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Cal talks about using rotations next season

John Calipari went on “The Sports Junkies” in Washington DC this morning (remember them?) to talk about his book, and of course, the Twins coming back. For the first time since the Twins announced they’re returning, Cal opened up about what he may do with all these “veterans” and freshmen coming in, and said that with the amount of players he’ll have, he’ll use rotations for most of the regular season:

This year coming up, I have to do a totally different job because I have veterans coming back–now, a veteran to us is a sophomore–and I’ve got young guys that are watching now and learning from the veterans, which makes my job easier in one sense, yet finding time–one of the things I may do, guys, is we may play this like a pro franchise in that there are rotations. As a starter, you’re going to get this many minutes, as a backup, you’re getting this many minutes. You’re gonna know when you go in the game, and when you hit March, you narrow it down to eight guys, seven guys you’re playing.

But, throughout the year, you just make sure you’re a big team, you can withstand foul trouble, injuries, anything else that goes wrong, so you play a lot of people, and your whole drive is March, and that’s what I think I’m going to do. Will we press more? We’re going to end up starting two seven footers, and they’ll be backed up by–are your ready?–two seven footers. So, it’ll be a little crazy.

A little crazy? A lotta crazy, and we can’t wait.┬áListen to Cal’s entire segment here.

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

57 Comments for Cal talks about using rotations next season

  1. truebluefan
    1:10 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    We’re never going to survive unless we get a little crazy.

    • hell cat
      1:17 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Well done.

  2. Mike
    1:14 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I’m going insane. When is the summer tour? and will we be able to watch it on t.v.?

  3. Stephen
    1:14 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I don’t understand on why he insists on narrowing it down when he gets to the tournament. He can have his “zone” rotation, his “man-to-man” rotation, his “half-press” or “full-press”, etc. Could you imagine seeing an entire new setup/group at every break? I’d think that would drive even the best opponents crazy.

    • UKHowell84
      1:23 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      I agree. I do not understand why he believes he must limit the number of guys who play?? Because of Wooden in the 70’s?? If 10 guys can give quality minutes, play 10! Especially early in the season. I never understand why he doesn’t give guys minutes when we are beating someone by 20. Yes, we need our guys to mesh, but we also need to see if anyone else can put in minutes, especially when they have to like Polson, Hawkins and Lee did this year in the tournament.

    • Something, something dark side
      1:25 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Yeah, I’m starting to think this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ….


    • SCfan
      1:28 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      I agree with you Stephen, coach Cal should be able to come up with many different line-ups and defences with this talented group. And if they can all pay quite well, why cut your depth to 7 or 8 at tournament time? Also, in pre-conference games when the Cats are ahead by 20 points with 10 minutes left in the game, why not get the bench some much needed game experience? The last 45 seconds is of no use to them. I am hoping that Derrick Willis does not get the Hoody treatment..!!

    • Chris
      1:31 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Willis = New clipboard holder. Kidding. I do hope he does get some playing time. I hope the same for Hawkins too as he is a great lockdown defender but he needs to gain confidence in his shot. He should be in the gym putting 1000 shots a day.

    • hell cat
      1:54 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      This past year, except for a few early games, we didn’t have that many where you could say the game was definitely in hand and would be able to try some things out and play some guys that normally didn’t play much. For an NCAA runner-up, they sure had a lot of hand-wringing pace-around-the-room games.

    • Stephen
      1:56 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Something, something dark side, I’m not saying he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Believe me, I drank the Kool-aid a long time ago. I just think, for example, that throwing Lee in there was a gamble. Yes, it paid of huge. But, it was still a big gamble that wouldn’t have happened had WCS not gotten hurt.

      I think the same could be said about the nerves/winded/cramped Randle situation in the championship game. Could we have gotten some more production from one of the other bench guys had they been given more substantial PT down the stretch?

      Again, “In Cal I Trust”, but I don’t understand why he is so adamant about that aspect.

    • Real
      2:07 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      The Cats are NEVER up on anyone by twenty. Cal always talks about finishing a team off but as soon as they get a 10 point lead he holds them back in the ole 4 corners offense and makes them take a last second shot, which takes away all their momentum. I think i heard the announcers comment that ky had the slimmest total winning margin in the country last year and I’m sure they continued that string in the tournament.

    • HEinDC
      2:17 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      This next season will be different because he’ll have so many experienced starters. It’s different when your best players are all/mostly freshmen–they need lots of minutes during the season because they’ve got to get experience before March. They’re just as inexperienced as the guys on the end of the bench who are sitting.

      Playing Randle less this past season may have led to even more cramping during the tourney, if he hadn’t gotten used to playing big minutes in tough games throughout the season. He’d had less than a year on campus to get in shape.

    • Nailed it
      2:20 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Hey ‘Real’, please refer to above comment (HEinDC). It’s not that hard to understand.

    • Real
      3:57 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Hey “nailed it”. So they were too young to be in shape? One minute the cats had so much depth last yr and you’re mad cal didn’t give em’ all a chance to play and the next minute he didn’t have the depth to rest anyone… These 18 yr olds played AAU ball ALL YEAR b4 arriving on campus.

  4. Chris
    1:29 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    40 minutes of #$%^ … 5 out, 5 in.

  5. HEinDC
    1:32 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    You play more guys in the regular season to get everyone experience, get the different combinations used to playing together, etc. Your #1 goal isn’t just to win every single game–you’re also trying to improve as much as possible and end up peaking in March.

    Then once you get to the NCAA tournament, you go all out to win every single game, which means making sure your best players + lineups are on the floor as much as possible. Not complicated.

  6. Idiot
    1:47 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Yeah Cal needs to play all his guys. Giving Lee no run all year really hurt us when we needed him against Michigan

  7. ChicagoCat
    1:50 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Hierarchy for minutes?

    1. And. Harrison
    2. Aa. Harrison
    3. Poythress
    4. WCS
    5. Dakari
    6. Towns
    7. Booker
    8. Lee
    9. Lyles
    10. Ulis
    11. Hawkins
    12. Willis
    13. Floreal

    Man that was hard to think about. Our depth blow my mind the more I think about it.

    • raccoon
      2:21 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      I think Towns will start and get more minutes than Dakari because basically Dakari and WCS can’t play together – and there may be certain times when Cal doesn’t want Dakari out there because he is slow. Booker will also get more time because he will be the primary backup of Aa. Harrison and Poythress.

      Also hard to say whether Lee or Lyles will end up getting the minutes at the 4-spot. It does seem like one or the other will likely end up only playing 10-12 minutes a game. Lee looked great against Michigan, but there were times when he came in last year and looked lost. I like him a lot and I think his energy can help the guys around him. Lyles, who knows? Watching him dominate high school kids doesn’t tell you much.

      Hawkins has his spot on the team. He is the lock-down perimeter guy. He most likely won’t be in the PG rotation with Ulis coming in, but it is good that we have him. Willis needs to be a lights out shooter if he wants to sniff the court this year. And even at that, if Booker and/or Ulis are shooting well, I’m not sure. I can only really see him becoming a contributor if someone gets hurt or just really falls off. But I’d be glad to see him prove me wrong. And his time will come. As a junior next year, I imagine he will be a much bigger part and perhaps even starting. He just needs to keep working and not get caught up in being the “man” right away.

  8. Chaz
    1:54 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I remember Dean Smith using 5 in 5 out regularly one season long ago, maybe late 60’s. I know that didn’t fetch the NC, but anybody out there remember how that worked for him? If it was that successful, more teams would have done it, but there haven’t been that many teams with more than 3 starters on the bench to call on. Cal’s had his system going on for decades and I don’t know if he can/will change it for one season.

    • Stephen
      2:00 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Agreed that he may not be able to change it for one season. Even he hasn’t had to deal with this type of depth abundance.

      “Tweak” may go from this years catchy phrase to next years standard practice.

    • Michale
      5:00 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Rick did that with the 96 team to an extent because we were so deep. He would bring in 5 at s time. It worked as we won a NC. I trust Cal to figure it out. Having so much talent is a great problem to have because some of this group will most likely come back the next season.

  9. KevinM
    2:02 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Yeah, let’s do it the Dean Smith way…let’s credit him once again with a game changing method..

    Cal has plenty of talent in that no one like should play 35mpg…..last year, we had guys over 30 minutes, when we didnt need to.

    Let’s just let them practice, see which guys play well together, and let Cal figure out the rotations. We can then 2nd guess his moves.

    12 guy rotation is impossible…Cal being Cal to get all his guys to get to work.

    • Still??? STILL!?!
      2:16 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Cal’s been to 3 Final Fours and won a Title in 5 years, all with almost completely new, freshmen-laden teams – and some of you STILL feel the need to second guess him???

      Good Lord.

    • Blue
      2:38 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Well we are UK fans…..

  10. Chris
    2:09 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Not saying it’s going to happen BUT you know early if the season at SOME point the guys are not going to play up to Cal’s standards and I can almost guarantee that he will sub every player out whether it be their fault or not and you will see 5 new guys come in. Might only happen once but it will happen.

  11. I've always wondered
    2:09 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I’ve always wondered why basketball coaches don’t have “lines” the way that hockey coaches do. In hockey, you have a scoring line, a checking line, a powerplay unit, a short-handed unit, etc. Each line is a collection of players tailored to achieve a certain goal in a given situation. With our team next year, we could easily have a “shooting” line, a “pound the paint” line, a “press defense” line, or what have you. The line-ups of each unit don’t have to be set in stone, but it would give a good starting point toward ensuring that the right players are getting their minutes in the right situations, instead of just giving some guys “garbage time,” which seems to be the overwhelming trend in college BB.

    • Chris
      2:12 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      In hockey, though, you can sub “on the fly”. In basketball you have media TO’s and your 5 to use per team. If we had to get a certain “line” in, we would have to use TO’s constantly and you don’t want to screw up the flow of the game.

    • Point of Order
      2:42 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Actually, in basketball, you can sub at any stoppage (ball out of play, fouls, tie-ups, the list goes on and on.) Not sure why ^ thinks you have to use/wait for a time out.

  12. OldUkFan
    2:10 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I think people are worrying WAY TOO MUCH about what the line my look like next March. Let the players get on campus, let the season play out. I’m sure Coach Cal will do what’s going to give us the best chance to win.

  13. JackB
    2:11 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Cal is a great coach. His method over the years however has clearly been to play 7, with a foul trouble person as an 8th, as a core. Part of that is Cal hasn’t had a lot of depth over the years with the exception of his first UK team. Now, however, the depth is crazy good. Obviously, a few coaches have had great success with deep 9-11 man rotations – the ’96 Cats being the best example. On this one limited issue, I hope Cal can borrow from Pitino’s coaching book.

    • Chaz
      2:47 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Somehow I doubt Cal will invite RP to Wheeler’s for breakfast and talk basketball and mustard and ketchup containers with the gang. But if he does, I hope some records it.

  14. Cals Cats 3.0 Check us out on Facebook!
    2:17 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Did somebody grow? When did we get a fourth 7th footer? He said coming off the bench will be two more 7 footers. Pretty sure Lee and Lyles are not 7 footers. Who is the 4th? Secret 7 footer from China??? He still owes us one from his trip over there.

    • Blue
      2:42 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Yeah please don’t call a 6’11” player a 7 footer.

    • Cals Cats 3.0 Check us out on Facebook!
      3:40 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Lyles is listed at 6’10 by Rivals and Scout. 6’9 by 247. Based off that, we aren’t talking about a guy who is 6’10 1/2, let alone 6’11. So unless he has grown, he is a few inches at best shy of 7 feet.

  15. Steve
    2:32 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Run 5 in, run 5 out and mix it up to find out who plays well together. It worked for Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and Pitino at UK. I trust Coach Cal and know he will win no matter what he decides. He knows how to coach we don’t or we would be doing it.

  16. Yev
    2:52 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    The reason to shorten the bench come tournament time is simple. You cannot afford to lose, and you want your best people on the floor, unless they get tired, get in foul trouble, or have a bad day/match-up.

    Your 7th man is better than your 8th, 9th, 10th, etc. men. So any minute that you play the 8th man, and not the 7th man, is a minute where you are not playing your best lineup. And I for one, want the best lineup on the floor as much as possible come tournament time.

    Now of course, you can’t be dumb about this rule. As I said above, if someone is having a bad day, the team needs a spark, etc. you bring in the 8th or 9th man to try to change things up. But if thigns are going well, then why change it up.

    • Blue
      3:00 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Wow Cal better make sure he knows his top 10 players in EXACT order at ALL times because if he forgets and subs #7 with #9 instead of #8 all hell will break loose.

    • Yev
      4:17 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Blue, no reason to be obnoxious. I will explain in more simple details, based upon last years team, on how the lineup ended the regular season (before WIllie’s injury).

      1-5 in no particular order
      An Harrison
      AA Harrison
      James Young
      Julius Randle
      Dakari Johnson

      Then 6-7 were
      Willie Caulie Stein
      Alex Poythress
      And the order of those 2 really doesn’t matter.

      Here is what almost every coach does to make a lineup. If the starting PG needs to come out, what do I do. If the starting SG needs to come out, what do I do. And repeat this for all 5 slots. For Cal last year this was easy. If PG, SG, SF or PF needs to come out, Alex came in. If C needs to come out, then Willie came in. The only reason that he brought in someone else, if when the plan as illustrated above had some sort of issue. For example, if PG needed to come out, and Alex was in foul trouble, then either Polson or Hawkins would come in, depending on which Skill set was better for the team overall in that particular situation (ie need better def, or shooting). The reailty was that Cal was confident that Alex & Willie gave the team a better chance to win than Marcus or Derek this past season. So any minute that they played over a healthy/able person above them, was a time that the team was not putting its best lineup possible.

    • Blue
      5:32 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Please excuse my obnoxiousness.

  17. T White
    2:57 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I think Ulis is going to be the most valuable freshman. With 4 bigs coming back with experience, I see Lyles and Towns seeing less playing time than Ulis and Booker. One good thing about this year is that Aaron won’t have to run the point when Andrew is out of the game.

  18. Hoosier Cat
    3:40 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    And Cal said last year’s team was the most overanalyzed. We can all agree that this team can and will kick some butt.

  19. Cals Cats 3.0 Check us out on Facebook!
    3:46 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I would like to see the first quarter broken up in two groups of five. Let one group take the first 10 minutes and the 2nd group take the 2nd ten minutes.

    Then second half you can do whatever you want. This would make it easier for Cal to make sure he is rotating everyone. He only needs to focus on minutes for the 2nd half, the first half already has taken care of itself. It would also allow five guys to jell well with each other sense they are playing so much together with this group.

    Cal can figure out what combination jells best with who but I would like to see group 1 as:
    Harrisons, Towns, Lyles, and Lee playing the SF.

    Group 2: Ullis, Booker, WCS, Johnson, and Poythress.

    We know the twins want to play with each other. WCS and Poythress are close. Ullis and Booker are close.

  20. Cals Cats 3.0 Check us out on Facebook!
    3:47 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    And by quarter I mean first half…

  21. Greg
    4:02 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Wit our 9 AA’s and WCS that makes us 10 deep, plus Willis and Hawkins. I’d love to see us distribute the minutes like we did on the 96 team and wear down and run the other teams like we did that year. Minutes were distributed to 11 guys by Sr. Delk–26, So. Walker–27, Sr. McCarty–25, Jr. Epps–23, Sr. Pope–20, Jr. Anderson–19, Fr. Mercer–19, Jr. Sheppard–13, Fr. Turner–13, So. Edwards–9, and Fr. Nazr–6.

  22. Greg
    4:10 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    2015 team could be something like Aa. Harrison–25, An, Harrison–25, WCS–20, Dakari–20, Towns–20, Lyles–20, Booker–20, Poythress–15, Ulis–15, Lee–10, Hawkins–5, Willis–5. Equals 200.

    • Poythress
      4:21 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      I’ll probably get more minutes than Booker. While he has potential and shoots the lights out, he has the body of a very tall child, whilst I’m a grown ass man.

  23. Mike
    4:13 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    1. And. Harrison – Ulis – Hawkins
    2. Aa. Harrison – Booker – Hawkins – Willis?
    3. Poythress – Lyles – Willis
    4. Towns – Lyles – Lee
    5. WCS – Johnson – Lee

    • Mike
      4:16 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Any combination of those lineups is the starting five of a top 25 team. And there are far more possible combinations, because we could decide to go smaller or taller.

  24. stevieb
    4:18 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I really think we should play according to match-ups. Every team has some sort of match-up problem that we can exploit. We should be flexible and take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses.

    Also, play without fear and play aggressive.

  25. Hendo Blue
    4:20 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Geez I love the Cats but you guys going a little overboard here. It’s APRIL.

    • Greg
      4:29 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      We people are crazy.

    • Chaz
      5:36 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      It’s the off season, what else is there to do? Come first game, I’m just gonna say “Cal’s got this” and enjoy the ride, win or lose.

      Go Cats!

  26. Harry
    5:36 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    If 9-10 guys got you to the tournament, why wouldn’t you play the same guys IN the tournament. I know matchups change, but, you would think, as they say, “dance with the one that brung you”.

  27. Devin Hasty
    7:34 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    Why don’t we all just shut our mouths and let Calipari coach. One day when you’ve been to three final fours in five years you can come on here and try and correct him… Losers

    • Luther
      10:24 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

      A bit harsh don’t you think?

  28. Luther
    10:23 pm April 28, 2014 Permalink

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

    I’ve always thought Cal underutilizes his depth and talent.

    We’ll see…