The Man Who Won Too Much
John Calipari has had as much if not more success than any other coach in the college basketball realm in the last 5 years. He has been to 3 Final Fours, 4 Elite Eights, and 5 Sweet Sixteens. This year, Calipari has brought the best team he has ever coached to New Orleans and the Final Four. Aside from the plethora of talent, personality, and pressure the Kentucky juggernaut is hauling to the Big Easy; the death certificate of college basketball as the world knows it is in the inventory.
John Calipari is exactly what every single other coach in college basketball did not want. John Calipari decided to challenge the way college basketball has worked since it’s conception. Calipari probably did not mean to completely obliterate everything good in the college game when he took $31.65 million from Big Blue back in 2009. Calipari probably had a single thought in mind when he grabbed that pen and John Hancocked that contract: money. Calipari, however, has completely unhinged the door to college basketball’s Olympus and with his Titans on the 2011-2012 Kentucky roster has invaded the halls of Alcindor, Robertson, and Thompson. All the legends of the game, his fellow coaches, and the NCAA can do is watch and panic. What exactly has Calipari done to obliterate the sacred land of college basketball? He has won. John Calipari has won more than anyone without “Wildcats” printed across his or her chest would have ever found acceptable. This winning has turned the way college basketball is supposed to be into an amorphous blob of freshman. The NBA never considered the way college basketball would crumble after stating players had to play a year in college. Now players like Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Brandon Knight have no place left to go except a college program. Calipari snatches up these pro-ready players better than the kids can play the game. This story should have been written in 2009-2010 when Kentucky had more talent than this year, but that year the Wildcats played like freshman. It is scary to watch this year’s Kentucky team trot through the tournament like there is not another team on the floor. Every win is a win closer to the end of the glory days. Because if Calipari wins, suddenly his way becomes the way. Suddenly, his style becomes the style. Suddenly it is not about Draymond Green trying to salvage a career by playing his heart out. Suddenly it is not about Henson, Zeller, Barnes, and Marshall staying longer than they should to try and win a championship. Suddenly it is not about Virginia Commonwealth making a Cinderella run to the Final Four…wait, it already isn’t about, that isn’t it? Already Calipari has the best style. The first words of this article say it best: “John Calipari has had as much if not more success than any other coach in the college basketball realm in the last 5 years.” Until now, there’s been an excuse. People have been able to say that Calipari has not won it all. Not yet, there is still hope that Calipari’s agenda is fragile and cannot last. Well, now the end to the last hope of college basketball purists marches to the thrones of Wooden, Knight, and Krzyzewski; armed with an armada which draws envy from Spain 1588. The only thing standing in his way is a lackluster Louisville team coached by the last man to have indefinite success at Kentucky (he is also clearly in the mafia) and two teams which have beaten deflated and disarmed #1’s and sketchy teams to advance to New Orleans. It looks inevitable that this year Calipari has brought enough firepower to finely breach the walls of college basketball’s Olympus and start a brand new reign a top college basketball. Not where teams by developing young players into senior leaders. Not where talented freshman compliment upperclassmen. Not where coaching saves the day. Not where “March happens”. Teams will win by finding the most talented freshman and sucking the pools dry until only refuse is left for the other teams in the country. Teams will gather into the coliseum in order to be slaughtered by the select few teams which reload year-after-year. It will be an honor to have Kentucky whip you into pieces in the Sweet Sixteen. Players will be asking for autographs from the five freshman North Carolina will be starting during pregame warm-ups. Even if eight teams are able to do what Calipari has and will do, the elite eight will not be worth watching. One will see players play a sloppy pro-style. Scores will end in the nineties if not hundreds…ask Indiana. College Basketball will fade into what the NBA has become. It will be nothing more than a show to watch a select few teams compete every year for the National Title. Forget it, Ohio. No way, VCU. We laugh in your face, Lehigh. Next time, with their four starting freshman, Duke will beat you by 50. John Calipari is rounding third and heading for home on his trek around the obstacles to the National Championship. Soon, we’ll have the Calipari-era of college basketball. Are you ready?