John Calipari: “Karl (Towns) is way better than I thought”

If you missed it from yesterday, 10 highlights from John Calipari’s Wednesday session with the media previewing the upcoming pre-season Bahamas tour:

On any negatives with the Bahamas trip: “It just makes our season really long. Part of what we’ll probably do down there is, I probably won’t coach every game. I’ll let the assistants coach some of the games. I don’t want them – like, right now, I’m coaching through the whole practice. I got 10 days with them and I’m trying to get them – I need the freshmen to know what I’m like to a degree.”

On what questions the NBAs had about the Harrison twins: “Those were between us sitting in that room. But they knew them. I mean, it’s pretty obvious if you watched, there are questions that the people had of them, the next level had of them, and they’ve got to prove those wrong.”

On his relationship with the Harrisons: “They had habits they had to understand weren’t going to work. Let me tell you something: If you’re doing something your whole career and it gets you a scholarship to Kentucky – the most coveted scholarship in the country; ‘Just give me an offer so that I can publicly tweet that offer.’ You did certain things to get that offer and that scholarship, now you’re thinking, ‘What, I’m going to change?’ Your first thought is, ‘This got me here. I’m going to go with it.’ But what got you here, a lot of times, isn’t going to get you to that next level.”

On Karl Towns: “Karl is way better than I thought when I saw him in high school. I mean, I coached him a little bit, but he never got in games and it was mostly practices and we were playing so many games he really didn’t do that much with the national team. . . . What I’m seeing right now is a very active player that’s skilled and runs better than I ever thought he’d run.”

On Dakari Johnson: “Dakari has lost weight. He’s running better than he’s ever run in his life.”

On Tyler Ulis’ size: “He’s figured out he’s got to pick up full court so the guy doesn’t just get him into a ball screen or get him down in the lane. He controls what’s happening. It’s what happened to us against Connecticut, where they got up on us so we didn’t get a running start. The second thing is, he has a great feel for who’s open and he delivers the ball to those guys. Yet he can score a little bit.”

On balancing this trip with a long season: “That’s why we’re going to two-platoon. There may be one game that I’ll play eight or nine guys, but short of that, five guys in, five guys out, switch rotations, do all those things. Again, I’m going to let the assistants coach many of the games, mainly because I don’t think we can win those games.”

On experimenting with player combinations: “The only reason I didn’t want to do that is because it will put us behind of what I’m trying to do, but I’m like we’re going to do some things today and then we’re going to ‘These five are going to play these five. Then we’re going to jumble. Then we’re going to jumble them again and then we may jumble them one more time. Play six-minute periods or segments and let them play that way and see what it looks like.’ There’s all kind of things you can do.”

On the competition in the Bahamas: “You’re talking three professional teams with guys, some of them as old as 37, 38 years old, I think. I coached that (Dominican National) team and I don’t know exactly.”

On Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles: “I wish Trey and Willie were playing, but they’re not, and that gives us a chance to really get other guys a really good look. It gets them to go, but at the end of the day those two are going to be a big part of what we do.”

Related link: Andrew Harrison says “I definitely thought I was good enough”

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