Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: John Calipari's 5 New Year's Resolutions
What are your New Year's resolutions?
Personally, I'd like to hit the gym a bit more in 2012 than I did in 2011. I would also like to be a bit more outgoing. But that is neither here nor there.
The Kentucky Wildcats have enjoyed a successful 2011. Early in the year, John Calipari took a six-man roster (for the most part, anyway) to the Final Four. More recently, the Wildcats had a stint as the No. 1 team in the nation and sport an 11-1 record, good for fourth in B/R's Writer Rankings.
Games against North Carolina and Kansas show just how good this team can be, while games like the one against Indiana show there is definitely room for improvement.
So, what would Calipari's resolutions be for 2012?
Probably won't be hitting the gym.
Coach Cal knows his team and the weaknesses it possesses. Youth is a problem that won't be solved this year, and depth at center or point guard won't appear either.
Here are the New Year's resolutions Calipari would have heading towards conference play.
5. Keep Healthy
Kentucky has been lucky to have few injuries this season. Terrence Jones is the only starter to have missed significant minutes, but Kentucky hasn't skipped a beat in his absence.
It may be out of his hands, but John Calipari must do his best to keep his team healthy. Instituting a curfew to try and prevent car crashes helps. Not to mention, nothing good can come from being out at 2:30 a.m.
Calipari may also have to rotate a few more players into the game than he'd like. Twany Beckham helps this problem, but Eloy Vargas should see more minutes as well to spell Anthony Davis.
A healthy team is vital in conference play, and Coach Cal will no doubt want to keep his team healthy for peak performance.
4. Improve Focus
Improving the focus of this Kentucky basketball team is very important heading into SEC play.
Missing free throws can partly be attributed to lack of focus. Playing down to the opponent's level is also caused by a lack of focus.
Free throws have been the proverbial Achilles heel of this team thus far, and games against Loyola (MD) and Old Dominion show that these young Wildcats aren't immune to overlooking opponents.
But most importantly, focus on defense must be improved. The best example came from the game against Samford, where countless backdoor cuts led to easy layups.
Though no team in the SEC runs a Princeton-style offense with these kinds of cuts, you can expect teams to implement some into their offenses for Kentucky.
3. Build Confidence
Some freshmen come in with confidence, others don't.
Perfect examples of this can be seen within Kentucky's roster: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looks right at home at the college level; Kyle Wiltjer and Marquis Teague do not.
Wiltjer just posted his best scoring output of the year, which is great to see heading into conference play. Teague has started to slow his game down, but he is far from his potential.
Building confidence in this team is a very important step for Calipari. Confidence helps in all aspects of the game, from free throws to help defense.
2. Become More Efficient
Another aspect that is lacking from this Kentucky team is offensive efficiency.
This team was bred to run the court and utilize the fast break. Half court sets seem puzzling to this young Kentucky team, and implementing some more sets couldn't hurt.
There is no reason for Kentucky to not get a good look every time down the court. Right now, they are shooting 49.9 percent from the field, and it could be higher.
Penetrating from the outside can be done by almost any starter, and a quick lob towards Anthony Davis results in the easiest two points in the game.
Coach Cal will no doubt want to cut down on the 12.3 turnovers per game as well. Most of this comes from inexperience, and it should improve as the year wears on.
Such a simple word, and yet it carries so much weight in Kentucky basketball.
Winning is the most important factor when you are the coach at the University of Kentucky. But it's not just winning—Tubby Smith was a winner. It is winning championships. Banners are only hung in Rupp Arena if a team makes it to the Final Four, anything less is unworthy.
John Calipari, above all else, wants to win. There is no doubt that he has already questioned whether or not he should have called a timeout in the Indiana game before Anthony Davis was put on the line for two.
Each win carries weight, whether it is building confidence or improving on nagging problems.
Calipari's most important resolution is to win games; to be there when his young team is put in a situation like the one against Indiana, and to prevent that same fate and result.