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TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari previews Kentucky’s matchup against Alabama

On how he determines who starts games and if the success of his final unit against Georgia will be his go-to starters moving forward…

Doesn’t matter who you start, it’s who finishes the game. So probably, as we go through game plans and people are nicked up, we’ll see. I’m not as worried about who starts as the clutter out there. I’m more worried about, okay, who am I finishing with? I liked that team, but who knows? EJ may step up and be the monster we want him to be, and all of a sudden, he plays more. Or Keion [Brooks Jr.] at the four because this is a small, small team. Or Kahlil [Whitney] at the four for that matter? We’ll have to see.

On Immanuel Quickley’s success as a defender…

Oh yeah, he’s really bothering people and making it difficult. That’s what a good defender does. Some guys can stand in front of someone with their arms out [defending], and they feel nothing. Immanuel occupies the guy’s eyes, you’ve got to worry about where he is.

Obviously we know where Ashton is and Tyrese is a pretty good defender. What they loved, the people that evaluate, they loved that he had eight assists, seven rebounds, and four blocks. They said “That’s a winner. That’s someone who is going to win basketball games.” That’s who everybody wants on your team, that’s a Jamal Murray number. He did well.

Ashton came out, went home, got a little excited. Took a few too many jump shots. But at the end of the day, that kid has a will to win that drags the rest of us. Kind of like [Lynn] Bowden did [for the football team]. He is that. He is Lynn Bowden for us. May be able to throw the ball better, I don’t know that.”

On what he sees out of this Alabama team and how he plans on stopping their shooting attack…

We are who we are. If we play a team that wants to play in the 50s, we’ll do that. If we play a fast team, we’ll try to score 100. We’ll see how the game goes. The difference is they run to shoot threes. They’re not running for layups, they’re not running for post-ups. Even if they throw ahead and drive, they’re driving to find someone open for a three. So it’s a little different in how the game goes. They’ve done a great job.

I watched [their game against] Florida, they never should’ve lost that game. They know it. They had Penn State. Penn State led them for two minutes on the road. When you start looking at records, you can’t look at records when you start talking [about matchups]. The games they lost early, they weren’t ready to play this style yet. They hadn’t bought in. Now they have.

This will be a really tough game for us to win. I don’t care if we’re at home, on the road, on I-95, this is going to be a hard one to play.

On how the matchup between Ashton Hagans and Kira Lewis Jr. will be…

Good for both of them. I mean, Kira is playing well. Playing fast, shooting balls, playing 38 minutes a game. He’s good. They’re good, I mean, they’re good. They’ve got players that were 2s and 3s, and now they’re 4s and 5s. Which means your 4s and 5s, if you have their hands down, they’re shooting. They’re taking threes. When you watch their team, and I’m not watching a lot of college basketball, I have all those Alaska shows to watch. but when I watched this tape, I was really stunned at how they’re really spacing this court and what they’re doing.

On Nate Oats’ coaching style and how this team differs from his old Buffalo teams…

They’re different. I’m telling you what they’re doing, they’re running a lot of dribble-drive stuff. But he’s doing some of it from five out. They’re trying to get you in rotations, and when they get you in rotations, they’re shooting it or running at you downhill. They’re spacing like the dribble drive. With that team he has, they’re coaching them how that team needs to play. The Buffalo team did some post-up stuff, and this team will too, but they’re game is that they’re going to shoot 35 threes. If they make 16, 16, 15, 18, we’ll move on to the next game. It’s hard, that’d be a lot for us to stop. Again, we need to make six or seven because they’re probably going to hook seven in.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR