Coach Cal II: The Blame Game


coach cal II the blame game

By J. Frank Parnell 

The Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team has had a rough stretch. Considering the team won a national championship in 1994 and was runner-up in 1995, the last 19 seasons have been tough.

But not as tough – not even in the same ballpark – as being a Kentucky Wildcats fan. Why, you ask? Kentucky’s got tradition, national championships, Rupp Arena, Ashley Judd.

Kentucky’s also got Coach Cal.

Remember his comments at the end of last season when tiny Robert Morris University thumped his Cats? Review those remarks and see if they don’t sound similar to what Coach Cal had to say Thursday night after the Hogs finished a season sweep of Kentucky, 71-67.

Put yourself in one of his player’s shoes and imagine how you would react to reading this, which Coach Cal said in Thursday’s postgame comments:

“The thing that disappointed me today is even with the lead, we had two guys that gave up on the game. You know it because you watched and you saw. They gave up on the game.”

So your coach says you quit. That’s pretty clear, but sometimes it’s hard to follow Coach Cal’s clipped answers to questions. This was in response to a question about whether free-throw shooting cost Kentucky the game:

 “A lot of stuff today. All the things I’m talking about, player-driven. Everything was coach-driven today. There was not one player-driven thing today. That’s what happens in that kind of game. When the other team is fighting, you got to be challenged by it, coaches, this is what it looks like.”

Similar to the end of last season, Coach Cal takes the attitude that, “All I can do is what I do – I’m a great coach, I know what to do. I can’t coach these guys; they won’t listen.”

He was questioned about whether Julius Randle was tired toward the end of the game. He could have said, “Julius left it all on the court” or “He gave everything he had – it just wasn’t his night.” Instead, we get this:

“He was. He played too many minutes. I’m trying to get guys to sub themselves. They just don’t get it. The longer you’re in there, you’re not going to play better; you’re going to play worse. If you’re in there for numbers, you end up missing free throws, missing shots, not getting the key rebounds. You don’t look good. You don’t only hurt yourself, you hurt your team. Less minutes. Sub yourself. Get yourself out of games. Wasn’t just him. We had a couple guys that tried to play too many minutes.”

“Sub themselves?” It’s not up to a player to worry about getting tired. A good player is going to give it his all. It’s the coach’s call to stagger playing time so fresh bodies are on the floor. But in Coach Cal’s mind, his players somehow blew it by trying to play too many minutes.

By the way, Randle played 32 of 45 minutes, behind James Young’s 40 minutes and Andrew Harrison’s 38 minutes. Randle also tossed in 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. Michael Qualls, Bobby Portis and Rashad Madden led the Hogs with 34, 33 and 32 minutes, respectively.

Coach Cal also mentioned he (“we,” according to him) left two time outs on the scoreboard. “At one point, I sat down and I would not speak to them,” Cal said. “What are we running? I already told you in the time out.”

 There’s no need to beat a dead horse, but why not? Coach Cal disparages his players in increasingly creative ways. Check out a few of these gems:

“We missed all free throws that mattered.”

“They (Arkansas) miss a shot, the ball comes, we got no one.”

“Our guard play was horrendous today.”

“The other team played harder than they played. The game got physical. We couldn’t make 1-footers. It’s physical, so what? There’s bumping and grinding. Then don’t play.”

“We took 76 shots, 20 of ’em bad.”

“None of the three want to take the responsibility. That’s what young guys do. Can’t alibi. Every one of them, ‘My fault, I should have done this.’ You’re right, but I could have done this. You know, ugly.”

Ugly, indeed.

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