Coach John Calipari is "disappointed" in his team's performance, but "not discouraged."
Calipari took responsibility for his players not "buying in" to his messages in a post on his website. He says that his will has always been stronger than his individual players' will -- yet that hasn't quite been the case so far this season. From his post:
Over the years, we have always taken great pride in getting guys to accept roles, to play for their teammates and to play to win versus playing not to lose. Our teams have always played tough both mentally and physically. This team is doing none of that right now, but that comes back to me.
They are going to give you what you demand. If you demand a lot, you will get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, you will get it every single time. That’s what I must be accepting right now.
Either we’re not training the right way or I’m not communicating the way I need to communicate. People will say, “Well, they’re a young team.” I’ve had young teams before and they have performed.
What he's saying is true. This team is not performing like his other teams did, despite relative similarities in the composition of the roster.
But he's not discouraged. He ends the post saying that he still likes his team and believes it can turn a corner.
Time, however, is running out for everyone else to believe him.
Regardless of who he wants us to blame for a less-than-pedestrian performance through 18 games, it's the performance that matters. This team may have lost a ton of talent and experience from last year's title squad. But in Calipari's world, the expectation is that the talent will be replenished. It looked like it had been: another top recruiting class came to Lexington, themselves expecting to take the college basketball world by storm just like the last three classes had done.
Hasn't happened. This team has been underwhelming and underachieving. It's failed to notch any significant victories and is firmly on the NCAA Tournament bubble, as it stands right now.
Is there still time to, as Calipari said, turn the corner? Sure, but it's quickly vanishing. And this team hasn't given enough signs so far to inspire confidence that anything different will happen.