Tonight, Coach Cal had his weekly radio show, Assistant Coach Kenny Payne filled in for the first part of the show, while Calipari was stuck in New York traffic.
Kenny Payne filled in for the first part of the show. Payne discussed how the key for the team is getting stops on defense allowing the team to move in transition making them harder to guard. He also mentioned Bam Adebayo being a key to the team. Payne specifically mentioned that he was frustrated at Bam for reverting back to old habits at times, especially at points of the UCLA game. He was impressed with Derek Willis who had 7 or 8 rebounds, but should have had 4 or 5 more. He wishes that Willis could have picked up those rebounds for his confidence levels. On Sacha Killeya-Jones and Isaac Humphries, the UK assistant coach said that this team is needing toughness. They keep playing ball against themselves. Wenyen Gabriel’s improvement is something that has impressed Payne. He says that if he can play tougher/get stronger, he could become really good, because of his versatility to play the 3/4.
On practice, Coach Payne mentioned that practices are getting tougher, while focusing on the will to win. Camp Cal will not start until after the last finals on Wednesday.
On the matchup with UNC, he mentioned that rebounding will play key, especially limiting North Carolina’s offensive rebounds. He also wants to focus on defense and not go back to what they saw at points of the UCLA game. Payne’s favorite stat is that De’Aaron Fox is the leading rebounder on the team. He wants to try and get Malik Monk involved more on the rebounding end. The Cats are preparing for North Carolina PG Joel Berry to be back from injury on Saturday.
Payne compared this team to thoroughbreds. He agrees that this is Cal’s fastest team. They just need to focus on defense more, because defending allows them to get back and move in transition.
Cal joined halfway through the show on the phone in New York. He started off by mentioning Karl Towns and how he grew as a player over his season.
On Hofstra, Cal was extremely frustrated by the teams pick and roll and defense and mentioned that it will be a point of emphasis ahead of this week of practice. He is happy with his team’s progress with the three. He says it is his best team since the Brandon Knight year at shooting the three. Rebounding continues to be a struggle for Cal. He also mentioned that Willis should have had a double-double instead of only 7 or 8 rebounds. He wants to take some pressure off of Adebayo rebounding and that starts with the rebounding by the guards.
He wants his players to find the best version of themselves by focusing on defense and rebounding and THEN focusing on rebounding the ball.
On North Carolina, he hasn’t watched much tape, because Joel Berry didn’t play on Saturday and that makes North Carolina a completely different team. Cal mentioned that North Carolina likes to play where “they shoot it and go rebound it.” He especially mentioned the strength of North Carolina’s weak side rebounding.
He spent his off day in New York promoting his book and shopping with Ellen and his daughters. Cal mentioned that he usually goes Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, but is not willing to wrap presents.
He is not against starting four guards, because he wants to have five players who are all confident on the floor at once. He trusts that Isaiah and Mychal would fight to slow down a player who may be bigger than them.
On Camp Cal, it will really start following the Christmas holiday prior to the Ole Miss game. Since the UofL game is mid-week, it won’t allow time for full Camp Cal. A typical day will focus on offense in the morning and defense in the afternoon. There will also be afternoon breaks that will focus on watching film.
Kenny Payne rejoined Tom Leach for the final segment. Rex Chapman asked who was the better basketball player between the two. Payne replied, “I couldn’t touch his socks.”
Next week: Cal will have his call-in show at 6pm and Mark Stoops will follow with a bowl preview show at 7pm.