Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari Pre-Cleveland State Bluegrass Showcase Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On De’Aaron Fox …
“He’s made great strides. He’s playing way faster. Sometimes decision making – running faster than he’s ever ran in his life, which means his mind is moving fast at times. But there are things that he does that I can’t teach. He’s special. He is. How he plays on the ball, how he plays in pick-and-roll defense, I mean, wow. It’s not like we have taught that a whole lot; he just gets after it. He’s long. A big guard. If you remember last year Tyler Ulis was shooting like 22 percent from the 3-point line. He wasn’t making any shots. I don’t worry about guys like him. You have to get in the gym. Part of it is, you got to take game shots. You can’t take tip toe shots. You can’t take casual shots. He’s the least of our worries.”

On if the fans noticing Fox’s different hairstyles gives them an idea of the passion of this fan base …
“They become larger than life. They’re all dealing with it though. We have a great group of kids. They know we have a ways to go. They’re not carried away by rankings. I know other people get carried away saying, ‘They’re not that good and they’re not going to be that good. This team is way better.’ We’re not reading either one. Don’t care. Doesn’t matter. Is it still November?”

On Derek Willis’ improvement since Wenyen Gabriel’s arrival …
“Yeah. They’re both – they both have gotten better. One of the things I just talked to them about – confidence a lot of times starts with your defense. If you’re getting pummeled and you think you’re going to go out and make offensive moves, you’re out of your mind. You’ve never played this sport. So, on my team I talk about confidence. It starts with defensive confidence. Now, I want to see if you guys even watch the games or if you just write stuff. Who has the most defensive confidence on my team? (Isaiah) Briscoe’s one. Who else?

Reporter: “Fox.”
“Who else?”

Reporter: “I think Wenyen?”
“You think so? You’re wrong. [Laughter] Bam (Adebayo). OK? And who is starting to? Dominique (Hawkins). And who’s starting? Malik (Monk). Those are the guys that have and – Malik is for the first time in his life, like trying to guard somebody. But, he’s building his defensive confidence because he’s figuring out, ‘Man am I quick and long and active, I can do this.’ But, he doesn’t have the discipline to sustain it, but he has the confidence. So, now you talk about these other guys and I said, ‘The only way you can gain that confidence is in practice, because I can tell you that if you get beat two or three times on the dribble, you’re coming out.’ It’s hard to be confident when I’m taking you out because you’re getting beat on the dribble. I don’t take you out on missed shots. There’s a guy in the room (Briscoe) who shot 14 percent from the 3 and 48 percent from the foul line and played the ninth-most minutes in our league. League. Not on my team. In the league. So don’t tell me I take you out because you missed a shot because he never would have played last year. It’s all based on your defensive intensity. Do that. Rebound the ball, you get a chance to stay in and miss shots. And I said, ‘I’m not subbing him, because that kid right there – wins.’ He fights. He’ll punch. He’ll bite. He’s winning. That’s what we need from a team full of guys.”

On Fox saying it’s hard to talk on the court because it increases your tiredness …
“Well, the most important thing is if you ever went to his high school practice – the only player near him was a ninth grader. A ninth grader. If you went to Malik’s practice, there was no one near him. So every day you practice, how do you get better? How do you push yourself? Who are you pushing yourself against? Then all of a sudden you come to Kentucky, and they know if your hair’s up or if your hair’s down. They’re watching you. They’re tweeting you. And then you walk into practice and you go, ‘What, the?’ Then you’ve got a coach who makes you practice the entire two hours, two hours and 15 minutes. We’re not stopping. There’s no water breaks. Get water when you get a chance when you’re on the sideline. And all of a sudden you do that every day, yeah, you’re winded. You’re tired. ‘I’m not happy.’ We had that one year in 2010. ‘I’m not happy.’ No kidding, this is the first time that you’ve ever been through this. And it’s hard. And how are they playing us now? They’re sagging. Now it’s a heck of a way to play defense if you walk in and say, ‘Look, we know we can’t guard these guys. Let’s sag in and hope they miss shots. That’s our chance of winning.’ Fine, but then as a player you get (passed) balls and you’re wide open. The guys says, ‘Go ahead, take it, man.’ It’s a little harder shot to take then even being guarded sometimes. So there’s stuff we’ve got to get to. Derek can shoot. Malik can shoot. Wenyen can shoot. De’Aaron can shoot. Isaiah’s not even close to where he was a year ago. He’s twice to three times better as a shooter. Mychal Mulder made shots. We have enough of those guys. Our big guys can shoot jumpers. Now you’ve got go in the game and have confidence and do it. How do you have confidence? Starts with defense. If you don’t have defensive confidence, you’ll never have offensive confidence. If you’re getting helmeted on every play and you need a flak jacket because you’re getting shot at and they’re coming straight at you, then you go down at the other and say, ‘I’m ready to go. Here I go.’ No. You’re like, ‘Don’t throw me the ball.’ All you Basketball Bennies out there, that was for you.”

On the one or two players who have come to Kentucky prepared defensively during his tenure …
“Michael Kidd(-Gilchrist) was ridiculous, defensively. You look at him. I’m trying to think – DeAndre Liggins, when I got here, he was that kind of defender. Most of them are not to the level they need to be, but those two kind of stand out in my mind. Oh, Anthony Davis was. He could guard five positions and block every shot. He’s leading the league in scoring, was the (Western Conference) Player of the Week. Dakari Johnson was player of the week in the D-League, which means he’s gonna get his chance to move up. The one thing I’m disappointed in (is) only seven percent of the league’s baskets are our guys [sarcasm]. I thought it would be more like 10 to 15 percent. Only seven percent of the baskets are our players and that’s kind of disappointing [sarcasm]. They’ll get better.”

On how much coffee he had before the press conference …
“I just got done working out. I’m still sweating.”

On if he ever gets exhausted with promoting the book on top of coaching …
“That stuff was all done in one day and now everybody thinks I’m everywhere. I’ll tell you what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to go to New York on our off day (Monday) and the wind (in New York) didn’t allow me to do it. They’ll tell you, I was so happy because I needed Monday to just recharge myself. And I’ll be honest, I have not done that much on the book. I did it the day after Michigan State and I did a couple radio interviews. I don’t have time. But I will say this, it is a heck of a book. [laughter]”

On why Kenny Payne hasn’t read the book yet then …
“He went to Louisville. He doesn’t read. I was kidding. [Laughter]”

On Willis’ confidence and passing up open shots …
“He did against Michigan State and he did last game. He’s going to be fine. I just told them – a I told the team – if they sag, Derek Willis needs to be at the top of the key shooting balls one after the other. Coach (Joe B.) Hall and I were on the phone talking about it. I said, ‘What do you think, what do I do?’ He said, ‘Let Derek Willis shoot the ball if they’re not playing him.’ And so if Derek Willis is missing shots, you’ve got Coach Hall right there. You can go over and say, ‘What a great suggestion that was.’ ”

Coach Hall says: “I said throw it into the low post.” [Laughter]


Calipari: “And you said play that 1-3-1 and play two bigs.”

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