John Calipari met with the media on Thursday to discuss UK’s road trip to New York City. The Cats will take a seven game winning streak into its Saturday matchup against Seton Hall for a noon tip.
Calipari spent time discussing how he wants more out of his players, praising some and criticizing other. We’ll post the entire transcript soon, but here are some of the tidbits from Thursday.
- Calipari isn’t afraid to shorten the rotation. Against Greensboro Nick Richards played a season low one minute, where he picked up a foul and committed a turnover. Calipari will use a short rotation moving forward if need be. “I like the fact they have to compete for their time.” After all, this isn’t communism. (Cal surprisingly didn’t say that today)
- “Reid’s not even the same player he was back int he Bahamas. he’s so different and so much better.” This wouldn’t be the last time that Calipari would praise Reid Travis.
- Calipari said the team is working everyday on their off-the-ball defense. Cal even went on to say they are having to take time to teach his players were they need to look when they’re playing defense. Yikes. “(This is) stuff they should have had before they came here.” Not to criticize Cal, and I know it was probably a hyperbolic statement, but why did it take until December for him to realize some of his guys didn’t know where to look on defense?
- Cal wasn’t finished ripping some of his players’ defensive abilities. He said UK may as well be playing four-on-five when Keldon is defending off the ball. I do agree that Keldon has been somewhat disappointing defensively.
- When convincing himself not to panic, Calipari remembers the ups-and-downs from last season. He mentioned how UK should have been in the Final Four and admitted every year that he moves too fast but it ends up where he needs to slow down and go back to the grind, referring to thinking his team is ready to take off, but realizes they’re not where he thought they were. “And it’s a grind, but I’m in a good frame of mind to help my team and help these guys.”
- Calipari said that Ashton can be UK’s defensive stopper and if he does that he’s going to play. “If you want to play then play this way,” Calipari said. Interesting, answering the same question Calipari said that if Hagans wants to “joke around” then he’s not going to play and he can cheer on UK from the bench. I believe it’s the first time that he’s mentioned guys goofing around. Regardless, it’s clear that if Hagans locks in defensively he will be on the floor.
- Cal joked that a few of his players are in the conversation as the worst passers he’s ever coached. He said no one is the worst on the team, but a couple are in the conversation. Someone asked about Tyler Herro jokingly calling himself the best passer Calipari has coached and Cal laughed “Have you seen some of the passes he’s thrown?” Hey, Herro is only averaging 1.5 turnovers per game. Five players have more turnovers on the season.
- But he did praise Herro. he said that’s come a long way defensively and that his “anticipation” is the best on the team and it’s translated into his offense.
- Finally some Seton Hall talk. Calipari said it will be a 40 minute game on Saturday and if a player can’t stay disciplined for 40 minutes he will be benched. He’s still trying to figure out a roster and rotation that leads to 40 minutes of success.
- Calipari complimented the IQ of UK basketball fans. He said fans in this state want teams that compete, play hard, are unselfish and obviously they want winners. He said fans know what good basketball and bad basketball look like. He believes his team is getting there. “They’re starting to accept it.”
- Other coaches (not sure the level) visited UK’s practice this week and one coach came up to Calipari after a practice to praise Travis. He told Calipari that Travis never takes his eyes off him when Calipari stops a practice to teach, “he’s on a mission.” Cal wants his teammates to do the same, but then complimented his entire team. “We have really good players. Don’t think we don’t.” Then he went into a spiel about how they constantly need to compete and if they don’t fight to win they won’t play.