The infamous "tweak" that John Calipari credited for Kentucky's stunning postseason reversal of fortune not surprisingly turned out to be a pretty simple coaching adjustment.
"I was trying to make the game easier for Andrew," Calipari told "CBS This Morning" on Monday during an interview promoting his new book. "I got tapes of Deron Williams, who averaged nine assists throughout his career in the NBA. We had a game where he had 11 assists and I showed Andrew and I said, ‘Look at this. Let’s watch. Would you have passed or shot?’ He said, ‘I would have shot.’ ‘Would you have passed or shot?’ Well, Deron was throwing balls to everybody.
"And so I said, ‘Monday, you will not shoot one basketball. You will pass. We’re going to run less plays. You will create shots. We will chart. We’re not telling our team.’ He comes in and has 26 assist attempts. Twenty-six assists that Monday. I’m mad the whole practice because it’s changed my team. Why didn’t I do it earlier? And then I apologized to him, I apologized to the team and I said, ‘I messed this up, make me look good now.’"
The "tweak" has been the subject of much discussion because Calipari refused to reveal what he had altered during Kentucky's run from a No. 8 seed to the national title game, nor would he allow his players to speak about it. How much the "tweak" truly made a difference is debatable, but Harrison's assist numbers did increase in the postseason.
In nine SEC tournament and NCAA tournament games, Harrison averaged 11.0 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 turnovers. He had averaged 3.5 assists before the SEC tournament, though his points per game (10.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio were virtually identical before and after.
In reality, the biggest impact of the "tweak" was surely psychological. At a time when Kentucky had been labeled the nation's biggest disappointment, Calipari found a way to both alter the narrative and convince his players he could change something four months into the season that would change them.
Maybe they believed Harrison distributing more truly would make them a completely different team. Maybe they simply defended with more intensity, shot the ball better from the perimeter and gradually regained the confidence that had been missing. Maybe it was a combination of both.
Regardless, both Kentucky fans and Calipari will take the result. A team that had been left for dead by the start of March rallied to fall six points shy of the national title.
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- Sports & Recreation
- John Calipari
- Andrew Harrison
- Deron Williams