UK’s Camp Cal echoes Florida’s struggles in 2007-08

Freshmen-oriented team. Failure to play to an expected standard. Frustrated coach.
The components that contributed to Kentucky’s 6-3 start and Coach John Calipari’s reaction (read; Camp Cal during the semester break) are nothing new. Six seasons ago, Florida basketball went through a similar experience.
Only more so.
Like UK this season, Florida was starting over after a national championship run. Actually, the Gators had won the previous two NCAA tournaments. While UK’s revolving-door program has three freshman starters this season, Florida in 2007-08 started four first-year players — Nick Calathes, Jai Lucas, Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons.
Florida Coach Billy Donovan, who the summer before that season took the Orlando Magic job and then quickly changed his mind, openly questioned his new players’ competitiveness. He threw players out of pre-season practices. After a loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference Tournament made the Gators NIT-bound, he famously banned his players from using the program’s relatively new $12 million practice facility. Donovan also ordered the players not to wear any clothing with a Florida logo.
Donovan could not be reached for comment. But Larry Shyatt, an assistant on those Florida teams and now coach at Wyoming, recalled a combination of factors that should sound familiar to UK fans.
“There was a built-in expectation after what we had gone through,” Shyatt said Wednesday of Florida’s 2006 and 2007 national championships.
Florida’s freshmen shared the sense of great expectations.
“‘We have the (Florida) uniform on, we’re supposed to win,’” Shyatt recalled. “Actually, I shouldn’t say that. ‘The other guys are supposed to lose.’ And that’s not right. The other guys, they’re fighting, too. That’s what coach was facing, and he met it head on.”