Last week, I wrote about my interview with Calipari and some of his comments about the media. During the interview, he talked about other topics as well and here are some of Cal’s thoughts on a number of issues:
I know you have talked with the guys in the Draft. Are they nervous at all?
“I dont think John is nervous and Demarcus if he is nervous would never show it. I think John will be the #1 pick there is no question. Demarcus will go either 2, 3, 4, or 5. I think Patrick will go 8, 9 or 10. I think Eric will go 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 in that range and I think Daniel will go from 16 to 26, something in there. The neat thing for us is that there have been a lot of drafts and for the first time in the history of our sport, five players may be picked in the first round.”
What will Kenny Payne bring to the staff?
“He is just another guy that adds to what we are doing. He has been part of our family of coaches for awhile and has been to our retreats in the past. I think we are announcing Kenny later in the week. Obviously its no secret though and he will do great.”
Why do you think Patrick Patterson seems to have risen so much on the draft boards?
“Well first of all, he was in college and played under the basket for two years and the only time they have seen him out on the floor was this year. If he had three years of playing this year, its scary. But he had one, so now they get him in and say ‘you know what, he shoots it better than I thought….he is more athletic than I thought.’ Then they sit down with him and you are saying, I would love for this guy to be on my team.”
Can you tell us a little bit about these new Freshmen coming in
“We dont know yet. The great thing about the trip to Canada, we are all going to find out a lot more. Our team is going to have to play a lot more like my Memphis teams, more wide open and we wont have all these guys standing under the basket. We talk Brandon, Doron, Stacey and even Eloy and Terrence…and Enes…they all have perimeter skills and I think we will showcase that. And with the returning players, we got a nice mix that we should be all right. I wont know until I start coaching kids how they are going to be.”
Are you surprised that so many guys from the team are going to be taken in the Draft?
“If you had told me when I started coaching Eric Bledsoe that he would be a lottery pick, I would have said “what?” If you told me Daniel Orton would go in the first round, I would have said, ‘what are you talking about, he only played half a year as a Junior and didnt play as a Senior.’ If you told me Demarcus Cousins would be ready to be a Top 5 pick, I would have been surprised he could go that way so quickly.”
Is the roster set for next season?
“Maybe could add one more”
How much of an impact will it have for the team that you have people coming back who know the system?
“Big difference. Because they are not going to have the anxiety that the Freshman have and they will have an idea of how to do this and have a confidence level the Freshman dont have. Last year we had a whole new team. Not only did the Freshmen not know how we did things, the other guys didnt either. Last year, we shot a good percentage from the floor, had a good assist to turnover ratio and our defense was one of the best in the country and that happened with all new players. So what I am hoping is that we learn some new things with these guys but then take all those good qualities from last year and carry them over.”
Do you feel there is an added pressure on the job here that you didnt forsee?
“What makes this tough is like three weeks ago I am in a coffee shop and a guy taps me on the shoulder and says ‘tough year Coach.’ And I said, we won 35 games, won the SEC, SEC Tournament and Elite Eight and a guy taps you in a coffee shop and says ‘tough year’, that is what makes the Kentucky job the Kentucky job. I wasnt mad, it just made me laugh.”
What do you think about the massive turnout from UK fans for tickets to the games in Canada?
“No I am not surprised. But I am waiting to see what they get put on EBay for. Someone told me they only sold them for ten bucks, I was going to buy a few cause that is crazy. They dont understand what its like. They dont get that there would be people pay $500 for that ticket. They may try to move it to a venue, but I dont know what they are going to end up doing.”