It’s been quite a week so far for John Calipari, who admitted as much when he met with reporters this afternoon.
“Got a lot of good news on a lot of fronts,” Calipari said. “Learned a lot about my team in a crazy environment with a lot of clutter around us. That was good, and a couple kids decide they want to come to make it nicer.”
Calipari talked for about 18 minutes. To whittle down the Cal-speak, here’s what you need to know…
What did Calipari learn in Chicago?
“Guard play is good,” Cal said, stating the obvious. “We’ve just go to learn to fight. We didn’t crack down on some of the rebounding.”
Cal said the team focused on rebounding the past three weeks because he knew it would be an issue against Duke, but the breakdown early on was “what young kids do.”
“What I saw, teams are not going to stretch the court out on us. They’re not going to come out and play us, and they’re going to play a lot of zone. That’s what I learned when I watched it. How are you going to keep those three [Ulis, Briscoe, Murray] out of the lane? I don’t know.”
I don’t think you can.
He’s also looking for more consistency from the bench
“We’ve gotta get somebody that’s going to be consistent off that bench,” Cal said. “Derek, Charles, Dom, Mychal, somebody consistent that we know what we’re getting. It’s not shots, it’s not that. Someone who can go in, defend, rebound, make an open shot, but you don’t have to create. Finish. We have to find that guy.”
Aside from a hiccup against Duke, that guy seems to be Derek Willis so far.
What do The Hopper, Karl Towns, and Skal have in common?
It wouldn’t be a John Calipari press conference with a random aside about not understanding technology. Cal claims neither he nor his wife understand how to work the TV, so last night, they ended up on The Hopper (DVR) and a clip of the Arkansas game from the SEC Tournament last season magically came on. How convenient!
“Last night, my wife and I were watching TV, and we don’t know how to work the TVs. We don’t know how to work computers. Somehow we got on like, The Hopper. She pressed another button and it went to College Basketball. It had a 17-minute clip of our game against Arkansas in the championship game of the tournament last year. So, I said, ‘press it!’ So now I’m watching last night our game vs. Arkansas. In the second half I put in Karl Towns. He had 4 points and 4 rebounds in the second half. Going into the second half, eight minutes to go in the game. #1 pick in the draft and he’s a double-double in the NBA every time. You’re getting better in practice. That’s the point to all these guys. Just worry about getting better.”
Apparently Skal walked by right before Cal said this, so I’m not sure if this was a “rah-rah” moment from Cal to Skal or if he just using it as an excuse to take a dig at Arkansas or talk about Karl Towns. Or maybe he’s got an endorsement deal with Dish Network and THE HAWPA now.
Jamal’s careless behind-the-back pass still lingers
I love Jamal Murray, you love Jamal Murray, we all love Jamal Murray. But probably even Jamal Murray would admit he’s a bit of a show off sometimes. Case in point: his behind-the-back pass in transition during the Duke game that Calipari says he’s still getting grief over.
“Former players call me and say ‘I can’t believe you didn’t take him out on that lefty behind-the-back pass in transition,'” Cal said. “I said ‘I’m getting soft, I can’t believe I left him in on that either.'”
There are so many things to praise about Jamal offensively, but his defense could use some work. After praising Isaiah Briscoe for his defense, Calipari said he wishes Jamal would do the same.
“We need Jamal to guard better. We need Jamal to step on the gas defensively.”
A 30-second scouting report on Wright State
“This team we’re playing, Wright State, they’re going to take 70 shots and 30, 25 will be threes. They have three really good three-point shooters, they’re shooting 40% from the three, so you have an idea of how they’ll play. They pack line defense, they’re not stretching out, and they play a 2-3 zone, which is exactly what we’ve gotta go against, so it’s a great game for us.”
Well alright. That’s all the research I need to do, right?