Yesterday, brief mention was made of John Wall's comments following Kentucky's win over Vanderbilt Saturday. As a refresher, Wall was asked to discuss his performance in Kentucky's upset loss to South Carolina against his performance this week, and, um, things did not go well:
"I don't know. He said I played awful," says Wall. "I didn't think I played that bad. I don't know what to expect. He's probably going to say I played bad today too so I don't know. I just try not to listen to him and go out and play basketball and try and help my team win."
"To be honest, I really haven't been having fun for the last two weeks. It's just being frustrated and things like that so, I just got to figure it out before we go further in league play."
These are not the things that UK fans want to hear from their star guard, but you can at least see where Wall's frustration comes from. Wall is not a player who is accustomed to being told he played poorly. It's entirely possible, through Wall's entire grade school and high school and AAU careers, that he was never once told he didn't play all that well. This is the state of modern youth basketball, at least where uber-recruits like Wall are concerned. So Calipari might have been the first to deliver that message, and Wall sounded like his feelings were genuinely hurt. Like he almost couldn't process the idea.
Mix that frustration and naiveté and you get a kid willing to tell reporters he dislikes his coach. But is it really true?
Wall backtracked last night, saying he "loves" Calipari and that he knows he had too many turnovers in Kentucky's 68-62 loss to South Carolina:
"When you are frustrated you say things you don't mean," Wall said. "We sat down and talked about it and I realized after I watched the film that I did play bad. I had a lot of turnovers and didn't lead the team like I was supposed to."
Calipari likewise told reporters that it was water under the bridge, and that Wall was simply getting frustrated because things weren't coming as easily to him as before. Which is how this was going to end all along, probably. Wall might play basketball like a savant, but inside that NBA-ready body he's still a relatively sheltered 19-year-old who just went off to college and, for the first time in his life, didn't get straight A's. How would you react?