Calipari is known for making headlines with his off the wall remarks and after Tuesday’s 80-64 win over Ole Miss he made it clear exactly what he thinks about the media. The question that fueled Cal’s mini-rant was about Willie Cauley-Stein’s first excellent performance in awhile.
Via CBS Sports:
“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.”
I can understand Calipari’s frustration with the media. When people create these unrealistic expectations about your team, even comparing them to Michigan’s Fab Five, crucifying them when they do not live up to those expectations is just simply unfair. Calipari never told us his team would be undefeated, the media expected that from them because of the talent he recruited. Obviously recruiting 6 or 7 of the top high school players in the country doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to have a perfect season. Basketball is a team sport.
The players need to stop reading the articles written about them and focus on finishing the season strong. The SEC tournament is right around the corner and they are very capable of winning that and competing for a national championship during March Madness.