Due to HIPAA laws, John Calipari can’t directly say that his team has tested negative for the coronavirus, but reading between the lines, all 15 players are in the clear. On a Zoom call with reporters this morning, Calipari said that everyone on his team is on campus and participating in voluntary workouts, a sign that Kentucky Basketball’s “bubble” between the lodge and practice facility is working.
“Everybody’s practicing so, you know. We’re practicing, the conditioning, the weight training, basketball, everybody’s in so, again, HIPAA rules, you can’t say a lot, what’s what.”
The NCAA’s new summer calendar prohibits Calipari from being with his team in person until July 20. For now, he’s meeting with them virtually.
“We have Zoom calls twice a week. I’ve done a Zoom call with them and their families once a week. I’m not allowed to be in my car waving to them which is why I just left campus. I haven’t been in my office…we can’t. So, I’m going to sit in Lexington? I haven’t been there. They keep saying, ‘Coach, we want to see you. I came here to work with you, where are you?’ So, I’m going back this week but I still can’t be in the gym with them until the 20th. So, what I’ve said to them, let’s use this time to separate from everyone else. Let’s use this time to be in the greatest condition, get physically right. We should be a great shooting team because that’s all you can do right now is shoot.”
Next Monday, Calipari can join his squad for summer activities, including four hours a week of on-court skill instruction. He gave another big hint about his team’s health when he said that next week, they will have been “negative” for four weeks.
“And then when we go in, it will be individual work with conditioning combined. My hope is, within a week or so, we start with 3-on-3 and then 5-on-5 to where we’ve been ‘negative’ for four weeks and we’re in a bubble so we’re safe, us, as long as no one is breaking the bubble.”
In fact, Calipari said Kentucky’s setup is as good as any in the country when it comes to keeping the athletes safe from the coronavirus.
“We’re just trying to guard against all that stuff. We’re unique. We’re in the lodge, where they’re in a single room with a single bathroom. They walk across the parking lot, they’re in a sterile gym that no one else is using. No one else is in the building. Weight training, conditioning is outside so now all of a sudden, the meals, they’re box meals. The chef makes them, leave them out. If we’re ordering meals away from campus, they’re delivered outside and left. No one breaks in to the building. You’ve got a sterile bubble that’s as good as it gets anywhere. Now, we’ve got to say, okay, they’ve been negative for this period of time. They’re like a family now. They should be able to be together and if they want to do certain things, but we’ve got to go again with the science and what the campuses and the SEC — the SEC has been probably the most limiting of all the leagues out there for basketball.”
Due to the virus, things will be different when Calipari joins his team on the court Monday, but he’s more than ready to get rolling.
“I’m excited but again, let me say what happens. I’ve got one player at one basket. Either I’m going 12 hours where I’ve got each kid an hour four days a week and then this beard would be about down to here and the ponytail would be down there too in the back but if we got 2 in a gym or 3 in a gym with three coaches, I’m being one, now we’re talking four hours and I would love it, just to be able to be back.”