Calipari transcript: “They were very coachable”

Herald-Leader photo/Mark Cornelison

Transcript of John Calipari’s post-game press conference.

COACH CALIPARI: They were very coachable tonight. Anybody hear any comments from the bench that we could put on PTI?

They played with confidence today, and that’s all we’re talking about. We’re just saying, you’ve got to go out and shoot shots you have, make plays you can make. We opened up the court, we are trying to play a little different; you could see it, we have to. Defensively, we did some funky things. I don’t know if you guys caught some of what we were doing in pick and rolls I don’t know, did anybody watch the game?

But the biggest thing that got us ready, we did something last night at the shoot around, we did a walk through last night at 8:00, and we are putting up the video as we speak to tell you what we did last night. When you see it, you’ll understand. You’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing. You’ve got to enjoy this environment. It’s a privilege to be here. It not a burden to be here and trying to get them to do that. It will be on the website CoachCal.com.

When Ryan (Harrow) played our guard play was better today. So what happens is you don’t have a whole lot of turnovers. We had aggressive play. We opened up the court for him, and Ryan did a good job. We came out of one time out and I told him, he had three bad fouls, the technical foul and two reach ins that put him out of the game.

And I said, now you’ve got to understand, you’d better hope that doesn’t come back to haunt us. You’re sitting over here and we need you in the game, and they just were not smart fouls. But what he did do is he got to the rim, he played strong. I thought he plot pick and rolls and did a good job. He was terrific.

Alex (Poythress) did some good things. Kyle (Wiltjer) hit a big three. Julius (Mays) with the time running out hits a big three. Jarrod (Polson) helped us. Archie (Goodwin) had a couple bad plays, but, he played better. A couple bad plays, like just why would he do that? Well, he’s learning. That’s why.

But, you know and again, let me say this about Vandy. Vandy beat Arkansas by 18. They had beat Texas A&M. They had Tennessee beat at Tennessee, and a one foot tip in did not go in or they beat Tennessee. They are playing well. They made ten 3s against us. We let (Rod) Odom get shots off. Kevin (Stallings) ran some great stuff for him. Big kid did pretty good. They put us in a thousand pick and rolls. That’s how they play.

Q. Yesterday you said the bench was not your friend. Is that why you brought Ryan and Alex back to the starting lineup or did they show you something in practice?

COACH CALIPARI: No, they have been better in practice and Ryan came to me and said, “I want to start.”

I said, “Okay, you’ve got a responsibility, though, if you’re going to start.” We talked about it.

And you know, any time guys come at me with stuff like that, it’s easy for me because it takes it off my plate; now it’s on their plate. You want to start, okay, great, here you go. Well start. And I thought he was terrific today. But that’s how he’s got to play for us.

Now we go on. We have a challenge with Missouri. Their guards are really good. Well, our guards are going to have to be really good to have a chance to win the game. We have to be really good.

Q. In regard to opening the court up, how do you think that would help you all, and how did it maybe help everyone, not just your guards tonight?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, we opened up the court because, one, I thought we needed we can beat people on the dribble, and if guys are next to the rim, you can’t.

So we were bringing our 5 man up. We are a good enough 3 point shooting team you’ve got to guard people. You’ve got to guard Alex; you’ve got to guard Kyle; you’ve got to guard Julius. You can’t just say, well, we’ll pack everybody in as you spread the court. You can’t do that, because we can make 3s.

But it also gives Ryan room to move and get his confidence. So we opened up the court so he could get into some pick and rolls. And you know, he needs to play more confident, and he did today.

Q. You talked about the video. You had a new intro video tonight where the guys are saying let’s fight, let’s fight, let’s fight.

COACH CALIPARI: I had nothing to do with it, though. I had nothing to do with it. They told me about it.

I said, look, I’m just trying to coach my team. You guys put videos together, whatever you want. So I didn’t see it.

The things we did last night, though, you will all laugh when you see what we did last night. And Friday we are going to do another competition that will be really I’m giving you too much of this stuff. But the group that got beat is not getting beat Friday, let me just put it that way.

Q. Can you talk about the play of Julius, he had six assists tonight, and what that gives you?

COACH CALIPARI: Like I said to him at halftime, the greatest thing for you is you don’t even have to make shots. He’s defending; he’s passionate; he’s showing leadership. And if he makes shots, whew. And if he doesn’t make shots, it’s easy to leave him on the court.

Q. You said a minute ago it should be a privilege to play here and not a burden. When you hit a bump in the road, how easy is it to feel like a burden?

COACH CALIPARI: It’s very easy. And these kids, they are so young, and the expectation was so high, which I tried to tell everybody early, you’re out of your mind.

And now, with what’s gone on, point guards out early, Willie (Cauley-Stein)’s out, now Nerlens (Noel) is out for the year. We are short numbers, anyway. Our guard play was really erratic, at best, and we go get bombed at Tennessee and really got bombed at Florida.

And so for them to come back, it shows what they are about. I mean, they know. I mean, this team, I keep telling, this could be the greatest story in the college basketball season if they want it to be.

But you’ve got to fight and battle. If you want good things to happen, make them happen. They are not making them happen for us. Do you think there’s a lot of people unhappy we are struggling out there? There’s a lot of college towns unhappy we’re struggling? They are ecstatic we’re struggling.

So you want good things to happen? No one’s going to do it for you. Go make it happen, and they did tonight. I thought we played hard. I thought we competed, we showed confidence. Vandy never went away; they kept coming.

And again, it’s like I say, the playing here is not for everybody. I can’t hide guys. If your skill is suspect, I can’t hide you, it’s just hard. You’re under a magnifying glass here.

Q. I’m on this website but I have to watch it on mute. All I can tell is that you’re throwing balls at each others.

COACH CALIPARI: Oh, you’re watching it already? We played dodgeball.

Q. What made you decide

COACH CALIPARI: I had to put a helmet on, if you understand why. And they were like, we’re going to I knew they are down there huddling saying: Let’s just all throw at Coach.

And I’m like, you say when you want. There’s a couple of you I want to throw at, too, now. I was running; I can’t throw like I used to.

I got hit a couple times. And I thought I was throwing it hard but it kind of like looped and they just caught mine. We just were talking, and what can we do? We’ve got to lighten this mood up. These guys are with the weight of the world on their shoulders, let’s do something. We’re going to play whiffle ball Friday. I promise they will lose Friday.

They beat us, the dodgeball, Willie has an absolute cannon and so does Jon Hood. And then a couple of them, they can’t throw. But they had about three it was players against the staff.

Q. There were times where you played Jarrod and Ryan together. Was that about opening up the court?

COACH CALIPARI: No, just a rotation. I told Jon Hood after, I said, Jon Jon Hood is playing so well in practice. I’ve got to get him in games and let him get his feet underneath him, but the way the game was going, our guard play was so good, I just wanted to leave it where it was.

You know, but we are I only did that because of the rotation. I played seven instead of eight, which means he and Jarrod are going to have to play together some if I do that.

Q. How much potential do you see in Willie?

COACH CALIPARI: Just he’s building his own confidence. And a demonstrated performance is how you build confidence.

Your self esteem, your self confidence, your self worth, you build that yourself. There’s no coach that does that for you. You do it by an unbelievable work ethic and then demonstrated performance. You build your own confidence.

And that’s Willie has just not been out there enough to have demonstrated performance. He did today. He demonstrated what he can do, which is going to help his confidence, there’s no question. Ryan’s confidence, same thing, demonstrated performance. It’s not me. I don’t have to say anything to him, and if I’m like, man, you were all of today and he’s going to look at me like, what? I was great today. And that’s what confidence is about.

What we are trying to do is get them to see, you’ve got to be in the weight room, you’ve got to get in the gym extra, you have to go over there at night; you have to build your own self esteem and self worth and that confidence that you’ve got to have to really play this game and create a swagger. Right now, we are not quite there. Thanks.

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