“We talked about it the next day,” Kentucky freshman guard Archie Goodwin said of a players only meeting held Sunday to give the squad a chance to exhale and let out their frustrations. “We had a team meeting where we talked about different things. It was a players only meeting that we called to just try and figure out what we are going to do because something has to change.”
Alex Poythress said the team discussed several issues and added that the meeting served a much-needed purpose.
“We were just discussing things like how we need to come together as a team,” Poythress said. “We all came to the conclusion that we needed to have a team meeting.”
The loss to the Bears, which ended the school's 55-game home winning streak and was coach John Calipari's first setback at Rupp Arena, didn't sit well with the players, expecially Goodwin.
“It was a very tough loss for us,” Goodwin said. “The fact that we could have won makes it even tougher for me. I’m a competitor so I like to win. With that loss being the first loss at home in about four years, that makes it especially frustrating. We have to learn from it and not let it happen again.”
The loss not only ended the nation's longest home winning streak, but dropped Kentucky out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in the Calipari era. The Wildcats, ranked No. 8 in the poll prior to back-to-back losses last week, had appeared in the poll for 61 straight times prior to the current release on Monday afternoon.
Calipari, whose team takes on Samford Tuesday night in the second of five straight home games before closing out the calendar year at Louisville on Dec. 29, said his young squad hasn't embraced basketball beyond the call of duty and what it takes to succeed at Kentucky.
“They have to understand nothing is given to you,” the Kentucky coach said. “You have to earn it. But, you’ve got to fall in love with the gym, even if you are not in practice, you have to love wanting to go over there. Last year they were in the gym all the time. This year they haven’t been in there one day. Well, it’s kind of showing. Hopefully this year it will change.”
Following the team's third loss of the year, one more than the squad suffered during the entire season a year ago, Calipari turned up the intensity in practice in an attempt to send a message to his squad.
“It was a real tough practice,” Poythress said. “The morning practice was real rough, and then the afternoon practice was just as rough. Coach Cal is starting to hold us more accountable for more things. We just have to get better really.”