John Calipari spoke to a large crowd of writers and bald people just outside his practice facility this morning to lead off UK Basketball Media Day 2015. I was in attendance, and though I didn’t pay attention the entire time — dozed off once or twice — I took some notes for those of you who weren’t invited. You’re welcome, everybody.
Here are some of the comments I think you’ll care about…
He expects Skal Labissiere to be eligible.
In case you missed it on the site a little earlier, the first question directed to Cal was about Skal’s eligibility. (Shocker.)
His entire response:
“Everything is good to go, and like we do here, on the first day – if you don’t know, let me explain the process: there are probably 50 players that have a review. Last year we had five players have a review. A couple of them got cleared a week before the game. This year there was more than one.
Every year we’ve been here, players go through the review. You won’t believe this: it’s always the best players who go through the review.
I think my team will be fine. You guys will figure that out when we go out there the first day and everybody’s got uniforms on. You’ll know ‘Welp, everyone’s got uniforms on, they must be cleared.’”
“How did this become such a huge — this became like a firestorm. I’m telling you, I was like I told — what is this big — this is like — where did this come from? I feel real good what my team’s going to look like on the first day. Let’s move on to some basketball stuff.”
Alex Poythress is at about 75 percent.
With Alex, once he gets healthy, it’s all about gaining confidence — not just confidence in his shot; but confidence in his body, confidence he’ll land just fine when he leaves the ground.
“He’s got to be a beast.”
How does he feel about the 30/1 odds to go 40-0?
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
He wants Jordan Spieth to be the ‘Y’ in Rupp Arena.
Cal is still on this Jordan Spieth kick, using Spieth as an example of someone who left college after one year without criticism. Spieth “chased his genius” and made $50 million in one year as a 22-year-old.
“Jordan Spieth ruined college golf,” Cal joked.
He then said he wishes Spieth would be the celebrity ‘Y’ at a game in Rupp, but doubts they can get him to do it.
Why doesn’t he like zone?
Because… “When you turn on a TV and the watch the NBA — they don’t play zone,” he explained.
Cal said he would play more zone if it meant helping his players achieve individual success, but that’s not the case.
“My job is to prepare these kids. If I’m playing zone, it’s strategically or I’m protecting somebody who cannot guard anybody on the floor.”
He wants to play small ball… with 6’10 guys.
If you watched the success of the Golden State Warriors last season, you know the NBA game has changed. It has gone to small ball and Cal loves small ball, but he wants to play it with tall people.
“You had Golden State play with a 6’7 center. Harrison Barnes played fine for himself. Small ball? I want to play small ball with 6’10 guys,” he said. “I want to be able to do the same thing they’re doing with that 6’3, 6’4 guy, but to do it with 6’10. Anthony Davis. They’re long, they’re skilled basketball players, they just happened to grow more than they thought they’d grow. Thought they were going to be 6’3; oh, man I’m 6’10.”
Tyler Ulis is the best floor general he’s coached.
Not the best point guard, but the best “floor general.” Don’t confuse with thinking he is John Wall, Brandon Knight or Derrick Rose, Cal warned.
“Tyler is our best player, can I tell you? And it ain’t close.”