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John Calipari at the UK Basketball Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville


The Greater Louisville UK Alumni Club hosted its annual UK Basketball Tipoff Luncheon at the Galt House today. I did not attend for several reasons — one being because I live in Lexington; another being because I’m watching my carbs — but I did have a tape recorder planted in the room for Calipari’s comments to the crowd.

A lot of what he said to the audience was his usual talk of making millionaires and changing families and loving life as Kentucky’s basketball coach, but he also gave us some insight regarding his current team after its first week of fall practice:

“This year’s team, as we speak, we stink,” he admitted. “I said to them two days ago; I said, ‘There’s one really good thing that is happening.’ And they said ‘What’s that, Coach?’ I said, ‘We’re not playing tomorrow, so we’re okay. I’m not going to panic yet.'”

The one positive, it seems, at least at this point, is the consistent play of Tyler Ulis. He’s ahead of the pack in the backcourt in this first stage of the season:

Tyler Ulis, in three days of practice had 25 assists and three turnovers. He’s really good. My other guards are underwater with that; they have more turnovers than assists. But that’s okay; they are learning.”

It’s not just the new guards who need time to improve. Skal Labissiere, Kentucky’s best NBA prospect, is still far behind what we can (and will) become:

Skal’s got a ways to go. I’m all over him like I was Karl (Towns) right now. Why would you say I would be harder on him than the other guys? Because he has more. He can be the No. 1 pick, so I’m going to drive him.”

Keep in mind, the team has only held a handful of official practices with Calipari. They are still in the experimenting phase until they find an identity:

“Everything right now is an experiment. I have no idea how we’re going to play offensively. I really don’t know if we’re going to press, how we’re going to press, if we’re going to play zone — I’m throwing things out, looking at it, watching it and seeing what fits this team. That’s what makes this job with the turnover.”

And until they find their groove, they will go as far as Tyler Ulis takes them:

“I’m telling you, early on, we’re going to be ugly. We’ve got to hope Tyler is so good that we get by being ugly.”


Listen to Calipari’s entire talk below. There is some good stuff about Adolph Rupp and the Hall of Fame in there, too. It’s worth 18 minutes of your afternoon.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

10 Comments for John Calipari at the UK Basketball Tipoff Luncheon in Louisville

  1. That Dude
    3:11 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

    I know one thing, this team will NOT be playing zone.

    • inside info2
      3:42 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

      LOL you beat me to it. I don’t know why he would even say zone was a possibility.

    • Leuther
      6:52 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

      Agree! Cal would rather take a beating than play zone…

  2. Kindergarten Cop
    3:23 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

    I must admit I am a little worried about this team. Cal is really trying to keep the hype down about them. I know that we are spoiled and we can’t have the number one team in the country every year. It will be interesting to watch these guys in practice. From the way Cal talks maybe these guys aren’t as good as advertised. Hopefully I am wrong and this is just Cal being Cal. Either way I know they will be fun to watch as long as Ullis is running the show.

    • CatsBy80
      4:33 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

      it seems like Cal always downplays our guys before the season starts… i feel very comfortable knowing that we have a very capable & experienced point guard running our team… we may not win 38 games this year, but I bet you we are in contention to win every single one of them. A final four is another very real possibility based on returners & newcomers.

    • Hmm
      5:17 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

      Oscar Combs begs to differ. And he called 2012…

  3. AzubuikeandFitch
    4:19 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

    I know this…we dont’t stink.
    Cal usually tries to temper expectations so they can be exceeded early in the season. Its essentially a built in safety blanket if we really stink for stretches of play.
    Sometimes he seems so enamored with the idea of peaking late in the year that he wants his teams to struggle and prevents optimal performance. Its a long season and he wants to gradually build upon success and form a team identity.

    • Redneck Cat Fan
      5:19 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

      I fully except us to go 40-0.This is on you Mitch!!

  4. AzubuikeandFitch
    4:34 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

    And for the record we will NOT do anything but a token man to man full court pressure defense. Basically extending a defender to guard the ball handler the full length of the court. We will play absolutely ZERO zone. Cal spews the same lines regarding style of play.

  5. Cat Fan '96
    6:04 pm October 7, 2015 Permalink

    I really hope Cal is bluffing. With as hard as our non-conference schedule is, this team is going to need to have it together ASAP. I still have nightmares from losing to Duke three years ago.