Next Game

  • South Carolina Gamecocks - January 21, 2017 - Rupp Arena - 6:00 PM EST - ESPN

Coach Cal’s pre-Vanderbilt media opportunity

Kentucky head coach John Calipari spoke with the media Monday afternoon to preview UK’s upcoming road game against Vanderbilt. If the video stream above does not work, please click this link. As always, video is provided by Kentucky Wildcats TV, and a complete transcript of Coach Cal’s comments is posted below.

Kentucky (13-2, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) faces Vanderbilt (8-7, 2-1 SEC) on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. Led by first-year head coach Bryce Drew, the Commodores won their first two games in league play before falling by three points to Alabama on the road Sunday. Vanderbilt is led by the quartet of Matthew Fisher-Davis, Luke Kornet, Jeff Roberson and Riley LaChance, who each average more than 29 minutes per game.

Coach Cal

On Dominique Hawkins and others getting to practice early and working out …
“He’s in there and so are other guys. Today, De’Aaron Fox had his best workout – pre-practice – that he’s had this year, which kind of tells you where he’s going. Bam (Adebayo) was in here this afternoon and got an extra workout in. You get an opportunity to get on this stage and you can’t really hide. You can go up there with a cracked voice and say that it was your dad, mom, aunt. No, dude, you sang and your voice cracked. So what was it? That’s what this is. You’re on the stage now. No excuse. You have to master your craft. You get an opportunity to play. Guys are doing great. Derek (Willis), I told him; I grabbed him and said, ‘I’m proud of you, kid. You’re just getting better.”

On how the team’s speed can affect the game against Vanderbilt …
“We’re fast and they can make threes now. I’ve watched enough tape. I’ll be going to sleep seeing 3-balls being thrown all over the place. They run stuff. The crazy thing is that I thought I wouldn’t have to watch last year’s Vanderbilt tapes. Why is that?”

Reporter: “Because they have a new coach.”
Calipari: “Really? That’s what you would think and then I watched my first game tape and they’re running the same stuff that they ran a year ago. So now I had to go back an start watching our game tapes from last year with them. It’s smart. They’re a terrific offensive team with 3-point shooters. That’s how they played, and they’re running almost all of the stuff with adjustments, but it’s mostly the stuff that they ran a year ago.”

On what head coach Bryce Drew brought with him to Vanderbilt …
“I don’t know yet. I haven’t coached against him and I haven’t seen him in person, but he’s competitive. You see him get after the guys on the sidelines and he’s energetic as he’s coaching. I would imagine that he’s adding his mark to this. But think about this: He’s a pretty smart guy. He’s got a lot of guys coming back: a 7-foot shooting five man and a couple other guys. One kid is shooting like 70 percent or 67 percent from the 3. Maybe he wasn’t doing it early and looked at it and said, ‘You know what? We better just do the things they know.’ I think he’s pretty smart.”

On how well he thinks his guys defend the perimeter …
“It’s hard to stop anybody from shooting 3. Let’s just think about it. If a team comes down and wants to take 22-footers – it’s just hard. Some of it is, if they make 20 3s, you hit them and (say), ‘Good job,’ and go home. What’s the next game? You’re hoping you’re guarding them and making it hard, but the reality is that when a team is committed to shooting 3s like (Vanderbilt) is, then it’s not easy walking into a game and saying, ‘Well we’re just going to do this.’ ”

On Fox’s improvement …
“It’s practice. All of these players – what we’re trying to do is help them develop habits that will help them to become successful. It’s not just the carryover from the habits onto a basketball court; it’s off the court. Your preparation should be so much harder than the game and that means the way you practice, the way you prepared, how focused you are. Most young kids, they just don’t know. Some guys – like, we gave them a different practice time. He’s 15 minutes earlier than everybody else. He’s gotta be here. Kenny (Payne) is spending extra time with him, and it’s not just skill. It’s conditioning, going harder. The guys, Bam (Adebayo) and those guys, it’s just – they know it’s a process. We know it’s a process. They’re building their own confidence, their own self-esteem, their own self-worth. They build that themselves through work.”

On if players readily accept these changes …
“No, they’ll argue with you. Like, ‘I don’t need this.’ You know, they’ll argue with you. But they never win. But they argue.”

On if he has any new players in the gym this week …
“Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. Am I allowed to talk about this?”

Eric Lindsey: “No.”
Calipari: “Who are we talking about? [Laughter]”

On Mychal Mulder playing the four in the four-guard lineup …
“I loved the fact that he fought and didn’t give an inch. Like, he battled. Like, he’s – he wasn’t afraid. He makes us different, but you’ve gotta fight. You’ve gotta battle. You gotta – and he was able to do it. We’re able to – last week, try different things. Now, if I do that kind of stuff it’s going to be in a shortened (rotation), ‘Alright, four guards, let’s go. Next four or five minutes we’ll go four guards.’ You’re not going to be able to work hours on it because we’re starting classes again. We practice today. We travel. Tomorrow we have a game. Wednesday they’re completely off. It’s the first day that they’ve been off since they’ve been back. But, they’re off. So you just don’t have the time to go through it. So, some of it will be doing it in a game and just saying, ‘Let’s see it.’ ”

On Mulder earning more minutes in that role …
“Yeah, but if Derek (Willis) is playing the way that he is and Wenyen’s (Gabriel) playing well, there’s no reason to do it. There was foul trouble and that’s why we did it. It’s nice to know that you have one more option. We also went with two bigs for a little bit with Isaac (Humphries) and Bam.”

On things the team has improved on during Camp Cal …
“The whole thing is just having more time together and being able to spend quality time on defense. Just doing it. Being in the gym more. More free-throw shooting. More situational work. All the stuff that a team’s growth is dependent on those kind of things. Early in the season we just don’t have that much time unless I want to practice three-and-a-half hours. I don’t want to be in the gym three-and-a-half hours let alone they be in the gym. I’m not going to do that. We just – here’s what we can get done. Here’s where we are on Dec. 24 and 25, 28, 29. This is where we are. And then you want to be somewhere else when it’s January, February, March. That’s why that was a good time period. We have a good base to grow from now.”

On the challenge of defending Vanderbilt forward Luke Kornet …
“It’s hard. Seven-footer that shoots 3s, and good around the basket, too. I haven’t looked at all their stats yet. I’m more or less just watching how they’re playing right now, but I would imagine the games I’ve seen him just if you leave him open it’s down. They’re playing.”

On Vanderbilt’s court configuration …
“We’re allowed now to be down the sidelines so I don’t think it’s the effect it used to be. If I choose to be down there now I can be down that sideline.”

On Fox’s on-court management …
“He’s been good. The biggest thing with him is that he keeps getting in the gym. Spending extra time. Playing at a higher level longer. That he’s more confident shooting the ball, more confident shooting fouls so he can be aggressive and attack and play. Not, ‘I don’t want to get fouled because I may miss these two.’ You can’t play that way. I’m wide open, but I’m not making them so I’m going to drive in here. You can’t play that way. You’ve got to take what the defense gives. Especially our team, which we create for each other. If a guy creates a shot for you you’ve got to shoot it.  Wenyen – that’s all I’m on him about. I wasn’t worried about the walk (last game). I was, ‘Why didn’t you shoot the first ball?’ ‘Because I missed the last shot, Coach, and I just didn’t feel I should shoot.’ ‘Well then you’re not in. Can’t be in. Shoot the ball.’ ‘Well what if I miss seven?’ ‘Get in here at midnight. Work on your craft. What are you talking to me about?’ But you have to do your job. That’s how you trust each other. If you don’t trust it’s hard to be aggressive. It’s hard to be in attack mode. It’s really hard to be a good team.”

On his hip issue in the 2013-14 season and if he thought about having surgery during the middle of the season like Mike Krzyzewski …
“I mean, if I had to I would’ve. I would say my health would come first, but it was a different situation. But I would’ve if I had to. If they said, ‘You gotta stop and get this done,’ then I would have. Wasn’t that. Mine was more the pain and this stuff.’

On his view of tradition in college basketball …
“Is it money or tradition why they’re not doing that – a new building? I don’t know. [Sarcasm] I mean, I know they’re struggling right now at Vanderbilt – financially.”

Reporter: “They’re adding more seats.”
Calipari: 
“They’ll figure that out. It’s like the arenas – it’s like Rupp (Arena). Players around the country want to play in Rupp. If they schedule a game with us, their coach is able to say, ‘Look, we’re playing in Rupp Arena.’ I’ve got friends and family that want to come to games just because they want to – it’s like a bucket list. ‘I want to go to Rupp Arena.’ So I understand that, and what we’ve done to Rupp has made it like a new building. If you can do that and spend that money and make it – we need to do the same thing in this building here [points to Memorial Coliseum]. That building, Memorial Hall for our women’s program and volleyball, alright, let’s go. It’s crazy, a building that old, they can spend X amount of millions to go in and make that a new arena and not be outrageous. You would still be able to play in Memorial Hall, but it’s basically like a new building. Vandy, it is what it is. That’s how they’ve always been. You coach from the end zone. They now let us walk down the sideline, which I don’t understand why they didn’t let us do it before.”

On what YOLO means, which he tweeted out Sunday at the Pittsburgh Steelers game …
“What’s that?”

Reporter: “You tweeted out ‘YOLO’ yesterday.”
Calipari: 
“What did you say?”

Reporter: “You tweeted out ‘YOLO’ yesterday.”
Eric Lindsey:
 “It stands for ‘You only live once.’ I had to shorten the tweet.” [Laughter]
Calipari:
 “I said you only live once. He did the YOLO. [Laughter] Like, what are you talking about? Look, I was watching tape on the plane (on the way to and from Pittsburgh). Got to see some friends. Got to see Mike (Tomlin) before the game. Was back for the evening practice. I was here. Look, when I grew up, I could not get into Steelers games. I couldn’t get into a Steeler game. I took my dad to a game and we walked out on the field with Marvin (Lewis) and Mike, and my dad as we’re walking off says, ‘We couldn’t get a ticket to these games. We’re at midfield right now.’ So I had an opportunity to go to the game and see my Steelers. And boy did they play good. And Bud Dupree – whew! Let me say this: They had to drag him off of the field like four different times. He was fighting everybody: officials, the other guys, the linemen. He was ridiculous. So I do stuff like that. I’m not going next week. I was invited to go to Kansas City. It’s just too much. This was an easy thing for me.”