In only four seasons at Kentucky, coach John Calipari has sent 17 players to the NBA. Calipari’s persona has shaped into the savior for high school hopefuls. Names like John Wall and Anthony Davis thrived under Calipari, eventually becoming number 1 overall picks. These kids want to take their game to the next level, so they choose John Calipari.
It helps that Calipari’s a marketing major. He truly knows how to sell his product of basketball. Not only do these players grow individually, they learn how to win as a team. Calipari’s pitch about winning is simple; five seasons as UK’s head coach, three Final Fours.
It’s evident that Calipari has become one of college basketball’s premiere coaches. Calipari has revived the Kentucky program into national champions with stellar recruiting classes year in and year out.
Calipari’s opposition tonight is Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, who finally has taken the Badgers to a Final Four. Ryan has also become one of the NCAA’s finest head coaches. Ryan boasts a .728 win percentage through 13 seasons as UW’s head coach.
Ryan’s style however, couldn’t be any more different than Calipari’s. Ryan rarely finds top talent recruiting and if he did, the chances that they play are slim. Ryan has started only four freshman since under the helm. Freshman equal inexperience, which in-turn means mistakes, and if you know anything about Bo Ryan, you know he hates mistakes.
The real freshman tonight will be Ryan, who finally takes college basketball’s biggest stage. He’ll be up against Calipari and his “Fab Five” of starting teenagers.
Kentucky was actually ranked as the number one team before the season started. Then adversity struck, and by March the Wildcats were completely out of the top-25.
There are major conflicting styles between Ryan and Calipari. Calipari is going to want his young Wildcats to quickly move up and down the court. Ryan will want to slow it down. Calipari allows his players to find their own shots by using their athleticism. Ryan believes in his offense, forcing his Badgers to patiently search for open looks.
The team that loses will be the one that falls into the others style. Wisconsin’s plan is to utilize Kentucky’s inexperience. On offense, wait for a Wildcat to make an over-aggressive move then capitalize. On defense, force jumpers along with turnovers.
John Calipari knows his team is much more athletic. He’ll tell his Wildcats to spread out and look for one-on-one opportunities. Kentucky’s size and strength will result in multiple blow byes. If these Wildcats see open looks at the bucket the Badgers are in trouble.