John Calipari

John Calipari reveals what ‘the tweak’ actually was


Kentucky head coach John Calipari went on ‘CBS This Morning’ on Monday morning to discuss, among other things, what it’s like to coach a team of talented freshmen to the national title game and, more importantly, a new book called ‘Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out’ which goes on sale on Tuesday.

You’ve heard about this book. In it, he compares the NCAA to the old Soviet Union, a line that made headlines across the internet last week.

But that’s not the most interesting part of Cal’s appearance on national television this morning.

He finally revealed what “The Tweak” was: asking Andrew Harrison, Kentucky’s starting point guard, to pass more and shoot less. He showed him tapes of Deron Williams, the starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets. He, essentially, told Harrison to be a point guard.

“I showed Andrew [the tapes],” Cal said. “I said, ‘look at this, let’s watch. Would you have passed or shot?’ He said, ‘I would have shot.’ Would you have passed or shot? Well, Deron was throwing balls to everybody.”

“And so, I said, ‘Monday, you will not shoot one basketball. You will pass, we’re gonna run these plays, you will create shots. We will chart, we’re not telling our team.’ He comes in, he has 26 assists attempts, 21 assists that Monday, I’m mad the whole practice because it changed our team. Why didn’t I do it earlier?? And then I apologized to him, I apologized to the team and I said, ‘I screwed this up, make me look good now.'”

Simply put, that is not a tweak to their offense. That is something that Cal had been trying to convince Andrew Harrison to do for months, and there’s a good argument to be made that it didn’t actually change anything. Harrison averaged 8.1 shots per game pre-tweak and 8.9 shots in the postseason.

But it still proves Cal’s genius as a coach.

If you’ve forgotten, this is how the story played out: Kentucky entered the postseason sputtering, so Cal told the media that he had come up with a tweak to the Kentucky offense that he hoped would change the team for the better heading into the postseason.The media ate it up. The fans ate it up, even buying t-shirts that said “The Tweak” on them. As a result, Kentucky made a run to the SEC title game, where they lost to Florida by one point, and the national title game, where UConn beat them by six.

The tweak talk didn’t change much about Kentucky’s offense, but it did make everyone believe that Cal really did have the answer to turn this season around. The players, the fans, the local media. Everyone bought in, and it changed to tenor of the locker room and how Big Blue Nation, a fan base that can be overwhelming, looked at a team that had been a massive disappointment.

The Tweak was nothing more than a brilliant marketing ploy by a man that knows how to sell.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?