Coaching does matter. John Calipari has a very young team in Kentucky. And losing his star player, Nerlens Noel, wasn’t going to make it any easier. Losing badly to Tennessee 88-58 put even more pressure on the Wildcats.
Wednesday night’s game at Vanderbilt was a must game for Kentucky. So, did coach Calipari drill his team on fundamentals the day before the game, and work them hard until they dropped. No, he organized a game of ‘dodgeball’ between the coaches and players. He wore a helmet, admitting to his team that some of them just might be targeting him. “After they were done, I said, ‘why don’t you go on the basketball court and have that much fun playing basketball.”
It worked. Wednesday the Wildcats defeated the Commodores 74-70. Vandy rallied several times throughout the game, but Kentucky maintained the lead for 35 minutes and 56 seconds until the time clock ran down to zero.
The victory following a devastating 30 point loss to Tennessee, will undoubtedly give the young Wildcats confidence and motivation. There is no doubt winning might have saved a season that appeared to be on a downward spiral.
Ryan Harrow was representative of Kentucky’s energy. With under 3 minutes remaining in the first half, he was fouled after making a 2 point shot. He missed the free throw, but crashed the board, got the rebound, and passed the ball to Kyle Wiltjer, who dropped in a 3 point shot. Harrow did not start against Tennessee, and did not score. He started against Vandy, and ended up with 12 points.
Calipari knew he had to loosen up his team; “This isn’t life or death or we’d have died twice already,”
Columnist-The Guardian Express