Even for John Calipari, coaching the NBA JV team that is the Kentucky Wildcats of late, some details of the game need to be groupsourced. The ’Cats this season have lost only one game, but for the life of them, haven’t been able to buy a charging call. Opponents have drawn 39 charges, while Kentucky has drawn only nine. This week Calipari asked reporters on a conference call to help clarify:
“If I’m in the act of shooting, but I haven’t left my feet, can (the defender) then slide in there? Because that’s what they’re doing.”
The answer to that would be yes, and while that might be the sort of thing a head coach ought to be able to recite with confidence, the bluegrass bluebloods are too twitterpated with Calipari’s bearing (and gawdy record) to bother wondering whether the $4.5 million they pay him might be better squandered at Keeneland auctions. Secure in his lot, Calipari is within his rights to declare UK above the humble charge. Yet he magnanimously resolved a change. “If I’m in motion to shoot and (the defender) slides under me, but I haven’t left my feet yet, that is a charge?” he said. “Maybe that clears it up a little bit with all of us, me included … Then, all right, then we’ll slip in there (also).”
His might seem like rhetorical questions if indeed Calipari’s team were not getting out-charged by a margin of more than four-to-one. You could make the case, as some of Kentucky fans have, that out-charging the opposition only indicates that Kentucky is attacking the hoop, and maybe there is some of that in play. After all, what’s a change of possession to this team? Hand the ball over, slink back on D and let froshsquatch Anthony Davis swat it into oblivion.
Just to be sure, the Lexington Herald-Leader placed a call to the NCAA national men’s basketball officiating coordinator, John Adams. He confirmed that a defender can indeed be sliding (being totally set “irrelevant”) and will draw the charge so long as he’s facing the ballhandler, has his feet on the floor for an instant and doesn’t move forward into the offensive player. Details, frivilous details. Calipari is so successful no one can even read the odometer on his coaching career, such is the Rorschach test of his win totals. Kentucky’s poised to mop the hardwood with an SEC in which virtually every other team seems to fade by the year. Calipari alone can survey Vols and Hogs and Gators and Tigers and Tide and decide, with impunity, Let them take charges.