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.

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.