The abrupt end to the season was a big disappointment, but this team had the potential to be special, and Calipari reiterated that in Tuesday’s teleconference call with the media.
When KY Insider asked Cal about if he or the team found any comfort in the way the season ended in the victory at Florida, Cal talked about how Ashton’s and the team’s vibe changed as they came together after the Florida game.
But what happened, more importantly, is when we got back and we began to practice, we did warmups, and if you’ve watched me and m practice, I have a table where I put a practice plan on. After we did the warmups for about 15-20 minutes, I said, ‘All right, split the team up.’ And I turned my back to the team and walked to the table so I could look at the practice plan, and I did it on purpose. I wanted to see how Ashton would respond and how the team would respond. He started turning his jersey – Ashton did – to the second team. And the guys on the first team, two or three of them said, ‘Whoa, whoa. Put your stuff on the first team.’ My back was to it, but I knew what was happening and I knew it was going to be one way or another. That showed Ashton, these guys really do love me. And that’s when the vibe started changing and when I said, oh man, he’s going to be so responsible to his teammates. He would have played out of his mind. And, the team had come together, which is why I said the vibe was what it was and I wish this team could have played on.
“He’s going to be so responsible to his teammates. He would have played out of his mind.”
“I wish this team could have played on.”
I believe Ashton was humbled and prepared to lead this team to its peak, but whether that was a Sweet Sixteen or a National Title, we will never know.
At this point, we have all asked the question, “what could have been?”, and that is a fair question to ask. However, considering the fact that no postseason was played, I honestly don’t think the season could have ended any better.
An away game at Florida, in a rowdy and rivalrous environment, where the team had to come together and overcome adversity to win on a last-second tip-in, in which three role players combined for 40 of the 71 points.
That is pretty exciting, but most importantly, it gave a confidence boost to three key returnees: Johhny Juzang, Keion Brooks Jr. and EJ Montgomery, and a reality check to a potential returning Ashton Hagans.
This season will be remembered as a season of mystery, but could it set up for a season of destiny for next season?
We shall see.