John Calipari and the seniors addressed the media this afternoon before taking the court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. We’ve already shared some of their remarks with you, but here’s a quick rundown of the leftovers.
1. Calipari really likes Toronto
A reporter asked Mychal Mulder and Calipari about the rising number of Canadian born players in the NCAA, to which Cal said he loves the city of Toronto so much that he would recruit any player from there just to visit.
“I love Toronto. If there are any players in Toronto, I will go up there myself to recruit them because I think that’s one of the great cities in the world.”
Somewhere, Drake is smiling.
2. Learning to play without key guys was the key to the season
Between illness and injury, Kentucky’s seen its fair share of adversity this season, which John Calipari said has made his squad that much more resilient. In fact, while Malik Monk having off nights is not ideal, Cal said he’s encouraged that Monk has learned how to play even if his shot’s not falling.
“The other side of it is we learned to learn with Malik going one for 10, 2 for 10. He learned to play going 2 for 10. You’re not going to go 2 for 20. Go 2 for 10 and rebound the ball, defend, do other things to help us win.”
“We learned to play without De’Aaron Fox. We beat Florida without De’Aaron Fox. We learned to win without Isaiah Briscoe because Dominique played so well. We learned to play either with Wenyen, go small, go big. This is one of those experiences.”
3. “There’s only one in five years like [Bam].”
Bam Adebayo has slowly become a consistent post presence for the Cats, and when asked about his big man’s progress, Calipari compared Bam to past star pupils Anthony Davis, Karl Towns, and DeMarcus Cousins in that he can guard all five positions.
“He’s gotten better. Again, the biggest thing is he can guard five positions. Look, when you can guard pick and roll the way he does, you have great value. When you can make free throws, it means you can shoot. Now, all of a sudden, you’re skilled with the ball and you’re athletic and you can fly, that’s not normal. There’s only one in five years like that.”
“We’ve been lucky at Kentucky because we’ve had some guys that are bigger. Now, they’re bigger than him, but they’re fours. That’s what he’s going to be. He’s a four. He’s not a five.”
4. How does he feel when Isaiah Briscoe talks back to him?
Throughout the season, you’ve probably noticed the banter between Calipari and Isaiah Briscoe, who is not afraid to talk back to his coach. When asked about it today, Cal shrugged.
“I was the same way. Many times I’m getting on a kid because I don’t think he’s shown enough emotion or energy, like you’ve got more than this. I’ve got — okay, now play that way. Just trying to get them to show they’re alive. Are you alive? Like you look like you’re going — so many times, I’m doing that. If there’s a time that I don’t need it to come back, I’ll say stop and they’ll stop. Short of that, I’m Italian. I’m emotional. And I expect them not to be and they’re in this game flying up and down and I’m sweating and losing my mind and I get on a kid, but you can’t say anything? Don’t you say one — what?”
“I’ve had guys come back at me. I can remember back in the UMass days, we could be more physical then. You can’t be physical now. Back then, I was stronger and more agile than I am right now.”
[Laughs all around]