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This Could End Up Being Cal's Most Rewarding Year

Posted: Jan 1, 2013 3:02 PM by Mary Jo Perino

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John Calipari finally got his national title last season, but he says that wasn't his most rewarding year as a coach. In fact, it's not even his most rewarding season at Kentucky.

Two years ago, Brandon Knight and Josh Harrellson led a team that went 9-7 in the SEC to a Final Four. By the time the SEC tournament rolled around, expectations for that team were certainly tempered. But all the hard work they had put in was finally starting to pay off.

"That team two years ago, that was a rewarding year for me. For me to walk away from that I could say I gave every ounce of every thing I had and these kids responded and they benefited. Not just me benefiting, they benefited," said Calipari.

There are similarities this season, but it's a different situation. Kentucky is the reigning national champ, but Kyle Wiltjer is really the only guy back from that team. This UK group was the preseason #3 team in the country. The expectations were through the roof.

Now we see that they shouldn't have been, at least not from the start. This year's group lost at home to Baylor, Calipari's first loss at Rupp Arena.

They're the only team to lose to Louisville under Cal at UK. Now, the expectations are different.

But through those losses, Cal has seen changes in some of his players. Their progress is far from over, but it could end up being the season that Cal looks back on with the most pride.

"This where we are right now and where we could be, individual players and as a team, this could end up being my most rewarding year," said Calipari.