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.