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After last night, John Calipari has a new name: Can’t-Coach Cal


It’s time to face the facts: John Calipari can’t coach.

It’s time to face the facts: John Calipari can’t coach.
Image: Getty Images

It’s official: John Calipari can’t coach.

No college basketball coach has done less with more than Calipari.

And Thursday night’s loss to St. Peter’s in the opening round of March Madness had to seal the deal for many on the fence about Calipari’s career on the bench.

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Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats were upset in overtime by the Peacocks, 85-79.

Coming into the game, Kentucky (26-9) was seeded No. 2 in that Indianapolis region and the Peacocks (21-11) were seeded 15th. In Vegas, Kentucky had the second-best odds to cut down the net when the dust cleared.

Hence, there’s no way to put it other than it was a historic, horrendous loss by Kentucky.

And it ended ugly in OT where the Wildcats couldn’t make free throws, going 1-for-6 after actually taking a four-point lead in the extra period in the opening minutes.

For sure, it was a meltdown for the ages. For St. Peter’s — a private school with roughly 3,500 students in Jersey City, New Jersey — it was the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Coming into the Round of 64, Calipari had been perfect, never losing a matchup of the haves against have-nots.

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In the process, Kentucky busted brackets all over College Basketball America. For sure, many had the Wildcats getting to the Final Four — at the very least. Others had them winning the whole ball of wax.

Enter Can’t-Coach Cal.

We get it. March is about upsets. Smaller schools with no business competing with the big boys, somehow, advance in the one-and-done format.

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Sounds nice. But a premature exit with a talented roster has happened to Can’t-Coach Cal too often.

Given the number of studs he has coached, Calipari’s championship trophy case should be full. But he has only one title in his long career, a championship in 2012 with Kentucky. It’s nice that Calipari heaped five helpings of praise on the latest school to end his season too soon.

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“They backdoor us, they beat us off the dribble, they came off screens and hit 3s,” Calipari told the media after the game. “You have to give St. Peter’s credit.”

This isn’t American Express. It’s college basketball. St. Peter’s has no business beating Kentucky. Not last night, not ever. Can’t-Coach Cal might be the best recruiter we’ve ever seen. The list of great college players he didn’t win with in college is embarrassingly long. There might not be enough room on the internet to list them all. In 2014-2015 alone, Can’t-Coach Cal lost with eight NBA players: Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tre Lyles, Tyler Ulis, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and the Harrison Twins, Aaron and Andrew.

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In fact, he currently has 25 former players in the NBA. That’s impressive.

But what isn’t is that he isn’t able to rally the troops and win while they are under his watch.

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And this isn’t just about his tenure at Kentucky. It’s happened his entire career.

Before coaching Kentucky to four Final Four appearances — the last time in 2015 — he also led UMass and Memphis to the Final Four in 1996 and 2008, respectively.

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But both appearances were vacated by the NCAA for violations, though Calipari was cleared of wrongdoing. (Yeah, right).

One championship is ridiculous. Any coach can win once. Even Rollie Massimino won a title. All it takes is for the stars to align and some special kid comes your way and leads you on a run that delivers a title. Often, you can sit back and watch it happen.

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If you want to know why the Basketball Hall of Fame is phony, a fraud, Can’t-Coach Cal is Exhibit A. Somehow, Calipari is already in. Despite mostly under-achieving when it matters most, Calipari was inducted into Springfield, Mass in 2015. Can you say premature?

Hopefully, Can’t-Coach’s plaque isn’t next to John Wooden’s, who didn’t waste talent at UCLA and won 10 championships in 12 seasons.

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As of March 5, 2022, with 767 official wins, Calipari ranks 17th on the NCAA Division I all-time winningest coaches list.

A Calipari team has been to the championship game three times with just one title win.

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Sound ridiculous? It is. It could only happen if the guy leading the way can’t coach. It’s not harsh. It’s Calipari’s reality.

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