John Calipari's preseason warning now makes sense

John Calipari’s preseason warning now makes sense

John Calipari tried to warn you, Big Blue Nation.

On Nov. 1, just six days before the start of Kentucky’s season, Calipari put out a Twitter video pumping the breaks on any preseason hype for his Wildcats who entered the season ranked fourth in the AP Poll.

“As I get ready for practice, BBN, I said, let me talk about this team a little bit and be direct to you. I like the pieces. We’ve got the player of the year, we’ve got another first- team all-conference [player], we’ve got good young guys, but let me explain to you — and you know I’m honest about stuff — we’re not where we need to be right now. And I’m looking at November and December saying, we could be a little shaky,” Calipari said. “And what we’re building to and what we’re doing every day, these guys are giving everything.

“I love the pieces. I love the teammates but what we have to do to win at the highest level is going to take us a little time. I’m saying this for me as well as you to say every day, man, get better. Every day you step on the gas, to look at this and say where can we take this? The big picture of this is January, February, we’ve got to be at our best. Hopefully the injury bug hit us early this year instead of what it did last year, it hit us late. Let’s hope that we move on. Can’t wait to get the entire group together and then start working together to grow this thing. Good group. Let’s have some fun. Let me coach. Let me cheer these guys on, hold them accountable, and let our fans enjoy the ride because that’s what this is.”

Five games into the season, the world now understands why Calipari put out the PSA.

The Cats are 3-2 and have lost both of its November tests falling in double overtime to Michigan State in the Champions Classic and getting thumped 88-72 by Gonzaga in Spokane.

In both losses, Kentucky’s offense has been disastrous.

Against Michigan State, the Cats shot 38.6 percent from the field and 28.0 percent from three. Five days later in, Spokane UK shot 39.1 percent from the field and 24.0 percent from three.

“Well, we missed every shot. So you can say what you want. We missed every shot,” Calipari said after the loss to Gonzaga. “You don’t have to make them all. You just can’t miss them all, and expect to be in the game with a good team.”

The only two players to have quality performances in both games were consensus defending national player of the year Oscar Tshiebwe had a double-double in both games with 20 or more points scored while Cason Wallace scored 14 points in both games and combined to pick up 12 steals.

Sunday at Gonzaga, Jacob Toppin stepped up to score 16 points. After the game, the senior didn’t shy away from calling out some of the other Cats who have failed to contribute much throughout the two early season losses, especially after a lethargic effort in Spokane.

“If you want the honest answer, it’s a long season. We played one of the best teams in college basketball. I don’t want to speak for any guys in some moments, guys can’t step up,” Toppin said.

“We, like me included I, didn’t make shots in the first half at all. I didn’t rebound, I got to be better, my teammates got to be better, we all got to be better. You can say whatever we want, but we’re going to put this on ourselves just to be better … The main thing is just fighting and like you said we didn’t have any fight.

Like Calipari pointed out in his PSA, the good news is that it is early and Kentucky’s best basketball is likely ahead of them. However, there are early warning signs this UK team could again struggle to win the big games, which could lead to more heartbreak for BBN come March.

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