Full transcript from John Calipari’s press conference last night. Note, official transcript says “womp” but the press room consensus was “whomp.”
COACH CALIPARI: It was a good win for us, I’m happy with our guys, I came to this conclusion: In the last seven, eight years, I have coached teams that have absolutely whomped on people, and this ain’t one of ’em (laughter). And every game, we are going to be in is going to be a dogfight, and instead of going crazy about it, how about just accept it, right, and coach that way.
I can’t imagine this team being up 20 on anybody, because you get up 12, 15, someone will try to steal a ball; they will foul; they will leave their feet. On an out of bounds play, one guy will not do what he’s supposed to, give up two layups. We are blocking every shot, so why would you grab arms when they dive in there? We are not trying to steal balls on drives, give ground, we just kept fouling, fouling, fouling.
Guess what? We got better. Alex (Poythress) got better. Really, how about Alex diving on the floor. At the end if the game, he didn’t run one time, he didn’t come up with the rebound. But he made strides. Kyle (Wiltjer) was terrific. Nerlens (Noel), the workouts for Nerlens has helped him more than anybody else. He missed free throws today which he had not been missing but he did good.
Q. After Texas A&M you mentioned kind of you wanted people to stem the tide, you talked about the other day; do you feel you got to that mark?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, so did stop the bleeding, but the point is there were seven or eight errors, again.
And when I say they are not buying in, here is what it is: We are playing this a certain way; why do you try to steal the ball. That’s not how we were playing that. Why did you go over the top of that screen? Why didn’t you fight this? Why did you not there are just things that we are walking out of time outs talking about how we are playing out of bounds plays, this is what we are going to play.
We draw up the play that they got the back layup. We drew it up; it’s like I coached his team and my team. I drew it up; this is what they are going to do and they shot a layup. And it’s like, I wasn’t, there was one stretch where I got a little bit, you know, because I thought they were letting go of the game.
But short of that, look, folks, we are what we are. I love this team. We have so much upside. We are going to be in dogfights. We have to go to Auburn, Auburn is playing as well as anybody in our league right now, on the road, they are retiring numbers, it’s Jersey Day, Cup Day and Bat Day in Auburn. And it’s going to be an absolute war for us to get down there on the road and try to steal one.
But I’m happy for them. I said, be happy you won, you won a game.
Q. They made plays, Kyle, Julius Mays
COACH CALIPARI: You know what’s great about Kyle, for the first time since he’s been here, he told me to run a play for him, which I absolutely did. Because the minute a young man comes to you and says, “Coach, run four down,” you run it, because now it’s off me and it’s on him.
So I always will do it. And he even came back after he made that shot, came back and said, run another play for him, and we did, and then we came back on the third one, I said, cool out, man, come on, let somebody else try to shoot it.
Q. Can you talk about Archie Goodwin’s decision making, particularly in shot selection?
COACH CALIPARI: He struggled today. He was a little bit out of control, playing too fast. We are trying to get him to shoot the runner, which when he did, he made it; the one he missed, we rebounded and made.
So it’s what we have been working on, but we have been working on him to jump, stop; jump stop. So he goes driving down the lane, left his feet and threw a wide open pass to the corner, I think it was to Julius, I believe it was, for a three, but he left his feet. But we work every day on jump stops, so there are things that, you know, these guys are growing with.
Look, we just have to be better than the team in the gym and get better. We fought and battled and did some good stuff and came up with some balls. We out rebounded one of the better rebounding teams in our league.
Ryan (Harrow) played okay. I think he’s got to be better than he played. Just his decision making, fouling and some of the stuff that he did, and missed three layups and said I got fouled. Well, they are not going to call it, you have to be tougher to make them.
Again, how about Jarrod (Polson) going in the game and doing what he did. Jarrod changed the game, it was like a two point game and Jarrod went in and shook it up and did his thing. We went to subs, and I didn’t want to fall into the same trap that I did with Texas A&M, so I subbed earlier. But it was a good win for us.
Q. How surprising was it that Kyle asked for a play?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I told the team after, I’m happy. I have no problem with that.
Q. The play, were you surprised?
COACH CALIPARI: He said it, I said, okay, let’s run it. There was no surprise. I’m happy. Thank you. This is supposed to be their team.
Q. Kyle had asked you a couple of times about Nerlens, when maybe he’s turning into that leader, you guys are feeding off his energy, like he was the guy that wanted to take over down the stretch.
COACH CALIPARI: And that’s what we need from him and the reason he can do it is he’s really been working in practice. He’s been spending the time.
Q. Why do you think Nerlens got the most out of the individual workouts and everything?
COACH CALIPARI: Because you saw the progress. Some other guys, in a month, their exertion level heart rates never really moved, which tells you as soon as they hit that wall, they kept stopping, for a month.
Nerlens, on the other hand, started in the same spot and just kept moving.
Now, we changed the workouts with a couple of the guys to try to get him, and Kyle was another guy working out that has gotten better.
Q. The shot that Julius hit late were the shots you’ve been hitting all season, what can that do for his confidence?
COACH CALIPARI: The thing is, I get mad when he’s catching the ball at the 3 point line and the guy is in the lane and he doesn’t shoot it. Literally the guy has a foot in the lane running at it, but he’s in the lane. You caught it, you have to get it off and shoot it. Or, if he thrives in a dead run that way at you; not running at you, he just jumps that way at you, then you should one dribble pull up.
But see, you have to understand now, his assist to turnover ratio may be one of the best in the NCAA.
So my thing to him is: When you drive, drive to pass. Don’t drive to score, you’re not big enough. You’re not athletic enough. Shoot the three, one dribble pull up, or drive to pass. Remember against Texas A&M, he drove and he shot it, with Archie in the wide open corner. Those are all the things that I keep saying, you have to buy into how we are telling you to play, Archie. This is how we are telling you to play and you’re not doing it, so you’re not bought in.
The trust I’m telling you about with these guys, unless everybody’s doing what they are supposed to, you don’t trust each other. This guy, we all know what he’s supposed to do, but he’s not doing it. Well, how can I trust him? Now I worry about myself; now he can’t trust me, and then you look like a team that doesn’t trust each other.
We made some strides today, but we have a ways to go, believe me. You know, this is the thing about coaching 17 , 18 and 19 year olds.
Q. What do you attribute Nerlens’ ability to make steals to?
COACH CALIPARI: He’s got a quick twitch, I will tell you that, and he’s long. And you know, he’s doing some good stuff. And I was happy for Kyle.
Willie (Cauley-Stein) was fine today. He did the stuff we needed him to do but he got into foul trouble so Kyle stepped in.
Q. The game was chippy both ways, a lot of talking back and forth, do you like seeing that?
COACH CALIPARI: Good. If there’s anybody that was getting sand kicked in their face, you know, at some point, you have to stand up. We don’t teach that. I’m not teaching it, but I know this: You put your heels in the sand, and you know, like if I see somebody talking to one of my players and they are not challenging back, I’m not happy.
It’s not what I want, but I’m not you know, you’ve got to be a man. This is a man’s game and this is a man’s league we play in. You have to play through bumps; quit crying about fouls. Everybody is fouling everybody.
Q. Are you going to be able to accept having a team that won’t whomp on people?
COACH CALIPARI: I have to. I did today. I mean, I did not you know, I knew watching the tape that this would be close, and it was. You know, I got upset a few times and about the 10:00 mark I got a little bit upset with a couple guys, but all in all, I told them after, the last eight years, winning 35 games a year, beating people by 30.
Well, this team is not capable of doing that. We are still learning to sustain effort and to trust each other. Then, you can start becoming the team we want to be. Until then, we are going to be mired in the stuff we are in right now.
But, good win. Any time you win a game in this league, it’s a hard game, and the way we finished the game, the free throws, Julius making baskets, those were big. We come out, we executed. I mean, we walked out of time outs and really executed which was good to see.
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