Said it before, and it applies tonight yet again: John Calipari is a maestro. About eight to 10 times a year, on a national level, he'll say something that will get serious run in the headlines. Often times, what he says makes headlines because it has an element of surprise. Where's this coming from, John?
He and Kentucky make the sport more interesting, and for that most media members are grateful. Calipari is very intent with his words and when he chooses to say what he says. So his gripe against local and national media after Kentucky's 80-64 home win over Ole Miss Tuesday night comes as something of a surprise -- and will definitely cause some waves.
You can see his complaint and lament in the video above and the one below. He accuses some writers of hoping Kentucky fails. He says this team is the "most overanalyzed" in the history of all sports, which is of course hyperbole in its purist, unalloyed form. With Calipari, there's always a reason and a motive, though. This one seemed a bit off-base, but I don't begrudge him for it still.
For the record, Calipari was No. 23 CBSSports.com's most recent edition of the Top 25 (and one) but was briefly dropped out Gary Parrish's rankings following the LSU loss last week. Calipari's screed was prompted by a question about Willie Cauley-Stein's first really good performance in a while. Cauley-Stein finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. Here's what Calipari said:
"Yeah, I told him to go back blond. I said, 'You play better blond.' But no, he's been practicing. Look, if you think he wants to play bad, he doesn't. I said this after the game to the TV, this is the most overanalyzed team I've ever seen in the history of the game, at any level, in any sport. There is a weekly update on what we are and what we're not.
"Then they go to Synergy, and take out every play to show where we've -- I've never seen it. Our losses are worse than every other loss in the country. We lose, you're not in the top 25. Now you understand LSU has three NBA players, a junior guard and a senior guard. They're no schmoe team now. At the end of the day, they'll be in the NCAA tournament. LSU is good. This team has to deal with that. I went and told them. I told them before the ranking I thought we'd be as low as 19. I said, "It will be 17, 18, and 19, so when I was right I asked the staff, when is the last time I was wrong? They said 1978. I think it was '78. Might have been '77, but I think it was '78, though. ...
"They can deal with all the crap. They've dealt with it here. You need me to say anything else? I'll keep going if you want."
And he did. He was asked if the media reaction has affected the team's performance. Calipari's response:
"Sure it does. They're 18 and 19 years old. This is the youngest team in the country to play at this level maybe ever. Yeah, it affects them. I tried to tell them. I said, 'You know, you think it's opinion. Most cases it's the hope of the writer. It's not their opinion. It's their hope. Don't deal with it. You can't let it affect you."
Not seen in the video above is this next question and response. Calipari was asked how much was Kentucky's "amplification" was the media's fault. His response is below and can be watched at the 5:30 mark.
He said, "Well, I think the president said it best. That network, you guys create it and it's not as bad as you think. Here's what I would say. It's you guys here, but it's national. It's everywhere, and that's why kids want to play here, but that's what makes it hard here. Everybody has an opinion, and they write them, and then is it their opinion or their hope that they're writing? I don't know. You'd have to ask them."