Thursday, December 15, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari Pre-North Carolina ~ CBS Sports Classic Press Conference Interview


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Head Coach John Calipari

On the new lease agreement with the Lexington Center Corporation at Rupp Arena …
“Ecstatic. It had to be closure. It appears that I’ll end my (coaching career) in Rupp. A bunch of home games. I’m happy for Brent Rice and Royce Pulliam and the boys – for the city. And I’m happy for our people – Mitch (Barnhart), DeWayne (Peevy), Eric Monday and the guys that worked on it. The great thing, from what I’m being told, is that it’s a win-win. Season ticket holders aren’t going to have to pay more for tickets because they had to do upgrades. There’s not going to be more taxpayer money. Everybody gave something so that this thing works, and I think it’s great. Believe me when I tell you – ecstatic. Done. The arena the way it is right now is not even the same building. Wait until they do the dugouts, the upstairs stuff and the outside of the building. It’ll basically be a brand new building. 

On if he’ll be sad when he coaches his last game in Rupp in 2033 …
“Is that how long it is? I’m trying to get a contract until then, but I’m not sure it’ll go that far. We have stuff we have to do here. We had to get that out of the rearview mirror. Get it out. It’s done. Now let’s move onto how we continue to make this the world-class, gold standard of how you do what we do.”

On what concerns him with the matchup against North Carolina …
“Who? North Carolina? We have them next? [Sarcasm] They’re an unbelievable rebounding team. They’re fast. If you don’t run with them, then you’re giving up layups. They have skilled guys, both inside and outside. They can either play fast or slow and still beat you. They’ve been in close games, which tells you they’re not afraid. Tennessee had a chance to beat them and they come back and win the game. They’re not going to get rattled. They’re a veteran team. Roy (Williams) is a hall of famer. It’ll be a hard game for us. I keep telling myself, folks, that this is a process and I have to keep staying in the moment. We can’t go life or death from game to game when you’re starting four freshmen. You just can’t do it. I get into the same mode as our fans like, ‘Oh my gosh. We lost.’ You’re not getting eaten. It’s a process. We’ve had teams here lose nine and 10 games and get to the NCAA championship game – the NCAA final game. But, I didn’t remember the grind of that. I can just tell you that it’s tough because every game that we play is a big game for somebody. It needs to be a big game for us, and it’s hard because these kids aren’t machines. They’re not computers. It’s hard.”

On what makes North Carolina a good rebounding team …
“They’re big, physical and go to the glass. I don’t believe a team can be good at everything. You’re not. As a coach, you decide what your strengths are and let’s become really good at those things and hide the things that we don’t do well. Their strength is that they can really get out and fly. Their other strength is that they’re really good in the post. They’re big and they fight for position. They try to have two feet in the lane or they seal you over the top. The third thing is that when they shoot it – are you ready for this – half of their misses they rebound for the season. What would you do if you were them, all you Basketball Bennies out here? Are you worried about turning it over or shooting it? Basketball Bennies? You shoot it because half of those you’re going to get back when you miss. You’re either making them or you miss and half of those you get. That’s why they shoot it quickly is because they rebound it.” 

On how Sacha Killeya-Jones has improved over the months …
“He’s gotten better, but this is that time when you’ve just jumped up because you’ve never been through this kind of stuff. I think he needs the two- and three-a-days now to break through where he is. All of these guys, especially the young guys, this is the time right before and after Christmas where your high school season is over. You’re leaving Las Vegas now. You’ve played seven games in two days and now you’re leaving Vegas, going home and going to go watch some videos. Wait a minute. This season just keeps going. January, February and March – it’s not over. It’s just beginning. That’s new to all of these guys.”

On confidence …
“I think most of these kids – and can you blame them – have their mindset down the road a little bit. When stuff doesn’t go right, you start having anxiety. I sent them a text yesterday: ‘Anxiety is not going to change tomorrow, but it can change your fight today – your battle today. Because you’re worrying about stuff, your anxiety is not changing. Whatever will happen will happen.’ So I’m trying to get them to stay in the moment and try to get better. You cannot worry (about) six months down the road, two months down the road. You can’t worry about our game next week, the following week, the league play, the league tournament – I wonder what’s going to happen? What if I don’t? If I don’t make these shots. [Mocking desperation] If I don’t. If I can’t. [Screams] Well, then you can’t play. The battle they have every day in their minds – and I tell them all of the time – it’s not fair what we do to these kids here at Kentucky. It’s not fair. You throw them to the wolves. Every game is the biggest game. Anything they do is on the ticker. They want to do a 30-30 movie on it, make it three, four hours. It isn’t fair. But, it isn’t fair what happens to these kids after their careers are over here, either. What’s happening for them and their families – it’s not fair. They’ve all bought into this. They thought they knew what they were buying into, but until you’re in the middle of it you really don’t know. ‘Yeah, I can do that. Ah, yeah. I can do that. I want that.’ ‘Now, you really want this?’ ‘Do I have to have it tomorrow? Can I take like two days off and then get it on Wednesday?’ ‘No. No. It’s every day.’”

On playing neutral site games and what it does to prepare a team …
“Obviously we’re going to end up with 10 road games. When I was at UMass we played 27 games away from home because I was nuts and I was 33 years old or 34 or whatever I was and didn’t care. Did you hear what I just said? Never in the history of the NCAA has any team played 27 games away from home. We did. I like all home games now as I get older, and we’re still going to play road games. But, the neutral game – one, like it’s the television of it, and two it’s postseason. And what I care about is postseason here. It’s not game to game. It’s postseason. That’s what we play for. That’s why, again, we’ve done pretty well postseason the last seven years. One year, Nerlens (Noel) gets hurt and it kind of changes direction, but that’s what we’re playing for. In postseason you don’t go on an opponent’s court in front of 19, 20 thousand people going nuts, drunk, screaming, yelling and that’s who wins, who loses. Obviously, you’ve gotta play some road games to get some home games. I’d like to play our league road games and that’s it, but can’t do it.” 

On Camp Cal being about building chemistry as much as it is about developing skills …
“Both. It’s trying to stretch them. Look, we’re going twice today. So, we’ll practice this morning and get on that plane and wash your face off, put your stuff back on, let’s go. So, we’re going to practice out there. So, we’re going twice today. I mean I have no restrictions right now. ‘Guys, hey after breakfast we’re going to watch video.’ ‘Ugh.’ ‘Yeah, and if you don’t stay awake or someone falls asleep we’re going out and conditioning for an hour.’ They’ve got toothpicks in their eyes. They’re like this [raises eyes] watching tape. ‘Then we’re going to come back and practice. Hey, I want to shoot free throws tonight.’ ‘Coach.’ ‘Well, what do you have to do?’ ‘We’re in the middle of a video game, and man, I’m up seven on this guy. I need another hour.’ ‘What? Stop. Get over here. We’re doing free-throw shooting and walking through.’ Dinners together. Movies together. I thought the Bahamas trip – the greatest thing we do on those kinds of trips is team building. I like this trip because we’re going out a little early, just team building. We gotta know we’re there for each other. We gotta trust each other. It’s just really focusing their attention on what’s at hand, and that’s what this time of the year does.”

On this team’s rebounding …

“We’ve been practicing putting six guys out there seeing if we can slide a sixth guy out there. [Sarcasm] I don’t know. Some of it’s fight. Some of it’s just put your best rebounders on the floor. If a guy can’t rebound – I just told you the stats. Now you’re me. If a guy can’t keep a guy off the glass, can he play this game? You can put him in and then he gives up two rebounds and you hug him, you love him. I put Brad (Calipari) in. ‘Brad, I love you. You know this. I’m gonna have to deal with your mom, but you ain’t playing. Sit down.’ It’s just how it is. They know. We’re trying to work with them, but you either have the confidence. Have defensive confidence. Have the confidence that you can keep somebody away from the ball and outwork him, or you don’t have that confidence. If you don’t, you have to build it. The only way you build it is in practice. If you can rebound against these guys, you can probably rebound against anybody.”

On possibly playing a big lineup …
“We’re gonna try everything. I may play four guards. Mychal Mulder was like a four at (junior college). So I could put he, Isaiah Briscoe, two guards and a big guy. Maybe we’d be better that way. Maybe they have to change. I mean, we’ll try stuff, and that’s the greatest thing about not having to go game to game. ‘We gotta win.’ This isn’t like the football season where if you lose this one, that one you’ve got no chance for a national title. That’s not what it is, but we have different things we have to try. I do want to give everybody a chance to prove either they should be playing or not. Coaches don’t make those decisions. Players make those decisions.”

On associate head coach Kenny Payne …
“Oh, he’s great. You come to work and sometimes I come in here at night, and I’m in here at 10, 10:30 p.m. and I look out the window (from his office overlooking the practice gym) and he’s out there working out somebody who wanted some extra work. I mean, his life (is) these kids. That’s his value. He’s a great basketball mind. Obviously (as a player) you know all those things, but his life is these kids. Folks, you can’t fake that. In this profession I’m in, if you’re 9-5 you’ll have no relationship with these players. You get here at 8, 7 a.m. when no one’s here and then by 5 p.m. the door hits you on the butt, you run home and ‘I was here all day,’ no, doesn’t work. This thing is about the relationships you have with those players. I wanna have a relationship with them too, but mine’s gonna be different. And then the relationship you have with the recruiting, whether it be the coaches, whether it be the players, their families. And I’ll be honest with you, they feel it. If they think you’re just a coach in the profession, do you really want your son with that guy? Or do you really want your son with someone that cares about kids and makes effort to be there and do more and is not afraid to coach them? He’s harder on our kids than I am. I don’t think there’s any question if you sat in a practice and watched, he’s harder on our guys than I am. And I love it, by the way. Because I can go over and say, ‘He’s really tough on you.’ ”

On North Carolina and Kentucky both being fast teams …
“I think both of us will be trying to slow down the other team as far as ‘get back.’ You’ll hear him (Roy Williams say), ‘Get back!’ And you’ll hear me, ‘Get back!’ We’ll both be yelling that probably 100 times a half. They’re fast. We’re fast. It probably will come down to, if you don’t get it quickly, who’s the better execution team? They’ve got juniors and seniors and older players and we’re playing freshmen. So, you tell me. So we’re gonna have to figure out how to be efficient. The game we lost it was one-on-one basketball. The synergy you need – alright, they stopped us; now we gotta play. Now we gotta create for each other. We weren’t ready for that. Hopefully we’re a little more ready this time.”

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