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December 5, 2012Samford coach Bennie Seltzer doesn't have the highest opinion of this year's Kentucky team.
It's actually the complete opposite.
Seltzer told his players in a first-half huddle that this is "the worst Kentucky team" he had ever seen, according to WKYT's Steve Moss, who was sitting beside the Samford bench.
After the game, an 88-56 Kentucky win, Seltzer said his words were mainly to motivate his own team.
"I think I said, they're not that good," Seltzer said. "I can't remember what else I said. There were a lot of things I said about this team. It was all motivation to let these guys know, 'Hey, they're human. They're just like you.' So there is no need to go out there and be afraid. There's 24,000 in the stands but not one of them can play defense."
Seltzer added, "They're still not as good as some of their other teams, though."
Coach John Calipari was asked about Seltzer's comments after the game.
"I haven't seen all the Kentucky teams," Calipari said, "but I can't imagine there weren't a few that were worse than us."
Seltzer, in his first year as head coach at Samford, has seen a few recent versions as an Indiana assistant from 2008-11. He said the lack of top-end talent is the difference between previous Wildcat teams and this year's.
"There's no John Wall, there's no Eric Bledsoe, there's no DeMarcus Cousins," Seltzer said. "Those guys were high, high caliber. That's not to say these kids aren't good."
Calipari agrees that his kids are good. He repeated that sentiment following Tuesday's victory.
But he also says the preseason hype for this team may have led him to convince himself of something that wasn't true.
"I think we all got intoxicated, including me, about everything that was written and said about this team," Calipari said. "I kept telling you, 'We're not that good.' I'm looking, 'Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we're better than I think.'"
Then he shook his head, confirming that his initial impression of this team as "not that good" was accurate. The results have backed him up - Kentucky has dropped from No. 3 to No. 8 to unranked in the Associated Press poll during its 5-3 start.
"That's what we've been hearing for the last three weeks," freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein said. "'We're not a good Kentucky team. We're like the worst Kentucky team that's ever gone through here.' It's like a broken record. As us, as a team, we have to show people that we're a good Kentucky team. We're going to be part of a legacy."
Cauley-Stein said hearing the negativity hurts because it implies this team has a sense of entitlement - something that another opposing coach, Morehead State's Sean Woods, recently said this UK team possessed.
"It's like a slap in the face, because we're putting in work," Cauley-Stein said. "People don't think we're putting in the work, but we are putting in the work."
Asked about Seltzer's comments, freshman forward Alex Poythress shrugged it off.
"Everybody's entitled to their own opinion, I guess," Poythress said.
Seltzer had his. He also knew that his words could come off as borderline sacrilegious to a basketball-craved fane base like UK's.
"I guess as a new coach I have to be careful of all these ears around, especially at Kentucky," Seltzer said. "They're a good team. They're a very good basketball team. Quote me on that."
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