Today on Twitter, I saw this quote from incoming No 1 recruit, Brandon Knight:
“(John Calipari) is doing something right with point guards.”
I was struck by this and I had to ask, what exactly “right” is Calipari doing with point guards…besides recruiting the best point guard each and every year.
Let’s look into it.
Over the last three seasons, Coach Calipari has recruited the No 1 rated high school point guard (2007-Derrick Rose, 2008-Tyreke Evan & 2009-John Wall). Don’t get me wrong, that is one hell of a feat and Coach Cal should get a ton of props for this, but the question remains, what does he actually do besides recruit these guys, let them do their “thing” and wish them luck when the season is over?
You could argue the thing he does “right” is his dribble-drive offense. Okay, but it’s not like he invented the dribble-drive. It’s been around for a long time. Duke ran it with Jay Williams. To run this offense, you need a lightning quick, penetrating point guard who can score.
The fact is, he runs that offense because he recruits these point guards. Do you think he’d still be running it if his only point guard was Jon Scheyer? Don’t think so, unless his goal is to end up in the N.I.T.
And guess what, If Duke landed John Wall this year, he’d be running a dribble-drive offense in Durham. He’d also be practicing for the Final Four right now, as oppose to watching the McDonald’s All-American game tonight. Yes, that’s a dig.
Speaking of John Wall…the freshman had an amazing year and will live a good live as a millionaire NBA player starting next season, but can you point to one thing that John Wall did better as the season went along? If Calipari is such a great point guard coach, surely even he could a way to improve Wall, right? Yet, I never saw any improvement.
The same skills Wall had at the end of the season were the same skills he had the second he walked on campus. Yet, he never became a better free throw shooter (74%), he never improved his outside shooting (32%) and he still turned the ball over way too much (four per game). In fact, his turnovers increased at the end of the season (4.7 per game in his last 11).
So what about beyond those three amazing recruits? Maybe that could shed some light on this.
Prior to landing Derrick Rose at Memphis, Calipari’s point guards were:
Antonio Anderson (2006-2007), Darius Washington Jr. (2004-2006) & Antonio Burks (2000-2003).
While I can’t really judge Anderson, since he was a small forward running the point, neither Washington or Burks stand out. All three of these guys spent time on NBA rosters for a little, but pretty much bounced around the D-League and Europe.
If anything, I would say Antonio Burks was Calipari’s best PG coaching job. He turned a former walk-on into a guy who at the very least got some NBA looks.
Just remember, Mr. Knight…Calipari doesn’t make you a great player, but you’ll make him look like a great coach.
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