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October 20, 2017

John Calipari

Lexington, Kentucky

COACH CALIPARI: So hopefully I have ten guys that can play, because there's no one that can play more than 20 minutes right now.

Q. Was it just cramps with Quade? I know he left.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he's in the cold tub right now because he's cramped his leg and then his arm and his little finger.

Q. Full body cramp?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, we had him and we had P.J. cramping. You had Hami cramping. You had Nick, everybody. When they saw one guy grab his leg, they all grabbed their legs. But we're practicing twice tomorrow.

Q. You mentioned earlier, I think it was Media Day that Kevin Knox had a breakthrough on something. Is it your -- the history of you with kids, freshman, once they breakthrough with something, is that permanent or is there a lot of back and forth?
COACH CALIPARI: No, we need him to be more assertive, because he kind of does what Malik would do. If I didn't call something for him, sometimes he would just be out there and go five minutes and not shoot it. He needs to be alert to make plays, and I kind of got on him at halftime. He was 8 for 10 with six rebounds, and he offensive rebounded. He did what I wanted him to do going after the glass.

We're just young. I mean, Hami reverted and all of a sudden he's throwing crosscourt hook passes from the corner to the top. I mean, there were a lot of stuff, but most of it is as soon as they got tired they reverted. So we've got to get in better shape. You know, Shai did some good things. All I'm telling Quade, do not hold the ball. Do not hold the ball. Get rid of it, and he can shoot. So now we'll get you shots. You be the guy away from the ball. If it comes to you and you get in the lane, that's great.

So we've got to narrow into how we're going to play. I thought Wenyen worked hard the whole time, and tried and made shots. He's way better than he was a year ago. I think you see that. But we're going to have to see.

Q. Nick sort of looks like a rim protector. Is that bad for you?
COACH CALIPARI: Not bad, offensively I'm trying to tell him, just jump hook, man. Forget about watch this. Catch it, fake, and jump hook. If it goes in, fine. If it doesn't, we'll rebound it. So, again, you try to make it simple and keep it simple for the kids.

Q. You mentioned Wenyen driving to the basket. We didn't see that a lot last year. Is that the guy you recruited as you said earlier this week?
COACH CALIPARI: The guy I recruited was an energy guy with second and third jumps, and fourth jumps and come up with balls that no one came up with and make some shots. There were a come drives in the first half that he didn't need to drive. There was the pass ahead. There's nothing there. He's not that guy that can cross and do. But if it's him and a guy, he can get by that guy and get to the rim. So he's just got to recognize when do I go and when do I move that ball?

I'll watch the tape, but it's, you know, we're -- we've got a ways to go, let me just say that. You know, since Eric doesn't coach the team, he said, oh, it's early. Yeah, so you're over there eating popcorn. I'm dying here. I've got a noose around my neck, and he's telling me, oh, it's early. We'll be fine.

Q. 12 played tonight.

Q. Your son.
COACH CALIPARI: Oh. He did okay. He had to stay on the court the whole time. He he's smart enough to not sub yourself. When you don't get a whole lot of time to play, when you get on that court, you never sub yourself. But he did all right.

He's going to have to make open shots, and he's figuring out how to try to play with these guys and put himself in position. I don't think he -- no turnovers. That's huge for him. If you're not turning it over and you're staying in front of people to make a couple shots, you can stay in the game some. But if you're coming down, getting scored on every time and turning it over T you can't be in there. Then I've got to deal with his mom when I go home. So don't turn it over and stay in front of people, make a shot or two.

Q. I'm sure it's not the type of defense you expect later in the season, but a lot of hands on the ball, a lot of deflections tonight.
COACH CALIPARI: I have to look at the tape and I'll evaluate it that way. I just know you have to take people out. You've got to go play the ball. Then everybody's got to see the ball so the guy can't get beat on the dribble. You've got to make everything hard. Then you've got to rebound it and go.

There were rotations that we didn't make. I can still see a couple that we didn't make. But, again, this was a team that was a high school team seven months ago. Now we're trying to get them to create the habits you need to win, and they don't have them yet. They're trying. The guys that were there, Jimmy, and they were in practice, they said you've got no body language.

They want to be coached. They want to listen. They just are young; and it's hard to be patient. I told them, look, guys. If I've got to start getting meaner, I will. But we've got to start making this gradual climb. I can't go in and watch a game and have guys go through the motions of playing. We've got to start working on our press. It's hard to run a press when you don't have out-of-bounds plays, a side play. We've got to work on some zone. It's hard to do all that when you're trying to figure out how to make one more pass, and get open, and drive in the offense. I mean, how do you play pick-and-roll? We haven't done a good job of teaching it right now. Had to do some stuff on the court.

I like the team, I like this team. But, whew, hmm.

Q. Is there an Alpha dog personality on this team? Is it too early, or do you even need that?
COACH CALIPARI: There is, but it's on their terms. Like if I feel like being an Alpha dog, I'll be an Alpha dog, but right now I don't feel like it.

Excuse me. If you want to be that guy, you're that guy every time we practice, every time we play, and everybody you're playing against. And we've got a couple guys that to be that guy is really hard, especially if you're that guy all the time. It's really hard. I'd rather be -- when I kind of feel like it. And again, that's all the young stuff that we've got to deal with. That's part of it.

Guys, this was like a scrimmage. You've got this many questions on a scrimmage? Oh, my gosh.

Q. You preached passing the ball. At times did they overpass instead of just taking an open shot?
COACH CALIPARI: Sometimes, but most of the time they were throwing it to another guy who was wide open. I thought Shai had two or three shots he should have taken. There were a couple that we needed to pass it one more and the guys tried to drive it. But I know this, when we moved the ball and we did a couple lane touches, something good happens.

Now I'll say this again. You may say what if a team just packs it in? Basically they've surrendered. Their coach said we can't play this team so just go in the lane and stand there. Now we're going to have to make some shots. But you saw Quade make some shots, you saw Kevin Knox and Wenyen make some shots. We're not Steph Curry, but I've had way worse shooting teams than this, and we've done okay.

Teams that were, whew, and even to the point of free-throw shooting teams that were worse than this. But we're long. We're active. You've got to play with a competitive spirit to take advantage of that.

Q. Do you have an injury update on Jarred Vanderbilt?
COACH CALIPARI: I have no update yet. Doc will probably -- this is probably the week they're going to look at him and see how he does.

Q. What do you like about what you've seen from P.J.? He seemed to show off that little mid-range jumpshot and do some things, finishing around the rim.
COACH CALIPARI: All I keep saying is more motor. More motor. You know. Some of it we've got to bring it out of him, and then when he does it, just cheer him on and just challenge him to do that. When he's not playing with motor, sub. So you're on the court and you're never trying to rest. You're playing one way. When he gets to that, there's guys better than him, I got to see it. And everybody they said would be Player of the Year in our league, all those guys, are his position. Okay. They said he'd be Player of the Year. He'd be Player of the Year, and he'd be Player of the Year. You're going to play all three of them. Let's see who is better. You've got a chance to prove it.

Q. Just a follow-up, how do you coach more motor?
COACH CALIPARI: You do drills to make them do it. You challenge guys to do it. When they're not doing it, you put them on the second team. You just, if you demand a lot as a coach, you'll get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, you'll get it every single time. You just demand it. We don't do that here. If you can't play, that's okay. You're not going to play much. You'll come off the bench.

I remember telling guys, you know you can't start playing this way. Right? Come on. You know it, right? I'll play you. And if you're really playing, I'll play you 25, 30 minutes. If you're not, I'll play you five minutes.

But you know you can't be a starter here, right? Come on. You know you can't be in on your terms and be a starter. And I've done that, not this year, but with other teams. You won't believe it, that guy started playing with a motor. If you demand a lot, you get a lot. And if you accept mediocrity you're getting it every single time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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