Monday, February 27, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Head Coach John Calipari Pre - Vanderbilt Press Conference Interview Senior Night


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Head Coach John Calipari

On what each of the three seniors mean to him …

“It’s a hard day because, you know, you remember them coming in. I remember watching them play in high school and Mychal (Mulder) in junior college. You know, you see their growth not only on the basketball court, (but) as people. You see the opportunities they’re now getting. You think about all of the players they had to go against and you shake your head and say, ‘How’d they survive?’ And they’re all three going to graduate. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff that’s there. And to see their families tomorrow and last game in Rupp (Arena), emotions will run high.”

On the difference it makes by having three seniors in the rotation …
“Yeah, and we need them to play well, and that’s what they’re doing right now. It takes it off of those freshmen that are sometimes in and out. This stuff is hard here. I mean, sometimes you go down based on your focus and your work, and then it takes you time to come back from that. If you have a senior who gets it and can step in and take the load off for a while until you figure things out, it’s always good.”

On the one thing you remember most about each one of the seniors …
“Just a lot. I can’t tell you just one thing. I mean, Mychal hadn’t been here as long as Derek (Willis) and Dominique (Hawkins), but the experience of what they’ve been through here, they probably walk away from here – other than a Darius Miller, but Darius didn’t play four years for me – you know, they walk away from this thing being able to take stuff with them. Especially Dom Hawkins and Derek. They’re fan favorites because they’re from Kentucky, but even Mychal. I mean, they’re all three playing their best of their careers right now. I’m trying to build on that for them and hopefully finish that way.”

On Derek Willis saying that he changed his life by pushing him to do things that he didn’t want to do …
“And the whole staff. I don’t want to take more credit than I’m due, but I would say the bar, it’s high here. There’s an expectation that we don’t throw kids under the bus. Kids do stupid things. My own children do stupid things and they’re not getting thrown under the bus. We don’t do it here. Try to get them to grow from every experience, and you look at these players, those three seniors, and they’ve all grown. I mean, you know, there are times where we believe in them at some point in their careers more than they believe in themselves. And we believe they can do more than they believe they can do, and when you can get them to bounce through that, they have that kind of response that he had, which is, ‘I never thought I would do this and it changed me,’ and all that. You know, it’s just holding the bar.”

On what he saw from Dominique Hawkins at the state tournament in 2013 and his progress since then … 
“Well, you saw a guy that wasn’t afraid of the moment. You walk in that building and those events – I mean, that’s a big deal now. And if you grew up in this state and you’re in Rupp Arena and you’re playing at the end of the season and you’re making plays and you’re not afraid, it means you can play here. This isn’t for everybody, you know, and you saw that in him. And Derek, it was a potential of, oh my gosh. This young man here, the length, the ability to shoot the ball, the skill set, you know, we just gotta pull this all together. And look, every kid is on a different timetable here. We haven’t had every player leave after one year. And my--the only thing that has been tough for me is to convince kids that if you are not going to leave after a year, it’s OK. Like, it’s OK. ‘Well, I thought I was going to leave in a year.’ What? Who told you that? Where? What delusional person put that in your ear? So, that’s the hardest thing. These three came in knowing what they wanted to do, and I think all three of them will play professionally if they choose to do that. They are going to have opportunities. You know, one of the GMs from Australia came in and was looking at Derek and Dom and Isaac (Humphries) and Mychal. And opportunities from there. You know, you get into this thing professionally and then other things break. I mean, you get opportunities you never thought you would have, but the good news for all three of them is they are going to have college degrees too to go along with it. I just, again, for those three to finish this thing and have a good run at the end where they walk away fulfilled on every front is what you would want. But I’m happy for all three of them really.”

On Hawkins’ defense in the 2014 Final Four run … 
“I remember the Michigan game before that where we stuck him in to guard the shooter [Nik Stauskas] and he went in and locked him down. The way he’s been playing now is just fight, battling. And, you know, he’ll forget stuff. [Mumbles like Hawkins is confused.] And then he’ll go, ‘Oh!’ But what are you going to say with a guy that’s diving all over the floor, taking charges, sticking his nose in, coming up with balls that he shouldn’t come up with, making layups and runners, and not afraid to play. He’s built his own self confidence and he has built that through practice. And he’s another one-- think of the guys he’s played against every day. I mean, there’s – whew.” 

On if Hawkins would be at Kentucky if he had not seen him in the KHSAA Sweet 16 … 
“I believe so. The only thing is I hate to take guys sight unseen. Every time I’ve done that in my career I’ve been wrong. So I am like gun shy about that. Even here I did it once and it was a mistake. So, you know, by seeing him it cemented for me. And I had heard all kind of good stuff, you know, and all the guys telling me. Athen when you meet him, you’re just like wow. Just a humble, smart, great teammate, polite. You know, great, great human being.”

On Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis sticking out all four years …
“I think, again, you have guys that come in and understand what this is, and those two understood it. So did Mychal.. This is not easy; it’s not for everybody. Is this what you want before you come in? And if it is, then you’ll stick it out. If you’re delusional, sometimes you’d say, ‘I thought I’d be.’ What? I mean, there’s no magic wand here. Not every kid is going to be within six months all this and this. Sometimes it takes guys longer, and you try to talk. We’ve got a couple guys on this team – ‘It’s going to take you a littler longer. Are you willing to work? Or you think by I’ll run and it’ll happen for me somewhere else.’ OK, if that’s what you believe. But I think, again, when you’re talking those two, they were also from Kentucky. I mean, this was probably their dream. I don’t know if anyone asked that question, but I would imagine that was their dream, to play for us here.”

On if there is any pressure to see Hawkins and Willis succeed because they’re from Kentucky …
“You care about every kid in the program and you want them all to be the best version of themselves. And what I can tell you about those two is right now – and I said this this morning in a meeting with them – they’ve never played better in their careers as they’re playing right now, and I can say the same for Mychal. And that’s what you want as a coach. You want them to be ready for opportunities when they have to wait. You want them to learn about leadership, servant leadership. You want them to share, to give up something so someone else can have something. They embody that. I feel pressure for each of these kids, not just two or not just seniors. I mean, every one of them.”

On if the seniors will start tomorrow …
“Yeah, I always start the seniors.”

On how dangerous Vanderbilt is …
“Very dangerous. I’ve watched tape. I watched it Saturday after the game and I watched it yesterday and I watched it today. They’re playing their best basketball. They’re making shots. They’re cutting hard. They played us all zone last time, and now they’re not playing zone at all. They struggled defensively and they’re not now. I tell ya, they’re playing and they’re playing together and they’ve figured it out. It’s like every team we play. It’s just all of a sudden they’re playing well and then they play us.”

On Vanderbilt feeling like they have something to play for, not house money …
“I would say it’s not, but they may play it that way, and if they do, you’ll know. You’ll say, ‘Oh, these dudes are playing like it’s house money.’ Even though there’s something at stake. I think, again, they’re a NCAA Tournament team. They’ve gotta probably win a couple games, but I would say they’re an NCAA Tournament team. They will have the No. 1 schedule in the country at the end of the regular season. No. 1.”

On his tweet about waking up in the middle of the night because of anxiety …
“The last couple of days I’ve just, my mind’s been racing and I kind jumped up, and I told the staff that. Eric (Lindsey) and my wife (Ellen) said, ‘What, do you have anxiety?’ I just laugh. I said, ‘No I don’t have anxiety. I give anxiety.’ And then Kenny Payne was laughing. He said, ‘I woke up in the middle of the night yelling at Bam.’ [Laughter.] And I said, ‘All of us are losing our minds right now.’ As you go through this, this consumes you. I know, you know, people know I do other things. I have to because I’ll wake up at 3 in the morning if I’m not. My mind’s got to be consumed with some other stuff, not just basketball, because even when I’m sleeping that stuff happens. Why didn’t he rebound? What? Where am I? So, we just put it out because we laughed.”

On if De’Aaron Fox will play tomorrow night …
“I have no idea. I haven’t seen him. This morning he was in the meeting but I didn’t ask him.”

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