I’ve already shared John Calipari’s quotes about Michigan State and the 2017 recruiting class with you, but there’s plenty of other stuff from his press conference to go over. Here are five leftovers:
1. He can’t wait to see what his team is made of tomorrow night
Calipari reiterated that events such as the Champions Classic are tough for coaches because they happen so early in the season, but admitted that he can’t wait to see what his squad is made under the lights at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night.
“But for us, what I am excited about is that the issues we have, if we don’t improve them in this game, you will see it glaring, and then we have the attention of this team — like, if you really want to win. We have good players, but that is not what wins. It’s the grind, the toughness, the grittiness and the offensive rebound attempts. I’m not going to get beat to a ball. He’s not going to beat me to a ball. All of those things you will see in this game right now.”
2. Calipari’s response to other coaches who are struggling with freshmen?
Usually, it’s Calipari with all the freshmen and Tom Izzo with all the veterans, but this year, Izzo’s got a very young squad as well. When asked, Cal said he doesn’t feel the need to tease Izzo — his good friend — and other coaches about the difficulties of coaching young guys.
“There’s a lot of guys that — I don’t have to needle. They look at me when I walk in and I just wink. There’s more than just Tom. Everybody’s playing young guys and it’s difficult. It’s a process. You’ve got to be patient but you can’t be patient.”
3. Briscoe knows he’ll probably get double-teamed tomorrow
Even through two games, it’s clear that Isaiah Briscoe is a totally different player this season. Last night, Briscoe put up a career-high 21 points and refused to put up with his teammates’ complacency in the first half. Calipari said he expects Michigan State to try to shut down Briscoe tomorrow, but he’s confident the sophomore will rise to the challenge.
“I already told him how I think they’ll play him because he’s just getting into the lane so easily — I would imagine they are putting a couple guys on him. Almost like having a linebacker (who spies the quarterback). You say you have two guys on him all the time,” Cal said. “But when you do invest like he is you just don’t surrender. You just keep playing. You keep coming. And then you start dragging other guys with you. ‘We’re not giving up. All the work I put in this. Come on.’ And that’s where he is.”
4. Derek will probably start tomorrow…but his defense must improve
After so much progress, Derek Willis took a big step back last night defensively, drawing the ire of Calipari. Cal said he will probably start Willis regardless, but the senior MUST defend and he must rebound if he wants to stay in.
“Derek Willis will probably start unless I’m not comfortable today. And if he defends he can stay in the game. If he can’t defend and he makes three shots, then he probably won’t play much in this game. You gotta guard, man. You gotta rebound. It’s real simple,” Cal said. “I know what he can do offensively…Now get in there and fight.”
5. “Learning from a loss” is sometimes BS
Whenever Kentucky loses, you’ll inevitably see a writer or fan try to spin it as a learning experience. Calipari said sometimes that’s true, but sometimes, that’s just BS.
“Yeah. I’d rather win and learn from a win than a loss. Sometimes I don’t think you learn much from a loss other than you lost a game, and you learn how to lose.”
So, you know, let’s just win.