On this morning’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, John Calipari was asked how he feels about his team midway through the season. He used several more words than this, but to me, Calipari’s answer boiled down to “Eh.”
“Overall, we’ve played pretty well to start four freshmen, and there have been games that have been some of the most exciting games that I’ve ever coached in. But the problem is, there’ll be stretches were I look at us and say, ‘WOW.’ And then there are other stretches that I basically believe I’m in Las Vegas watching an AAU team play; and there will be stretches of eight minutes of that. Behind the back, between the leg passes — what is this?? Wait a minute, what are you doing? Watch this pass! – what?! So, when you play young kids, you get a little bit of both. And it’s my job to get them to understand how you must play to win at the highest level. Yeah, you can win this game, that game, but you’re not winning a big time game against a well-coached team if you’re not disciplined.”
Cal said right now, his squad’s only playing well for 25-30 minutes of a game, which must improve before Kentucky faces elite squads (like Kansas on January 28).
“We’re not to the point of 40 minutes, we’re like 25-30 minutes. And then, the other ten? Who knows, who knows – the problem with that is, if you’re against a good team, you get that team down 8, 10, 9, 11, and you turn around and it’s 2 because we just started playing undisciplined on offense and defense and let them back in it and then it’s a ball game. We’ve done that about five times this year.”
Other notes from today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference:
- Cal praised this week’s foes, Texas A&M and Arkansas, but admitted his squad’s been focusing on themselves during the break.
“I’m just worried about our team, working on being more disciplined, working on combinations, working on how we get them to play better. Talking a lot about mastering their craft, individual players, areas that they know they’ve got to improve on. So those are the things we’ve been zeroing in on.”
- Yes, Kentucky’s recent history with A&M has been weird.
“The games that we had — even the team that was 38-0 ended up going there and it was overtime and I can’t believe we won the game. I think there was something that happened that we got the ball late and it ended up Karl Towns or Trey Lyles — I believe it was Trey that went crazy late in the game that we won. And then down there last year, the technical foul on Isaac (Humphries) changed the game. So there’s been stuff in every game we’ve played with them. They’ve all been hard.”
- He expects to see more 1-3-1 zone, but Kentucky handled that pretty easily vs. Ole Miss.
“They’re going to be well coached. They’re disciplined in what they do. They go after their big kid, they know how they’re playing, and he does a great job fighting for position. They’re running good stuff. They’re playing a lot of zone, they’ll play that 1-3-1. They’ve mixed it up. If something works, [Billy Kennedy] sticks with it on both offense and defense.”