Updated 10 months ago
Cal's comments before playing Tennessee Tuesday Night at Rupp.
On the process of getting the players to buy in ...
"You have to be able to say, ‘how do you want me to play and that's how I'm going to play. How do we play
defense as a team? What is my job when I play defense? Offensively, what are we trying to do,' and then
everybody has to commit to playing that way. Now, it may not be the way you want to play and it most likely
is not the way you have ever played. But the only way you can really trust each other is you know what
everybody is doing. I'm on the basketball court and I know what the other four guys are doing because
they've bought into how we're playing as a team. Those are the kind of breakdowns we're having, especially
on these runs. We'll just have three or four guys like, ‘why'd you do that?' ‘I was.' Wait a minute, why did
you do that? That's not how we're going to play, you know that. ‘I know, I thought I was...' Don't think that;
just do what we're asking you to do. Those are the kind of things that we are fighting through."
On what's different from this team and teams in the past ...
"No one here to mimic. There is no one here to imitate. This team doesn't have the stopper that those other
teams have had, one guy to just go guard somebody. But this team has some things that those other teams
didn't have. I‘ve never had a team this long. We're an attacking team, which is pretty good but those two
areas, when a team gets on a run and you don't have a guy that just says, ‘let me guard him.' That's the
difference. The emotional guy, ‘let's go, let's stop this. That's enough.' We're still, those are developing
things within this team and that happens over time. Look, it doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen in
one game. There has to be crisis along the way and they've got to adjust to it. They've got to show and
grow, learn from it. We watched some tape at my house last night, the last 13 minutes of the game and just
said this is our game. Then there is three minutes to go, this is our game, we've got the ball. Then we let go,
and here's why, and you just see it. Why'd you do that? Why didn't you just get strong to the rim, why did
you flip it? Why didn't you block out right there? Those are the kind of things that we're going through. But,
I'll say it again; guys are doing some good stuff. We'll see."
On experiencing a game shift that fast ...
"We've seen it. We saw it in the Maryland game; we saw it in the Duke game. In reverse, well in both ways,
we saw the Louisville game go one way and then us come back. I talked to them about some of those
football games, the guys are down 20 and 21 and they just keep playing. They don't worry about that. What
is in their mindset and what's in your mindset? How are you thinking when you're going through that stuff?
The game we have coming up, Tennessee is good. I don't care what anybody says, ‘well they've lost this
game.' Let me tell you, I just watched the tape. [Jordan] McRae can score with the best of them [Jarnell]
Stokes inside, the other guys are good veterans. They are a good team. It's going to be a hard challenge for
On traits Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and DeAndre Liggins had in their defense ...
"Took pride in it, they took pride in it and just said it's not acceptable. I'm playing you, I'm not fouling you
and there is a pride in that. You've got to take that on as who you want to be. Both of those guys have
driven that trait to the NBA. Oklahoma City just told me, they could not believe how hard he (Liggins) works
and how he has toned his game back so that he is doing what he does well, versus trying to do all the other
On how tough it is for someone used to getting all the shots to develop that trait ...
"It's hard. It's hard. Shooting all the balls, going at your pace, ‘I'm tired so I'm not going to go hard, there's
no sub for me.' It's a process and that's why I said, I'm not upset with the guys, I know what they're going
through. I would have liked to have won more games but this is a process. My issue is, recognize it, now
let's begin to change. As long as that's happening, we're good. If it isn't happening, it you don't change, if
you don't recognize and then begin to change, there is not going to be a change on the court. You just keep
getting beat. Now if there is a change, again, my vision is there is no one late in this season that is going to
want to play this team. Right now it appears everyone wants to play this team."
On whether there is recognition for the need for change ...
"We'll see. Sometimes it'll be shown in practice and it'll be shown in games. At winning time, at gut time, at
that last four or five minutes, are you going to take chances defensively? Are you not going to block out?
Are you not going to come up with the ball? Are you going to leave your feet and foul? Then you haven't
moved. That's exactly what we've been doing. And, on offense, are you going to attempt an offensive
rebound or if a guy turns and looks at you do you stop? Or do you run around them to try and go rebound?
Are you going to get fouled? Kyle [Wiltjer], are you going to get yourself to the foul line? Julius [Mays], get
yourself to the line. Maybe you can't get a shot, get fouled. And then, lastly, are we going to execute those
last four minutes walking out of timeouts. That discipline that you need, that trust that you need that
everyone will do their job, is where we're trying to move to."
On how much credit should be given to Elston Turner for Texas A&M's win ...
"He was good. Now look, he scored a career high as a senior, fifth-year senior who's 26. He's averaging 15.
So what he did was off the charts. When we put a big on him, he stepped back even farther and shot it.
There were no layups. There were one or two runners, one runner that wasn't bad. The rest of them were
bombs and shots that he could make. He played an unbelievable game. And, I thought our fans were great,
which our fans are always great. They gave him an ovation. It's like, holy cow, this kid beat us by himself. It
wasn't true, but that 40 kind of put the dagger in us."
On whether this relates to Kentucky being "everybody's Super Bowl"...
"Oh yeah. Believe me, he got the tape of that. His grandchildren will be watching that tape. Believe me.
And, for Billy [Kennedy] and their staff, that's a big deal. There's got to be some fight and emotion when you
play these games. You can't just go out and say, ‘Well, I don't have that in me.' Then you're not going to
compete at the level you need to compete at. You've got to have some emotion to you and it doesn't have
to be, ‘Ahhh!' But, your game has to show it. It doesn't have to be verbally, but your game has to show it.
So, you can say, ‘I don't like to be rah-rah.' Great. Just show it with everything else that you're playing hard.
So, that's the kind of stuff that we're trying to bring out."
On whether Nerlens Noel is the closest candidate to the intense player Coach Calipari wants ...
"Possibly. But we need some other guys to do the same."
On who he can turn to as a "stopper"...
"Maybe Archie [Goodwin], see if he can do it. We're trying some different things, some things I've not done
in my career that we're doing. I played more zone in that game than I have since I've been the coach here.
And, maybe that's something we go to. We've been working on it. We've spent more time on zone defense
in the last two weeks than we have in my entire coaching career. So, the whole thing is, how do I figure out
how I put these guys in the best position to win? How do we create a trust that they need to win? How do
we finish off at winning time and gut time? How do I get them to think the right way? How, when there's a
run one way or another, they know how to stem the tide or keep it going? This is all new to these guys."
On how playing zone affects communication on the court ...
"They've got to still talk. They've got to be active. The zone we're playing is a really active one, trying to just
get them to run around and be, probably, more active than they would be if they were playing man-to-man."
On whether the zone is more match-up ...
On whether he thinks zone is the best thing for this team ...
"No, I hate zone. I hate it. I think what you do is you guard man-to-man and you sprinkle it in. I know there
are teams that play solely zone, that's what they play. We've won a lot of games, a lot of league
championships, a lot of league tournament championships, a lot of NCAA games, playing man. I know
that's the best way to do it. But, I also know, more than anything else, I want this team to have a chance to
win so I've got to look at everything and say how and be honest about it and not worry about me because
it's not about me, this is about this team."
On what he thought of Archie's performance in the first 10 minutes of the second half against Turner ...
"No, he did good then he tired out and he shouldn't have been in the game. He should have been out but I
left him in there trying to finish out the game. In the last five minutes, we are up four and he just dies on
screens and gets beat and he couldn't sustain it. Well, he shouldn't have been in the game that long. That's
not his fault, that's my fault. It's probably the same with Ryan Harrow. You are trying to play him too much. I
played Nerlens too much but I didn't really have a choice because Willie got in foul trouble. We have got to
get a better rotation. There are a lot of things we have to deal with as we go forward and we are trying to
play our best basketball when you know the other team is going to play their best basketball. So you have to
try and figure out as you go forward how do we play our best? How do we get our guys to continue to grow?
Let me just say this, short of the guy getting 40 on us, we played better. That is what is scary; we played
better. The kid got 40 on us but when you look at what we did on the court, look at Nerlens. If that kid
doesn't get 40 and we win the game, the country is talking about Nerlens. But we lost and the kid got 40. I
think Willie is still playing well. I think Archie and Ryan are playing fine. I think we will have Julius and we
are trying to get Alex. We are doing everything we can. When I watched the tape, Alex played fine. He just
didn't have enough sustained effort. When I watched the tape, he wasn't in knots playing basketball. It has
nothing to do with shooting, dribbling, and doing all of that stuff. It has nothing to do with that. It is a simple
sustaining effort, fighting screens, continuing to play, and sprinting the court. That's what we are trying to
work on with him. He wants it bad. He is such a great kid and he wants to please us and to please me. It's
all a process. Yesterday I had them in the room and I said ‘Have you ever been better as a player than the
way you are now?' and every one of them said ‘No this is the best I have been as a player.' ‘Have you ever
played harder in your life, raise your hand.' ‘No, this is the hardest.' ‘Alex have you ever been close to this
on how hard you have to play.' ‘No this is the hardest by far.' We are all saying, ‘It isn't enough.' In their
minds they are saying, ‘I have never played harder and this dude wants more.' Now if it was a normal
situation and he is a freshman, I'm happy. You will be alright. Just try and play a little harder. But we are
Kentucky, this is warp speed, everything is on steroids. So you are challenging kids that are 17, 18, and 19
years old to be like Turner who is 24 years old. You have to beat him, but you decided to come here, it
wasn't me, I didn't beg you to come here. You knew coming in. I think they are getting the picture. We have
a ways to go, the game Tuesday is going to be a hard game for us. I am anxious to see how we respond
and I am anxious to see how tough they play. Those are all good things."
On how the team can get to the foul line ...
"You have to be aggressive, play through bumps, be tough, ball fake, and go in with the idea you have to
get fouled. I am not going to avoid the contact and say the guy grabbed me. They aren't calling it. You have
got to go in with the idea to hit the basket. It's the same thing with a ball fake on the inside. Ball fake and go
through, not ball fake and avoid, fade away or step back. All that stuff we are doing, we can't get fouled.
They are not just going to give us fouls so you have to create the contact, get a foul, and get to the line.
Last game you say, how can you say you played better when we only had nine turnovers and we only had
two in the last thirty seconds. They got too many offensive rebounds in the first half and we settled down in
the second half. Our field goals percentage was 45, 46 percent. It was not great, not bad for us. Free throw
percentage wasn't bad but we missed some three's. The numbers say that someone probably had the ball
for the last shot but it wasn't the case."
9 minutes ago