It wasnt a good week for John Calipari and he showed it Saturday night after his 2-6 Memphis Tigers lost to Ole Miss, 64-56.
On Friday, Calipari suspended starting point guard Courtney Trask and substitute John Grice for undisclosed violation of team rules. Also on Friday forward Shamel Jones broke his hand in practice. Jones will be out of action two-to-four weeks.
Calipari seemed drained after the Ole Miss loss, the Tigers third consecutive set back. I probably thought that I could get it done quicker than we are, Calipari said. I didnt think wed be 6-2, but I didnt think wed be 2-6. I thought wed be somewhere in the middle.
The first year coach bemoaned the lack of individual skills. Its been harder than I thought, and part of it is that guys have been one way for so long that theyll try and then they just revert, he said. When the heat is on they revert to what they know and what theyve been doing their whole life.
Ole Miss forced the Tigers out of their offense with a suffocating man-to-man defense and Calipari was particularly displeased with his players inability to get open on the perimeter.
Do I have to go back and teach that sixth grade stuff? he asked. Getting open on the wing? You know what that is? Effort. Thats what it is. Its effort. You mean to tell me that a division I major college athlete does not know how to get open on a wing?
The coach was also disappointed with the five-foot shots the Tigers missed against Ole Miss. Were not a good shooting team, so weve got to create better shots for each other.
Its sad right now, Calipari continued. I am trying everything I can to get these guys to understand that theyre good enough to win. But I dont believe they think so. So when they play a good team this is what they get.
The Rebels extended their record to 7-0 and beat Memphis on the road for only the second time in the series. Ole Miss shot 53 percent for the game. That was the difference. The Tigers could manage only 31 percent against an aggressive and physical Rebel team. Rebounds in the game were even at 32. Memphis forced 21 Ole Miss turnovers, nine on steals.
As he did last year in Oxford, Rahim Lockhart dominated the game. He had 15 points, 14 rebounds, and blocked five shots. Jason Flanigan added 14 points for the Rebels, who placed four players in double figures.
Paris London led the Tigers with 15 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. Kelly Wise was the only other Memphis player in double figures with 13 points. But Wise had only four rebounds, no blocks, and three turnovers. Moody was 2-12 in his first action since quitting the team last weekend. Starting guard Scooter McFadgon shot 0 for 7 and finished with one point.
We are not a very good team right now. Thats the bottom line, Calipari said softly. When you talk about the top 30-40 teams, were not as good as any of those teams, were just not. And we show it. And we also show that we dont have the mental savvy when games get close.
After losing three consecutive games against SEC teams, the Tigers take a break for final exams then face Arkansas State Thursday at The Pyramid. Calipari wishes his team could go into the break on a more positive note.
I feel bad for them. I wish we were better. I wish they were better. I wish I was doing things to make it easier for them, he said. Were trying everything we can, but collectively -- including our coaching staff -- we are not getting it done with these guys.