Every year the UK basketball coach makes his way down I-64 for the UK basketball luncheon and gets to meet the fans. That part is normal. The part that isnt normal is that this was the largest crowd in the history of the event. Early estimates were around 1500 and the Convention Center was packed with people ready to hear the man, the myth, the legend John Calipari speak. Before the event, he had a press conference as well in which he addressed a number of issues (the complete account of which is located in the live blog down the site). However here are some highlights.
— Much of today was about building the Kentucky brand in Louisville. He said he wanted to play more games in Louisville, potentially up to three a year. He wants the Indiana game back in Louisville/Indianapolis and potentially then schedule Notre Dame in Louisville on the years in which Kentucky is away at Indiana. He said that now that the Cards are moving to the new arena, they would have Freedom Hall to themselves and they could “paint the thing blue.” The crowd loved it.
— In the press conference he had a number of quotes I liked, but here were a few (because I was typing, these are approximate quotes, but not total):
We are really fast and we are really big. Short of that, I told them you have to not worry about your mistakes…just play hard, listen and be coachable. Its like teaching martians…they know nothing about this offense. So they are making mistakes and shooting bad shots, but at this time of the year, that is what happens
He has been a friend for awhile. We have gotten to know each other over the years. We have done a few things together, like in China. Some of his people like Maverick Carter have been good friends for a while. He’s thinking about doing camps down here and that is why he came here originally. The advantages are I wish he would play for me but ohter than that, I know a lot of people and I think those kind of people, its good but I dotn know what the advantage will be.
This is the player’s night. I am trying to do less..they want me to talk and I may do it this year, but I wont do in future years. I wan thte players to be introduced and then they will play. We dont need rap songs or painted faces…I dont think they want to see the players dance..I think they want to see them on the court. We are still kind of working through what they want to do and what I am willing to have them do
Well we havent played a game yet. And the mountain we are supposed to climb is very high. So we have six new players that think they poop ice cream. We ahve six returning players that think it is their turn. We need to get everyone on one page and it has to turn into affection and love. Can I do that in a month and a half?
Then I have to teach them a new offense, a new press and if we are really going to climb that mountain, we ahve to be the best defensive team in the country.
So you see the challenge. We are going to create our own happiness…no one here will evaluate us to make us happy or sad. I wont read it or listen to it. We will create our own happiness. We wont let what you write about us create our self-worth. We arent going to do it. We know the mountain we have to climb…I think we have shoes on because we have talent, but we are a thte base fo the hill…other teams are up more because they have poeple comign back. We are at the base
On Obama jersey
I am not supposed to bring up the stuff about Obama, but I will. Cool out. Our governor, I support him…I will support anyone that is duly elected. Cool out. People say how can you do that, I say “it is because he was elected President.” I support anyone…I support Democrats, Republicans, independnets.
— In addition to the quotes, he had some good lines. He said that it was good he didnt get the job two years ago. Following Tubby would have been tough for him and he said the fans liked Tubby (which was met with applause). Then he smiled and said, “but now ya’ll need me.” Gotta love it.
— He also said that when fans ask him who he is going to start, he answers “Richie”.
— Singled out Deandre Liggins as a player who will look much better in his offensive system than in the one that existed last season.
All in all a great event. The picture above shows what I like about Cal the most. Even as big donors were surrounding him after the speech and everyone wanted a piece of his attention, he left them to go take a picture with the staff who worked the event. I love that about him and it is something you just would not see many others do. It is going to be a great season and today was a great start.