Mike Strange: No one does 'new' like Kentucky under John Calipari

Mike Strange
Kentucky head coach John Calipari yells to his players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Kentucky won 60-58. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Kentucky head coach John Calipari yells to his players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Kentucky won 60-58. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Cuonzo Martin on the play of Jarnell Stokes and playing in SEC

Cuonzo Martin on facing Kentucky and his plan to 'crash the glass'

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One week into the SEC men's basketball season, it's becoming apparent how much newness there is around the league.

The conference itself has changed, taking on two new teams.

Among the old guard, there are new coaches at LSU, South Carolina and Mississippi State.

The league's leading scorer is new, the flamboyant Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss.

Three of the top four rebounders are new.

The preseason player of the year in several publications — Missouri guard Phil Pressey — is new to the conference.

At least four teams — Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky — have almost totally revamped lineups from the previous season.

Tennessee, on the other hand, is one of the least new teams in the league. But the team has taken on a new look and has had to make new adjustments this season without the redshirting Jeronne Maymon.

Nobody does new like Kentucky in the John Calipari Era.

The Vols will find out tonight in Rupp Arena how the Wildcats are adjusting to their latest round of newness.

"A lot has been made because they've lost five games,'' UT coach Cuonzo Martin said Monday, "but they've lost against good teams.

"I think they have the pieces to be successful.''

Indeed, the Wildcats are 10-5. That's more losses already than Calipari absorbed during two of his previous three seasons at

UK. His first team was 35-3, his third 38-2 and national champions.

Virtually everyone who cut down the nets last year is gone. Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrest left for the NBA after their freshman years. Terrence Jones and Daron Lamb exited after the sophomore years.

Kyle Wiltjer, who averaged 11.6 minutes a game, is the only leftover with meaningful experience. Six of the top seven scorers are first-year players in the program.

In three seasons at Kentucky, Calipari has processed eight one-and-done freshmen. He's also taken in seniors who would be one-and-doners in Lexington. Tonight, the Vols will face Julius Mays, the Horizon League's newcomer of the year in 2011-12 at Wright State, who transferred to Kentucky as a grad student.

Tennessee has minimal experience dealing with one-and-done freshman: Tobias Harris in 2010-11.

"I would imagine it's not an easy thing to do,'' Martin said of performing an annual rebuild. "The thing that might save 'em more now is you have the summer time to work with guys and you get 'em on campus.''

Martin, like most coaches, takes satisfaction in building relationships and watching players develop over time, both on the court and in their lives as students and young men.

"I think that's just as valuable,'' he said. "That being said, if you get five first-round picks, it's not like they've got to pick up a lot of knowledge.

"They can still play the game and score the basketball. If you can get 'em like that, you want to get 'em.''

Calipari gets 'em. If his current thoroughbreds bolt after this season, no sweat, He's already reeled in a star-studded freshman class for 2014.

The rest of the SEC, meanwhile, will have to deal with more conventional growing pains.

Perhaps all this newness explains the depleted quality of the league. Florida and Ole Miss are two of the most experienced teams and, at the moment, are the two getting the most impressive results.

Coincidence? I think not.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 22

CoverOrange writes:

Tennessee was supposed to be one of the more experienced teams. go figure that result.

Wright State is doing pretty well without Julius Mays. so maybe he wasn't so important to them.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

GBO Beat the silly blue cats.

born2ride writes:

Calipari put 2 schools on probation. He had to vacate 2 final fours. It is just a matter of time before the NCAA catches Cal again.

klrigsby#1377153 writes:

I believe the Vols can come in here tonight and beat UK as they play no D at all and if we can make a few three's and Stokes plays hard inside i really think they can win. I will be working in Lexington all day as i do everyday and will have as much Orangs on as i can and still walk and bend over just to p### the blue bloods off

voloffaith writes:

in response to I_OWN_MANY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GOOD MORNING!!!!! Hello mister bluebird! How happy ewe are today like every day. BTW what dost thou ownest many of? Pray tell...shoes? Books? Dresses? Belts? kittens by 20 tonight...still GBO!!

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to voloffaith:

GOOD MORNING!!!!! Hello mister bluebird! How happy ewe are today like every day. BTW what dost thou ownest many of? Pray tell...shoes? Books? Dresses? Belts? kittens by 20 tonight...still GBO!!

20???? !!! .

maybe but I think our defense will be back. Like I said on other threads UT 55 bluekitties 54

voloffaith writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

20???? !!! .

maybe but I think our defense will be back. Like I said on other threads UT 55 bluekitties 54

I'll admit I'm not a prognosticator of the level of Ole PH....oh that would be Prof handicappered...your score would be fine with me as long as we have one more than them at end. on't know if we can score 55. Which UT offense shows up? Either way too anemic. kittens have to be off and we are on to have a shot at it.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to voloffaith:

I'll admit I'm not a prognosticator of the level of Ole PH....oh that would be Prof handicappered...your score would be fine with me as long as we have one more than them at end. on't know if we can score 55. Which UT offense shows up? Either way too anemic. kittens have to be off and we are on to have a shot at it.

Don't worry about tomorrow...tonight has enough trouble of it's own?
OR

Though the enemy is encamped around UT
our enemies and foes...

I WILL NOT FEAR. (much)MCSV

mocsandvolsfan writes:

Again like I predicted

UT 59
UK 58

murrayvol writes:

in response to born2ride:

Calipari put 2 schools on probation. He had to vacate 2 final fours. It is just a matter of time before the NCAA catches Cal again.

I think he's figured it out. He's got enough "layers of separation" to finish his career at Kentucky w/o incident. But I could be worng.

murrayvol writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

Again like I predicted

UT 59
UK 58

I wish. You do know we're playing at Rupp?

k.hardeman1#1413041 writes:

i think it's B.S. that pearl was fired for feeding a kid a BBQ plate (although untruthful about it) .... yet coach cal is still coaching despite 2 other programs he coached had violations. HE WASNT AWARE OF ANY WRONG DOING. also coach cal is full of sh*t when he say's he cares about these kids education.I think his players(one-and- done) only have to go to school for 2 semester's to get through a season

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to murrayvol:

I wish. You do know we're playing at Rupp?

So what! UT 51 UK 50 like I said.

mocsandvolsfan writes:

in response to k.hardeman1#1413041:

i think it's B.S. that pearl was fired for feeding a kid a BBQ plate (although untruthful about it) .... yet coach cal is still coaching despite 2 other programs he coached had violations. HE WASNT AWARE OF ANY WRONG DOING. also coach cal is full of sh*t when he say's he cares about these kids education.I think his players(one-and- done) only have to go to school for 2 semester's to get through a season

you mistyped ship.

voloffaith writes:

in response to mocsandvolsfan:

So what! UT 51 UK 50 like I said.

Guess it doesn't matter which score you have predicted as they all have VOLS by 1. 55-54,51-50, and 59-58. Take your pick....meow meow

voloffaith writes:

in response to I_OWN_MANY:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Was that on purpose or just a slip up? You said,"dims." I think you might of meant dems. Some might have thought dims as possibly meaning dimwits...only ewe know what was intended....bang bang went the fireworks..oops those are next to be banned.....spatula's also...remember Rush Limbaugh's Spatula City in his early days? All knives,even table knives, will be banned. You ain't seen nothing yet...President pulling famous words from the past.." I've just begun to fight.." Oh basketball article so GO VOLS!!!

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

Over 50% from the field and STILL losing. Can't figure this team out.

orangevagabond writes:

As Beavis and Butthead say, "this sucks"

brokendownoldvol writes:

TN is horrible. Keep hiring those Jr. College coaches. Yee Haw.

usnavyvolfan__times_free_press_can_shove_it writes:

in response to brokendownoldvol:

TN is horrible. Keep hiring those Jr. College coaches. Yee Haw.

This team is certainly underperforming, underwhelming, and underachieving, and I suppose at least some of that is coaching. But how the hell do you explain the endless barrage of missed FTs? The technique doesn't freaking change from high school to college! Hell, try granny-shots...something!

UkJarhead writes:

in response to born2ride:

Calipari put 2 schools on probation. He had to vacate 2 final fours. It is just a matter of time before the NCAA catches Cal again.

Did I miss something? What two schools did he put on probation? He did coach at two schools that had to vacate wins because 2 players broke the rules. Since this was proven to not be the coaches or the schools fault, neither of those schools was ever on probation. He must have coached at two other schools that I'm not aware of. Perhaps he was the football and basketball coach at UT since both those programs were on probation....

UkJarhead writes:

in response to k.hardeman1#1413041:

i think it's B.S. that pearl was fired for feeding a kid a BBQ plate (although untruthful about it) .... yet coach cal is still coaching despite 2 other programs he coached had violations. HE WASNT AWARE OF ANY WRONG DOING. also coach cal is full of sh*t when he say's he cares about these kids education.I think his players(one-and- done) only have to go to school for 2 semester's to get through a season

First off, Pearl broke rules that he knew existed then lied to cover it up, at least twice. Cal has NEVER been accused or found to be guilty of any wrong doing. How is that not in itself enough? Second, he did not have violations at those two schools and was never on probation, like your school is for cheating in several sports. The players were found to be ineligible so wins were vacated. No wrongdoing ever by coach or school. Third, he never says he cares about their education, he says he cares about their future. Can you tell me anyone else that has mentored 9, 18-20 year old kids in 3 years and turned them into millionaires? He is honest with them, has turned down top recruits that won't fit, and does many charity events for things all around the world.

He who cast stones should first look at his house and second, do some research so you don't look like an idiot.

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