I’ve already shared John Calipari’s comments about De’Aaron Fox, YOLO, and Hamidou Diallo with you, but there were plenty of leftovers from today’s pre-Vanderbilt press conference. Such as…
1. He told Derek he’s proud of him
Derek Willis tied a season-high with 15 points vs. Arkansas, including three three-pointers. Add in improving defense and rebounding, and Calipari told reporters he was very proud of Derek’s effort Saturday night.
“Derek (Willis), I told him; I grabbed him and said, ‘I’m proud of you, kid. You’re just getting better,” Cal said.
2. Vandy’s play hasn’t changed that much even though they have a new coach
Calipari said he watched tape of Vandy on the plane ride to and from Pittsburgh and was surprised that their style of play hasn’t changed that much even though Bryce Drew took over for Kevin Stallings.
“The crazy thing is that I thought I wouldn’t have to watch last year’s Vanderbilt tapes. Why is that?” He asked reporters, who replied that Vandy has a new coach. “Really? That’s what you would think and then I watched my first game tape and they’re running the same stuff that they ran a year ago. So now I had to go back an start watching our game tapes from last year with them. It’s smart. They’re a terrific offensive team with 3-point shooters. That’s how they played, and they’re running almost all of the stuff with adjustments, but it’s mostly the stuff that they ran a year ago.”
3. You can’t stop Vandy from taking threes, you just hope they all don’t go in
When asked about his team’s perimeter defense facing a trigger-happy team like Vandy, Cal said you can’t stop a team like that from taking threes, you can only hope they don’t all go in.
“It’s hard to stop anybody from shooting 3. Let’s just think about it. If a team comes down and wants to take 22-footers – it’s just hard. Some of it is, if they make 20 3s, you hit them and (say), ‘Good job,’ and go home. What’s the next game? You’re hoping you’re guarding them and making it hard, but the reality is that when a team is committed to shooting 3s like (Vanderbilt) is, then it’s not easy walking into a game and saying, ‘Well we’re just going to do this.’ ”
4. The four-guard lineup worked, but don’t get used to it
Cal said the team was able to work on the four-guard lineup featuring Mychal Mulder during Camp Cal, which is one reason it was effective vs. Arkansas; however, don’t get used to it.
“We’re able to – last week, try different things. Now, if I do that kind of stuff it’s going to be in a shortened (rotation), ‘Alright, four guards, let’s go. Next four or five minutes we’ll go four guards,'” Cal said. “But if Derek (Willis) is playing the way that he is and Wenyen’s (Gabriel) playing well, there’s no reason to do it. There was foul trouble and that’s why we did it. It’s nice to know that you have one more option.”
5. Vandy’s gym is still weird, but at least he can walk the sidelines now
As before every trip to Nashville, someone asked about Vandy’s weird ass gym; Calipari said playing there shouldn’t be as problematic now that he coaches can walk the sidelines instead of being forced to stay on the baseline.
“We’re allowed now to be down the sidelines so I don’t think it’s the effect it used to be. If I choose to be down there now I can be down that sideline,” Cal said, later adding, “Vandy, it is what it is. That’s how they’ve always been. You coach from the end zone. They now let us walk down the sideline, which I don’t understand why they didn’t let us do it before.”
6. Yes, he would have surgery midseason like Coach K if the pain was bad enough
Unless you’ve been in a well, Coach K stepped away from his job last week to recover from back surgery. He’ll be out four weeks. When asked, Calipari — who had a hip replaced after the 2014 season — said he would probably do the same if the pain was bad enough.
“I mean, if I had to I would’ve. I would say my health would come first, but it was a different situation. But I would’ve if I had to. If they said, ‘You gotta stop and get this done,’ then I would have. Wasn’t that. Mine was more the pain and this stuff.”
Stay healthy, Cal.