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Everything John Calipari said ahead of road trip to Tennessee

John Calipari spoke to the media for almost 15 minutes Friday afternoon about Saturday’s matchup with the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. You can catch up on everything by watching his entire press conference or by reading the transcript below.

On why its so difficult to win on the road at Tennessee …

“Jeez, we’ve won some down there. I took a Memphis team in there and won. I think a couple of our teams here won. How many? [Media: Three. You’re 3-6.] Wow. It’s not great, but it’s not 0-9. Anytime I’ve been in that building, it’s packed and it’s like a game and it’s a significant game. This one will be. They’re a physical team. They play well. They’re well coached. They run their stuff. Defensively, they’ll grind you. They’ll press you. They’ll deny you. He (Rick Barnes) does a little bit of everything. It’ll be a hard challenge for us.”

On the parity in the league after Vanderbilt beat LSU …

“That one, I didn’t watch the game. But we got the score and it was 74-70 with 11 minutes to go. I’m like, what are they going to score? A hundred and 50? Whatever it ended up. Tony (Barbee) had watched it and just said that you can’t fall asleep on Vandy because if they make shots, (you’re in trouble). And I told you guys. The games they lost they were 0 for 25, 3 for 26. Now all of the sudden they make 12, 13 3s, they can beat anybody in our league. We got out of the gym alive when they came here. They made eight 3s in the first half. They hadn’t made eight 3s in three, four games prior to that. But that’s how things kind of swing.”

On Dontaie Allen and if there are any developments after saying Tuesday he may consider playing him …

“I’m not sure he’s ready yet. He’s going hard and he’s never gone this hard. Now, we just have to see what kind of shape he’s in. I asked Kenny (Payne) and he said, ‘I don’t think he’s ready yet.’ But we’ll see.”

On if there’s a timetable to make a decision on Allen …

“We don’t know how this all is going to play out. So, I don’t want to say. But I don’t want to do is use a year of his eligibility for no reason. I mean, there’s got to be some reason we’re doing it.”

On if he’d be in favor of the football rule of being able to play redshirt players a few games during their redshirt season …

“I kind of like that. I kind of like what they do. I’m not sure, does football like it? [Reporters: They love it.] Then I would say we probably should do it. Football loves it, let’s (do it).“

On if matters to save a year of eligibility for Allen given all his players who have left early for the professional ranks …

“Well, it’s not about me and it’s not about the program. It’s about him. If you want to do what’s right for us, you stick him in a game and you hope he helps you win, and if he doesn’t he never plays again. I’ve said to him, ‘You get yourself in great shape and then we make a decision. We’ll make one based on what you think.’ ”

On what kind of shape Allen needs to be in to play …

“Game condition. He’s behind in what we run and knowing all of the stuff that we go through. He’s behind. But he’s trying. The great thing about this team is we have a bunch of great guys that are talking to him. ‘Go down. Stay down. You’ll come off me. Yeah, this time.’ So, it’s funny to watch. But you kind of let it go because I do want them to be coaching each other.”

On Immanuel Quickley studying Lou Williams and Kevin Durant on how to get fouled to get to the line more …

“Good. I want him to shoot some 2s though, too. I told him and Ashton (Hagans), the way you guys make free throws, ball fake and get fouled. Not ball fake and throw your body into them. Drive to the basket, boop, he goes up right through and gets free throws. I mean, if you can shoot free throws like that, get fouled. Figure out, how do I get fouled? How do I get to the line more? So, it’s good that he’s doing that. There’s a couple of times he’s stepping back for 3s and I’m like, ‘Take the 2. Just shoot the ball. We need baskets, not just getting 3s.’ ”

On Quickley’s confidence …

“It’s kind of like Johnny Juzang. He’s shooting it. When he shoots it, because I know what he’s thinking, I’m thinking it’s going in, too. Now, it hasn’t much, but his mindset is ‘Next. Amnesia. I’m not remembering any of that stuff.’ And it’s how you want him to play.” 

On the New York Knicks ties now that Leon Rose and William Wesley are reportedly being hired …

“Let me say this: First of all, I haven’t talked to Leon, so I don’t know if it’s done, if he’s doing it. I have no idea. But let me tell you about him: I’ve known him for 25 years. Dear friend. In a rough-and-tumble business – really that business he was in was a sport too; like it was body-to-body contact, it is – I’ve not in 25 years heard anybody say a bad word about Leon Rose. Not one. In a rough-and-tumble sport that he’s in, he’s a gatherer. He’s a culture builder. I understand why they would do it if they do that. Because I’m so close, I’d help him in any way I could, being a resource, if you want to call me and ask me about college players, my own players, I’m here. It just wouldn’t be to coach.”

On how he strikes a balance between being animated and getting his point across and biting his lip …

“Well, my job is to protect my kids, and whatever I have to do to protect them I will. Normally it’s measured in what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. Very rarely do I get a technical I’m not trying to get. If something happens, like at Arkansas where two guys call it at the same time and I think I’m gone, well, now I’m going to get my money’s worth and I’m going to—’You threw me out again. What, you’re throwing me out twice? I’ve never gotten thrown out twice in one game.’ That’s a little bit different. But if a game is really close – you’re on the road and the fouls are just, and you know it – you can’t do something to hurt your team, but if you have to do something earlier to make a point that you’re going to protect your guys, you do it. I’m not the only coach that way. I think that’s all coaches. Here’s what I say to my players: Players play, coaches coach and officials officiate. Let them do their thing; you do yours and I’ll do mine. That’s the best way to go about it. I wish I didn’t have to say anything. And I’ll tell you again – you know what my thing is – when you call that tip foul on a jump shot that barely hit the guy, oh, I’m watching down at this end. You better call that same foul down at that end. If you want to do that, if you want to call a carry, ohhhhh, I’m on every carry now. I mean, I really don’t care what you call. I don’t. Call 100 fouls – 50-50. Wait a minute, 52-48, 53-47. Not 60-20. Can’t do that. Now don’t tell me.”

On what if a team fouls 60 times though …
“You’re right. But why would the team that doesn’t shoot 3s foul the 3-point shooting team 60 times? Explain that. They take 30 3s; we take 12. You explain that. I’m fine. Whatever you do, call your game how you want it, we’ll adjust to it. Call it tight; we’ll adjust. Tight there, too. Call it loose. I’m fine. We’ll adjust. We’ll say, ‘Hey man, they’re letting it go, you better get tougher.’ The others—but again, it’s not just me. If you ask coaches, we’re all saying the same thing.”

On him saying the other night that he had “had it up to his neck” …

“No, it’s just, the situation was they were trying to foul. And they fouled. I’m going to say it again: They were trying to foul and they fouled. And my team is a really good free-throw shooting team. So, I want that call because I don’t want them going and making a basketball play if we can shoot free throws. We’re a better free-throw shooting team. That was my issue. Was a technical the right call? Yeah. It was the right call, what I said and did. I’d have called a technical on myself.”

On if it feels odd preparing for Tennessee without Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield …

“I watched the game today. I watched one of the games we played a year ago against them. Man, were they good. They were good. And well coached. I mean, Rick (Barnes), you guys know how much respect I have for him, not only as a coach – obviously as a coach, he and I have been doing this a long time – but as a man and as a person. He and I talk throughout the year. I know Tennessee fans will be so mad at this – that something happens and I’m calling him, he’ll call me. I mean, we’ve been friends for longer than him coaching there and me coaching here. We both know when these two teams get together it’s significant. It is.”

On how unusual it is for two coaches in a rivalry to be friends on a personal level …
“There are guys—look, what I try to do, I respect all coaches because I know how hard the jobs are. I was at UMass. I know how hard that is. I was at Memphis. I know how hard that job is. I respect all coaches. I’m here, you know. You don’t expect us to win every game. Oh, yeah you do – by 20. So, I know guys in these kinds of positions and I respect it. If someone makes it personal, then it’s personal, but it ain’t going to be because of me. I mean, if you make it personal, now it’s personal. I think all of us coaches together know how hard this is. Right below our feet the ground is changing and we’re all trying to make do. How do we do this? None of us know. We’re all figuring this out on the run, which makes the job even harder to deal with. How about now the transfer stuff? Even harder to deal with. How about are they going out of high school or not? Is this G-League doing this or are they going to have academies for all the high school players? I mean, we don’t know what’s out ahead of us. I have an idea and I’ll give you the tea leaves later. I’ve been saying what’s going on. But it becomes these jobs are hard.”

On his thoughts on the NCAA announcing the top seeds for the bracket reveal show on Saturday …
“I’m glad they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s not just the top four seeds, is it? [Reporter: Top 16 seeds.] So, 16. It just kind of holds you accountable. That’s why I liked it being done. If you’re 13 and you win eight out of nine and you go to 22, why did that happen? You can’t do that now. Or, if you’re 12 and you lose – ‘Well, they lost but that’s different because of where they are in their league and all that.’ You can’t do that now. I like it. Put it out. Let us finish the season. Let’s see who does what and go from there.”

On if he trusts the process more now that UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart is on the selection committee …
“I don’t expect us to have an easy path one way or another [reporters laugh]. We’re not going to. And I expect some other teams to have an easier path. I just expect so then you’re not upset. They may surprise me. Nah.”

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

1 Comment for Everything John Calipari said ahead of road trip to Tennessee



  1. bbn606
    8:22 am February 8, 2020 Permalink

    I guess to sum it up, UT owns Cal in Knoxville.