John Calipari hopped on a teleconference earlier today with the other three participating coaches in this year’s Miami HoopHall Invitational, set for the day after Thanksgiving.
I didn’t have anything important going on this morning, so I picked up the phone and listened in to what UK’s head basketball coach had to say.
Here is some of what you missed…
“We’ll probably play six, seven, or eight depending on who deserves it.”
When asked about his expectations for yet another year with a brand new team, Calipari said he lost “90 percent of everything” to the NBA last season. But he still has an “old team,” with one senior in Alex Poythress, a junior in Marcus Lee, and a sophomore in Tyler Ulis, as well as juniors Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis in reserve roles.
However, with three freshmen projected to start, his “old team” is still a very inexperienced one.
“We’re inexperienced even though we have some older players,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting. This team has really tried, but we are who we are. Not ten guys deep, two platoons. We’ll probably play six, seven or eight depending on who deserves it and we’ll go from there.”
“Alex is more and more healthy every time we step on the court.”
Last we heard, Cal said Poythress is around 80 percent. Today’s comment means we can put him a little closer to 90ish.
“Tyler is as good a floor general as I’ve coached.”
In response to a question about this team’s leader, Calipari said, “Tyler is as good a floor general as I’ve coached. He’s learning to lead off the court now. On the court, I’m giving him more and more and more room, and it’s all based on the fact that he’s pretty good. His decision-making — all that stuff, is really, really good.”
“A blessing, not a burden.”
How is his team handling the No. 2 preseason ranking?
“You can look at it as a blessing or a burden, and I think it’s a blessing that people have that kind of respect for them as players and this program. They look at individuals and say, ‘Hey, we got one of the best backcourts in the country; we got one of the best frontcourts in the country.’ They take that as a blessing, not a burden.”
Cal said the team never talks about its sport in the preseason rankings.
“We’re going to be fine.”