When Kentucky found out that it would be a No. 2 seed in the 2022 NCAA tournament on Sunday, Wildcats coach John Calipari thought he would be playing in a round of 32 game on Saturday for a chance to compete in this year’s Sweet 16.
However, following the Wildcats shocking 85-79 loss to No. 15 Saint Peter's on Thursday, Calipari found himself issuing a second apology to the Kentucky program and its fans on Saturday, after praising the program’s fans following the game.
In what some view as Kentucky’s worst loss in program history, Calipari—in his heartfelt apology—stated that his players are not to blame for the Wildcats’ loss and that he wanted everything to go right for the team and for the fans as well.
“This team deserved something good to happen because of how they worked and what great teammates they became,” Calipari said. “Our fans deserved it too. You stayed with us when COVID shut down the tournament two years ago, and we all wanted to see that team make a special run.
“We were all ready for this year. This team didn’t disappoint and I remain proud and fond of each of these players. Please steer your disappointment and anger toward me. These kids did for all of the BBN and I wish I could have dragged them over the finish line.”
Calipari ended his note in saying that he remains dedicated to recruiting for the program because Kentucky's culture of winning is the expectation. Prior to Thursday, the Wildcats had not lost to a seed lower than No. 11 in its NCAA tournament history, with those losses coming in the 1980s.
In fact, Kentucky had not lost in the first round since 2008, the year before Calipari took over, when the Wildcats fell to No. 6 Marquette as a No. 11 seed, 74–66.
With Thursday's defeat and coming off the program's disappointing 9–16 campaign in 2020–21, Calipari will have his hands full in righting the ship with the program and its fans before the start of the 2022 season.
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