The secret "tweak" that helped the Kentucky Wildcats advance to the 2014 NCAA Final Four was in passing, not shooting.
University of Kentucky's coach John Calipari revealed Monday on "CBS This Morning" that he sat down with freshman point guard Andrew Harrison late in the season to watch footage of NBA point guard Deron Williams.
"We had a game where [Deron Williams] had 11 assists and I showed Andrew, and I said, 'Look at this. Let's watch. Would you have passed or shot?' He said, 'I would have shot,'" Calipari said. "Well, Deron was throwing balls to everybody and so I said, 'Monday, you will not shoot one basketball. You will pass. We're going to run less plays. You will create shots. We will chart. We're not telling our team.'"
That Monday, Harrison had 21 assists, Calipari said.
"I'm mad the whole practice because it's changed my team -- why didn't I do it earlier?" he said. "Then I apologized to him, I apologized to the team and I said, 'I've screwed this up. Make me look good now.' And it changed. He had nine assists in our first game."
Harrison also had nine assists in the championship game, though Kentucky ultimately lost to the University of Connecticut.
"Coach Cal" who has led teams to the NCAA Final Four five times (though two of those appearances were subsequently vacated) and won a championship in 2012, wrote about his coaching experience in his new book, "Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out." In the book he compared the NCAA bureaucracy to the former Soviet Union, saying that unless the NCAA makes policy reforms, they will not remain "the dominant force" in college sports.
"Probably not the best way of putting it," Calipari said.
He also made recommendations in his book for how to improve the lives of the college athletes. Among them were:
- A provision of a $3,000-$5,000 stipend for the players each year
- Payment for players' disability insurance premiums by the NCAA or schools
- A round trip flight home for the players per year
- Compliance and enforcement being moved from the NCAA offices to either the conference offices or a potential separate body with subpoena power.
While Calipari is known for recruiting top talent, he is also famous for coaching "one-and-done" players - freshmen who play college basketball for one year before entering the NBA draft.
"Young people in college basketball or young players think that if they stay more than one year, they failed," Calipari said. "Where did that come from, this 'one-and-done?' The connotation is so bad we came up with 'succeed and proceed.'"
With Calipari's recruiting success comes the question of how he recruits so many talented players.
"The biggest thing is I say, it's not for everybody," Calipari said. "I'm not going to sit here and paint a picture that's not true. I'm not going to promise you you're getting all the shots, the minutes, starting positions. And if you want to score 30 a game, you're not coming with us because everyone on the team can play and everybody has goals and aspirations. And when you figure out it's about team, sacrificing, less is more, be your brother's keeper - you will be better."