Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Everything John Calipari Said Today

Here is the transcript from John Calipari’s Thursday afternoon press conference before Kentucky hosts Transylvania.


On how much battling there is right now for starting spots …

“When you look at this, we probably have nine guys that could start. What I’m looking for is some separation and when the game starts. Some guys have got to. We’re scrimmaging more now for that reason. I’m stopping them still too much right now. You got to have separation. You got to have two, three or four guys that are playing a little bit more than the other guys, but it’ll be good to see. It’ll be good to see. They’re competing. We had a player that’s competing against another guy. He got up early to go to the gym and he went and knocked on the kid’s door and said, ‘Come with me. Why don’t you come on over?’ That’s where we’re trying to go with all this. And you guys all know, it’s like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Did I start him early? How many games did he not start to start the year and by the end of the year, one of our, if not the most, effective players we had. So really early on I’m just going to be checking. I may start a group in the first half and a different group in the second half. I may do that for a while until we figure out who’s who.”

On using Shai Gilgeous-Alexanders work ethic as an example to the new team and how it helps younger players …

“If you’re playing and you’re at Kentucky, I don’t think – really other than the ego of saying I start the game, especially if I start a different group in the second half, but the story of Shai is good on a lot of fronts. Really is.”

On balancing lineups and finding lineups that work in practice …

We’re spending about an hour on warmups and the defensive stuff that we have to continue on and then an hour in scrimmaging. During that hour, I’m rotating like in a game. ‘You three in.’ OK, let’s play with that team. ‘OK, you two go in.’ Let’s play with that team a little bit. ‘You four go in.’ Let’s play with that team a little bit. The other thing you find out is what’s effective for them. Where are they offensively? Where are they defensively? How do they rebound the ball? What I’m saying is, we’re keeping stats and efficiency matters here. If you’re dribbling too much, I call it a turnover. If you have a one-handed catch, I’ll call it a turnover. If you hold the ball – back in high school – turnover. Because I’m trying to get them still to play the way we’re trying to get them to play, and it takes time.”

On if anyone has started the separation process in terms of breaking away, rising above …

“I would probably say PJ (Washington) and Reid (Travis), but Nick (Richards) has been so good. Who has anybody like a Nick? There are none. He’s it. Just trying to get him to catch it in the lane. Then, if I tell you that, probably there’s got to be a point in the game – a certain number of minutes – that those three have to play together. ‘Figure it out, Coach.’ Then I have to figure out how I do that. We’re just working through. I’ve really enjoyed this because they just – ‘Tell us how you want us to play.’ They come every day and they’re trying. They’re showing us stuff every day that they can do. They’re learning and growing. Anybody that’s watched me coach – yeah, they make me who I am. If you want me to be hard and nasty, I’ll go to whatever point I have to go to get you to do what you have to do for yourself and our team. This team, it’s kind of like you tell them once and they get it.”

On how important shot blocking will be …

“Nick, EJ (Montgomery) and (Washington). I mean we have Keldon (Johnson). We have a lot of guys that can block shots, but it’s not blocking your man’s shot. It’s blocking someone else’s shot and not leaving your feet. (Richards) is still doing that a bit. You have to stay down, make them take tough twos. You can’t leave your feet and give them straight-line shots because they’re either getting a layup or a wide-open three, and we’re working on it every day. Even in the Blue-White Game, you saw us leave our feet four, five or six times. We’re working on it every day. You know, there are other things that we have to get – who’s our best zone team on both defense and offense. Who’s our best zone offensive team? Somebody plays zone, who’s the team that should be on the floor for a number of minutes? And then the same defensively. Who’s our best zone defensive team? Let’s figure that out.”

On if Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley are his two primary options at point guard …

“Yeah. They’re both going to play. They’re both a little bit different, but both really effective. And both are really getting better.”

On how much he wants to play Hagans and Quickley together …

“I did yesterday a little bit, and it’s OK. That was the first time in a while they played together. You gotta do this – what we’re doing scrimmaging every day and we’re going with Transy, we’re going with IUP – and then around those games we’re scrimmaging just so we can get some sort of rotation and feel. How are they playing when there are people in there? I’ll give you an example: When there are people in the stands and it’s on television and they got the numbers on their back, it’s like how do they play now? You had EJ and Reid probably play as well as they played this year in that game. But I liked it because there were people in the seats and it was national television. How you gonna play now? And those two have stepped up. But Nick played well. PJ played well in the second half. PJ’s first half was a struggle. Who’d he go against? He went against Reid and he got chested about 10 times on his drive. I mean, then you see him like yesterday when I put the three bigs in together. All the sudden he has his way and it’s easy. OK, now you’re going against Reid again, now it’s hard again. You’re going against a grown man it’s a little different.

On what Johnson needs to work on …

“Just consistency. I want his spirit, but you can’t be up and down in this. It’s hard to be that guy, significant guy, if you’re too up and down. He’s just learning. But boy he’s got some stuff. He’s shooting the ball better. He’s a little excited. This is all new to him. He’s 18 years old. Young kid.”

On if people should not get over excited when Tyler Herro scores 30 plus points a game …

“I hope he has some 30-point games. Like, I hope we turn around and he has a couple of those. But he’s not going to average 30. He’s on a team of other really good players too. What did Devin Booker average? You guys really don’t follow us very closely. I’m OK; I just want you to admit that you don’t. He barely averaged double figures – if he did – and he’s a lottery pick and he scored 70 in a pro game and he had 23 last night in three quarters. Does it really matter (how much you average here)? And if it does, it’s ego stuff and those guys don’t come here.”

On honoring the late C.M. Newton before the game …

“He had always been kind to me personally, but that’s not why he’s being honored. He’s being honored because of what he did for this athletic department and especially this basketball program. There are two guys that took over in this athletic department that had to walk into tough situations and try to get them right. One was C.M. Newton. To walk in when it was like, ‘What are we going to do and how am I going to climb out of this hole?’ The second one was coach Joe B. Hall. Who the heck would want to follow Coach (Adolph) Rupp? Those two guys walked into some situations where it’s hard to even come away with a W, and they both did. But, C.M. and his family and what he’s meant – he was a player, he obviously coached in the SEC, was part of the SEC, and then came here and left his mark. So this game, which was planned because of this so we could do this and talk to Martin, who obviously was part of my first staff here. He and his family are coming up from Samford. I’m just happy they are going to do some video board stuff for them. He’s just done so much for the game of basketball, so much for this university, so much for this athletic department, so much for the basketball program that I think it’s only right that we honor him.”

On the matchup vs. Transylvania …

“Brian (Lane) and I are good friends. Brian Lane and just want he’s done – he had to follow in some footsteps. His father, Don Lane, who was at the (coaches’) clinic this weekend, and I pulled him up because I wanted to see the coaches and the people who watched the stream, which was almost 1,000 people. I wanted them to see him. What Transy means to this city and where we can help each other, that’s what we’re doing. Then to honor C.M. on top of it is pretty good.”

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR