John Calipari’s post-game press conference, as provided by UK:
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Calipari.
Q. John, afterwards coming through, fans were buzzing like crazy. Do you try to calm any of that enthusiasm based on how the team played?
COACH CALIPARI: I bet you we’d be really good against the Washington Generals right now, doing the weave and all the other stuff.
We’ve got to be a great defensive team and we’re not right now. Now, do you see why I don’t like playing zone? Played zone the last nine minutes. It was like… (shakes head)
The other thing is they got to get guys playing together. Like Terrence (Jones) has got to play with Anthony Davis. They got to be on the court together and they haven’t been.
I mean, if you watched that as a pickup game, you were really excited because there were dunks. We were 1 9 from 3 because Doron (Lamb) couldn’t make a shot during the first half. Darius (Miller) has 11 [points] until the very end of the game where he hit 3s. Kyle (Wiltjer) and Anthony just aren’t tough enough right now.
I liked what I saw in Eloy (Vargas). He battled. He missed a ton of shots, a bunch of one footers. But he battled and fought. That’s all we’re going to ask him to do.
The pace of the game, our point guard doesn’t realize yet, Marquis (Teague), and he’s young, pace of the game, when to go, when to pull, when to fly, when to pull it back. That’s why I’m running on the court stopping him. Can I do that during the season? I don’t think so. If I run out there and try to stop him, it’s going to be a problem.
Q. RE: Kentucky’s defense tonight.
COACH CALIPARI: I can tell you, it wasn’t great defense. That’s why I said, I got to watch the tape. We even started the game, we’re not playing screens well. We’re not playing pick and rolls real well right now because really we focused on it offensively. Our post defense is spotty at best. We gave up 24 offensive rebounds on one team and 14 on the other team. Kyle had seven offensive rebounds. He’s not exactly a machine there.
But I like the fact we had 24 assists on one team, 22 on the other. We’re trying to play together. Had a couple plays where we passed guys up where I stopped the game and said, ‘Why didn’t you throw it to that man right there?’ The guy is [saying], ‘I’m shooting the ball, I haven’t shot in a while.’ But, you know, we got a ways to go.
Q. Seemed like frequently Anthony (Davis) was able to go over top of people offensively. How much of a mismatch or nightmare could he cause against real opponents this season?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, there’s some things we’ve got to be able to do better. I told them after the game: One, offensively we got to have a post up offense where we just say we’re coming down and posting against certain teams. Michael Gilchrist is really good in the post, Darius, Terrence, and Kyle Wiltjer.
But we shoot the ball well enough, didn’t do it particularly well enough, but we shoot the ball well enough that you have to play us on the perimeter if we have good spacing.
The other thing offensively, biggest thing, is pace of the game. Now when is it a dead ball, how are we playing? When they score on us, how are we doing? You can tell I haven’t communicated that yet because we didn’t get it.
But, I mean, everybody’s excited because you saw a lot of high flying dunking, blocking, tipping. That doesn’t win, though. I mean, we got to play basketball. We got to be a great team. We’re not right now. We’re not a very good defensive team. We’ve got to zero back in (on playing good defense).
I think we could be a good pressing team. I like what I saw in the press today. Not that we were perfect, but I liked what I saw. Now we just got to build on that and really give them better rules in how we’re going to play.
Q. Is that what you’re looking for from Terrence (Jones) in terms of high percentage shots?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, but I told Anthony, ‘C’mon, babe, you have to jump on that left hand, make him go right. If you make him go right, you can go right. Not only can he go right, he can make the play.’
Again, we had the whole group that was out there played 40 minutes and they were exhausted. That’s why I went zone as early as I did.
We had a pretty hard shootaround today, then they warmed up for an hour. This has been a good day. They’re off tomorrow, which they all need to be. We go back Friday, Saturday, twice Sunday, twice Monday, Tuesday, we play Wednesday, they get off Thursday.
I’ve just got to really feel comfortable with how we’re playing. I got to watch this tape and come up with some schemes of what we’re doing, how we’re playing post defense. What do we do right now? We haven’t done a whole lot. We’re trying to get the style of what we want to do offensively.
Q. You mentioned the press. There was a string where Terrence and Doron put back to back ones in. How much do you think you’ll be able to do that this year?
COACH CALIPARI: I’d like to press 30-40 percent of the game. That’s how historically I’ve done it, until we got here. Last year we played six guys. We couldn’t press that much. Even that first year, we played so fast that we pressed some, but probably 15-20 percent of the game.
If you ask me, I’d say let’s press 30-40 percent of the game, let’s be aggressive. What I’m seeing right now, I think we have eight guys that we can really go to. The problem is a bunch of them are young.
You wonder why one team played better. Well, they had Terrence as a veteran, Doron as a veteran and Eloy as a veteran. The other guys had Marquis as a freshman, Anthony as a freshman, Kyle as a freshman. They had Darius, but those other three, that’s why the one team I think played better.
Q. You talked about Marquis having an issue with pacing. How much more do you need to see out of him before you get comfortable with him getting the flow of the game?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, like I said, the hardest position for me to play is point guard. He’s got a ways to go. But you saw him get to the rim, how he can do it. You saw him in pick and roll, make good decisions. Then there were a couple he chose not to pass the ball, it was a bad decision. The guys are open, just throw it to the guy.
Sometimes you get in the mode, ‘I’m going to make something happen, I’m going to get this ball and shoot.’ You have to make easy plays when you’re in that point guard position because you’re going to have the ball a lot.
He’s got a team full of guys that he’s going to have to keep balanced as far as scoring. We got a lot of guys that can put it down, so…
Q. Obviously there’s a million things you need to work on, it’s not even Thanksgiving. From an athletic point of view, which is where fans are excited now, don’t be Scrooge, give us your opinion of how athletic these guys honestly are, in your opinion?
COACH CALIPARI: They’re pretty athletic. They’re pretty long. I mean, like I said, I like my team. I’m sitting here saying, ‘Oh, my gosh, if this is how we’re playing, we’re going to lose a lot of games.’ Then it became like it was Big Blue Madness, let them go in and score.
I said, ‘There were three times where you, Michael and Terrence were sitting under the basket and let him shoot a layup. I’m going to go nuts in a game if you do that in a real game.’ Everybody played 40 minutes. No one got to sub.
I like the team. But we got a lot of work to do. If anybody saw that and didn’t say, ‘He better start coaching,’ then you’re truly a football player watching basketball or a volleyball player watching basketball. But if you know basketball, which we have four million people in this state that are experts in basketball, you had to say, ‘Wow, he’s got a ways to go with this team. But, wow, they’re athletic, long, fast, whoa.’
Q. Coach, what did you like and what didn’t you like about Terrence’s performance tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, you got 52 and 16 (rebounds) and six assists, two steals and a block. He was OK. I mean, what I tell you is, when I told you yesterday that he changed his habits, he changed his body conditioning wise, he changed his skill set, and he changed his approach towards practicing and conditioning, that’s why you see the change. It’s not like I’m going to do the same thing and I’m going to be a different player. You’re not, you’re going to be the same player.
He and I just talked in my office. I said, ‘I told you when you came back, if you’re coming back, you’re going to be the best player, top three in the country, or don’t come back.’ That’s what I said to him when he was making that decision. If you’re going to be the 13th or 14th best player in the country, get out now, go. You want to be the best in the country, be one of those guys, come back and do it.
Well, he’s on a mission that way. He passed the ball. Believe me, I mean, it just shows he was going against freshmen. They’re freshmen. They don’t defend, they don’t play rough, they don’t understand angles. They had three freshmen on one team. Probably not fair.
Q. One more on Terrence. You have these freshmen come in. They’re so long, so athletic, but rarely do you get them back for a second year when they fill into their body like Terrence has. What kind of a weapon is that that you now have that you haven’t had in years past?
COACH CALIPARI: 52 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists which I haven’t had before. A guy that’s physically and emotionally ready. Had 15 rebounds in the Final Four game. Was one of our best players. He’s coming back and he’s got a great temperament and attitude.
You have to be able to say, ‘Is Darius a better player? Is Doron better than he was? Is Eloy better than he was?’ That’s what makes me proud as a coach. Guys are getting better. I would hope that fans of those freshmen that watched them play said, ‘Man, those guys are better. I didn’t realize.’
We’re 13 practices in. This is the 14th practice, if you want to call this a practice. We’ve got a long way to go. Guys are getting better.
Here is what I always say. Guys are getting better. Individuals are improving, the ceiling of what we can do becomes higher. So we’re just trying to get those guys improving, then I got to get them together. We got to figure out what’s the best way for us to play.
Last year it took us until February before we could figure out how we had to play. Let’s hope it doesn’t take us that long this year.
But I like my team and hopefully everybody gets excited and says we can be good, but we got a long way to go. Thanks.
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