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Video and transcript from Coach Cal’s press conference

Everything Cal said in today’s pre-Texas press conference, in video form for your viewing pleasure above or in print below:

 

On his relationship with Rick Barnes …
“In this profession we’re in, you have acquaintances and then you have friends and then you have true friends. He’s a true friend that I’ve known for so long. The first time I met him he was working at the Pitt basketball camp. He was from Lenoir-Rhyne (University). He had long hair and he had a toss-back in the backseat of his VW. He would go camp to camp, and that was his station. He’d teach wherever he was at. He did it. You are talking about a guy who worked through the ranks from being an assistant with some great coaches to being at George Mason. They forget he was there for a while. Going to Providence, going to Clemson and then getting the opportunity at Texas, but he’s never changed who he is. He’s always been somebody that I can call when I need to bounce ideas. One of the best things I did when I was coaching UMass. I called him one day, I call him Rickie B. I said, ‘Rickie B, our defense is so bad.’ And that was my first year. We gave up 100 points like seven times. Led the nation in giving up 100. I said, ‘Tell me what you think I should do.’ He goes, ‘Well tell me what you’re emphasizing.’ And so I just acted like I was really smart — I was like 29 years old — and I gave him like 20 things. I just kept talking (and) he let me talk. He said, ‘Well, if that’s what you’re emphasizing, that many things, that’s why you stink defensively.’ He said, ‘You need to emphasize four things.’ And from that point on, I’ve only emphasized four things on defense. And we’ve become a pretty good defensive team. He’s somebody that, like I said, he’s just one of those good guys. We’d be friends if we weren’t in coaching if I knew him and all those things. Terrific basketball coach. Battler. You watch how hard his teams play, (they) always do. He doesn’t get caught up in the minutia of all this stuff. The back and forth, the he say she say. He doesn’t deal with it, he just coaches basketball. He’s a Basketball Bennie. Loves the game. If I feel like talking basketball I call him, and I know I can spend a half-hour talking ball.”

On Coach Barnes saying he was going to ask for a favor …
“He’s one of those guys that, how many times like a lot of us in this profession, we’re afraid to talk nice about another coach because it may help his recruiting. Some guys think there’s only so much oxygen, I got to get mine. He gets it. And I appreciate what he did. He didn’t need to (say all those things). And let me say it to everybody: It’s not as good as it seems, but I’m not as bad as they tell you either. I’m probably in the middle somewhere (is) what I am.”

On Barnes saying Calipari couldn’t guard him as a player …
“Probably, but he couldn’t play either. There were two of us. I couldn’t guard him, and he still couldn’t make a basket.”

On the possibility of a home-and-home (series) with Texas …
“I think we did a home-and-home. I would do a home-and-home with Texas. We don’t have room right now, but I would do it because of him. We did play it. We did go home-and-home with him when I was at Memphis, and they beat us both games.”

On the challenge of facing a Texas team with similar size to Kentucky …
“And they run. They fly up and down the court. They’ve got good scorers. They have great length. They run good stuff. It’s going to be a hard game for us.”

On how the platoons are doing …
“They’re doing good. What you’re finding out is this doesn’t hurt any players; it’s helping players. Now that may not be the case any other time, but what you have is two really good point guards. You have size on both teams. And they’re starting to figure each other out. Offensively we’re at about 50 to 60 percent capacity right now. We’re just not there. Defensively I would guess we’re 70 to 80 percent there, but we’re still not where we could be in either area. Offensively we’re behind where we are defensively.”

On switching up the platoons …
“I messed around a little this week. I tried. We’re going to stick with where we are, but I did mess around mainly to see if it helps individuals in a certain group. I’m good where we are.”

On if “messing around” with the platoons was for motivation …
“No. No. They’re motivated. My one thing is how do I keep these guys engaged? What can I do to keep them engaged where we try to move forward and keep thinking of ways to get them to think? This is a really smart basketball team. This is a really driven basketball team. This is a really competitive basketball team. Why not use all those things to keep us stepping forward? Again, nothing would be better for us than having a team like Texas come in and hit us right in the mouth. We need to know when a team comes in and scores their first eight or 10 times down the floor, making tough shots and we’re missing open shots. How do we respond? Are we still tough? Are we still having fun? Are we still playing together? Those things are out in front of us.”

On Andrew Harrison’s comments of the big guys either getting foul calls or not against smaller teams …
“I think we’d rather play against smaller guys, but that may be the case. I’m just looking for our guys. There’s not a player on this team that I’m asking to do something they can’t do. Now, it may be hard and they may want to do something else, but what we’re asking each of these guys to do, they can do.”

On 40-percent shooting performances …
“Harder cuts, better screens, better execution and flying down the court so we can get some easy baskets. If we’re stopping people 30 percent of the time, then that means 70 percent of the time we’re on a rebound, a break, steal or block going the other way. We should be scoring at least 25 percent of those and we’re not. That’s one thing. The other area is simply how are we playing? Are we playing the right way? I’m taking every clip of different offenses that we’re running to see if it’s effective for this team. I told you, we’re learning. I’m learning. One group may run better playing this way and another group might be better playing this way. We’ll do whatever the teams need us to do.”

 On challenges that Myles Turner presents …
“He’s a good player. Long, skilled, good around the basket, good open shooter, make free throws, and can really pass. He’s a good player — a really good player.”

On getting the team to match an opponent’s intensity …
“That’s the players’ responsibility. Hopefully they get it. Every game we play people are jacked up to be playing and playing here.”

On if there’s a certain player that has to have a break out game eventually …
“What’ll happen is, they’re feeding off one another. The numbers are so close from minutes to shots to field-goal percentage to defense to rebound margin — and that one game the white team was not that good and then one game the blue team wasn’t that good. We haven’t had that breakout offensive game yet. I’m trying to explain to them that if you play better offense, then it makes your defense even better because it puts pressure on the other team to make baskets against a really good defense. If you can go down and really execute 10 straight times down the floor and they’re trying to hold the ball to get a shot in the late shot clock, then you just put a lot of pressure on that team. You have to play good offense. If you want to be a world-class team, then you’re not going to just do it on one end. Both your offense and your defense has to be good.”

On defensive focus with this team …
“I am harping on defense, to be honest with you. We give problems because of the mismatches and that’s the issue we’ve had right now.”

On what he’s told Andrew Harrison …
“Andrew’s got a tough job because he’s on a unit (where) there are times he’s gotta score. But if that’s how he plays, then he’s hurting himself and he’s hurting our team. But he has to score too. And there are times in the game that he’s just gotta go get a bucket because we’re dying. A guy’s got his head down, another guy is thinking wrong and all of a sudden a guy is fading in the post. Well, go get a couple buckets — because Andrew can score. Andrew can get 20 a game. I mean, scoring, shooting, free throws, layups — he can get 20 a game. But if he’s our leading scorer we’re not winning, but there are games he must be our leading scorer — and he’s got to feel it. It can’t be me telling him. I even told Willie, ‘Tell him, Willie. If there comes a point where you know, Willie, we’re out here dying, ‘Andrew, go get some shots. Go get us a couple baskets.’ ’ So he’s got a tough job. He is so much better than a year ago and so is his brother. His brother’s not shooting it great, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not worried about it. He probably needs to spend a little more time in the gym. My issue is, for each individual, what can I give them to make them a little bit better? What are we doing that, offensively, that we can do better or different to make us more effective.”

On what Andrew Harrison is doing to be a better playmaker, specifically defensively …
“It’s, again, coaching. Coaching, I’m telling him how to do it. (Sarcasm.) Please. What I’m basically saying is you can’t blame him if I haven’t coached him. If I don’t teach somebody how to do something and they’re not doing it, you can’t blame them. But I will say this: In my defense, until he played with great energy and fight, he couldn’t worry about the next level. Now he’s playing with unbelievable energy, he’s playing pick-and-roll defense well. Now the next level for him is, is he a playmaker? Does he have steals, deflections, blocks? Well, last year he didn’t have many. Now all of a sudden we’re talking about it, we’re emphasizing it, we’re showing him in practice where he has opportunities, and he’s a really bright kid. He’s doing it. So I don’t blame him last year. We literally never got to the point to show him and teach him about a defensive playmaker. We didn’t.”

On what he’s seen from Marcus Lee recently and what he needs to improve on …
“The good news is as I looked out my window, he was in the gym an hour early today. I mean, that’s part of what he’s gotta do. And he’s gotta add that 13- to 14-foot game to where we can throw it to him. You can’t have a bunch of guys out there they’re not guarding. You can’t really play offense if that’s the case. And then he’s got to be an energy guy. When he walks in, there’s gotta be a buzz in the building about his energy and his athleticism and his length. ‘Look at this guy.’ He can’t ever be, like, down. His skill will be that as much as anything else. Like I said, I’m happy with all these guys. Yesterday the practice was OK. It was good. It wasn’t one of our best, but it was good. But we haven’t had a bad practice. The practice are from good to oh my gosh. That’s where they’re falling right now. And there have been some, ‘Oh my goodness, let’s just stop. Let’s get out.’ I don’t expect them to be playing like it’s January right now, especially offensively we haven’t figured it out, but I just want to see great energy.”

Article written by Drew Franklin

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