What. A. Day.
I’ve covered countless basketball games, practices, and events working for KSR, but this was my first experience at UK Basketball Media Day.
And it was everything I could’ve hoped for, and more.
We saw some priceless comments, injury updates, and some pretty crucial information about this team and the upcoming season.
Here are my seven reactions from covering my first Media Day:
Jerry Tipton doesn’t care about stirring the pot
Forget Mayweather vs. MacGregor, we have Tipton vs. Calipari going viral.
Just a few questions in, Tipton sent shockwaves throughout the bluegrass when he made an effort to ask Calipari a question about the FBI. Initially, Cal denied and said he wanted to talk about his team only. Tipton responded by saying “This is a Media Day, not Coach Day.”
Calipari didn’t like it very much.
Here’s the video in case you missed this beautiful exchange:
Jerry Tipton just checked John Calipari.
“This is a media day, not coach day.” pic.twitter.com/R6Pf718dbn
— Clayton Abernathy (@ClaySTV1) October 12, 2017
In at least five of the player interviews I was a part of, Tipton asked the players about the FBI scandal and their impressions on that. If a player didn’t give an in-depth answer, he pushed for further comment. That man wanted answers, I tell ya.
Never change, Jerry.
Players came to Kentucky to make money in the NBA, not now
When various media members mentioned the FBI and potential worries about the investigation, the Kentucky players laughed it off.
Several of the players were blunt, saying they chose to play at UK because they can get to the NBA and make money faster than anywhere else. They said they didn’t need to get paid now, because the payoff is far greater in a year or two.
Hamidou Diallo agreed, saying this investigation doesn’t impact anyone on the team.
“That doesn’t affect me or my teammates at all. We’re just worried about getting out here and starting the season off right,” he said.
“We don’t have nothing to worry about,” said Kentucky point guard Quade Green. “None of us were in it. We did everything the right way, and that was that. We came here because of the right things.”
“We’re focused on this season,” said Sacha Killeya-Jones. “It’s a couple schools that broke a couple rules, they got caught up in it, and now we gotta see what happens with them.”
I think this is an underrated storyline of the day. Our kids think we’re good to go.
Kevin Knox made a massive jump
When Calipari was asked who would be the go-to clutch shooter on this team, he couldn’t give an answer. He said the team has a lot of shot makers, but he just hasn’t seen them enough to make a decision on “the” guy at the end of games.
What he did know? Knox took a major step up in the last few days.
Here’s what Cal said about his five-star forward’s jump:
“It was on rebounding the ball, playing tougher. It was driving into the lane and taking hits. Normally he would drive in and he would take a shot. I’m forcing him to drive. He’d rather shoot a jumper. You’re not, you’re driving the ball. Yesterday he just got it. That’s what happens. These kids, you’re asking them to do stuff they’ve never had to do. He got it.”
Jarred Vanderbilt won’t let a boot slow him down at Big Blue Madness
After answering countless questions about his injury and how much time he’d be missing, Vanderbilt was relieved to answer about something (kind of ) unrelated.
It’s well known throughout the team that Vanderbilt is extremely goofy and loves to dance, so I asked him how the boot would affect his dance moves tomorrow night.
“It might have changed my original dance a little bit, but I’m still gonna pull a little something out for tomorrow,” said the five-star forward.
Does he have a song decided on yet?
“No not yet, I can’t decide. I haven’t decided on anything yet, but it’s coming,” he said.
Kevin Knox doesn’t want to hear about shooting issues
One of the biggest concerns about this team is their ability to make shots from the outside, at least if you ask the media.
In Kevin Knox’s eyes, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I think that’s completely false. I think we’re a really good shooting team,” he said. “They’re basing that off high school stats and stuff like that, but they don’t realize people get better at shooting. A bad shooter can turn into a great shooter in a span of a year or two. I don’t pay attention to any of that.”
Nick Richards was hilarious
In some of the initial conversations I’ve had with Richards, he’s been fairly quiet and reserved.
Today, Richards was out of his shell and giving some pretty incredible responses.
He talked about his love for sitting alone in the dark, standing up to DeMarcus Cousins in a pickup game, finding confidence in himself playing against LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Carmelo Anthony, among countless other things.
He’s getting comfortable with the media, and we love him for it.
This team is fun
That is all.
Get ready, BBN. Basketball season begins tomorrow.