A quick five-spot from the just-completed John Calipari summer press conference:
1. The coach looked tan and fit. This was the first time that the UK coach has met with the local media since his team lost to Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT on March 18. In fact, Cal said he’s not sure he’s ever had a season end that early and that the team and coaches did a lot of “post-season stuff” that they had not done in previous years when they were playing at the end of the year. As for 2013-14, he said, “What we’re about to undertake has never been done before.”
2. The coach talked about all the incoming freshmen. He called Julius Randle “an alpha male that will drive the team.” He said Andrew Harrison should excel in the dribble drive and on pick-and-rolls. He said James Young “can flat-out shoot.” He said he took Dominique Hawkins because after what the team went through last season, he wanted “one more tough point guard.” He used the term “pogo stick” when talking about Marcus Lee. He said he was amazed at the progress Dakari Johnson made during his high school career. As for the one he didn’t get, Calipari said he was confident in his team “before and after” Andrew Wiggins picked Kansas.
3. Calipari said the 2012 national title team did not have a bad practice all year, while the 2013 team had “five good practices all year.” With 13 players on scholarship — and yes, Jon Hood and Jarrod Polson will return on scholarship next year — he envisions good, competitive practices. “Some people are going to play,” he said, “and some people aren’t going to play.” Practice and production in games will help determine which players fall into which category.
4. Calipari said that he hasn’t paid any attention to the ridiculous expectations for next year’s team, but he knows they are out there. “I’m sure they just want us to do well,” he deadpanned, but then said that the expectations and pressure are good things. “Pressure makes you get things done,” he said.
5. Deservedly so, Calipari talked up the team’s 3.4 GPA and made mention that, by his count, of the 25 players who have gone through the program — players who were at UK the entire time, didn’t transfer, etc. — all 25 have either gone into the professional ranks or earned their degrees. To that end this year, he said he has talked to five or six NBA teams on Archie Goodwin’s behalf, and he thought the guard would find a good spot next season.
6. A bonus spot: Calipari seemed skeptical at best about the rules committee directing game officials to clean up college basketball next season. The coach said he likes what he’s hearing about tweaking the block/charge call so it favors the offense, but he didn’t sound or look like someone who thinks that’s going to happen. In fact, Cal said that with his depth, his team can foul more because the way it is now, “The more you foul, the more free throws you end up taking.”
Videos to come.