Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night could keep John Calipari from getting to the Joe Craft Center to preview tomorrow’s game vs. Vanderbilt. After arriving back in Lexington around 1 a.m., Calipari addressed a smaller than usual pool of reporters about his team’s performance at Arkansas and the challenge that awaits them against Vandy tomorrow at Rupp Arena. Here are some notes…
Vandy is the “biggest team we’ve played”
Calipari channeled his inner Donald Trump when discussing Vanderbilt’s size.
“Really good. Really good. Run great stuff. Really can shoot the three. The biggest team we’ve played. I mean they’re huge,” Cal said. “A really hard game for us. I’m glad we played liked we did because we have a little confidence. If we didn’t have a little confidence going into this game, ewww. Because they’re good. They’re good. I mean Texas A&M, Vandy are probably — LSU may be in that range but I think Texas A&M and Vandy they’re both teams.”
(When Calipari calls you a “team,” that’s a true compliment.)
Vandy is 11-7, but 7’1″ star Luke Kornet had to miss some games with a knee injury. If he had been healthy the whole time…
“Vandy, you have to understand, their record is what it is because the big kid was hurt,” Cal said. Now that he’s healthy they’re probably 9-2 with him — you know, 8-1 with him. They’ve lost games without him.”
Skal subbed himself out for the the first time last night
Skal’s big game has been well-documented, and Cal said he was proud of Skal for subbing himself out when he got tired.
“He played 20 minutes in that game. That’s about the max right now he can play with the condition that he has. And he’s working on it, but when he is tired he just stops. Like, can’t catch a ball, can’t rebound a ball, can’t fight. He cannot be in the game tired. He’s now learning: Just take myself out. Why fight it and look foolish and take away my own confidence. Just come out, which is what he did, in that game. He subbed himself two or three times. First time.”
Baby steps are becoming toddler steps.
No update on Dominique Hawkins
To this untrained eye, Hawkins looked fine warming up before last night’s game, but Calipari decided to hold him out. No update on whether or not he’ll go vs. Vandy tomorrow.
Why didn’t we see Tai Wynyard last night?
According to Calipari, he’s “still getting in shape.”
Calipari is having to teach at shootarounds
How much of a work-in-progress is this group? Calipari said he’s having to teach during shootarounds, not a common occurrence with all of of his teams.
“I’m having to teach in shootarounds. The TV guys watched yesterday, the shootaround. I had to stop them and talk, teach, and ‘Do it again, do it again. Do you understand?’ It wears you out. It tires you out,” Cal said, telling reporters that some shootarounds have gone up to 55 minutes long.
“Well there have been shootarounds like that have been 30-minute shootarounds. Like just bang, bang, bang, they know it, we got it, you ready. ‘Alright, let’s go do this.’ And we all know we’re going to play great. Then there’s been these, and I’ve had them before which are like 50-minute, 55-minute shootaround, that I’m exhausted when I leave the court. So like I said, this is a — We’re still trying to figure them out.”
The “Refuse to Lose” motto is back
Still have that “Refuse to Lose” shirt from 2010? Dig it out of the t-shirt drawer because Calipari’s bringing it back. Cal dropped the line a few times last night and again this morning.
“In this game, we just said, ‘You gotta refuse to lose. You gotta listen. You gotta fight.’ And the only way you can do that is together,” Cal said. “The attitude of refuse to lose, just — Now, you may run out of time. The clock may run out of time on you. But it’s not because you weren’t fighting to win the game. You just didn’t have enough time, needed two more minutes. So hopefully we get back to that, and if we do, we’re going to be fine.”