What is going on with John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats?
Nothing good, that’s what. In case you missed it, Kentucky’s 75-63 loss to North Carolina in Cleveland on Saturday was its fifth straight defeat. That makes Kentucky’s record 1-5. And that is their worst start since the 1926-27 season.
You read that right — it’s been almost 100 years since Kentucky basketball has been this bad. Forget nationally, the Wildcats may not even be the best team in their own state. Louisville (4-1), Eastern Kentucky (6-2), Western Kentucky (6-2) and even Northern Kentucky (3-4) all have better records.
Calipari is well-known for stocking the program with talented freshmen — then restocking the next season as he tries to get those freshmen jobs in the NBA or overseas. It usually works out just fine, and still might this year.
But it can lead to slow starts and even season-long continuity issues. It’s tough to find cohesiveness when you’re throwing together a roster of mostly new players every season. Not only does Calipari have to manage talent, he has to manage multiple new personalities.
He admitted that youth and inexperience played a role in Saturday’s blown lead vs. North Carolina, telling reporters that “some immaturity and stuff like that keeps creeping in.”
Again, the Wildcats have remained a year-in, year-out power under Calipari. The man knows what he’s doing, and that’s not really up for debate. He led Kentucky to the national title in 2012, and has never won less than 21 games since taking over the program in 2009.
But Wildcats fans have to be wondering about how those Final Four appearances have been dwindling lately — with the last one coming almost six years ago.
Again, Kentucky still has plenty of time to make something of this season. A win over rival Louisville on Saturday could get a turnaround started quickly. That said, you can hide from the numbers say, and today, the Wildcats have been historically bad.