Did you miss John Calipari’s press conference? Read the entire transcript if you’re interested in knowing what he had to say after the game:
Q. Did you get any lip from him when you pulled him out with three and a half minutes to go?
COACH CALIPARI: I didn’t know. I knew he was rebounding the ball. Let me explain to you. He hadn’t done that in any practice. Like it’s a mistake that he did it because if he doesn’t rebound now, I’m going to be all over him.
I told Isaiah, three out of four from the foul line, I’m good, even if one’s an air ball. You go eight out of ten, shoot two air balls, I’m good. I’m not going to say anything.
They passed to each other today, which was nice to see.
Q. What does that mean in a game that’s so one-sided that they shared the ball and didn’t go for the fancy stuff too much?
COACH CALIPARI: Again, to play eight fast as we did and have 12 turnovers… Again, Jamal and Isaiah had six of them. That means the other guys were strong with the ball. Jamal did have nine assists. 3-1 is fine with me.
We shared it. I thought we did a fairly good job of executing, being a brand-new team. The spacing was pretty good. Had opportunities for drives on the second and third drive.
Again, Ottawa is a team we should beat and we should beat by a lot. Again, our numbers, the shooting percentages, the only thing we didn’t do well was shoot free throws. What you have is a couple guys go 0-2, 0-2. All of a sudden, you know, one went 1-3, one went 0-2, the other one went 0-2, that’s 1-7. You’re not going to shoot a real good percentage if three guys do that. But the rest of the guys I think did pretty good.
Q. Does Alex have any sort of minutes limit early in the season?
COACH CALIPARI: That’s about what it was. I was trying to let him play through. I kept telling him he’s got to stay in practice, stay off the bike, and get into game shape. Like you saw him behind the action a bunch.
Like catch it close, don’t try to lay it in, try to dunk it. They miss a dunk, I don’t really care, just try, get yourself back.
He is I’m guessing 80% of where he needs to be for us to be good. But he’s 80% and he’s coming off the injury.
I love the fact that the fans went crazy when he went in. It lets him know we’re all here for you, we want you to do well.
I thought Derek Willis did well. How about Derek Willis rebounding, blocking shots? He did well.
We got to find that eighth guy right now. Think Charles was a little nervous but did okay. But Derek and Charles, who becomes our eighth guy? Do we play a smaller team.
I thought Isaac did a couple good things, but defensive rebounding, he didn’t get any balls. When you’re that big, you got to go get some defensive rebounds.
Q. You started the three guards. How did you feel like they performed together?
COACH CALIPARI: Good. They’re unselfish. They’re all skilled. They can attack the basket. You can play a little more random yet be organized. Again, we needed to press. We did it for two reasons, conditioning. I wanted us just to keep guys in and let them try to see where they are if we had to play a full game. Obviously not there yet.
But the other press, I ran that press a little bit my first year here. Haven’t really run it since. I’d like to run it with this team. You know me well enough. If we’re giving up layups or open shots, I can’t take it. We won’t use that press.
But that’s a press that should be good for us because of our personnel. Now I have to go watch the tape to see where the breakdowns were. We probably gave them 12 points in the first half where they threw over the top and got a three or a layup or a shot, and probably a couple in the second half. In a big game, you can’t give up, in my opinion, 16, 17 points in a press.
Press, they throw it up the court, you get back into your man-to-man. That’s what we’d like to be able to do. We’re not there yet.
Q. You talked about sort of establishing what Lee is. Was it good to see him have a burst?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he did some good stuff. He did some good stuff. I just thought Skal, you look at the numbers and say… Still I thought let go of the rope a few times. Had balls tipped from him for no reason. Rebounds he had, didn’t grab. But he’s made unbelievable strides. Believe me, he is way better than he was a month ago.
But we have to see. You know, I like Marcus and Skal. You have two athletic, active guys. But you have to have some girth. Someone is going to have to fight.
If our guards rebound the way we did today, we’ll be fine. Jamal gets 12. Tyler gets four. Isaiah gets three. That’s 17 rebounds amongst our guards. 19, I’m sorry, 19 rebounds.
Q. John, you talked about opponents playing a lot of zone you think against you guys. You guys shot the ball well in blue-white. Tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: They’re playing zone. If we run the dribble-drive, you’re not allowed to put your hands on it. You can’t come up, hand check, hip check, forearm on a drive. They’re saying you can’t do it.
If they call it that way and we’re running this offense, they’re going to go play zone. That’s what they’ll play.
The reason this team didn’t play zone, because I asked them not to play zone, because we don’t really have much zone in right now. We worked 45 minutes on one offense two days ago, like 45 minutes of a practice on one. That’s where we are right now. We’re behind.
But we passed the ball and I got good forwards, so it doesn’t look bad. But believe me when I tell you we’re behind.
Q. Coach, can you talk about Derek’s overall performance. Is this the type of thing he’s doing in practice that we don’t see?
COACH CALIPARI: Sometimes. Sometimes not. What I’m trying to get from him is to understand rebound. He had seven. Blocked shots, he had two. He could defend, make open shots. He missed a couple free throws, which surprised me, because he’s a pretty good free-throw shooting.
He’s 6’9″, 6’10”. We play him, we could end up being 7′, 6’8″, 6’9″, 6’10”. That’s another huge front line. I want to play Derek Willis. But he’s going to have to take minutes from somebody. Whether I want to play him or not, does anyone give him minutes?
But I think he should be playing. I was proud of him today. I was really on him pretty hard yesterday. I was hard on him to say that, You’re not playing doing this, this and this. My point is, you might as well keep it real with the kids, tell them this is what is going to get you on the floor, this is what’s going to take you off the floor.
Got a great group of kids. I mean, competitive, great basketball IQs. But they’re also great kids that care about one another. They’re passing. Going forward, it bodes well for what we could be. But we’re not there yet, believe me.
Q. You’ve talked about Isaac and his development. What did you like about his limited time on the floor tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: Again, he’s a skilled big man. Missed free throws today. What did he do from the line? 1-3. Missed some free throws. But he has a way of getting the ball in the basket. He missed that one. He was exhausted. Isaiah was exhausted. Did you see him defensively? He could be the best defensive guard in the country if he chooses, but it’s really hard to be that.
Now you have Jamal out there guarding. Think about it. You got Tyler still. You got those two guarding. Now you have Charles Matthews who is long, active and can block shots. Now you get Derek Willis who can do it.
But who is your beast? You better have a beast. That’s why I’m saying, we really need Alex to make strides now. I think he’s 80% of what he should be. He made some shots. Don’t care. It’s all energy. It’s playing people before they catch it. It’s being where you’re supposed to be early. Staying in a stance, flying up and down the court, having unbelievable energy when you play. He doesn’t have that right now.
But some other guys died today, too, let go of the rope.
Q. At the pace you play, how many minutes realistically can guys expect, your starters?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, today we played a little just keep playing for conditioning. Like just keep going. I wanted to see who would drop first.
But I would tell you that I would say we’re going to have probably three guys play 30 minutes, and then probably a couple other guys play 28, 27. Then the question becomes, Do we play six, seven or eight? Who fights for those other spots? Do we get to nine? I don’t know.
Right now if I went in and said, Tyler, you want to give up your minutes to anybody?
Like give two minutes up.
Jamal, will you give up some of your minutes?
Jamal, give up five.
Isaiah, you going to give up minutes?
If guys deserve to be out there, that’s what I’m going to do.
Let me just say what was harder today. The great thing about the platoon, All right, go in. All right, you guys go in. Five guys in. I didn’t have to worry about who was this, who was doing that. If they as a unit didn’t do well, we all saw it. You know what, go get ’em.
Now I’m like, How many minutes did he have? How many minutes has he been in there?
What you’re asking, you can’t keep guys in seven straight minutes the way we’re playing if we’re going to press and run. But I have played guys. I think Brandon Knight played 37 minutes a game. I had two guards at UMass that played 38 and 39 minutes. Edgar Padilla, Carmelo Travieso.
I’ll do that, oh, yeah. I will do that. Like if someone else doesn’t deserve to play, you’re not playing. Earn your minutes.
But it’s mean (laughter).