Calipari transcript: “We have to change it this week”

Full transcript of John Calipari press conference after win over Lipscomb:

Q. Coach, they shot 50% in the first half, and did a better job, the kids did a better job at 21% in the second half. How worried are you that six of your opponents have shot 49% or better?

COACH CALIPARI: Our field goal percentage, defensively, overall is not bad. But what we’ve had is one or two guys breakdown and not guard them. It’s frustrating, but we’ve gotten better. We talked a little bit better today. Not where we need to be.

What I want to do is get to a point where I don’t have to yell, “Talk.” That’s a great strategy that I’m thinking about, “talk.” Then I don’t have to yell, “Stay in the stance!” That’s another great strategy. “Help, get off, get off.” That’s what we’re doing. There is nothing to do basketball wise.

That’s where we are as a team, and that’s why we’re going through what we’re going through. But hopefully we’ll show incremental changes. It’s a process with a team this young. It’s a process.

Q. Kyle Wiltjer shot the ball a lot better today, also rebounded the ball.

COACH CALIPARI: I don’t care whether he made shots, he got 12 rebounds. You could say, well, they weren’t that big. Well, that big kid had nine rebounds at halftime. My two big guys had three, so we had to go in there and mix it up a little bit. The week before the game, we had several starters. Before we looked at it, like we had last year, some of them come off the bench and driving in. I said, you know what? I’m going to bring Kyle off the bench today. Figured it out an hour and a half before the game that that’s what I wanted to do.

I also thought Ryan (Harrow) has a ways to go. This again goes back, kind of head down versus you’ve got to lead these guys and you’ve got to get them to talk, not me. But I thought he did better today. I told him, he needs to get ten or 12 points a game. That’s all we need from him, and he did it without forcing shots. That’s what we need.

Q. Lipscomb’s Coach said no disrespect to you guys, but the second half it was like you didn’t come out ready to play. Like they gave you every opportunity, and it was self inflicted. Were you disappointed with the energy you got early?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, that’s why I changed the lineup. There’s not a whole lot you can do. I think what’s going to happen is there are going to be questions of why don’t you guys have energy? Why aren’t you playing? Why aren’t you competing? Are you afraid? What are you afraid of? It’s out there. I mean, somebody behind me said Alex (Poythress) is standing straight up and down. I went, wow. You guys are watching it too, huh?

So we all see it. Now we all want to see change. You can blame whatever you want to blame. “I walk to the locker room, it’s so far, and I get tired by the time I come back.” You can say whatever you want to say. But at the end of the day, everybody watching it in the building, on TV, want to see you compete at a higher level. They want to see you battle at a higher level.

Now we did battle them on the floor a bunch today, which is showing signs. But it’s, like I said, it’s kind of like, okay, we’ve gone five days, five days. Now you expect it to change in five days? These guys have been doing this for 18 years. Now let’s talk about it. Nine years, eight years, that is how they’ve been playing. Now we have to change it this week.

So we’ll go tomorrow morning, have breakfast. Go tomorrow afternoon, have dinner, tomorrow evening, and Monday. It’s on. Here we go. Then if you want to say I’m exhausted because of the workouts, okay. I’m all right with that. See, that is the main thing. We’re practicing so hard, I’ve got nothing left. Okay, I’d rather it be that than the walk to the locker room is too long and I think we need to switch this around. I don’t know what you say. But I still like my team.

Q. On starting Ryan Harrow over Kyle Wiltjer …

COACH CALIPARI: Well, it would have either been Kyle (Wiltjer) or Alex (Poythress), either one. I thought, well, let’s go with Ryan (Harrow), and let’s play Alex to see if he’ll compete those first four or five minutes and what will happen. He did okay. Still, again, I believe that Julius Mays out-rebounded him for the game. You can take that however you want to take it. But those numbers don’t lie.

Then in the second half I switched it up because he didn’t rebound. So I said, okay, let’s go with Kyle. Kyle had five and a half or something like that, or six.

Q. On Ryan Harrow’s aggressiveness …

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he just didn’t get the ball. He had two excuses. His big toe hurt, and the other guy slipped in front of him and didn’t block him out. He didn’t give us one, he gave us two. My big toe and the other guy didn’t block out. So that’s why we didn’t get the ball. Okay. What happened to your big toe? You’re out next time.

Q. Coach Scott Sanderson has compared you guys to Ole Miss because he played them. He mentioned Ole Miss’s guards were more physical, getting in, forcing more turnovers. Could you talk about that a little bit?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, if we don’t start changing we’re going to struggle. That’s just how it is. We’ve already struggled in any game that anybody had any physical toughness to them, we’ve struggled. You either want to change or you have your excuses of why it’s happening. Let’s just change. That’s my thing. What we’re doing is trying to get them to change. Now they can do this in workouts. So then the game starts, what? You’re right back to where you are. I’m only doing this because you’re making me do it. I don’t believe I have to do this. You’re making me do it? Okay. I’ll do it. We’ve got to get out of that.

Now we’ve got this week. We’ve got a couple of days to follow in a week. So you’ve got to accept that I’ve got to change. There is a plan. It’s not working the way we’re doing it.

Another thing is we’ve got to come together as a team. All this stuff, we like each other. Don’t talk, you’re selfish, bottom line. If you quit on a play, you’re selfish. You care more about how you feel than what the team needs. You can say what you want. I’m not selfish. Yes, you are. If you don’t talk to your teammates, you’re a selfish player.

If you don’t play to every possession, because your teammates need you to, you’re a selfish player.

We’ve got a bunch of good guys. They’re good kids and all those other things. But now we’ve got to crack this issue that we have players stopping on possessions, just quitting on the play, lack of communication on both offense and defense. You change. But I swear the coaches should not be coaching a game saying “talk.” That should not even come out of my mouth, and I’m saying it 410 times in the first half, and probably the same in the second half. The crazy thing is we’ve made strides. Now are we going to get where we need to go?

Q. Not to be spending all the time quoting the other coach, but he also said your kids would be fine, your team would be fine as long as they listened to you. And he said listening is a skill. Something they work on.

COACH CALIPARI: Sure, I don’t say I have all (the answers) I’ll let you ask your second question. But here’s my thing. The one thing is that it’s not if they are listening, they’re not changing, and that’s what was frustrating for me today. I thought I’d see more of a change. I saw little change.

We just went five days, and I saw little change. So if I see a little change in this next week, from that point on, folks, we’re not winning many. That’s a fact.

Now if I see change and change and change, it’s on. Everybody would say that’s where they thought they could go. They’re hearing, but they’re not listening. They’re hearing what we say, but they’re not listening to it. Sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom, but each individual right now thinks they’re good. Like, I’m okay. Individual guys. Thinking, I’m okay. Until they all start, you know, caving a little bit, but we’ll see.

Q. He also used the word resisting. Do you think your kids are resisting you?

COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. I know this. We’re doing a lot of running. If you watched us practice, there is not a whole lot of back and forth, get on the baseline, let’s go. We’re running less and less each practice because they’re listening more. But are they really hearing what we’re saying.

But, look, I’m not cracking at all. This is part of what I do. Having a young team does not bother me. I’ve had young teams before. Having a team that’s not responding as well as I’d want them to, that’s probably every year that I’ve coached. Maybe this is more so than other teams, but most of the time I’ve had players that held back. They scored 1200 college points, but I held them back. What are you going to score, 3,000 and be the leading scorer in the history of the game? So you’ll have some of that.

But as I said, I think again, the tape doesn’t lie. You watch a little bit of this tape, and you’ll see. Their big guy threw our big guys around. Then you talk about the guards at Mississippi. Wait till you see their big guys. The big guys at Tennessee, wait until you see their big guys. Their players are throwing us around is what happened.

Just be more physical. You’ve got to bend over. You can’t stand straight up and down. You can’t accept that he’s going to beat you to the spot. All those things right now throughout their careers have been acceptable. It’s not anymore. Well, we’re trying to change habits that they’ve developed over a period of time.

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