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TRANSCRIPT: Everything John Calipari said from today’s press conference, presented by More Than A Bakery


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On other players alluding to Ashton Hagans’ defense kick starting the defensive effort for the other players …
“Yeah, and Tyler Herro who anticipates better than anybody on the team and is playing with more defensive confidence. And what’s it doing to him offensively? It’s building his confidence and now he’s become a confident player. How was he for the first couple of weeks of the season? He wasn’t real confident because he was getting killed on defense. Ashton is being more confident because of how he’s playing on defense. It’s just going to be a step at a time. Immanuel (Quickley), we just need him to be more aggressive, to react more and process and just react to stuff versus the processing because it slows him down.”

On getting the team to buy into the mindset of defensive intensity …
“Well, we’re going every day. I’ve got the treadmill revved up. If anybody goes half speed, get on the treadmill. I’m not going to fight you. Just get over there. If it becomes we’re in the middle of a drill and practice went from two hours to two hours and 10 minutes because we’ve had to wait on you, if it keeps happening I’m going to go to two and a half hours because we’re going to wait. You’re going to do it and then you’ll come back over and work. That should be short-term stuff for us as a program. This is acceptable. This is not. Now make it part of who you are and then you move on. I just have to raise the bar on what and how we’re going to have to play. At the end of the day, if we’re a defensive-driven team we’re going to be pretty good. If we’re not, we’re not going to be very good. When will you start working on turnovers, Coach? After we get the defense right we’ll start thinking about turning it over too much. Right now we just can’t throw too much at these guys. We’re doing drills that are really basic, fundamental. Should have been learned a long time ago, but that’s fine. That’s where we are.”

On Nick Richards’ practices this week …
“Better. He had blocks yesterday. He did some good stuff yesterday. Really, really good. I was happy for him.”

On playing only three post players …
“They’ll know in practice how they’re playing. I’m going to talk to all four of them and explain why I’m doing what I’m doing and what led me to this. You can’t have two guys not play well on the floor. Like, two not playing and competing. Now, they’re getting minutes. But, when you only have three and that one guy doesn’t bring it and you only play him 15 minutes, you’re okay. That’s been the issue. You can’t have two of the four not absolutely diving on the floor for every ball, and that’s why I went with three. My chances of having two out there were better, and you see it. If they all four play and we start playing four and they’re competing, I’m good with that. But, I’m not doing it right now. (I’ve) got to coach to win. I’ll deal with the egos later. Again, I like the fact that they’ve got to compete for their time.”

On previously saying Reid Travis and PJ Washington couldn’t play with one another because of the lack of a shot blocker and what’s changed since then …
“(They’ve been) a little bit better. Reid’s not even the same player that he was back in the Bahamas. I mean, he’s so different and so much better. The one thing that I’ve told our bigs, you’re trying to draw fouls versus score the basketball. We have one guy of the bigs who does not try to draw fouls. he’s trying to score. Who is that if you watch the games? EJ (Montgomery). He runs from the contact. So, that’s why he isn’t drawing a foul.”

On if Montgomery is avoiding contact because he’s not confident in his body …
“Yeah, but I’m good with that because he’s trying to score. Even though he fades away he’s trying – the other guys, all three of them, they’re not worried about scoring; they’re just worried about drawing a foul. How many fouls do they draw? Not enough. Offensive. How many one-footers have we missed this year? We probably miss three or four a game. A game. One-foot shots. How did you miss that? Well, you weren’t thinking about making it. There’s things that when we watched that we now try to work on and get them to think different. Like I said, we’re doing a lot of basic stuff. We’re way better than we were. Now, we have another game on the road against an opponent that’s going to bring it and have a swagger and an attitude about themselves. Which, we need to be playing teams like that. They have good size. They have a guy like No. 10 (UNCG’s Francis Alonso). They have that kid who runs the baseline and comes off staggered screens and shoots it and shoots most of the balls for them. He’s good. The Myles (Powell) kid is good.”

On how much of a challenge it will be to defend Seton Hall’s Myles Powell …
“Hopefully we’ll put the right guys on him to start the game so it’s not 5-0. We don’t spot them five (points). It’s a challenge, and the other thing with it is you can’t foul. So maybe he’s going to make some tough shots; you just can’t foul. So whoever’s on him and how we play that, you’ve got to play him to make it tough, but he still may score baskets. When you have that ultimate green light you make baskets because, ‘It doesn’t matter, I’m going to shoot the next one, I’ll shoot the next one. I’m going to make one of these.’ It’s a different way of thinking about it.”

On Hagans’ improvement on defense …
“Well, the focus you have to have to defend. We’re really working hard on off-the-ball defense. I mean, working every day, and making – ‘Look at you. You’re looking the wrong way. Where is the ball?’ So it’s – I’m telling you, again, it’s stuff they should have had before they came here, but it’s obviously they didn’t and he’s one of them. Immanuel (Quickley) off the ball. Tyler off the ball. Keldon (Johnson) off the ball, gosh, you might as well play 5-on-4. And you stop him and he almost laughs because he knows like, ‘Oh my gosh, I am like not even in this play.’ It’s like you’re playing box-and-1 when he’s on the floor. Like, he’s over there playing and the rest of us are trying here.”

On if he sees more inexperienced defenders coming out of high school than he used to …
“I forget, to be honest with you. Here’s what I mean (when I say) I forget. I forget how bad last year’s team was at the beginning. All I remember was how we made a run at the end in the NCAA Tournament. We should have been in the Final Four. That’s what I remember. And then I’m excited, I go, and I get a little break, and then I get back into this and it’s like I’m (going) 106 (miles per hour). Then you move too fast and then you – every year I do the same thing. Move too fast, we’re alright, we got it, and then I’ve got to go right back on the grind. And it is a grind, but, like I said, I’m in a good frame of mind right now dealing with my team and helping these guys. Anytime that I feel awful, I always say to myself, if I feel this way, how do I think these kids feel? They’re 18 and 19 years old. Are they scared? Are they anxious? Are they questioning? And if they’re that way then my job is to help them and forget about me and how I feel. But if I’m really tired then I know they’re really tired.”

On Hagans embracing the idea of being a stopper
“I just told him, if you really like playing, then be that guy. You’re going to play a lot. If you don’t like playing, go over there and joke around a little bit. Do your stuff, make the hardest pass you can make, and then come over here and cheer like crazy.’ I mean, it’s not — you tell him, ‘Here’s how I need you to play. If you want to play this way then come over here and help us.’ He knows that’s how he is, but again the discipline all these kids need, it’s hard when you’re 18 and 19 years old to have the kind of discipline you need to win at the level we’re trying to win at. What do they say our experience is out of 353 schools? [Sports information director Eric Lindsey: 352nd out of 353 teams.] I don’t know how they do it because of Reid (Travis). Does that mean he didn’t play for me? So even if he’s that, we’ve got to be 250 out of 350 if you throw him in. And inexperience leads to lack of discipline. That’s the biggest thing. Second thing is lack of trust. Well, why do you have lack of trust? Because you’re never in the right place to help each other because you have no discipline, which means you can’t trust each other, and I better worry about my own man, which is how they all play. Then in high school, because they were going to shoot 35 balls a game – each of them – what was their coach saying? ‘Do not foul.’ So they just let people run around and then they shot the ball and then the guy ran around them and then they shot the ball. And then they come here and they’ve got to pass the ball, which is why we turn it over right now. I’ve got a couple of guys in there, they’re not the worst passers I’ve ever coached – a couple of guys – but they’re in the conversation.”

On Tyler Herro saying he’s not the worst passer and that he’s actually the best passer
“Who is? [Reporter: Tyler Herro.] Have you seen some of the passes he’s made? [Laughter.] Did you debate with him? Like, ‘When you look like that and throw it to the other team, why did you do that?’ ‘Because that should have been completed.’ ‘Really?’ ”

On a recent positive example of where they’ve helped each other

“Well, they’re starting to pick each other up. Like, if we’re doing a drill and a guy goes down or takes a charge or gets a loose ball, they all go pick him up. I’m watching to see if there’s one guy that’s not. Believe me, I’m watching. ‘Get on the treadmill. If you don’t want to be a part of this, get over on that treadmill.’ Trying to say we’ve all got to do this. We’ve all go to trust that we’re going to do it. And then you’ve got to play better opponents. And here’s what happens with a better opponent: You really gotta trust and you’ve really got to have discipline because it’s not going to be a 15-mintue game. I’m going to be a 40-minute game. And so you’ve gotta do this for 40 minutes, and if you have no discipline, there’s no chance of you doing it for 40 minutes. That’s why you have to get guys out of the game. That’s why you go with three bigs, because if this guy is not bringing it, you’ll play 10 minutes and these guys will play all the minutes. And if you do good I’ll put you in for a lit bit and if you do good, fine, but I’ve got two that are going. We’re just trying to get to that – you know, in the second half vs. Greensboro, a couple of my friends called and said, ‘Now they look like one of your teams.’ I said, ‘What about the first half?’ ‘I’m saying the second half.’ ‘Now they look like one of your teams.’ But it’s all a process of what we go through and I’ll say it again: It’s painful and it ages you. But, it is what it is. You’ve just gotta go do it and do it for these young kids.”

On the loud crowd on Saturday and the fans recognizing good basketball …?

“These fans here – as we know here, we have four million basketball coaches in our state, and all they really want to see is play really hard and compete. Now, they really want us to win, but they know the best chance of winning is playing that way. And then they want to see unselfish, good basketball. They know what good basketball looks like and they know what bad basketball looks like. Lack of effort, they know what it looks like. How about this? You have three or four guys going crazy and that one guy decides I’m just not going to. He stands out. He just stands out. And then my job is to make sure he doesn’t stand out for very long. You’re out. ‘Well, every time I don’t play hard he takes me out.’ And then everybody, the four million coaches in the state say, ‘He should have got you out earlier.’ And so, we’re getting there though.

They’re starting to accept it. I made a statement to them yesterday: As a coach, I cannot want it more for the individual player more than he wants it for himself. And I can’t want it for the team more than they want it for themselves. It just doesn’t work and it’s too hard and it’s not fun, and then you’ve got to get tough and nasty and all the other stuff. Come on now, we’ve got a bunch of guys with something at stake individually. Go play. ‘More shots.’ No, no, no. Dive on the floor. Take a charge. Go rebound in traffic. Don’t have them jerked out of your hand and lay it in. No. Be that guy. Sprint that court. Make that easy pass. ‘Whew, that’s hard. Can I just get more shots?’ I mean, that’s where we’re just all over it. Let’s go. And this team is capable. You know, it was funny, yesterday we had coaches in here watching us, and the one coach came up to me and said. ‘Reid never takes his eye off you. When you talk, he’s watching the whole time.’ Like, it’s incredible that this kid is so focused. He’s on a mission. How about if we had everyone on that same mission? I mean, now all a sudden this thing gets a little crazy. I just want people to respect that we have really good players who are not playing to the level they’re capable of playing. But we’ve got really good players. Don’t think we don’t. But if you don’t compete and if you don’t fight to win – if you don’t fight for your space – you look like you’re just OK. ‘I thought it was supposed to be better.’ Well, compete, go do it. We have those kind of guys who can do it. Every day is that process we’re working on.”

Article written by TJ Walker