talent over experience every time." And he's right.
1) John Calipari Can't Win a National Title
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Verdict: Complete, Utter Ignorance
This just in--winning a national title is hard. This is compounded when you have a Coach who has been at 3 different programs in 10 years. In normal circumstances, a coach enters a program that, is...well, down in the dumps. Usually, the reason you have a new coach is because the old one sucked and was not winning games. The only time this is not the case is a retirement. Every time Calipari entered a system, the team he has come to has been having terrible years only to have him build them up to a Title contender in a very short amount of time by any standards.
A reasonable human being can see that, at both Memphis and UMass, he inherited a terrible team and had to build his team up. At UMass, he probably had one team good enough to win the title (he went to the final four). At Memphis, he had MAYBE two teams that were potential national title contenders--he went to the final game and had the lead very late. And then, of course, once at UK, in which he entered a completely program playing with completely different players. I doubt any coach would have won a national title at this point under the same circumstances.
Calipari has been all over and his longest tenure anywhere is eight years. Let's see how long it took these Coaching greats to win a title at their schools:
• It took Coach K 11 years at Duke to win a title.
• Roy Williams never won a title in15 years at Kansas.
• Jim Boeheim took 27 years to win a title at Syracuse.
• It took Jim Calhoun 13 years to win a Title at Connecticut. He spent fourteen years at Northwestern (very comparable to both Memphis and UMASS when Cal entered those systems)...he never got passed the Second Round and it took him 9 years to just make the tournament.
Clearly, judgement is coming far, far too early for this ignorant, myth. Calipari will win a title and he will do it with one and dones. Only time will tell if he can do it time and time again and put his name on the list at the greatest coaches ever.