NCAA | A state of emergency has been declared in Kentucky

Once upon a time, not so long ago, when Kentucky was at the pinnacle of college basketball. The best high school students in the country have been following each other through the ranks of the Widcats workforce each year. Rapper Drake, the program’s unofficial “superfan,” attended the team’s 2014 warm-up and introduced the roster to fans during the 2017 season. hood “Kentucky Taste” on the shoulders. Journal to beat When John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins ​​joined his team in 2009, before wondering if the 2014/15 version (Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker’s version) had lost 38 times, the “Hit Maker” dedicated its front page to John Calipari. Before losing to Wisconsin in the semifinals of the national championship, it became the best college team of all time.

At one time, Kentucky was the biggest behemoth of the university landscape in both sports and media. But that time is over. The era of wildcat dominance is truly in the past. Kentucky’s streak of reaching the NCAA Tournament Final Four, reaching the tournament in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, last with a title in 2012.

They’re also far from John Wall, Anthony Davis, or Karl-Anthony Towns, all of those “freshmen” picks in their respective drafts after one season in Lexington.

It is now a reality that cannot be denied

In fact, for just over five years now, the John Calipari era at Kentucky has gotten a little bit faster every year. And what happened this week may have marked the beginning of the end.

While the Wildcats have struggled to convince and chain regularly since the start of the season, losing spots in the AP Top 25 every week, even falling out of it, these past few days have really highlighted the downfall of John Calipari and his men. , and more broadly, the low point of the Lexington program’s slow and agonizing decline in athletic results over several months.

First, this weekend, Alabama, the best team in the SEC conference this season, ranked 4th in the Top 25 this season, was beaten hard: 78-52 in favor of the Crimson Tide!

Nate Oats’ team led by sensational “first” Brandon Miller (19 points and 7 rebounds) and a pair of experienced guards Mark Sears (16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals) – Jahvon Quinerly (12 points and 2 assists), John Calipari , troubling the ineffectiveness and predictability of the offense (25% on 29% shooting from behind the arc, 7 assists for 11 turnovers), giving basketball lessons to .

Before hitting rock bottom a bit more three days later, this time at home against South Carolina (68-71), the lowly SEC team had won just 7 of 15 games before this trip to Lexington, where it hadn’t won since 2009. This time, a team that only had the nation’s 220th best offensive rating and committed 15 turnovers during the game showed they couldn’t slow down on defense…

A dressing room that looks abandoned

While critics flocked to John Calipari in the wake of the humiliation, Kentucky center Oscar Tshiebwe was more pragmatic: the loss rested entirely on the players.

Last season’s Player of the Year was especially notable for his teammates’ solidarity and lack of effort on the floor, facing a weaker team than the Wildcats on paper. Further evidence of a disorganized and out of sync, perhaps fractured team in the dressing room…

Some of us take things for granted “Like his entire team, the Congolese, whose attitude was impeccable but difficult, suffered from the pivot. ” I thank our team, they prepared us well for the game. But as I told my teammates, they cannot play for us […] Some of us are not ready to fight and defend this uniform. Representing Kentucky is a responsibility. It will be hard to win unless we want to fight to keep that name at the front of the kit. »

Then the leader of the Wildcats suggested that the rotation for the rest of the season must now work on merit. ” We have to be better, that’s all. I’m just asking for anger. I was telling Coach Calipari that after this, if a player doesn’t want to fight, he should leave the field. he added. ” I think it was the worst loss in Kentucky history. We can’t lose even against South Carolina. It drives me crazy that some of my teammates don’t work harder. »

John Calipari is in a very uncomfortable position

If he still manages to shine on the recruiting field in a little more than five years and sends many players to the NBA in big roles (Tyler Herro, Tyrese Maxey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Jamal Murray in recent years), “Coach Cal” is already He doesn’t get his hands on the big fish like he did with John Wall, Anthony Davis or Karl-Anthony Towns, but also with Derrick Rose in Memphis before.

These big fish might go to other Blue Bloods (such as Paolo Banchero at Duke) or to less athletically ambitious but quieter and less media-exposed programs (Ja Morant at Murray State or Cade Cunningham at Oklahoma State, for example).

And logically, as the level of talent coming into the workforce each year declined over the years, the quality of the program’s athletic output subsequently declined.

The proof: Kentucky hasn’t made the March Madness Final Four since its 2015 Final Four loss to Wisconsin in the semifinals. Worse: Year after year, John Calipari does less than he did the year before. From the Elite Eight in 2019 (fourth round, final step to the Final Four), to the program’s worst season in nearly 50 years (9 wins and 16 losses, no March Madness qualification) in 2021 (2020 edition ). NCAA tournament canceled due to health crisis), last year’s first-round elimination against unexpected Saint Peter’s.

Slowly but surely, brutally but relentlessly, that’s how Kentucky has sunk under John Calipari, and this week’s double whammy arguably represents the lowest point ever under the 63-year-old coach, who has been in charge since 2009.

Are you going to Texas?

Next for him? Close it. Because the next few weeks promise to be hectic in Lexington.

John Calipari can really feel the pressure of the result. While the Wildcats are considered the favorite for the national title this season, they likely would not be selected for the NCAA Tournament if the season ended today. Fortunately for him, that’s not the case and he still has time to salvage what he can from this exercise. But above all else, over the next few weeks, the Kentucky coach’s name should be frequently associated with the “head coach” job left vacant at Texas after last week’s firing of Chris Beard. According to early rumors, initial contact has already been made between the Austin-based program and the coach…

So this feeds the highly credible theory of a departure next spring, in case he can’t salvage the 2022/23 season off to a bad start. A scenario that would ease much of the Wildcats’ “fantasy” couldn’t have been more obvious than this spectator ejected from Rupp Arena at Kentucky Hall on Tuesday, which held up a sign that read. best outcome for both parties.

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