THE REPLACEMENTS

“We need more turnovers.”

I read this quote from John Calipari recently, and I think it qualifies as great coaching.  The opposite is said far more often, but is it really coaching?  “We can’t turn the ball over!”  Did your team not already know that?  Is simply saying this leading to less turnovers? And if so, is the decrease in turnovers–from playing not to make mistakes–coming with an opportunity cost of assertive play?  Teams/Players that play without fear of mistakes will surely make some…but they’re more likely to grow incrementally into higher (faster) levels of play.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t tell your young child not to touch the hot stove.  Just know the stove is a more effective teacher than you.  And it’s getting touched.

“He’s figured it out.”

I heard a recent radio interview with Coach K, where he was asked to play word association at the mention of a few of coaching’s biggest names.  When it came to Calipari, he said “he’s figured it out.”

I thought that was a layered comment, though probably meant more in compliment than anything else.  Nonetheless, “it” leaves plenty to interpretation.

I don’t want to discredit Calipari, in theory.  It’s not that I’m arguing with the oft said “he manages all of these stars and egos, and gets them to share, etc.”  What I think is left unsaid, is that it’s easier to manage one if there’s another.  Now, easier is a relative term, and I—well, everyone–would know much less than Cal on the subject.  But I do know that how hard we work can often be linked to how easily we can be replaced.

Is there anyone easier to replace than one of the five Kentucky basketball players on the court?

What’s hard to do—for a coach at any level—is to get his best player to play as if he’s easily replaceable….even though he knows he’s not.  This is usually the case at State U., and surely at Central High.   It also comes with more perceived risk at those schools, to sit your best player and go with his replacement.

When John Calipari gets credit for grounding his stars, I don’t disagree.  I just think it’s easier for him to do it than it is for the guy he’s coaching against.  Cal’s not scared to bench his guys for lack of effort or production.  But why would he be?  Is this a “buy in”, or do Cal’s players have memories long enough to know there are projected lottery picks, plural, at the ready?

I doubt Cal worries about wearing his nicest pair of shoes in bad weather.  His second nicest pair looks a lot like them.

He’s figured it out, alright.

Notre Dame vs Kentucky

There was no potential game—because of contrasting styles–that intrigued me more when the bracket came out.  Scoring at the rim is historically hard against Kentucky, and no team is more prepared to mitigate that advantage by letting it fly from 20 feet-9 inches away.  I’m curious to see Kentucky’s plan to guard the perimeter, as they’re uniquely suited to have tall closeouts anywhere on the floor. Do they switch everything? Do they extend their defense to reduce the amount of sets and screens to navigate?  No one passes habitually well like the Irish—and they’ve gotten an abundance of looks against the resistance provided by athletic teams these past two weeks. Wichita State, Duke, Carolina…

Passes aren’t as susceptible to height.  (Length can be a different matter.)  I don’t think ND would beat Kentucky many times out of 10.  But their best day is good enough—and their style is as close as you can get to Kentucky-proof.  I don’t think most everyone else left can say that.

Shoot ’em up, boys.  Oh, and then crash the glass get the heck back.

4 thoughts on “THE REPLACEMENTS”

  1. If you are Kentucky you have to go with the Bobby Knight philosophy of if you are going to get beat, get beat playing your game.

    1. I agree in general, as does Cal, as he often says he’s worried about his team and not the other. But, if you are more athletic *and* taller, you have the ability to not let Notre Dame play its (distinct) game. I’m very interested to see how it goes.

    1. Big Connaughton fan, though Jerian Grant is a bona fide NBAer. The thing about Connaughton and Vasturia is that their skill set would be welcomed in the crowded KY rotation. When KY shoots it well, it’s over…

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