Sometimes in this job, the press seating is good, sometimes it is bad. The very best seats are the ones close to the coaches. I sat not far behind John Calipari in both the 2011 national semifinal against Connecticut and the 2012 national championship game against Kansas.
On Saturday, my seat in Tennessee’s Thompson-Bowling Arena was pretty good. If I’d been about eight feet closer, I could’ve qualified as a University of Kentucky manager.
I couldn’t always hear the words Calipari was saying to his players during a 30-point blowout. But I could watch his interactions with both players and assistants.
What I saw was a guy who was trying just about everything — yelling, screaming, smiling, joking, shame, praise, enthusiasm, detachment, calm explanation, vehement exhortation, and a few things I’m not sure how to describe. He knew nothing was going to work on this particular day, but it didn’t stop him from using up his playbook.