When a new coach takes over a program, it's usually because the old coach was bad, and the players weren't great either, and the program in general needs a reboot, and so on and so forth. Usually, it means fans have to settle for a few years of bad or at least mediocre basketball. The promise of future success is usually what matters. That's what keeps folks interested. Exhibit A: Indiana University and Tom Crean.
Just south of IU, though, John Calipari is pretty much destroying everything we know about what happens when new coaches come to programs. Calipari is recruiting new talent at a blistering place; even if he misses on uber-recruit John Wall (and who, knowing Calipari, would bet against him in that race?), he has top point guard recruit Eric Bledsoe on the roster, just in case. Add in a pair of five-star recruits retained from the Memphis recruitment process, and you've got a team that could lose star veterans Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson and still be just fine, thanks.
What's even more insane is that that probably won't happen. Late Friday night, Patrick Patterson announced that he was pulling his name out of the NBA draft and returning for another season at Kentucky, one in which he can stretch his legs in Calipari's perimeter-based dribble drive offense and prove to pro scouts that he can play facing the hoop, too. It's a great fit, one Calipari has been chirping about since he took over the job.
Retaining Patterson might be Calipari's most important recruitment yet. Next up is Jodie Meeks; can Cal convince one of the country's best scorers to wait another year on the draft? Again, who wants that bet? Without Meeks, the Wildcats look like a lock atop the SEC and a top 10 team. With him, they might just be the most talented team in the country in 2009-10.
Calipari has been the coach for, what, a month or so? That sound you hear is the rest of the country shuddering.