LEXINGTON, Ky. — Don’t call it another tweak. No, this time it’s a “reboot” for Kentucky basketball, coach John Calipari said on his call-in radio show Monday night. He repeated that new buzzword several times.
“We rebooted today. I talked specifically to a couple players: ‘Here’s how I want you to play.’ To make it simple for them,” Calipari said on the show. “And the great news for all you fans: Today was good and there were a lot of players smiling.”
The “tweak” became a thing in March of 2014, days before the SEC Tournament, after those Wildcats became the first team in 34 years to fall from preseason No. 1 to all the way out of the Associated Press Top 25 with nine regular-season losses. Calipari said then that he had a lightbulb moment and his tweak “changed everything.”
He was right, as that Kentucky team caught fire and reached the NCAA title game as a No. 8 seed. Now, Cats fans are praying for a similar turnaround with this group. Like that 2014 team, which had six McDonald’s All-American freshmen, this one (five 5-star freshmen) is supremely talented, too, but highly inexperienced.
Like that team, this one has slipped from No. 1 in the rankings to No. 15 after losing three of the last four games (and five overall). Kentucky’s defense has slipped and its offense has bogged down, so Calipari knows an adjustment is in order. Just not a tweak.
“The tweak (in 2014) was: We weren’t good all year! And I had to do something to get us going,” he said. “But guess what with this team? We were good. We were good.”
So, they just need to get back to that version of themselves — a reboot. Calipari said he gave the players off Sunday and he spent the whole day watching film to “really evaluate where this has gone the last three weeks and why.” He met with the team for about an hour Monday morning before classes.
“The players aren’t going to fix this themselves,” Calipari said. “They need to be taught, coached.”
The coach did have one warning for fans: If it took three weeks for the Wildcats to devolve into their current state, it might take just as long to fix it.