John Calipari: ‘If you ask me if I’m ever going to platoon again, my answer is NO’
On Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky head coach John Calipari put out a statement on his personal website that more or less stated that the Wildcats would be putting an end to the platoon.
“If you ask me if I’m ever going to platoon again, my answer is NO,” Cal wrote. “Last season was an absolute outlier. It’s just not the way I like to coach. I would rather play seven or eight guys because I believe that gives us the best chance to win. I think we wrote the book on platooning this year, but I hope we stick it on the shelf and never have to use it again.”
Look, the platoon was never really a thing once Kentucky started playing games where they actually had a chance to be beaten. Don’t believe me? The Wildcats played the majority of the season with just nine rotation players after Alex Poythress tore his ACL, which, if you do the math, tells you there weren’t two five-man squads to be rotated back and forth.
If that’s not enough, look at the minutes that Marcus Lee played. He saw just four minutes in the win over Texas. He played just one minute in the overtime win against Ole Miss. He played single-digit minutes in six of the last seven SEC games Kentucky played, and logged a grand total of 39 minutes in five NCAA tournament games; that includes the 18 minutes he played against Hampton.
Yes, Kentucky’s bench went deeper than usual. Yes, Calipari more-or-less split time with his four guards. No, they did not ‘platoon’.
So why did Cal decide to pen this post?
The easy answer is because he’s been getting killed on the recruiting trail -- in the post, he writes “it’s amazing people could try to use [this season] against us” -- but that doesn’t even make much sense. For starters, if this was supposed to influence Class of 2015 recruits, it came about three weeks too late. Kentucky has already missed on Ivan Rabb, Stephen Zimmermann, Malik Newman, Jaylen Brown, Cheick Diallo and Brandon Ingram this spring.
And it also assumes that those kids and their people weren’t smart enough to figure out that those limited minutes and limited shots -- those “platoons” -- were by design, and that it led Kentucky to 38 straight wins, a Final Four and seven potential draft picks, four of whom could end up in the lottery.
So who knows.
But I do find it funny that people are concerned about these Wildcats, like a team anchored by Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe and the nation’s No. 1 prospect Skal Labissiere is going to miss out on the NCAA tournament.