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Calipari Talks About Jarred Vanderbilt - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Calipari Talks About Jarred Vanderbilt

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AP Photo/James Crisp AP Photo/James Crisp

On Jarred Vanderbilt possibly not playing this year …

“Well, I don’t know. It’s not going to be my call, it’ll be his. He’s doing individual work right now. He’s not started practicing. We’ll let it play out and if he thinks it’s good for him to play, then he will play.”

On if he’s capable of practicing …

“Probably could if he were in the kind of shape he needed to be in. You go step at a time with this stuff. You don’t just throw him in and stay start.”

On what’s he’s focusing on in practice now that he has time in between games …

“We’re probably experimenting a little bit more than just preparing for the next game. We’re trying different things, both on defensive and offensively. Trying. The amazing thing is that we’re an efficient team being this young, which is surprising. We still turn it over too much. We don’t rebound as well as we really should, so we’ve zeroed in on that some. You want to make sure as a group what’s the best way for us to play and then try to individually look at guys and say, ‘Where do we put them? What spots? How do we put them in situations where they can be their best?’”

On who’s stuck out as being a leader …

“That thing’s shaking out and it’s not there yet. I’d like to see that we have five, six, seven guys who could step into leadership roles if they need to. That’s just going to happen over time. But I think all of them have gotten better. We’ve gotten better as a team and they’ve gotten better as individual players. Which is how you get better as a team, individuals start playing better and they’re doing that. You just can’t – you’re not skipping steps; you’re not forcing it more than it is. We are where we are right now. Now it’s OK, how do we continue to get better?”

On if he’s challenged anyone to step up and be a leader …

“You can’t. It evolves. I could want this guy to be a leader, but they don’t want to follow that kid. They want to follow this kid. So it kind of evolves. Teach them all what it means to lead, you serve everyone if you want to lead, that you got to be one of the first ones out there and the last ones to leave. You’ve got to want to be coached and let them see that you’re working hard and that you’re about them. That you’re not just about yourself. Can’t lead if that’s who you are.”

On if they are susceptible to letting praise go to their heads …

“I don’t know. I’ve said it before. If we had beaten Kansas – we were up one with a minute to go – if we had beaten them, what would that have done to this team? Not so sure. Would we have lost one of these other games? Possibly. We would’ve been No. 2 in the country. We’re not No. 2 in the country. We’re not that team. Now, let’s hope by the end of the year we’re that team, but we’re not that team right now. You go through the season and they learn about each other, they learn about themselves, we as a coach learn. That’s why you play games. I kind of like how the schedule’s playing out. We’re one of those teams who plays two neutral events, probably one of the few. But then we have four games in a row that all four of them are games you could lose all four. You got a road game – and I say a road game – at the Garden coming up. You got this game with Harvard that’s a team that’s well coached. You’ve got a couple players on this team that could’ve gone other places – couple of them could’ve gone SEC – they just chose to go to Harvard. That game’s not easy. We’ll see.”

On the enjoyment of recruiting athletes …  
“No, no, I don’t have a bad back. I had two hips replaced, but no bad back. The way that you can enjoy recruiting is enjoy meeting people. And enjoy their story. And hearing their story of about where they’ve come from as a family and how hard it’s been in most cases. And then you look and say, ‘Now, how does this work together? How can we help you become your best version?’ And sometimes they agree with that it’s Kentucky, and other times they don’t agree that it’s Kentucky. But, in the same sense we don’t take it personal. We just – there was a text I got from Kyle Wiltjer to my wife. Kyle Wiltjer. That he wishes he was closer that he could make her brownies or send them. Kyle Wiltjer transferred from here. Yet, he stays in touch. We don’t make this personal. It’s about these kids. I think, again, us going through the process – there’s things, you know, I don’t enjoy about it. You know, where people are trying to create an image of what we are or what I am. And then you have to like, ‘Are you really asking me if I care about kids?’ I mean, you know, there are things I do not enjoy. But, much more enjoyment when I’m meeting families, hearing their stories and I enjoy that part of it.”

On transfer players Charles Matthews and Marcus Lee and whether or not he stays in contact …  
“(Charles) is doing good. They’re playing good. Oh yeah, Charles has hit me. Marcus has not. But, I’m following them both and want them both to play well. Again, it’s if a young man says, ‘I think it would be better for me to be somewhere else.’ And I don’t agree. I may talk to him and say, ‘Well, here’s what I think.’ And he says, ‘Well, it’s not.’ And at the end, it’s his life. And it’s his opportunity to do what he chooses. I’m good with it. How many kids have we really had transfer in my 30 years of coaching? A handful. A handful. But those kids – I’m, you know, I still don’t take it personal. It’s their life. It’s not a personal thing at me. If they choose to do that, I’m not going to begrudge them. And I want them to do well.”

On what Harvard does well …  
“One, they have great post play. Again, just like Vermont – the other teams that we’ve had that have had good post play. They really explore it. They’ll play fast. Their point guard has a green light to go and he can get in the lane. They deny wings. They make catches on the elbows hard. So, again, with a young team – the least team did that and we had to work on getting open. Knowing how (to get open) when a guy is face guarding you. But, they didn’t know any of that. So, we had to spend a couple of days – now we’re just addressing it again and saying this is how they’re going to play. Tommy (Amaker) – he’s as good as they get. He has a great way about how he coaches and how he gets his teams to play well.”

On his relationship with Coach Joe B. Hall …  
“Well, he’s been a great supporter of mine. Love seeing him in the gym. Love hearing what his thoughts. He’s not – I’ve been blessed that I’ve had guys that have never tried to overwhelm me or be over opinionated. But, I listen to their opinions. Jack Leaman if he wanted me to do something – he’d say, ‘Let’s go get a cup of coffee.’ That meant I want to talk to you about your team. And he wouldn’t say anything until I said, ‘Tell me what you think.’ And then he’d talk for 30 minutes. And Coach Hall is kind of the same way. If I ask him he’s going to tell me. He called and we talked the other day and we were talking about guard play and he said, ‘This is what you’re trying to do isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘That’s what I thought.’ You know he’s in this community. He’s one of those guys - who else would have followed Adolph Rupp up here? Dude had to follow Adolph Rupp. What he’s done for this University, for this state, Cynthiana, he deserves our adulation. And that’s what we do. And the same, I love it when he does the ‘Y’ and people go crazy on his birthday. They’re signing ‘Happy Birthday.’ He deserves all of that. He earned it.”

On keeping former players and coaches around the program … 
“Yeah, I’m good with that. Now there are some who are trying to convince that that’s not who I am, but I’ve kind of been this way for 30 years. It’s hard to lie for 30 years. You can try, but it’s a hard thing to do. So having former players to let them know this is their program, and we’re here carrying on their tradition, and they’re always welcome in here, and I’ve been blessed to have a Joe B. Hall, a Jack Leaman. You know even at Memphis when you were trying to come into a situation and Gene Bartow, who was one of the great gentlemen, but he was good to me when he was at UAB. He treated me, it’s kind of like you didn’t know why was he being so kind? But he always was kind to me even before I got to Memphis, but I’ve been blessed in that way. And hopefully they know, the former players know and my own players know they’re welcome here. Like I said I was on the phone with Derrick Rose for 40-50 minutes the other night. He and I just talked about life in general, and different things. If you’re doing this for any other reason would you look at the end of your life and say ‘man, I just wasted 60 years.’ I mean, you think about it, if your legacy is how many wins I have or national championships and then you’re lying there thinking, ‘What in the world did I do this?’ vs. how do you make it about how do you leverage your position into help, which is what I’ve tried to do. Not always successful, but I’ve tried.” 
 
On what he’s encouraged about how this team has evolved … 
“I mean I’m encouraged that if we choose to be a great defensive team we can. And if you look at any other young teams in the country that are trying to win at a high level, they’re just trying to out-score people because they’re not great defensive teams. They’re just not. We’re trying to do it the other way. Let’s be a great defensive team. Let’s be a great rebounding team. And then we’re not forced to have to out-score people. The problem is at the end of the year when you’ve got six games, you may hit a game where you go 3 for 30 from the 3. Then you lose. You may hit a game where it’s just one of those games you’re not making shots. Or you do score 80, but they score 83. You lose. And then there are times you cannot run. They called a walk on the other team, you’re not gonna believe this: they’re all five gonna be back there. It’s not gonna be 5 vs. 3. They’re back there. Now you gotta grind it a little bit. You’ve gotta be willing to move it side to side a little bit before you try to score. You gotta be able to play that way. You’re up 15, four minutes to go, you keep playing fast? Okay, you better make every shot because if you miss five in a row, now all of a sudden you’re gonna look up and it’s four. And then you’re gonna miss free throws. And then all of a sudden you just lost based on the fact that you couldn’t grind it. And that’s what we’re trying to teach this team. It’s really hard, but that’s what I’ve tried to do historically. We’re gonna play fast, but we need to grind it out, or the game looks ugly, or we need to pull back the reigns they know how to play.” 
 
On fans encouraging Brad Calipari to shoot when he’s in games … 
“Well, one thing I told him, I thought he could have shot one ball. I said ‘why the heck didn’t you shoot it?’ And he said, ‘I just stepped in the game.’ And I said, ‘good comment.’ Because do you really want a guy walking in the game, catching a ball and shooting a 30-footer? No. So he’s trying to play basketball. He wants to be a basketball player. He wants to prove that he can be on the court and help this team win, and I appreciate that. He deserves to play, but maybe not in front of these guys. Like he works hard enough to deserve to get on that court, but the problem is he’s got some guys in front of him that are pretty good. But he’s been, you know, it’s been great for me to watch and be a part of day to day. He texted me today ‘why didn’t I get breakfast in bed? What happened? No one brought me breakfast in bed.’ I enjoy walking in the gym and seeing him. I really do.”

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