Cats sailing through uncharted waters

Publisher
Posted Dec 3, 2012


After losing back to back games last week, Kentucky finds itself unranked for the first time under coach John Calipari and searching for answers.

The Kentucky Wildcats find themselves in uncharted waters coming off a week which saw them lose their first game in Rupp Arena under John Calipari, drop back to back games for only the second time during the last four seasons and fall completely out of the AP Top 25.

Losses to Notre Dame and Baylor dropped the defending national champions to 4-3 on the season and marked the biggest free fall in the rankings since the poll expanded to 25 teams in 1990. The Cats were ranked as high as No. 3 this season and were still No. 8 as of last week.

It’s the first time since Calipari arrived in Lexington that UK has not been ranked, snapping a streak of 61 consecutive weeks, 11 of which were spent at No. 1.

On Monday, the UK boss said his young team is learning how to deal with adversity, including some harsh feedback from some UK followers that has led to a few of the players deleting their Twitter social networking accounts.

“I don’t think it’s all of our fans,” Calipari said. “You have a few. Our fans cheered this team coming off (the floor against Baylor). I’m not sure I would have cheered them, but our fans cheered them walking on and off the court.

“If I were a player, I’d want to be here playing in front of these kind of fans who care and it matters.”

Regarding the cutback in tweets, Calipari viewed it as a positive sign. “I think it was a personal decision of ‘Let’s get down to work.’ You know, I keep telling you we have a long way to go. Individual players have to fall in love with that gym. They haven’t yet. So, do they have to keep falling until they realize that because you have Kentucky across your chest that it doesn’t make you play harder. It doesn’t give you any edge.”

The Cats gathered for a “players-only” meeting after the 64-55 loss to Baylor that snapped UK’s 55-game home winning streak.

“We were just discussing things like how we need to come together as a team,” said freshman forward Alex Poythress. “We all came to the conclusion that we needed to have a team meeting.”

Added freshman guard Archie Goodwin: “We talked about different things. It was a players-only meeting that we called to just try and figure out what we are going to do because something has to change.”

Calipari has changed his practice approach in an effort to make the workouts more competitive and instill toughness in the team. He said he’s still looking for leadership and a “sense of urgency” among these Cats.

“It was a real tough practice,” Poythress said. “The (Sunday) morning practice was real rough, and then the afternoon practice was just as rough. Coach Cal is starting to hold us more accountable for more things. We just have to get better, really.”

“It was tough,” added freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein. “We did a lot of running and holding each other accountable, so if somebody made a mistake, we ran as a whole team and we ended up running a lot of suicides.”

Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at Rupp Arena against Samford (2-7). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET with the game broadcast on FSN.



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