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  • Pikeville Bears - November 2, 2014 - Rupp Arena - 7:00 PM EST - SEC Network

Coach Cal on the SEC teleconference

With the nonconference schedule behind them, John Caliapri and his team turn to conference play. UK will open its Southeastern Conference schedule on Saturday at 4 p.m. against South Carolina (8-6) at Rupp Arena.

As is the case every season with league play, the SEC will host a weekly teleconference with all 12 coaches. Of course, Coach Cal was on the teleconference Wednesday morning and talked about league play, South Carolina and a few other topics.

We’ve also got a few other quotes and notes from the other SEC coaches.

On opening SEC play …
“It’s going to change for all of us. The toughness of play, the intensity of play, the buildings will be full, the talent level, the coaching, it’s all going to elevate for all of us. I’m anxious to see how my teams responds.”

On South Carolina, which has played already played a pair of top-two teams in No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Ohio State …
“They’re winning. They’ve won six of their last seven. They played Ohio State to a great game. As a matter of fact, (they) had their chances to win. I think you’re talking about a tough team that is going to come in here with a little bit of a swagger. My team, our last game, and really a couple of games, we haven’t been up to what we need to be to get in our league and play well, so I’m anxious to see.”

On how he tries to get calls from referees and whether or not he thinks that stuff works …
“No, I don’t. I don’t think you’re trying to get calls. You’re just trying to make sure the game is called evenly. If you’re going to call it at one end one way, call it at both ends. That’s what I think all of us (want). It’s not you’re trying to get a call; you’re trying to make sure all the charges and blocks on their end are charges and blocks on our end. That kind of stuff. You just want consistency in officiating. Now, I’ve been doing this a long time. In the old days, when I first started, you have Uncle Jim on the road who said we’re doing OK to the coach. It’s changed now. Now when you have the supervisor of officials, you have the overriding Grand Poobah in John (Adams), it’s totally different, unless guys come in with an attitude, and if they do they won’t be officiating long. People are just looking for a fair game. In the SEC, we have the best officials. Gerald (Hodges) does an unbelievable job. They have young guys that they’re trying to bring in so you don’t have a 67-year-old man trying to run up and down with these young kids. Again, I don’t think anybody is trying to get calls. I think you’re just trying to make sure the game is called fairly.”

John Calipari will participate in the SEC teleconference every week from now until the end of league play. (photo by Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)

On whether or not he worries about his team’s toughness at this stage …
“That and just the understanding how teams are going to come after you. You can’t say, ‘Well, we’ll just play in the second half.’ You can’t do it. It ain’t going to happen. And when you get a team down, you’ve got to bury them. We’re not there yet. But we’ll see. This is all new to these guys. It’s coaching young players.”

On the status of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who has a pulled muscle in his chest …
“The doctors looked at him this morning and I haven’t talked to them yet.”

On the future of the SEC schedule with addition of Missouri and Texas A&M next year …
“I think it will go to 18. I’m not for that, but I think it will go to 18. I think that with what we’ve added, football, baseball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, you just added two top-25 teams. Missouri hasn’t lost a game. Texas A&M, historically, you know what they’ve done in basketball. They’ve done good stuff. We’ve just gotten stronger. I think what you’re going to find out and what we’re all trying to do, let’s be the best in all sports – volleyball – let’s win national titles in everything. Let’s graduate our kids unless they have an opportunity to go professional, and then that’s fine. But let’s do right. In this league I think you can do that. The exposure, the television package that was put together for all of us, the schools that benefitted the most were the schools that did not get that much television. Now, every school in this league gets television. What that means is even if you’re not quote one of those two or three or four who are on the national scene, you’re on the national scene, and there is no other league that can come in and use that against you. So I think there is a lot of good stuff going and I think it will go to 18 games. I don’t know that but that would be my guess. And I think it will be fine.”

On the drawbacks of an 18-game schedule …
“We don’t get as many nonconference games. Instead of getting two home games, you’re going to get one on the road and one at home, so you lose revenue from a home game. But you’ve also got to look at, OK, add two top-25 teams to my schedule. If you look at all the top-25 programs right now, we’re playing one of those schedules like, wait a minute. Can you play all these road games and do all this stuff and play two (more) top 25s? So we’ve got to make decisions on our schedule and how we’re going to do this without overloading our players or putting our program in jeopardy.”

On the crowd at Freedom Hall on Tuesday and whether it affects the annual game in Louisville going forward …
“I didn’t really look at the crowd. I heard there was 13-, or 14,000. I didn’t even check it after. I would tell you that Mitch (Barnhart) will probably discuss that with me at some point and just look at what’s right for this program and how we do this and what we do. I would tell you I’d probably sit down with him at some point and talk about it but we haven’t right now.”

 

South Carolina head coach Darrin Horn on Kentucky …
“I’m not so sure this isn’t their most talented team. I think that’s saying an awful lot with what they’ve put on the floor the last couple of years. They’re extremely athletic and they’re putting up a ton of points, but I think what’s more impressive is how they’re defending. They’re using their athleticism and obviously Anthony Davis is a complete game changer with what he brings to the table. I think a big challenge in playing them, and I know it will be for us, is handling their defensive presence and being able to score the basketball, not just trying to stop them.”

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings on the rest of the SEC …
“I think we might have four or five of potentially the top teams in the country. I think that’s one thing. I think we have a number of teams that could go very deep into the NCAA Tournament, but I also think as usual there are some surprise teams that have exceeded most people’s expectations, Auburn being one of them and LSU being the other. Not only are we good at the top, I think some of the teams that weren’t picked as high of the others have played very well also.”

Florida head coach Billy Donovan on the current format and scheduling of the SEC …
“One of the emphases that’s decreased over the years is when you do win a conference championship and you win your league. Because of all the expansion and because of all that’s going on with schools moving into different leagues and so many teams in so many different leagues, there never really is anymore a true champion. I don’t think an East champion, a West champion, at least our mindset going into the season. But I think we’re all, as coaches, on board of trying to do what’s best for our league to help our league. Whoever wins the league this year, in a lot respects, none of our schedules are exactly the same. I think the only way to have a fair league champion is if you play everyone twice, once home and once away, and that certainly is not going to happen with the amount of games that need to be played and with what people are trying to do with their nonconference schedule. … I don’t think we’ve ever gone into a season saying, ‘Let’s win the East.’ I think certainly all of us, all of the schools are competing for an SEC championship and trying to compete for postseason play and continue to move forward.”