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Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari on the 2019-20 season, coronavirus outbreak

Opening statement …

“I hope everyone’s safe. I’m just going to try to turn this. I’m in my office at home, so you understand where I’m sitting. I’m sitting on a table here. Hopefully everyone else is at home also. I think I’d be remiss–we’d all be missing the point if we don’t first address what we’re going through. The uncertain times, what’s happening around our country right now. First of all, we are all responsible for ourselves. Stay in your house. Wash your hands. If you go out, which you should – walking around, exercising a little bit – six feet from everyone. I think what’s happening around us, we still have to be responsible for ourselves. The other part of this then becomes, all right, now that I’m taking care of myself and I’m taking care of my family, what else can I do to help this situation and help others? It may start with helping a neighbor. Maybe you have an older neighbor who needs you to help with groceries or other things like that. Today is Takeout Tuesday across the country. I’ve told everybody that Ellen and I, we started trying to order out twice a day. Then I looked at her and she looked at me and said, ‘We better just do this once a day.’ But we’re ordering out every day to make sure we’re helping in that way. Other things: On our own campus, I talked to (UK President) Dr. (Eli) Capilouto. We have a student emergency fund (the Basic Needs and Persistence Fund) that Ellen and I have given to. I mean, there are things in the community that you can do to help. We are also teaming up with Kroger, who’s been great friends of ours, and the Fayette County Schools, and what we’re doing – and, again, we’ve been blessed in so many ways; I’m not saying this in any way other than to say, do what you can do – we’re helping 400 families with groceries. We’ve been involved in things before and when you do it one time, you’re basically doing it for yourself because you’re sticking your head in here and then you go back. This is going to be ongoing. For four weeks, those 400 families will get groceries. And then if they need more, we’ll do more. If it’s eight weeks or more, we’ll go that way. But for four weeks we’re going to do this. And the Fayette County Schools have been unbelievable to work with. Kroger, unbelievable to work with. And so as I say this: I’d like it to be 500 or 1,000 families if anybody would like to join us in this or talk to the Fayette County Schools they can. I go back to, those of us on this call who have been blessed and we’re healthy right now and financially, we’re fine. My dad was 55 when he got laid off from the airline industry. He was a fueler for the airplanes, and at age 55 you no longer have a job. He went part time for three years trying to build himself back. I know what my mother and father went through when that happened and as a family what that does, so anything that Ellen and I are doing—I’ll give you another one. If you’re someone who does eat out and you get a certain server all the time, maybe find out from the manager that server’s address and maybe send them a little thing that they know, ‘Hey, man, sorry you’re going through this.’ Because we have 18,000 restaurant workers in our city out of work. Eighteen thousand. And that’s a tough deal for a lot of families. That being said, I wanted to hit that first. I think it’s important that we address it. Stay in your house. Wash your hands. If you go out, you’re six feet from everyone. And every day – we have to look at this – every day this goes on it is one less day we’re to be in it. Because it will end. None of us know when, but we have to listen to our leaders, what they’re telling each of us to do and it will end at some point. And every day this happens, it’s one day that’s gone. Last thing for your mental health: Having structure to your day. When you get up, what do you do? Are you trying to exercise, work out every day? Are you spending time reading or are you just watching TV? And if you are watching TV, why are you watching TV? Are you catching up on some movies with your family or with your wife? And then ordering out if you’re able to do it. So those are just some thoughts that I had. And at this point, why don’t we just open this up to some questions that people may have about the team, the season or anything else.”

On the process for players making NBA decisions …

“Every day—this is hour by hour, day by day. We, as a staff and as a coach, are not allowed to work our players, are not allowed to have one-on-one meetings. If we have a group meeting, we’re not supposed to talk about basketball. So now we are giving them the information from the NBA to find out where they fall at this point in time. Guys that have a decision to make, whether they want to stay in the draft or not, the NBA is saying, ‘We’re keeping our date the same.’ OK, well what about the combine? That is going to move, we believe. Well, what about the draft date? That will move. OK. What about bringing them to your facilities? We don’t know when that will happen or if it’ll happen. My point to that and trying to get information to the NABC is, shouldn’t we move the decision date back for the kids to go to college or not? The date was always based on when the draft, when the combine (is over). Well, that’s all moving. So now I think these kids should have more time making that decision. My worry is for guys—OK, let’s just talk they’re working out right now. If they spend two months and don’t do anything and they try to go work out for an NBA team, it ain’t going to work for them. So, there are no gyms, there are no health clubs unless they have a gym in their house. None of them do. Unless they have a health area, a workout area within their home. None of them do. How is this—how are we doing this? So, my worry is more about that. We’re getting information to the kids. I have not done a group call mainly because I have more questions than I have answers for them right now. So, most of the stuff I’m doing is texting to stay in touch. But my guess is four to five guys would probably test the waters. They changed a rule that I wasn’t on top of that you can now declare for the draft every year you’re in college and if you choose to go back it doesn’t hurt your eligibility. It used to be after the second time you had to stay in the draft. Now you can do it every time. So, I don’t know how many will test the waters. We haven’t gotten to that point to talk to them. My guess is four to five of them will.”

On how having the season be canceled compares to losing in the tournament …

“Well, this was really difficult because of how this team came together and the vibe that this team had. Believe me, going in – you know I speak my mind – I felt this was a vibe that my best teams have had. Things that happened down the end of the stretch, fate intervenes sometimes. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. How do you respond to it? This team and individuals on the team responded so positively that it was crazy. Our energy, our vibe, their togetherness. I looked at my staff and said, ‘Guys, we could be winning this whole thing.’ And so, as we went to the (SEC) tournament, the tournament was more or less, ‘All right, let’s tighten everything up. Let’s make sure our energy is high.’ And I’ll play it out how it happened. On Thursday, we went to the arena, saw some of you there. We weren’t going to play until Friday, but we had 45 minutes on the court and on the way over I told them, ‘Guys, there’s a chance this tournament is not going to be played. So, I’m preparing like we’re playing. You prepare like we’re playing, but I don’t want you stunned if they say this is done.’ We’re on the floor, I believe about 35 minutes and it comes across that the tournament’s been canceled. I called the guys in and said, ‘That’s not a problem. This tournament was us preparing for the next one. Let’s just hope and pray that this next one is played.’ We get back and have lunch. We get in the bus to go back to (Lexington) and halfway home we get the text that the tournament’s done. There is not going to be an NCAA Tournament. It was not postponed. It’s not being played. The kids get back, I go to my house. They go back in the building, in the practice facility, the Craft Center, and they played pickup. They played pickup. And then after, I’m told, they got together and there were some tears shed that this season was over because they gave their heart and soul to each other. They sacrificed for each other. They cheered each other. This was—my hope is this becomes one of the favorite teams in at least my era here, that this team becomes that. And the individual stories were incredible. From Nick (Richards) to Immanuel (Quickley) to Tyrese (Maxey) to Ashton (Hagans) to EJ (Montgomery), how he’s improved, to Keion (Brooks Jr.). The story of Nate (Sestina), the story of Johnny (Juzang). I mean, all these stories that you know were good stories about good people and it kind of ended. It was disappointing, but the reality of all of it hits now. I haven’t been in my home for this many days—I can’t remember. Like, you can only clean the garage so many times. You’re going through your closets and I’m like, ‘Should we do a yard sale?’ I may do a yard sale. Let me get rid of all this stuff that I’ve not really gone through. And some of you know what I’m saying. You have skinny clothes and then you have some heavier clothes that you kind of keep in case you go—I mean, all this stuff that’s happening. Reading books. I enjoy having more time because normally I’m reading on an airplane or in a hotel room, but now I’m having more time to do that. But the reality of what this is, no recruiting, no travel. I’m fine with that. We’ll still make phone calls and text messages and all of that, but you can’t do anything. There are already kids in the portal to transfer. How do we–we don’t know who’s coming or going and it may be two more months. How people are doing their stuff, it’s–how about this? The recruits that you sign, they’re not in school anymore. OK, so now it becomes online learning for them. OK, we have to make sure people are eligible now. How about your own team making sure their long-distance learning, they’re taking care of business? So, we’ve got things that we’ve got to keep on top of. But, the reality of it is this is new to everybody.”

On recruiting and how that changes for the future …

“Thank goodness we’re ahead of the game. Fate, it wasn’t designed obviously, but we’re in pretty good shape and anything we add becomes, ‘All right, we have a chance with this or that.’ I think what may come out of this, reading tea leaves, which I’ve said since my UMass days, why are we recruiting in the summer? Why are we doing this? Let’s recruit April, May. Let’s recruit some in September and then let’s do it during the school year. We get a chance to be with our own team. We get a chance to lead normal lives, like we are leading now. This is–I mean, it’s not normal, but being able to be home for three days, I mean four days, it’s crazy. So why are we spending all of this money for that when it may make recruiting a little more localized, which is not all bad. ‘Well, you may make mistakes.’ Well, they’re transferring without penalty now. So, they’ll transfer. Tell me. I don’t understand that money spent in June, July and August which if you go across the country and figure out how much that is, it’s a ridiculous number. Let’s just do stuff during the school year. Let’s do it in May. Let’s do it in September and then let’s get down to a more normal life for all coaches. That may come out of this when college presidents say, ‘Tell me why we need this summer now? Because we just went without it and everything’s OK.’ So, that may happen.”

On an argument on behalf of winter sports athletes obtaining an extra year of eligibility …

“Well, first of all let me hit the spring. They’re not having their season. So, they have to do something for them. There are unintended consequences for us as basketball where we all played our whole regular season. We missed postseason. For seniors, how many of them would have played in the NCAA Tournament? How many of them would have really advanced in the NCAA Tournament? What does it do to scholarship levels? What does it do to incoming freshmen? There were four freshmen who went to a school because those five seniors were graduating. They (the seniors) came back. They (the freshmen) don’t want to go to that school. Can they transfer? If there are seniors, 70 that come back and you give them an extra year, can they become grad transfers? Well, you can’t stop them from that. That’s their right. Now do we have more? I mean there are unintended consequences. Would I love to have our man back, Nate, for another year? Absolutely. But there are things and decisions that they have to make some of it financially. Now, if you give three more scholarships to the men’s program, you’re going to have to give three more scholarships to the women’s program. Six more scholarships at $40,000. I mean, there are things that they’ve got to walk through. Do I think the kids should have that year? It would be great if there was some way to work it out for those seniors.”

On Dontaie Allen …

“By the end of the year, he was in the best spirit to play and to want to play. But I kept telling him, ‘I’m not going to use a year of your eligibility for 30 seconds or for two games. I won’t do that.’ Unless you’re telling me, ‘I just want to play. Forget about that, Coach.’ Which, he wasn’t going to do. But, he finally, the last, I’m going to say the last month of the season, started playing at a level – intensity, conditioning – that he could have played in games. But it was only the last month of the season. He was still learning plays, spacing, press attacks, zone stuff. He was still learning all of that. But he would have been able to get in games. I’m not saying play 10 straight minutes. But he could have gone in the game and held his own. So, I’m excited for him coming back and I think he’s excited.”

On Johnny Juzang and his role in the next year …

“Well, again, by the end of the year he had stepped in, and the one thing that I’m going to tell you about Johnny, he was not afraid. Never was that an issue. But, in this game that you play, most of it is conquering yourself first before you worry about conquering anybody else. This was all new to him. He had never played at this pace. He had never fought like he had to fight. He had never had to be in a position defensively where you must guard. If they’re going at you every play, you personally, you cannot be in that game. And so, he as the season went on, each week that went by he learned and got better and better. I remember us in the Tennessee game where he did what he did. I remember how he played in the last game at Florida. But he was a freshman, and I’m going to say this: He played behind some pretty good players. That doesn’t make him any less a player. But he played behind some good guys. Now, he knows. The anxiety a freshman has – you can talk to Immanuel or Ashton or EJ – that a sophomore does not have in this program is incredible. Knowing that each game is the other team’s Super Bowl, that every practice matters. You’re not going through the motions. You don’t take a day off. ‘I’m not feeling it today.’ Well, whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s OK, but you’re not going to be a significant player for us. You can be one of those guys deep in the bench, but a significant player brings it every day because he’s going to have to. All of that stuff that you learn through that freshman year is why guys come their sophomore years, you look at and say, ‘Wow. Big steps up.’ And then you have a guy like Nick. I mean, so what (it took him three years). He was on a different path. He only started playing when he was 14, and now all of a sudden he became one of the best big men in the country, and I’m going to tell you, his stuff transfers. His ability to guard pick-and-roll and move his feet, his ability to be a shot-blocker and protect that rim and in transition, how he runs the floor, that transfers and translates. Are you ready for this? How he shoots the ball from the perimeter, from the free-throw line. What he was able to do is the story of what this program is about. It’s about growth every year. If after a year you’re ready mentally and physically and teams want you, I’m good. If it takes you more time, tell me what the issue is? It takes you more time. But guys that have come back have all helped themselves. That’s important to me.”

On Nate Sestina and what he brought to the team …

“Well, you know, we weren’t sure coming in. And he wasn’t sure coming in. But if he doesn’t play in that first game against Michigan State, we don’t win that game. The way he played against LSU making shots, we don’t win that game on the road at LSU (without him). He created separation. What he did was, he gave us a little combination of a Derek Willis that last year as a stretch four, but he had some physical strength that he could get rebounds in traffic and toughness of an older player. And how he took care of himself, how he trained, how he was in the locker room, how he led by example more than anything else and being a great guy, I mean, it was, for us–I would love another year to coach him just because I like being around him. Every day you walk in and you see him, you smile.”

On Leon Rose becoming the new president of the New York Knicks …

“Well, first of all someone wrote a story that they talked to his high school coach. They talked to people in his background. There’s a couple of things that you have to know. Leon is the same guy that he was in high school as he is today. He has the same friends, the same people he talks to. I’ve never –  and that’s a hard business and you know that being in the agent business is rough; that’s a sport in itself – I’ve never heard anybody say negative things about him. Ever. If he even lost a player, which he lost some, never one word in a negative way about that player. Never one. He’s a gatherer, and I believe that’s what the Knicks need right now. A gatherer who can bring things together and get a culture that players want to be in because they know this is about all of us. It’s a rough place to be, New York. It’s not easy. It’s kind of like Philadelphia. It’s all good if you’re winning. If you’re losing, hard places to be as an athlete. But, if you win, if you compete for championships, if you win a championship, there’s no better place to do it than in New York. And I think he’s going to bring those people together and you’re going to see. Now, again, that’s a sport, one, it’s unforgiving. If you make a mistake, personnel wise, it’s hard because people know your mistake and they’re not taking your mistake. But you’re in New York. You’re playing in the Garden. You have what you need to do it. I believe he’s going to do a great job, but it’s not going to be in the first month. It may take a year or two for everyone to say, ‘This is the path that we’ve been waiting for. This is it.’ ”

On how players are training at home …

“Well, I’ve been telling them, ‘You better be conditioning in some way because your body is your castle and your career is going to be dictated on how you take care of your body.’ Messing around with a basketball to make sure you’re keeping your feel, it’ll be like riding a bike, the rest of it. But I would be saying, even if you’re in the house, sit-ups, pushups, running in place, doing anything. Getting out in the street and doing conditioning stuff staying six feet from everybody. You ready? The minute you walk in the door, wash your hands.’ And I have my son. ‘You wash your hands for 20 seconds. Twenty seconds!’ His are [counting quickly], ‘One, two, three, 20.’ ‘Like, 20 seconds son. If you walk in from outside of the house, take those clothes off and throw them in the washer. Put new clothes on after you shower.’ I mean, trying to stay healthy. You don’t want to get sick. But these kids have a genius. Their genius is basketball and the only way they’re going to be able to master their craft is if they can figure out a way of staying in shape. You ready for this? Just like all of the other Americans, first thing that you’re responsible for is yourself. You’re responsible for you. Yes, other people should be able to help, and what Ellen and I are doing in this community is a hand up. It is not a handout. Why do we not want to do things for one time? Because then we’re doing it for ourselves. We’re not doing it for anybody else. We’re not doing it for them. We’re doing it for us. It makes us feel good. But when you’re doing it over and over and over again, you’re doing it for the right reasons. For these players, and I’d say it to the NBA players, you now are responsible for you first and then who else can I help? What other impact can I have? But you take care of yourself first.”

On if he finds comfort in the way the season ultimately ended at Florida …

“Well, there are two things that happened. One, I never addressed but I will here: That comeback and what happened with Johnny, with Keion, with Nate, 40 points between them, all of them making huge plays. Last play of the game I went at Keion. I went at Keion. And the reason I went at Keion is because he was making plays and he wasn’t afraid. We went at him. He’s another one I probably left off (earlier). I’m thinking, did I leave him off? Keion is another story. Coming in with a body that had to fight but had to learn to fight and could not accept. ‘Well, I’m not strong enough to fight.’ Nope, that’s not acceptable. That’s not the answer. He figured it out. He had to take his game and make it more efficient. You’re not taking 25 shots. You’ve gotta make baskets. You gotta make free throws. He came every day and got better. So for those three, to do what they did—Immanuel, he fouled out. Almost like he tried. He said, ‘I didn’t try.’ I said, ‘It sure looked like it.’ Nine minutes to go. And Tyrese ran our club and only had one turnover and was 1 for 11 from the floor. And we were down 18 and won. How? Keion, Johnny, Nate, Nick, EJ. EJ had the biggest tip-in of the game. But what happened, more importantly, is when we got back and we began to practice, we did warmups, and if you’ve watched me and m practice, I have a table where I put a practice plan on. After we did the warmups for about 15-20 minutes, I said, ‘All right, split the team up.’ And I turned my back to the team and walked to the table so I could look at the practice plan, and I did it on purpose. I wanted to see how Ashton would respond and how the team would respond. He started turning his jersey – Ashton did – to the second team. And the guys on the first team, two or three of them said, ‘Whoa, whoa. Put your stuff on the first team.’ My back was to it, but I knew what was happening and I knew it was going to be one way or another. That showed Ashton, these guys really do love me. And that’s when the vibe started changing and when I said, oh man, he’s going to be so responsible to his teammates. He would have played out of his mind. And, the team had come together, which is why I said the vibe was what it was and I wish this team could have played on.”

On Hagans’ standing with the team when the season ended and what conversations he had with him when the season was over …
“Well, obviously he had to leave town like everyone else, so he and I have texted back and forth. Look, I love coaching competitors. Kids that get emotional sometimes, it doesn’t bother me because I get emotional. I don’t take it as disrespect, but when you’re talking about a young man who we all saw–‘What is going on? Why are you playing this way? You went from one turnover a game to five for five straight games.’ And now he had to address that internally. He and I talked. I mean, I love him. I’m telling you, when the national anthem is being played and you look down at him, he would look down at me and go like, [makes gesture] ‘We got this.’ When I’m walking off the court at Arkansas, when I get thrown out of the game, he’s the one that put his arm around me and said, ‘Coach, we got this. We’re going to get this, don’t worry. I walked in and I felt pretty good. So, I think, again, he’s got decisions to make, but if he chooses to go to that league, someone’s getting the ultimate competitor. A point guard whose shooting has gotten way better and is on the path that they want to see. It’s not where you are now; you’re 19, 20 years old. Where are you going to be when you’re 25? Are you into the game? Do you love it? Are you a gym rat? Do you understand taking care of yourself? Is this about being a basketball player or gathering things? For him, he’s a basketball player. It’s what he does.”

On where Quickley would fit in with next year’s incoming freshmen if he decided to come back and if he could be the primary point guard …
“He could. He could. And again, let me say this, what I’m so proud of of Immanuel, and I told the team this: On his wall, on his mirror in his bathroom in the lodge, his goal for this year was to be a starter. Was to be a starter! From that, he became (SEC) Player of the Year as voted on by the coaches, who had to play against him. Player of the year in our league. Jamal Murray did not play but about 15% point guard. I would say Immanuel played 5 or 8% point guard because the other two guys in front of him were better in pick-and-rolls and creating shots for their teammates. They weren’t a shot creator like he was, so the team used that strength and exploited that in him. But he couldn’t guard a year ago. If you remember, he couldn’t stay in front of anyone. Now all of a sudden he became one of our best defenders and he would be in the huddle saying, ‘I got so and so. Let me guard him.’ Again, yes, would we be a better team, him being a point guard on this team coming back? Yes. But that’s not why he should make a decision. His decision is, is this the right time? Am I ready to succeed in that league? Am I mentally ready? Which I know he is. Am I physically ready? Yeah. Have I mastered my skills the way I need to? That’s the decision he would have to come back to. I think, again, one of the great kids that I’ve ever coached. One of the most grounded young men that I’ve ever coached.”

On if he would prefer to have a graduate transfer every season going forward  …
“Well, there’s a lot of things that are going to be changing here. When the rule is passed that players can transfer without penalty one time, it’s going to change how we all look at this. Because the problem’s going to be, the unintended consequence, is not for Kentucky. All the other teams can be farm teams for us. You get them ready, then we’ll take them here and we’ll win and help them get where they’re trying to go. That alone should get the NCAA to say we’re not doing this. That alone. And if you want to play what I just said to them, play it. The rule will change. We won’t do it. But if you’re at a mid-major or lower-major school and you’ve invested in recruiting and coaching and academic support and all the stuff you–financially, time, your heart, your soul, your sweat into a young man as a freshman and he becomes freshman of the year in your league and now, ‘Coach, I’ve got to go to Kentucky because I want to be ready and be prepared for the next level. That’s my dream and I thank you and see you later.’ That’s what we’re about to face. I think more and more schools will recruit grad transfers now. They will because I know I’m having this kid and I know what the expectations are, I’ve got him for a year and he’s a veteran player and we’re going to get as much out of him as we’re giving to him. My thing is if they do go to this transfer, why would you be transferring? If it’s because you were lied to – you’re told, ‘You’re going to take all the shots. We’re going to run the offense through you. That guy is the worst. He’s a bad human being and he lies. We tell the truth. You’re a starter. You’re taking 25 shots a game. Then you don’t start and you’re taking seven shots a game – you should transfer and you shouldn’t have a penalty. You got lied to. The family knows you lied. But, the other reasons that I see are not good. I said that any staff that tampers with another team’s players, that head coach should be fired. And it’s no questions. Well, how do you do it? The kid that’s transferring, you take his phone. We want to look at your phone. Well, wait a minute, you called the high school coach and the AAU coach and then the calls between those coaches and your guys were made, we can put the dots together. But it’s hard, you just talked to him. You called the coach, and if you lie, you never coach again. And you get fired if you tamper. Coaches don’t agree with me. They think the bad guys will do it. And I said, what are we going to do in the handshake line? Give out business cards? ‘Hey kid, you were good. Here, take this.’ I mean, we’re walking into unchartered territory there too and I worry about it for our game. I worry about it for kids. The minute there’s any issues – not being lied to – but there are issues to be challenged, or the guy in front of you is just better than you and it’s going to take you another year, we’re going to teach you to run. Just go to the next place. All right, so now they have a job and they walk into a job and it’s not exactly what they thought. ‘Well, I’m just going to leave and go to another job, then I’ll go to another.’ What are we teaching these young people? You have to fight through. You are responsible for you. You build your own self-esteem and your own self confidence. You build it. Your numbers say what you are. The film doesn’t lie. You have to get better. If you’re not willing to work. ‘Well, they told me it would be easy and that they would just give me (the ball).’ Well, then you shouldn’t have gone there. Because none of this is easy; it’s all hard. It’s all a dogfight. If it were easy – what were we taught – everybody would be doing it. This is really hard. Then, if you’re trying to do this, it gets more narrow, narrow, narrow and it’s harder and it’s even harder. You must be a master of your body, you must master your craft, you must master your mentality that I’m not afraid. You want to make game winners? You can’t be afraid to miss game winners. I mean, all that stuff that they have to learn that’s not in the classroom. That they learn about competing and competitiveness. The first sign of trouble, you run to another school. Don’t think it’s good. No one listens to me. My family doesn’t, the animals here don’t listen, no one listens to me, but those are my thoughts on it.”

On if anyone has tested positive for COVID-19 in the program and how it could affect the game next season in London …
“First thing is, none of our players have tested positive. One of our players went home, had the flu, then had him tested and he was negative. I told every player when they left, ‘If you have older grandparents or aunts and uncles, you stay away. You were in Texas, Florida, Nashville all within a period of time, travelling the way we travel, touching people you didn’t know. Do not go near them.’ The second thing, with London, it is up in the air right now. I say up in the air, where is this thing going? And we probably have until about June to make that decision. Do we do something closer to us? So, it is being thought of.”

On how faith played a role in Quickley’s success …
“There’s two pieces of that. First of all, I’m like a lost soul right now because I can’t go to mass in the morning. Immanuel is kind of like I am. People know his faith, but he doesn’t force it on anybody. He doesn’t judge how you are based on his faith. Neither do I. The players know that. We would be on the road for a game and I’m in mass in the morning. They know what my schedule, what my daily routine (is), how I go about (things). The first thing that I do. And they know Immanuel and the way he was. He gave the team prayer. Normally I spread it around so that before we go out for a game, no one in the room would know who I was calling on. The reason I did it is then I know each one of them were praying because they knew they had to speak in front of their team and say a prayer. They had better be ready. So, they at least did it two or three times. But with him, he was so good and the players had so much faith in his faith that I made it for him to do it. He did not force his faith on anybody, but you could see his faith through how he lived his life and how he treated his own faith, which has an impact on other people. And I think actions speak more loudly than words and people are moved more by what you do than what you say, especially with religion. Especially with religion.”

On Kevin Knox and his development with the New York Knicks and him saying it might take three years with him because of his age …
“No one listened to me, did they? And again, he was so young, and let me say this: Some guys are even younger than their chronological age, which is young. Guess what, he’s one of those. He was the youngest player in that draft, but he was also young and he was learning about himself. And I come back to, you have to conquer yourself before you can conquer anybody else. And being in that league, I never heard him complain one time. How about that? That he’s accepting, ‘I’m responsible for me. I am what my stats say I am. And I’m responsible. I’ve got a ways to go.’ But no one’s going to work harder. He’s one of the great kids of all time. From a great family. It’s going to take time. What you don’t want to do, and teams have done this in that league, is give up on a young (player) too soon. And now, all of the sudden, the guy comes back and they look and the thing in New York would be, ‘Well what if we had him? We gave him away. We should have held on longer. Why did we do that?’ Young guys take longer to develop, especially when they’re big. And guys with his size and his skill, the game is going to him. In other words, if you’re long, if you’re lanky, if you’re a basketball player, if you can shoot it. You know, shooting has become a premium in the NBA. If you can’t shoot it, it’s hard to be the significant guy or the No. 1 or 2 guy. You’ve got to be three, four or five if you can’t shoot. And that’s easy because in the NBA, what happens is, over time, guys shoot the ball better. They shoot it better. And I would expect most guys I’ve seen in the NBA, they improve their shooting. But I’ll say this about Kevin: What you saw in glimpses in his first year and even glimpses last year and glimpses in the summer, it’s in there. Now, that maturity of consistency and most of that is not just your physical consistency, it’s your mental consistency. I mean, you can’t force that. A lot of times it comes on its own terms. But when you’ve got what he has, the talent and what I see in him and what I know of him, I’ve not lost any faith in him because I knew he was going to struggle. And let me leave you with one thought: The only way you can really achieve the kind of success you’re going to achieve is you’re going to have some failure. And if you really want to achieve at a high level, you’re going to probably have to fail greatly. And you think about all of the players who have gone through that league that have had to learn about themselves –  and I can go with all of the great ones – that learned this early and it changed who they were as a player. Those guys, though, came in as seniors. They were 21, 22, 23 years old. He walks in as an 18-year-old. You’ve got to remember that. Those guys in that stage were not coming out as freshmen. They were coming out as juniors or seniors in college. I think he’s going to be fine. I think it’s going to be a dogfight. I’m happy that Julius (Randle) is with him to show him what fight (means). ‘Man, fight. Fight for everything you want.’ I’m happy that Julius is standing beside him. I think they have some good pieces and Kevin’s got to work his way to be that guy on that team.”

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

1 Comment for TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari on the 2019-20 season, coronavirus outbreak



  1. KatFan48
    11:05 pm March 24, 2020 Permalink

    THANKS CATS AND THANKS COACH CAL FOR A GREAT YEAR. IT’S A JOY TO BE A KatFan