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Monday, September 27, 2010
Calipari: Duke a factor in Elite Eight loss

By Diamond Leung

Kentucky coach John Calipari had a speaking engagement in Birmingham today, and no, he wasn't talking about Eric Bledsoe. He declined to conduct interviews with reporters at the event, telling the Birmingham News he had to be back in Lexington for event -- a book signing, as it turned out.

But if you read farther down in the Birmingham News story, something interesting did come out of what he told the crowd.
Calipari suggested Kentucky lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight last season in part because the Wildcats were looking ahead to Duke in the Final Four.

"Do you know how badly we wanted to play Duke?" Calipari said. "I think that's why we played so badly against West Virginia. We wanted Duke so badly we couldn't see straight."

Since the Wildcats couldn't see straight in looking past the Mountaineers, maybe that contributed to a 4-for-32 night from beyond the arc?

Could be, but as memory serves, Bob Huggins' 1-3-1 defense and Kentucky's inexperience probably had more of an effect than any visions of Coach K dancing in the players' heads would.
"I'll be honest," Calipari said. "I really felt we had the best team, not at the beginning (of last season), but at the end. The one thing we were fearful of is that we'd go on a shooting slump, which was the question about our team from Day 1. But we made shots, we willed shots in. And that game, we went 0 for 20 and I kept saying, 'We're going to be alright, and their eyes are like, no we're not.'"

Any way you slice it, Kentucky's big weakness got exposed in the 73-66 loss. And it was actually Calipari who actually said it best himself after the game:

"I don't want to have excuses. They outplayed us."