Inability to Handle Criticism: The Hole in John Wall's Game?

It's nice to imagine that Kentucky's constellation of NBA talent will play up to its potential, form college basketball Voltron, and romp through March. Playing up to that potential is going to require a little prodding from John Calipari, though. And if his prodding has already rankled John Wall, well, there may be problems in Lexington. Maybe.

⇥⇥Wall was called out by Cal after the Cats lost to South Carolina. Cal was trying to defend Patrick Patterson who was taking some heat for his play, and in the process, he was strong about Wall.⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"I don't know. He said I played awful," says John Wall.⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"I didn't think I played that bad. I don't know what to expect. He's probably going to say I played bad today too so. I don't know. I just try not to listen to him and go out and play basketball and try and help my team win."⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥...⇥Wall is searching for answers. He's not sure why he's so unhappy.⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"To be honest, I really haven't been having fun for the last two weeks. It's just being frustrated and things like that so, I just got to figure it out before we go further in league play."⇥⇥⇥

A talented player being frustrated with a coach trying to push him? This is not exactly unprecedented in human history.

But Wall is so talented, and has had everything come so easily, that even the tiniest bit of adversity has the potential to throw him for a loop; he probably hasn't heard honest criticism from a coach in a while. (Though he was benched in tenth grade, if you believe this ESPN Insider article.) That's the risk Calipari takes when bringing in future lottery picks with possibly fragile egos. He has walked on the proverbial eggshells skillfully with Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis.

The question is whether Cal and Wall are just prodding each other to get better -- Cal wants Wall to be better on the court, and Wall would like a little less criticism, thanks -- or creating the first crack in what may become a season-sideswiping fissure. Kentucky has the talent to win the NCAA Tournament, but probably needs its best player, Wall, at the height of his powers to do so.

Given where those last two Memphis teams ended up, I'd bet on Calipari's cooler head prevailing in this case, spurring Wall to play better and earn those effervescent smiles. Wall's too good to be in the doghouse for long, and Cal's not dumb enough to keep him there.

(HTs: College Basketball Nation and SB Nation.)

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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