Kentucky Has Been a Prestigious “Basketball” School for Years, However, is That Still True?

Coach Calapari of UK

Coach Calapari of UK

Sawyer Kehn, Staff Writer

Kentucky’s basketball program has been beloved by Kentucky citizens for years, having the second most championships beating out other prestigious schools such as North Carolina and Duke. With its latest title coming in 2012 in a 67-59 win against Kanas. John Calipari’s crew included future NBA superstar Anthony Davis who was drafted first overall in the 2012 NBA draft by the then New Orleans Pelicans later named the New Orleans Hornets. However since 2012, Kentucky has only been to the final four twice, in 2014 and 2015, Kentucky has failed to make it in the 7 years since. Despite not lacking talent in years with highlights such as NBA star De’aaron Fox who was drafted 5th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2017, and current Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe who in 2021 won the consensus national player of the year. Even with a star talent such as Tshiebwe, Kentucky fell in the first round of the NCAA division 1 basketball championship to the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, a small school from New Jersey. Despite Kentucky’s elite recruiting and program that produces NBA talent they currently aren’t showing the success that many would expect from such a prestigious school, what could be to blame for this?

Many have taken to blaming head coach John Calipari for the school’s failure. The Hall of Fame coach has been named Naismith College Coach of the Year a total of three times in 1996, 2008, and later in 2015 with Kentucky. Being hired by Kentucky in 2009, Calipari has brought the school to four final four appearances and to one national championship which Kentucky won. So why would they blame the coach that has brought them so much success? After Kentucky’s 85-79 loss to the Saint Peter’s Peacocks in the 2021-22 National Championship tournament the frustrated fans watched their players perform to their top potential, but with questionable coaching decisions in the overtime period in which Kentucky fouled Saint Peter’s players to stop the clock, yet giving the opposing school so many chances to score it put Kentucky in a deficit that they would never come back from. Many took to social media with such frustration, some called for the firing of the Coach. However, in the summer of 2019, Calipari signed a lifetime contract with the school so it seems that the coach is here to stay for many years to come.

Rather if Kentucky’s problem is really the coaching or not the school hasn’t made a final four appearance in 7 years, a concerning trend that could spell doom for a very successful program. Will Kentucky be able to change this downward trend this year, and will Calipari be able to prove the haters wrong? Or will the fire Calipari chants become louder and louder as the years go on?