Coach Calipari was available to the media today following this afternoon’s shoot around. The team was making its final preparations before traveling to LSU to play in the Pete Maravich Center tomorrow at 4:00. He gave much praise to the Tigers and said they are a good team, probably better than their record indicates. Here’s a few notes on what else he had to say.
— Coach Calipari started by praising LSU’s size and skill all-around. He mentioned Kentucky’s 2011 Mr. Basketball Anthony Hickey and Johnny O’Bryant specifically. He said LSU play a lot like Georgia, so much of yesterdays practice consisted of the team working on their own drills, and not as much of a walk-though for the Tigers.
— Calipari continued his praise for Anthony Hickey, and repeatedly said he is good enough to play at Kentucky; the only reason he wasn’t recruited was because of Marquis Teague. He said it wouldn’t have been fair to either Hickey or Teague for them both to be on the squad. Calipari said that Hickey is “going to want to go out and prove himself,” so don’t be surprised if he goes off for 30.
— Johnny O’Bryant makes this LSU team totally different, “he’s big, he’s skilled, it gives them one more big body,” Calipari said. He mentioned that the LSU will want to play physical and utilize two or three big bodies as much as possible.
— Because so many Kentucky players can shoot, Calipari said it’s taking away a lot of extra passing opportunities. “There’s no team in the country that has seven guys over a hundred shots.” Coach wants the team to start making the extra pass to get an even better look.
— Using Marquis Teague as an example, Calipari talked about how the team is developing to compete at the next level. He said players cannot always “do it their way” like they did in high school, and some of the guys are starting to figure that out. That is certainly an encouraging thing to hear just as we’re seeing the team step it up in SEC play. “Play to your strengths,” he says when talking to his players, “We’ll work on your weaknesses in this gym.”
— He went on to talk about the team turning the corner and really becoming dangerous. He said right now they’re too “nice” and they need to get a sense of urgency. He drew comparisons to Derrick Rose and how he had “that edge, that competitive spirit,” and said this team is still not there. He was almost at a loss for words and emphasized he wants the team to “just go.”
— When asked about LSU’s 2-4 record in conference and preparing the team to not overlook the Tigers, Calipari said “All I care about is my team. I don’t care if they play on Tuesday or Thursday, I could care less. I don’t care if they play at nine o’clock and noon. I don’t care.” Maybe a little jab at Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings?
— He said without much hesitation, coaching at Kentucky “may best job in our profession,” and included all levels of basketball, from AAU to high school, to college and NBA. “This is a unique place.” That’s the Kentucky Effect in action.
— Coach ended the press conference talking about a letter he was sent by a dog that was “signed” with a paw print on its picture, ranking it among the best letters he says he’s ever received. When asked what it said, Coach did his best dog impression, “’bark bark, bark bark bark,’ and I said ‘bark bark bark!’” It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard Cal say. Ms. Tyler, is that you sending Coach dog letters?
Click here to listen to the audio of Calipari barking like a dog.