Seeing as how his team is now the belle of the NCAA ball, Coach Cal made some media rounds this morning, chatting about all things Kentucky basketball. One of the stops was on ESPN’s The Mike and Mike Show, hosted on this day by Mike Golic and Cornell’s most vocal proponent, Doug Gottlieb. As expected, the conversation turned toward the Big Red, their run of upsets and, yes, the possibility of a Kentucky battle on Thursday. It was a fairly brief conversation, but not one without a bit of a confrontation as Cal clearly got irritated with Gottlieb. Here are a couple of highlights:
– Golic asked Cal if his team would watch extra film to prepare for the Big Red because, well, that’s what Golic’s Notre Dame’s teams did when they were facing a team that they were favored against. Cal told Golic that they’re not preparing for Cornell any more than they would for any other opponent and that, to the Cats’ head man, “Morehead and Murray are just as important as UNC and Louisville”. Cal added that Kentucky watches little tape on their opponents and they won’t make an exception for Cornell.
– In terms of preparation, Cal said they will do what they always do. The coaches will present them with a defensive game plan of what Cal called “four things you need to guard” and then he expects them to execute. If the Cats are getting hands in the faces of Cornell’s shooters and competing hard defensively and Cornell still hits 20-28 threes, Cal said “it’s been a heck of a season”. He then emphasized later that as long as his team is guarding them hard, he can handle the result, adding later in the interview that “If we play our best and get beat, I’ll be disappointed but I’ll live with it.”
– Gottlieb clearly irritated Kentucky’s head man, with each of his questions coming across snarky (that’s just how Gottlieb sounds) and Cal bit back at one point. After explaining over and over that his team is not going to change anything about what they do for Cornell, Cal used the example of “We’re not going to run a zone”, to which Gottlieb interrupted by asking why not. Cal piped back with “Why would you run a zone against a three-point shooting team?”. The former Oklahoma State point guard replied “So you don’t’ have to chase shooters around the court”, which is arguably the worst argument in the history of arguments and one that Cal didn’t really like. Cal just took a deep breath, probably shook his head, and said “You’re right, you probably know better than me, Doug”. Boom! Roasted!
– Coach Cal also said that before the post-season started, he met with every player on the team individually and asked them “What do you look like when you are at your best?” and then had each player explain what that meant. Cal said that some guys asked for more playing time (hey that sounds familiar) and some said they wanted to get a chance to play through some mistakes. Cal said he has tried to give those guys the opportunities they asked for.
And, as a final bonus, here’s a clip of what is becoming my favorite UK video of the year so far. I spent all weekend looking for it online and have spent about 30 minutes watching it today. Check it out if you haven’t. (and yes I know Matt posted it yesterday but, like all of my posts, this has better quality).