Move over tweak, here comes the reboot.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who has used well-publicized "tweaks" to help the Wildcats get through mid-season struggles in the past, said Monday that he's turning to a new method in hopes of getting this year's team back on track.
The Cats (18-5, 8-2 SEC) have slipped to No. 15 in the AP Poll after losing three of their last four games, including an 88-66 blowout on Saturday night at Florida. The loss moved UK out of first place in the SEC standings behind South Carolina and into a tie with the Gators. Suddenly, a league title that once looked like may be wrapped up early is no longer a given.
"I gave them off Sunday because I needed time to really evaluate where this has gone in the last three weeks and why," Calipari said on his weekly radio call-in show.
What he discovered through film review and staff meetings was that UK didn't need something new -- a tweak -- like the one that propelled the 2014 squad from nine losses at the end of the regular season to a spot in the national championship game. Instead, the Cats needed to get back to what they were already doing well earlier this season.
"I'm not going to go specifically what the reboot was. You will see it," Calipari said. "But how many weeks did it take us to get from where we were to where we are now? Three weeks? About three. So to come back, probably going to take us some time. I'm not saying that we're walking into the LSU game (Tuesday night at Rupp Arena) and beating them by 40. That ain't happening. We're still a team that we've got to figure this out as we go.
"The great news for all you fans: today was good, and there were a lot of players smiling. And when they're smiling, that means they're playing together and comfortable with each other."
One of the things that Calipari was willing to reveal was giving his players more options when transition scoring opportunities are not there. During its last four games, UK is scoring 13 points under its season average of 90.2 points per game. Assists have plummeted while turnovers have risen. The Cats are minus-nine over the last four games after ranking among the national leaders earlier this season.
Calipari made a point to freshman guard De'Aaron Fox to be aggressive when he has numbers, but to show more poise when the defense gets set in the lane. The UK boss also noted the halfcourt offense had become stagnant with too much "ball stoppage" whenever the first option broke down.
"You can't blame these kids if we're running an offense that, if it's not there, and I say 'Well, what do you do if there's no shot?' and they say, 'I don't know.' Is that their fault or mine?" Calipari said. "If they don't know, I'm not communicating enough. We had to go through all of that today to reboot. If it's not there, here's what we get into.
"I know it's not changing in a moment. It took us three weeks to get this way. But I think we're on a path that we want this team on now... We figure it out. It's what we do here."