John Calipari was asked a question about struggling freshman Hamidou Diallo. He ended up giving an answer about his general coaching philosophy.
“Making them be responsible for who they are. In his case, I’m with Hami. He’s trying. He’s working,” Calipari said. “If he’s willing to do that and put in extra work, I’m for him. If you’re playing awful, I may not play you as much, but I’m going to play you and if you’re doing what we’re asking you to do, I’m going to encourage you.
“It would probably be easier when a guy plays poorly to say you’re out and i’m going with these seven I’m just not going to do that.”
Calipari likened the approach to what a well-intentioned parent might say to him about their son who is struggling.
“I would say (a parent) would say, ‘Coach, he’s responsible for himself, but please keep coaching him and let him know you love him and keep being there for him but hold him accountable,’” Calipari said. “‘If he’s not going to listen to you you should not play him. That’s what I think a parent that’s not trying to enable their son (should say).”
On the other hand, Calipari discussed what the opposite of that situation would look like.
“If they’re listening to an enabler, whoever that enabler is, I can’t help you,” he said. “I told you when I walked in the door, this is going to be about the players first and I’m trying to stay that course but they are responsible for themselves.
“If they can’t perform, I’m going to play you but when they’re not performing, you can’t be in there.”
Calipari can oftentimes be full of bluster – it’s an essential part of his Always Be Selling philosophy that’s won the hearts of countless five-star recruits and a national championship. But this looks to be an honest look into the way he views his job and role with his players. Give ultra-talented guys opportunity, but keep them accountable. It’s a simple thought, but one that few execute as well and as consistently as he does.