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December 8, 2012

John Calipari

Kentucky – 74
Portland – 46

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  (Question regarding Ryan.)
COACH CALIPARI:  I liked it.  He had two lapses of his old self.  I absolutely jerked him out of the game because he's not playing that way.  The other parts of the game I thought he did fine.
Got to run the team a little bit better, like yelling out what we're doing.  But he was good.  It was great to see.  I'm happy for him.

Q.  How do you compare this to the other night?
COACH CALIPARI:  We got better.  But we're still a ways away, folks.  We're still doing the same things only a little bit better than we were doing them.

Q.  It's late in the game when this happens, but Archie gets those dunks late.  Is that what you get if you get Ryan in the game?
COACH CALIPARI:  We don't get any easy baskets when he's not in the game.  The head of the pack.  That was at the very, very end.
But, you know, we scrambled a little bit better, we helped down a little bit better.  All the stuff we've been working on.  But there were still lapses.
Again, the start of the half, I may be trying a different starting lineup at halftime because of the one that starts in the second half right now.  If you look at the numbers, we're getting outscored in the first five minutes and second five minutes probably by five minutes every game we've played, every single game.  So maybe we have a different lineup.  I don't know yet.  We've got to figure it out.

Q.  You were up there 14 midway through the second half.  Go on about a 21‑5 run.  Is that more what you want to do?
COACH CALIPARI:  Here is what happens.  In a normal college game, if you have two teams fighting, one team will hang around for the half.  About the 12 minute mark, 10 minute mark, 11 minute mark, they'll let go of the rope.  That is when you go on that 12‑0, 12‑2, 14‑2, and that's the ballgame.  But that's been us, the team that let go.
So we're trying to get that to be who we are.  Now, the way we finished the game, and again, I had to coax them into playing, I shouldn't have to.  I shouldn't be on a guy, Play, scramble, stay down.  What?  What is that, strategy?  I mean, that's basically how I'm coaching right now.
So like I say, we got a ways to go.  This is an unbelievable three weeks.  We're practicing twice tomorrow.  Finals will be Monday so we're going to give them off Monday and maybe off Tuesday.  Probably practice after finals on Tuesday.  Go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, get ready for a game Saturday.  From Friday night on, there's no days off, nothing.  We'll be going three times a day.
So for the next two weeks, we'll be going at least five of the days three times a day.  I'm fine.  I'll be exhausted, but what the heck.  The whole point is to help these young people think differently.  They've got to think differently than they're thinking.

Q.  Could you elaborate when you said Ryan sort of reverted to his old self.
COACH CALIPARI:  Jogs the ball up the court, standing straight up and down, not moving as the ball moves on defense.  Just absolutely standing there.
Okay, you're out.
The rest of the game he didn't do it.  He pushed the ball ahead, flew it up the court, stayed in a stance, bothered the ball.  When the ball drove, he went level with the ball.
But it's really hard to play that way.  Same with Alex.  Alex is up to about three minutes and five seconds at a clip.  He went from three minutes to three minutes and five seconds.  But he's moving in the right direction.

Q.  Did you want them driving in the paint?
COACH CALIPARI:  No.  We had guys playing them on the side.
I'm just telling you we have a long way to go.  My question to my team:  There's eight or 10 teams that are better than all the rest of the teams in the country.  Do you want to be one of those eight or 10 teams?  What are you willing to do to be one of those eight or 10 teams?  Or don't you want to be?  Too hard.  I don't want to be one of those eight or 10.
You tell me we have to go three‑a‑days to be top 50, hope we make the NCAA tournament.  If we're in the NIT, it's a good run to New York.  We can be that team, too.  I mean, which team do you want to be?
I'm looking at everybody in the country saying we're probably 50 to 100 right now, but we could be top 10, top 8.  Those eight are the only ones that truly have a chance to win the whole thing.  Do you want to be those or not?  That was my challenge to them.  Are you fearful you're not good enough right now?  Are you like Derrick Rose, who when I had him:  I just don't think I'm good enough, I have to work harder, spend more time.  Or Michael Kidd, Brandon Knight, guys that understood, I'm not good enough, I've got to get better.
I'm working on as much mental toughness and the mentality this team has.  It's not all their fault.  We played Maryland and Duke to start off.  We all think everything's good because we only lost to Duke by three.  It was a three‑point game, so we're good.
We weren't right.  I knew we weren't right.  That falls on me.  I'm trying to correct the mistakes I made and make sure that we get these guys after it.

Q.  Did you give your guys a chance to answer when you asked them about where they wanted to be?
COACH CALIPARI:  That team meeting you had, have another one, try to figure this out.  Come back and tell me.  If you don't, don't let me go nuts by myself.  Just tell me:  We're good, cool down, we'll jog it up the court, help each other when we feel like it, have some big threes sometimes.  Just let me know.
As I say this jokingly to you and sarcastically, I like my team and I like our players.  What are they choosing to do?  Did you see the fans gave Kyle Wiltjer a great ovation?  Can you tell me what that was for?  Tell me why they did it.  He rebounded a couple balls.  You know he didn't have a rebound in the first half.
Our fans will cheer him.  He only had three rebounds.  Acted like he had 12.  But he got three in traffic that they haven't seen in eight games.  Well, that's what we've been doing in practice.  There were loose balls he didn't get, he had to sit down, You're not playing.  Loose balls that Ryan didn't get, You're sitting down, you're not playing.  I'm holding them accountable.
I grabbed a couple of them after.  It's hard, isn't it?  Hard trying to be special.  Easy being mediocre.  It is really hard to try to be special.
I can help you or you can say, I don't know what I'm doing.  Maybe I don't.  I never prepared anybody.  I don't know.  Or you can listen to what I'm saying and do it.
You know, I'm not afraid to tell the media what I've said.  I like our fans to watch and say, He is exhausted, my gosh, look at him, so these guys understand.
It's hard playing here and it's hard playing for me.  You don't come here unless you want to be special.  Don't do it.  Don't torture you or me.

Q.  You mentioned that start, the tough games early on.  Did that speed you up or slow you down getting this team to where you wanted to get them?
COACH CALIPARI:  That's a good question.  We did what we did because we needed to figure out early because we didn't have anybody returning.
But it gave us a clear picture now that we've got three weeks to get this right.  We got one week with finals, but that means we'll have time, then we have no class for two straight weeks.  I cannot wait.  I won't be leaving campus for anything.  I'll be staying right here with these guys every day going.  Well, I got to leave one day...

Q.  You said many times that you don't believe in the early morning workouts that coaches do.  Now Coach Cal, 7 a.m.
COACH CALIPARI:  It's not basketball practice.  It's conditioning.  It's conditioning.

Q.  What's the difference?
COACH CALIPARI:  There's a big difference.  The reason I'm doing it, it's not how much we're killing them in the workouts, it's that you've got to get up at 7:00 and do it, which means you're up at 6:30.  The biggest fight you have is that early‑morning wake‑up call.  That's the biggest fight of the day.
If I can get them when they feel like that, having to condition and get their heart rate up, that means in a game when they don't feel like going, they know they have something in the tank.
I told them, I'm working more on you mentally than physically in the morning.  I'm making you get up, sweat, get your heart rate up.  Now we'll practice.  Hopefully we're going to get this thing right.
When they come back for school, we're back to the normal two‑hour practice a day, which is what we do.  I'm not a three‑hour guy.  Even now we'll go two hours.  I may go 2 hours 15 minutes, but normally it's two hours.

Q.  Nerlens I guess is okay.  Said he had some kind of leg bruise.  How is he and how did he play through that today?
COACH CALIPARI:  He did all right.  He started limping.  We took him out.  If you want to play, fake it, don't limp, play.
He went back in.  I said, You're an energy guy, you're not a skill guy.  You're not and up‑and‑under swing, hook guy, that's not who you are.  You're an energy guy.  Get on Willie.  Willie one‑handed it, came down and lost the ball.  Why didn't you grab it with two, crab dribble it, dunk it.  It's harder, that's why.
So he comes back the next play, grabs it, it an (indiscernible).  Compete against the guy you're going against.  That's what this learning experience is for this team.  They're getting better.  But I'm not backing up.  I'm holding them accountable on every possession until they're ready to say, C'mon, let's go.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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