After putting his team through an all-defense practice early this morning, John Calipari flew down to Birmingham, Alabama for the 2012 SEC Basketball Media Day, unofficially brought to you by Golden Flakes potato chips and Dr. Pepper. It was a pretty typical interview session for Coach Cal; he downplayed his team’s No. 3 preseason ranking and said whoever picked Kentucky to win the SEC needs to be drug tested. Ha. Silly Cal. We all know a mandatory media drug test would only find traces of Rogaine, Prozac and Hardee’s.
Here is some of what he had to say down in The Pittsburgh of the South:
On his team being ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls…
“We’re not very good right now. I think we’ll be a good team eventually, hopefully, but right now we’re just very average. Good players. Good kids. They’re trying; just young. They don’t play hard enough, don’t play full possession, out of control. They don’t know each other, which isn’t surprising. We have no roles right now. We’re all trying to figure out who’s who. We have 10 practice days, so we should be all right before the start of the season.”
Is he used to having heavy turnover every other year or so?
“Not like this. I’ve always had two or three or four veterans. Everything that we’re doing is practically new to everybody. This is a different deal. We have good kids who are good players, but we’re not a good team right now. That’s the challenge of it. What would you expect? We lost every player from last year. It just takes time. You don’t go in all of a sudden and get to know one another.”
What does he see in Archie Goodwin?
“He played good last night. He made one play where he did not pass it to a player ahead of him, and I really rammed him because there’s a lot of things you can look by, but that we can’t, especially with the way we play. After the game, I said, ‘You took 22 shots. You took the most shots on the team, so you never pass up a play because you’re going to get your shots.’ … He has a little bit of Michael Kidd in him, like he just has a fire, a motor that runs hot. We’re trying to get Alex (Poythress) to be the same way. Alex doesn’t have that personality, but you have to play at a level because every game you play is someone’s Super Bowl. Everybody you play against is trying to take your throat out and is trying to make a name at your expense as an individual player, and you have to compete at a really high level. That’s the main thing that’s my issue right now is we’re not doing that. Archie is. He gets out of control. He plays too fast. His pace of game is always 110 mph. You have to go 90 to 110 back to 80. He is coming head down, ‘Here I come,’ but that’s all part of the growth of a player. That’s what we’re working on.”
Is it frustrating to rebuild chemistry each year after so many players leave for the NBA?
“No because I’m happy for those families. I’m happy for what’s happened for them and what they’ve done for the university. That’s their opportunity, and I’m good with it. I just have to then try to figure out what’s next with us.”
On ESPN’s ‘All-Access Kentucky’ and the drama it has created…
“Everybody’s going to be mad, I know. Did I do it just because of that to aggravate people? Might have.”