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Four Leftovers from Calipari on the SEC Summer Teleconference

John Calipari appeared on the SEC Summer Teleconference this morning, and, as we’ve noticed over the past few weeks, he’s feeling pretty good about his team. I’ve already shared a few of his comments with you, but here are some more takeaways, along with a full transcript.

He’s really happy to have all this extra practice time

Calipari once again mentioned the night he came into his office and saw the entire team sitting on the practice floor talking, another good sign they’re putting in extra hours on their own. That initiative, along with the added practice time they’ll get for the Bahamas trip, is allowing him to spend these early days working on his vision for the squad.

“We just started together yesterday. We’re going to do today and tomorrow together. Couple days next week and a couple days the following week. By that time, we get ready for the Bahamas and we have a lot of practice time. I’m not trying to kill them right now but I’m trying to give them an idea how we’re going to try to play with this group.”

Yesterday’s practice wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows

If you judge by Calipari’s recap, yesterday’s practice was so great the players actually pooped ice cream, but this morning, he mentioned one instance in which he had to stop practice to make a point, a reminder that even though he’s got a great mix of talent and experience, this is still a process.

“Yesterday, I taught a thing for the third time and I got a little angry and I stopped them and said, ‘Guys, I don’t have time to teach the same thing three times. You’ve gotta be on this, you’ve gotta be alert.’ So, every year we go through this. Not just with Reid, with everybody. Right now, we have five freshmen and Reid. I don’t know if you just heard what I said, we have five freshmen and Reid.”

And, as always, how good this team becomes will depend on how quickly the newcomers buy in.

“The trust level is what will dictate if this team becomes special and is the one team that you look at and say, ‘Wow,’ or if we’re another 25, 26-win team that everybody says, ‘Ah, they have a chance,’ but usually, that trust is the key ingredient.”

Big expectations are Kentucky Basketball

ESPN’s Myron Medcalf asked Cal how he’s prepared to handle the expectations of another preseason No. 1 team, to which Cal pointed out that’s the norm at Kentucky.

“You mean me personally? I have that in me every year that I coach. I don’t know this to be a fact, that if we are No. 1. This will be my tenth year and I would imagine six or seven of those years, we’ve been ranked [preseason] No. 1. Four of those years, we’ve been to Final Fours. Probably eight of those years, we’ve been to Elite Eights. It’s what this is here. We won the national title in 2012, probably could have won a couple more but didn’t. It is what it is, and these guys know it.”

Fact check (because they’re not always optional): Kentucky’s only been the AP Preseason No. 1 team in the country twice in Calipari’s tenure: 2013-14 and 2014-15. They were also preseason No. 1 in the Coaches Poll the 2015-16 season. Also, only six Elite Eights. Close.

He’s pleased with Nick Richards’ progress

Before he went on a lengthy aside about how he wants all his bigs to train like guards, Calipari said Nick Richards is looking better, but for his confidence to really take the next step, he’s got to show that progress in games.

“He’s gotten way more comfortable, way more confident, way more physical, but he’s going to have to demonstrate performance in games so that he builds his own confidence. It’s not what I’m going to do or what I say, he’s gotta go do it.”

Full transcript of Cal’s comment after the jump.

OPENING REMARKS: Well, we’ve just started but I think we have a good group. I walk in my office one night it’s about 10:30 p.m. and I look out the window and they’re all in there. They’re not playing, they’re just hanging out in the practice facility. In the morning or evenings, you’ve got different guys working out, some on their own. We just started together yesterday. We’re going to do today and tomorrow together. Couple days next week and a couple days the following week. By that time, we get ready for the Bahamas and we have a lot of practice time. I’m not trying to kill them right now but I’m trying to give them an idea how we’re going to try to play with this group.

Q: How can Kentucky help Reid Travis?

There’s a couple things that happen when you come here. First of all, the culture is about really spending time in this and really being trained and understanding that there’s competition. You’re not just doing this yourself, you’re going against other guys that are as good as you, maybe better.

With him, you’ve got he and PJ and we’ve got a couple seven-footers — learn to play over these big guys. Also, learn to compete and play at the level every day and let’s see where this goes. I told him, movement. The league is going to movement. The league is going to stretching out the court. Don’t get away from who you are, you’re a physically strong, active, that’s who you are, but let’s stretch this out.

I think a lot of it is, you learn. In front of the team, I said, Reid how are you going to be? You averaged 20 points and 9 rebounds last year. What if you average only 14 points this year? You gonna be all right with that? This thing is different. It’s about working and having competition every day. It’s about sacrificing. And the last thing is, you’ve gotta trust this process and trust what we’re trying to do. I see him with the ability to lead because he’s a veteran even though he’s not been here.

Q: How bringing in Reid, a grad transfer, will affect team chemistry?

First of all, I saw him in high school. I watched him play. We were recruiting players off that team and I even looked at him like, why aren’t we recruiting him? And, ‘Well, he’s going to go here or there.’ I’ve known him that way. Again, I haven’t watched him as closely, him being on the West Coast, but I have an idea of what he is. This takes time. You have to understand, it’s different here.

Yesterday, I taught a thing for the third time and I got a little angry and I stopped them and said, ‘Guys, I don’t have time to teach the same thing three times. You’ve gotta be on this, you’ve gotta be alert.’ So, every year we go through this. Not just with Reid, with everybody. Right now, we have five freshmen and Reid. I don’t know if you just heard what I said, we have five freshmen and Reid. We had five freshmen start last year and did all of them put their names in the draft? I think four of them did. So, the turnover here is part of what we do. The trust level is what will dictate if this team becomes special and is the one team that you look at and say, wow, or if we’re another 25, 26-win team that everybody says, ah, they have a chance but usually, that trust is the key ingredient.

Q: Your team is probably going to be ranked No. 1 by most polls going into the season. How much pressure do you feel trying to take this thing all the way and win a national championship?

You mean me personally? I have that in me every year that I coach. I don’t know this to be a fact, that if we are No. 1 — this will be my tenth year and I would imagine six or seven of those years, we’ve been ranked No. 1. Four of those years, we’ve been to Final Fours. Probably eight of those years, we’ve been to Elite Eights.

It’s what this is here. We won the national title in 2012, probably could have won a couple more but didn’t. It is what it is, and these guys know it. We just took a train ride and the reason I did it initially was because I wanted time with them and we did a lot of team building and part of that was talking about the expectations that are always on this program and what they want this team to look like defensively. What do you want this team to look like offensively? And have them talk, have that communication to say, alright, now we know what we’re building. I said I’d like to have six or seven guys in double figures scoring. There’s no one that’s going to average 25 points a game. You may get 25 in a game, but we don’t play through two guys. Everybody here is treated the same way. The other thing I said was, this isn’t communism. If you don’t deserve to play, you won’t play. If you do deserve to play, I’ll figure it out.

What you’re talking about is we get into the process more than anything else, of how we do this. The biggest thing I had to talk to them about was, here is what the culture of Kentucky is but it won’t carry you; you have to carry the culture. You have to take it to the next level. If you don’t move this culture, this culture means nothing. This is what we’ve built the program on and around.

Q: How do you see Nick Richards fitting in with your other post options and what does he need to do differently than what was happening when he was struggling?

He’s gotten way more comfortable, way more confident, way more physical, but he’s going to have to demonstrate performance in games so that he builds his own confidence. It’s not what I’m going to do or what I say, he’s gotta go do it.

We’re working with him every day. I really, as I watch where the game is going, positionless, I want him to train as though he’s a guard. I want him to have those skills. At the end of the day, just like Reid, just like PJ, and just like EJ — PJ and EJ, oh my gosh. I’m going to have to struggle. I’m going to have to change names here –They all are being trained as though they’re guards. But I want them to finish like they’re bigs. I said to PJ and Reid, you two are bulls. You two are so physical you don’t want to get away from that but undersized bullies don’t make it at that next level. You’ve got to have great movement. You’ve got to be able to fly up and down the court. You better be able to space the court out. You don’t have to make them all out there, you JUST CAN’T MISS THEM ALL OUT THERE. And so, those are the things we’re working on with all these guys.

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Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

2 Comments for Four Leftovers from Calipari on the SEC Summer Teleconference



  1. Rondo2Davis
    3:18 am June 29, 2018 Permalink

    Nice! Would love to see Richards grow and develop next season!



  2. Fitz
    7:07 am June 29, 2018 Permalink

    I was very critical of Richards last year but think he will improve a lot this year. I see him as a four year guy finally getting his big chance as a senior, something we rarely see – a four year player.