Full transcript from John Calipari’s post-game press conference after loss to Baylor.
Q. Talk about the shooting today for you guys.
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know what you can say. 1 for 11, 1 for 9, 3 for 14, 2 for 9. The greatest thing, we had a chance to win the game. But we are still trying to teach them how to finish games, and they don’t know. We gave an out of bounds play under the basket. Oh, my gosh. No way, you didn’t. Even told them what the play was.
It’s what come down and we foul their best free throw shooter, other than (Brady) Heslip, it’s (Pierre) Jackson, because he has the courage to make them. We foul him twice. What? They were struggling to score and giving us our chances. That’s what happens when you have a bunch of freshmen out there.
Our shot selection stunk, but so did ours the way we were attacking the zone and that’s my fault. They went to a 3 2 and we had not talked about it much. So it confused us for a while and we got a little tentative and that’s on me, that’s not on the kids.
Again, we needed a competitive spirit and we needed more of a will to win. We are trying to find it. Nerlens (Noel) blocks the ball, I think it’s a three point game and we just don’t get the rebound. We have a man standing right there and he doesn’t have that will to win to go grab that ball, because we have to have that ball to win the game. We are still learning.
It’s where we are.
Q. You talked about freshmen, your freshmen in the past have not had these sorts of starts how do you make sure
COACH CALIPARI: We actually started (slow my first season at Kentucky) and we won 26 straight well, we were (in Coach’s eyes) 9 6 my first year (at Kentucky), 9 7. I mean, we should have lost seven games. We should have last to Miami (Ohio in 2009-10), we should have lost to Stanford (in 2009-10) I can go on right all you people in here, right? That’s why I kept saying, we are 9 7, we are not 16 0. We just happened to win those games. But we also could have lost to Maryland (earlier this season). So this team could be 3 4 versus 4 3. We also could have lost to Morehead. Morehead had us on the ropes.
But, look, I’m fine. I mean, I’m not fazed. I knew we weren’t very good. What I need our players to understand is, that we are not a very good team right now and we are not individually very good.
So, like, how much time have you been spending extra in the gym? Have you been spending any extra time? No? Why? I mean, you’re not shooting the ball very well right now. Get in the gym.
So, you know, and then like I said, Archie has a will to win. He just doesn’t know how to finish a game off. And it’s not his fault. He’s 18 years old. But he has the will to win, but, you know, he made critical errors down the stretch of the game with two, three minutes to go. We took some just horrendous shots.
But again, look, we didn’t deserve to win the game. If we would have won the game, it would have been what in the world, we just shot 30 percent and won the game.
Now, I’ve done that a couple of times coaching different teams, shooting 30 percent and winning, but those teams are gritty and tough and have a will to win and finish the game off. This team is just not there yet, we’re not.
Q. Looks like you got some good things out of Ryan in the second half.
COACH CALIPARI: He was 1 for 9. We are happy he’s on the court. He was 1 for 9.
You know, he did it a couple he’s got a long way to go. What I’ve got to do now is look at my team and just figure out, are we playing the right way; do we have to change some things; what do we have to tweak.
But the competitiveness, the energy, the will to fight through, that’s got to come from my team, and we have got to try to bring that out of them.
I told them after, we are not a very good team and we don’t have very good players right now. Each individual player, you think about how you played, you’re not very good right now. But, I still like my team. And I said, we can do what we want with this. We can be special, or we can be what we are right now, sitting in locker rooms after L’s.
The teams I’ve had that started like, this team two years ago where we lost those late games, they hated to lose. This team, you know, you’ve got to hate to lose. You can’t be okay to lose to Duke. It’s not okay. We lost.
So like I said, it’s a work in progress. We have got a ways to go, and I like the small lineup. I may go small. We may go to the small lineup, play that way. May press now. I may change around and say, look, we are going to pick up and press. We don’t have that many people; it will force them to sub themselves. Or are you going to fall out and cramp up on the court, how about that one.
You know, we may mess around with some zone with the bigger lineup, I don’t know. But Nerlens was 3 for 14. We had 21 offensive rebounds, folks, and we had six points. We are not very strong. We got the ball, we couldn’t get it in the basket.
But we have got a bunch of young kids out there. But they came in and Baylor played and did what they had to do to shorten the game, but we had our chances. To shoot like we did, we had a chance to win the game; we got it to three, we got it to four, we come down and shoot a setback three. But (Wiltjer) was on fire, 1 for 11. (Laughter) I mean, what are you doing? I mean, kid is out two weeks, he’s shooting runners. What are you thinking right now?
Well, just, they don’t know. We don’t know right now. But I’m good. I’ve lost many games. I told Coach Hall: I’m good, I already beat his record, so I’m fine.
He laughed. Did you not laugh with me? I said that joke when he was in my practice. I said, I really don’t care, I’ve already got your record, so we’re good.
We’ve just got a ways to go with this team and I think everybody now understands, you know, that you don’t just put a collection of players together. But it’s more than just our fans and everybody understanding; it’s our team understanding. Are you willing to do what it takes.
I don’t have a magic wand, folks. I don’t put people in the NBA. I don’t build teams well, his team will be better by the end of the year. Why? Because I’ve got a magic wand? No. Because the players decide they are going to do this and they are going to get better. Every one of my teams have made that commitment. This team has not right now. I believe they will, but they haven’t.
Part of it is you start reading how good you are, top 10 in the country. I told all you people, we are not that good. I knew what we were. I was so happy we beat Maryland because I knew we couldn’t be 0 2 to start the season.
So we have got a ways (to go). But I must say it again, I like to say this our fans are crazy and I like my team.
Q. This kind of feeds into the youth that you guys have. What do you think about the game Pierre Jackson had and how he tried to make plays down the stretch when you guys closed it?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, that’s what he is, he’s the player of the year in their league. We fouled him, though. He didn’t make the plays. We fouled him.
And if you watched, my man stopped playing what they were doing, as soon as Jackson went to the baseline, he was coming out off a screen. But they did. He went to the baseline, my man guarding him stood straight up and down and started jogging as he came off. Well, now you’re going to foul him.
What I’ll show my team is the last seven or eight minutes, maybe 10 minutes of this tape, in its entirety to say: You could have won this game as bad as you’ve played, now let’s show you how. That’s what I’ve got to do.
We got beat up at Notre Dame. They out competed us on everything you want to talk about. Today we battled a little bit. We got a little bit better, but we were tentative offensively.
And like I said, every team that you coach is different. These guys are different, and as long as they accept where they are, we’re going to be fine.
Q. It looked like you got a little bit more out of the hustle department, 50 50 balls, did you get a little bit more of that?
COACH CALIPARI: I think so. I think so. But again, there’s a certain will to win, and there are plays that are the biggest play of the game that you’ve got to make, and I’ll give you an example. Nerlens blocks that ball, we are down three and it’s our rebound and the guy standing next to him, didn’t even leave his feet to go get the ball. And their guy grabbed it and it was an and-one and that basically about ended the game.
Now why wouldn’t you go get that ball? It’s just a will to win. I don’t know how to explain it. There was no one blocking you out. There was no one there. Why did you not get that ball? I mean, you know, that kind of play is what we have to have.
But I’ll say this: I like the small team. It may be good for us and it may be something I look at, you know.
Q. This is the second straight game the opposing coach came in and said the difference was experienced guards at the end. Do you agree with that assessment and is it fixable other than just time and those guys playing more?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we had this two years ago with Brandon, and it took us time to get him to really understand how he had to play toward the end of the season. And then it became really, you know, he was a headier player.
But the issue we have right now is, and we were better today at throwing the ball up the court. Against Notre Dame, we dribbled it up. I was like going crazy. We passed the ball ahead better. But, you’ve got to have Archie up there at times. So Archie has got to play point and he’s got to play 2, and that when we make a substitution, let him get up the court and make plays.
We put him on the baseline versus the zone, so he could drive the ball, because when he was driving from the top, they were just converging, so we put him on the baseline and he was doing two things. But again, it can’t be one player. Because any coach can take away one guy; this guy is not beating us.
Like I said, Nerlens missed eight shots from two feet. We were 9 for 18 from the free throw line. We shot 18 percent from the three point line and had a chance to win. What? We had our chance. Now we’ve got to go look at why we didn’t, why did we not, because you’re not going to play great every night out, especially with young players you’re not. Just got to figure it out.
Q. You were talking earlier about Ryan. He was on the floor when you made that run and I think cut it to three. Was there anything in particular he was giving you there?
COACH CALIPARI: He got the other guys in the positions we needed them in. That’s what he did. So now we had everybody in different spots that on the court we were doing a high pick and roll with shooters beside him, and a player on the baseline who could dunk the ball. That’s what we did. And they couldn’t really guard it so we just kept going to it. Then we went out of the time out, had to do it from the other side. When you have all freshmen, that’s a mistake.
Like in other words, just switch sides of the court. They came out and went like (indicating) (laughter) and Ryan threw the ball to Julius. Julius said, what are you doing? Did you watch the play?
We ended up shooting the 3 like, what just happened. We walked out of a time out. We are killing them on this side and we’ll just swing it over to this side and do it on this side of the court, same thing we have been running, you’re here, you’re here. Don’t do that. Not with young guys. Keep it on the same side. They knew what they were doing.
Like I said, we are a ways away. We are a team in the process of still figuring out who we are, and I am. Like our zone offense, that’s not my players. That’s us, me. And they went 3 2 (zone). When they went 2 3 (zone), we were fine. We had worked against it, they new what to do.
They went 3 2, we probably went 1 for 9. Didn’t know where we were going or what they were doing. Not their fault. That’s my fault. And then we tried to make some adjustments going to baseline and did some different things and hurt them. But, you know, had our chances, though.
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