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October 24, 2012

John Calipari


COACH CALIPARI:  I would tell you that we really have a long way to go.  We were a great defensive team by the end of last year.  Led the nation in a lot of categories.  People were scoring half the buckets.  We stopped playing.  We don't rotate, we don't scramble, just an okay rebounding team.  Other than that, I guess we played pretty good defense.
Offensively, we still haven't figured it out yet, but I'm trying to get guys to play a certain way and they're trying.  But it's the first time out.  We've scrimmaged this year 12 minutes before that scrimmage.  We have so much to do to create habits.  We really haven't been able to scrimmage, and it kind of showed.
But I'm not worried about it.  There were some lessons and there will be some stuff I'll be able to show them to make a point of what we're trying to do.  Hope things were okay.  First time out, Willie started really good.  Nerlens hurt his back but finished the game.  Questions?

Q.  What about Mays?  What does he bring you?
COACH CALIPARI:  What Darius brought us.  He'll make an open shot.  He's better with the ball.  You'll see him.  He'll push it really hard.  He's really strong, really heady.  It's just Darius was bigger, but he brings the same kind of stuff.

Q.  Is there like a self‑awareness or self‑confidence?  Is that what you've seen, and he knows what he can do?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, he's loving this.  He just said every day he's learning.  He said this is the greatest experience.  He appreciates it, and there is nothing he's just playing and doing the things he knows he can do.
I'm just trying to get everybody to play to your strengths, do what you do well.  There's a lot of stuff we're doing right now that to get them to play fast and get them in shape.
What happens with young kids is they stop playing all the time.  The game's going on, and one time I looked over and Archie's grabbing his shorts and the ball is in play.  The ball is in play.  That's just freshmen.  So we have a lot of freshmen issues right now that we're going to have to deal with, but that's part of what happens.

Q.  (No Microphone)?
COACH CALIPARI:  I don't know if you say what you think.  But I told them at halftime, if you told me.  Julius would start, Nerlens would start, I don't know who else would start.  Archie played better in the second half, but still defensively.
So if you asked me, I would say, you know, I thought Jarrod Polson played the best point guard in the first half.  I mean, we're still trying to figure out who we are, so we don't really have starters.
Jon Hood, that is the best he can play.  He's not listening to somebody tell him how to play, he know what's his game is now.  So he take that's 7‑footer.  He'll run and do things that he can do.  You know, he's getting his legs back.  I was happy for him.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
COACH CALIPARI:  Played good.  Played good.  Played really hard, played confident.  Talked, verbalized with his team.  Knew in that first half that he was going to get shots for Willie, and he was going to get shots for Julius, and that's what he did and the other guys kind of played off of it.

Q.  Can you talk about Archie?
COACH CALIPARI:  No, it wasn't that.  He passed up Julius Mays.  Julius was out ahead of him, and he drove it by him and shot it, and that's unacceptable here.  I wasn't really happy.  But that's not my deal.  I let him know.
Then after the game he took 22 shots, more than anybody on the team.  I said you don't ever pass anyone up if you're going to get shots, you don't ever.  And I said after the game, I said the reason is because I'm making people throw it to you when you're ahead.  So you better talk to them when they're ahead.  He understood.
It's not fun when you're being told in an aggressive way.  But we don't have time here this isn't for funsies.

Q.  (No Microphone)?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, everybody sees we're not as good as everybody's trying to say we are, and I'm good with that.  We are where we are.  It's October 24th, and we're playing like it's October 15th.  I mean, we scrimmaged 12 minutes.  We've done this.
The biggest thing is no one got hurt.  I'm so happy.  Now we can go on with our practice.  We've got practice early tomorrow morning we're just trying to get ready.  I think this shows our team that we've got to be a great defensive team.  We're not right now.  We don't play the ball real good.  We stopped playing on the weak side.  We don't rotate.  When a guy goes to lead, we don't help him.  There is no help the helper right now.  Everybody's playing their own man.  You can't play defense that way.  But, again, it's all freshmen.  They just don't know.  But they're trying.

Q.  What changes that?  How do you get those guys?
COACH CALIPARI:  Every day, man.  It's a grind.  Every day, and you don't back up.  You just don't back up.  This is where we are.  This is where we're going.  And you just keep pointing it out, keep it real.  We're not playing games.
After I just said we went through a few guys and how they played, and I said, you know what?  You all want me to keep it real, but it's hard when I'm talking about you.  And there were some guys in the room that said you're going to have to play better.  You're going to have to play more aggressive.
I thought Alex came to jump stops, which is how he's going to have to play, instead of trying to leave his feet and be cute, just come to jump stops, dump balls and get fouled.  He went 6 for 10 from the free‑throw line, I'd like him to go 8 for 10.  7 and a half for every ten.  But he went 6 for 10 not bad, not great.
Kyle's going to have to defend better.  Jon Hood had his way with Kyle.  So now we'll have to figure out, does Kyle guard the 5?  Do these other guys guard the 4s?  Is that how we play?  I don't know yet.
But I will say this, I told Kyle you've got to do other things other than rely on jump shots.  Because if you're not making shots, I have to sit you down.  Now your shot becomes tough making shots.  Hard to make shots when you have to make shots.  Like this is the thing that will keep me in the game, it makes it tough.
I told him, you want to do all that other stuff, rebound, stay in front of people.  But some of it is I'm going to have to find out how we do this?  Because we do need his shooting and scoring on the floor.

Q.  You got the national record of blocked shots, and Willie and (No Microphone) had 12 tonight.  But how much do you think those guys will average?
COACH CALIPARI:  What did we average last year?

Q.  9.5 a game.
COACH CALIPARI:  So if we played against each other, we'd be pretty good, but since we have to play against other people, you know.  And the first four or five times he didn't go after balls because of his back.  He fell right on his back.  I even said, you saw Nerlens' quickness where you could get it to him, and he could make plays quick.  And Nerlens has quick feet, so for him to do that and dunk on him, the way he started the game, I thought Willie‑‑ again, you see both of them.  They're both able to play 18, 19, 20 minutes right now.
Trying to play 30 minutes, they're not ready.  But neither is anybody else, that's the issue right now.  We've got a bunch of guy that's could probably play about half of a college game, maybe.  Maybe less.

Q.  What about (No Microphone)?
COACH CALIPARI:  Played okay.  Okay.

Q.  What does he need to do to get better?
COACH CALIPARI:  Just has to be more aggressive.  Has to be more vocal.  Has to have more intensity to his game.  He can't be cool.  He can't act like the other guy's not playing.  All those things.  You know, he can do that, but he's going to be forced to because you have no choice now.  I mean, we can play all kinds of different combinations.
You saw Archie at point guard, he was fine.  You saw Alex at four, we weren't bad.  We haven't shown the two bigs yet.  What will happen is we'll go with the combination.  If that combination is going well, they'll stay in and you'll sit.
So that's basically challenges you.  I've got to be on point.  It doesn't mean you have to play perfect, but I've got to play hard, and I've got to play with intensity.  I've got to bring it every time I'm on the court or someone else is going to play.

Q.  (No Microphone)?
COACH CALIPARI:  He was probably better.  I'll watch the tape.  I think he's a better player than that and he needs to be.  But he is.  He's played better in practice.  This is the first time he's played in front of people with uniform on now.  He was okay.  It was okay.  It wasn't bad.
It's just like Archie and Alex the whole time.  I'm yelling at them, Play!  Play, Alex, bounce!  The whole time he's just standing.  They just don't get it yet.  But that's why we've been doing things in practice the same way.  Just try to keep their intensity.

Q.  (No Microphone)?
COACH CALIPARI:  Maybe with Twany out we needed someone bigger than Sam and Brian.

Q.  Do you feel like you have a little more depth (No Microphone)?
COACH CALIPARI:  We're about like we were a year ago.  Yeah, we're the same.  But there were guys that were more prepared to play longer minutes last year.  They had the three returning guys.  Michael Kidd, and they were able to start and play.  You knew they could play 23, 24 minutes.  Now they were sloppy and all that, but we had low turnovers.
Again, I'm going to tell you, we scrimmaged 12 minutes this season.  That's it.

Q.  Did you play before?
COACH CALIPARI:  You can't.  How can you scrimmage if you don't know how to play yet?  They don't know how to stance, they don't know how to close out yet.  They don't know how to rotate, their spacing and time something so bad, that if you let them just play, you're telling them it's okay to play that way in my opinion, how I coach.
Now whether that's right or not, we'll find out, but I think you've got to stop them.  Make them play the right way, and then let them play more and more.  And they figure out that you're not moving.  This is how we're going to play.  We'll be fine.  We lost a whole team.  We've got a brand‑new team.  We are where we are right now.  I think it shows.
Hopefully in a month you'll watch us and say, man, they really got better.  And in another month you say, man, they've got a chance.  And in another month, you say man, they're right there.  That's our hope.  That's what we want to do with this crew.
And we have great kids that are listening, so it's just that their habits‑‑ they were always the best player, they were always bigger and stronger, and they could take time off.  Two possessions, three possessions.  They don't feel like playing.  I'm going to take this quarter off.  Can somebody get me a hot dog?  Yeah, come on.  Coach, I'll eat this hot dog and I'll go right in.  It's tough.  It's tough playing here.  It's a little combo.

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