We’ll close the book on John Calipari’s Thursday afternoon speaking engagement with five important things to note. Digest these and then get settled in for P.J. Washington’s decision coming up on ESPNU.
Humphries learning to play alongside Adebayo.
Isaac Humphries is learning to play a little bit at the four so he’s able to share the paint with Bam Adebayo. Coach Cal said they’re both really good passing big men and they’re both very skilled, but their defense is key.
“Bam can play out on the floor defensively as well as anybody we have on the team,” he said. “So that’s why they can play. It’s more defense. Can they guard the guys they have to guard? I think they can.”
He will use as many as nine guys in the rotation.
Cal said he’s going to play nine guys and then go even deeper if he has to, which is a surprise considering he never likes to use more than seven or eight. He’ll decide those rotations and lineups on a game-to-game basis, he says.
Right now he’s going that deep because neither Isaac Humphries or Sacha Killeya-Jones have emerged ahead of the other, therefore they both deserve to play.
“Maybe there’s a game where Isaac is better than Sacha is,” Cal said. “Maybe there’s another game where Sacha is better in the game because the opponent. Same with Wenyen at a four or a three and Derek at a four or a three.”
All is good in recruiting.
It goes without saying that basketball recruiting is doing well, considering he added a five-star signee earlier today and will have two before dinnertime.
Today he was asked about recruiting, to which he said, “All is good. All is good. It’s what we’ve been able to do, what these players have been able to do, how we’ve handled things off the court as well as on the court where they’ve become their best version.”
“The staff has done a great job of getting us involved in the right guys and the right guys for this place. This isn’t for everybody. At the end of the day we get the kids we’re supposed to get. It doesn’t mean we get them all. We don’t.”
Briscoe rubbing off on Fox and Monk.
This may be Cal’s best backcourt, defensively, and Isaiah Briscoe has played a big role in getting the two freshmen to buy in.
“They’re all learning together. What’s great is we’ll have another coach on the floor and Isaiah talking to him about, ‘You can’t do that, man. Let’s go. We’re trying to win.’”
He said Fox is great on the ball, but gets lazy off of it, which is very typical of a young player. Monk, on the other hand, needs to quit trying to steal everything. That’s what the staff is stressing to him right now, to play the whole possession, and to get in there and mix it up and rebound.
As for Briscoe, Cal said this of his defense and maturity: “We were on the phone the other day and we were talking about how he didn’t have to guard anybody until he got to Kentucky. He didn’t guard anybody. I watched him; we played against him. You look at him now and he has transformed who he is. Yeah, when you’re first getting started and you’re not hearing who you want to hear, ‘I don’t like him.’ I’m not going to tell you all what you want to hear, but I’m proud of them. I will tell you, if I’m in a foxhole, that is who I want beside me.”
He had some high praise for Derek Willis.
“He has grown every year, but this is the most maturity he’s had. This is the best shape he’s been in. He stays after every practice. He and Bam are always the last two in there with Isaiah and sometimes Malik, but they’re the last two in there. He’s building confidence in himself and building our confidence of him being out on that court. I just love the fact how he’s running up and down the court. When he’s flying, just think about it: You’ve got all these guards flying, him flying, Bam flying, you better run back. Don’t try to offensive rebound because it’s like a wave of people. So, I’m proud of him. Plus, he shoots the ball. It gives you an added thing. It gives you one more guy who can make jump shots.”
“He came up to me and he reminded me we did something in zone offense last year that I wasn’t doing and I said, ‘You’re right,’ and I changed something and I said, ‘Thank you.’ He would have never done that. That just shows you he’s maturing and that he’s able to trust enough. I know I can give a suggestion and that it’s not going to get thrown back at me. He was unbelievable yesterday in practice. He was really good.”
P.J. Washington decision coming within the hour…