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.