Cal: Last season’s struggles can help 2013-14 team

Last season’s struggles can help Kentucky take on the challenge of outsized expectations for 2013-14, Coach John Calipari told reporters Wednesday.

Buoyed by a mega recruiting class that includes six McDonald’s All-Americans, Kentucky looks to rebound from a 2012-13 season that ended  with a first-round NIT loss at Robert Morris.

“There were many things that happened that were good last year,” Calipari said in reference to individual player improvement. “Part of last season was the beginning of success for this coming year.”

Calipari preached patience as he tries to build a team from a roster that includes eight highly decorated freshmen and five holdover veterans. By that count, Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson will return to next year’s team as scholarship players.

“What we’re about to undertake has never been done before, trying to put a team together like this,” Calipari said. “It takes time. There’s a learning curve. There’s a galvanizing process. And you know what? We’re going to have to be patient.”

Calipari elaborated on the need for patience.

“We’ll have a talented team,” he said before adding, “They need (to be) coached. Each individual player needs (to be) coached. They need to be taught the level of commitment, the intensity. The will to win has to come out.”

Calipari spoke confidently of UK possessing the required zeal and toughness.

“The alpha males that we didn’t have a year ago, I think we have,” the UK coach said. “Two years ago, we didn’t have one bad practice. Not one. Last year we had about five good practices.”