Calipari Conundrum

Geez, Kentucky fans are annoying. You have the Greatest Basketball Program and the Greatest Team and the Greatest Fans, yes you do. A goochie goochie goochie goochie goochie goochie goo.

But you do not have the best Arena. You have a very big arena, not the best arena. It's okay. It's okay. The Arkansas arena is only just a wittle, wittle bit better.

Please don't cry. It's okay. It's okay.

Two arenas are better: Phog Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas and Cameron Indoor Arena at Duke.

Sorry. They just are. But at least they aren't in the SEC.

Now, dear Kentucky fan, we are all very excited about your basketball program. Coach John Calipari will recruit the top players and give you one of the most exciting teams in the country year in and year out. You're probably going to win almost every game by a lot of points.

Eventually, though, you're going to want to see more banners going up in the Rupp. And Coach Cal ain't gonna get 'em for you.

You won't win the national championship with the five best high school players, and the five best high school players won't care.

Eventually also you'll figure out that Coach Cal's weakness is as a game coach. It's not all that noticeable because his teams win lots of games by wide margins and the great talent of his players will usually produce a win even if he makes a big mistake.

In the loss to Kansas in the 2008 national championship game he was clearly outcoached by Bill Self the last 10 minutes and in overtime. In Kentucky's Elite Eight loss to West Virginia this year it was obvious that Bob Huggins had his number. He lost both of these games for his teams.

Calipari can lapse under big time pressure. You can see for yourself. Go back and watch the end of regulation time in the Memphis-Kansas national championship game. Why'd Kansas have that huge surge and Chalmers get the chance to knock down the monster three and send it to OT? And where'd that guy go when his young players looked to him with their faces pleading to know what to do?

So, Kentucky fans, the day will come when you'll have to decide. Do you want to win more games than any other team or do you want to win the championship?

That's an enviable conundrum. It's the Calipari Conundrum.

You might avoid having to make the difficult choice, because if Tennessee or Florida or any other SEC team consistently proves Kentucky's equal he will move on of his own accord. He likes his conference seasons to be easier than his non-conference seasons.

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By Mo Johnson, Copyright © 2006-2017

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