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November 10, 2013

John Calipari


Q.  The NKU head coach said that he didn't think that his did anything to make your team better, but could you comment on that?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, he had‑‑ coach did a great job.  I watched the Purdue tape.  They had Purdue beat.  Purdue was lucky that Northern missed a lay‑up to win the game.  Northern was up 4 with 1:02 to go.  They were up 4.  They had Purdue beat on the road, and Purdue was roughhoused.  They didn't make their threes today.  Against Purdue they were 13 of 26.  So we hit them on a good night.
What I'm happy with is my team.  First of all, you had Aaron Harrison took ten shots, James Young 8, Julius 7, Aaron, Andrew 7, Alex 7, Willie 5.  That's our team.  That's how we play basketball.
We had 7 turnovers.  Now when I put that last crew in we got five, but we had seven turnovers.  Not enough assists.  We're holding the ball a little bit too long.  Got to give that up a little bit earlier.  I thought we played through possessions better.  I thought we got to the second and third drive for the first time.  Now, again, it's not their fault because it's something that we really zeroed in on yesterday.
You've got to play games to know where you're weak.  We thought whoever had it tried to either score or make a scoring pass.  That's not what dribble drive is.  Dribble drive is getting to the third drive.  How do you get to the third drive?  In there defensively, my teams have played through the shot clock and then they rebound.  Today we rebounded much better.

Q.  Cal, Julius had 22‑14.  Should he have had 22 rebounds this game?
COACH CALIPARI:  Probably had another‑‑ he should be averaging 20 rebounds a game right now I would say.  But like I was on him for stopping.  He stops out there, and he finally took himself out for the first time this season.  He took himself out.  The only way he came out was the guy almost poked his eye out, so had he to come out.  You can't play at the pace we play and stay in there for 15 minutes.  You just can't do it.  So they're all learning.  They're all learning.
I think Andrew's holding the ball too long.  Messing with it instead of just get to the lane, pull‑up jumpers.  I thought Aaron played well again today.  Aaron is playing really well.  Aaron's defending pretty good.  You know, we've got to get our guards rebounding a little bit better.  Aaron didn't have any rebounds and that's an issue for us.  But we got better today.  That's all I'm worried about.  We got better.

Q.  Cal, you said a couple times you're not going to let the schedule dictate the plan with this team.  But did you get what you wanted out of these teams?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, we did.  Well, I went on TV‑‑ when I said it's not fair for a team like ours to try to play an event like that, it's true.  I mean, we've got all freshmen and sophomores.  You don't play in that kind of event two games in.  We had to play two games just so we could get another game in.  No one else in the tournament is.
So Tom Izzo who is a good friend of mine said well, Cal should forfeit the game.  Just let us know he's forfeiting so I can go to Chicago to just shop.
So I text him and I said, I officially forfeit the game so you can go to Chicago and shop.  We're not very good right now.  Then he called me back and we're laughing.  We didn't get to speak.  He said last time we talked he didn't like the results, so he's not going to‑‑ but I'll see him up there.
Look, all these teams, it's a hard game to play this early.  Kansas is a good team; Duke is a good team; Michigan State, they're all good teams and they're well‑coached.  They're well coached.  This is not like you're going to steal, sneak by.  You're going to have ball.
For us, it's just a bar of where we are right now.  We've the guy long way to go.  I mean, do you see how many plays we just ran?  Like two.  We're still trying to figure out how to play fast, how to get in the lane, how to post‑up, how to cut.  Trying to figure out defensively how we need to play.  We're still not right.  How'd you like the zone?  Could be a good zone team because we're so big.  You didn't like the zone?

Q.  Did you like the zone?
COACH CALIPARI:  I just think it's something that we've got to prepare for to play because of our size.  Now, we haven't worked on it enough that it's a really sloppy zone, but even being sloppy‑‑ and I've tried to talk them through stuff, it's a scrambling.  You think about it.  At one point I think we had 7‑foot, 7‑foot, 6'10", 6'7", 6'6".  That is a big zone.  That is a big zone.

Q.  What did you think about Alex's effort today?
COACH CALIPARI:  Great again, great again.  You know what's happened?  He's right now building his own confidence.  He's building his own self‑esteem.  You know why?  He's not trying to do stuff he can't do.  You know how many turnovers he had today again?  Zero.  He had no turnovers again.  So now he knows.  I'm telling him, if you're open, shoot it.  If you have a one dribble pull‑up, shoot it.  If you're around the goal, try to get it in.  Do not try to make plays; you turn it over, so don't do it.  Do what you do well.
You're watching them out there rebounding.  Again, he has 9 and 7 today.  I'm proud of him.  I'm proud of how he's playing.  I'm not happy with the way we started the game or how we started the half.  I'm going to have to watch the tape more closely.  But, again, I've watched no Michigan State tape yet.  So I've got to watch their exhibition game, their first game.  I've watched it, but I've also got to watch our tape of this game to see why we started so poorly.

Q.  You mentioned holding on to the ball a little bit.  But, overall, where is Andrew relative to just in terms of how long you've had him?
COACH CALIPARI:  He's going to be terrific.  He's really going to be good.  Here's what he's used to doing.  Instead of getting the ball by the man, just go, he's used to messing around.  Well, you can't.  Plus, you make us stand.  So if you have a play, make it.  If you don't have a play, pass it and cut.  You notice I was on him about cutting.  Like he posted the ball and stood there.  You've got to get out.  Or he threw it to a teammate and stood there.  You've got to get out because we're trying to drive.
It's all stuff that‑‑ he's like, whatever I teach him becomes his.  He's like that.  He's on me.  He zones in.  He knows.  I'm trying to get he and his brother to forget about how they're playing and worry about us.  James Young did the same thing today.  You can't worry about how you're playing; worry about how we're playing.
So they get down and those points this time you've got to sub them, and I'd rather them be able to play through those.

Q.  Could you find yourself in a situation if Alex keeps playing this way and maybe James keeps playing this way that you bring Alex in the starting rotation?
COACH CALIPARI:  Really doesn't matter.  We've got seven guys.  It really doesn't matter.  We've got seven.  If I think we start better with Alex starting than that, I would do that.  But we've got seven.
Really, you and I know we've got eight because Marcus Lee, again, played well.  I mean, he has a spirit on the court.  He has an energy that he gives to the rest of his teammates.  So we basically have eight guys that we could start.  I'm doing the seven‑man rotation.
Isn't it great?  A kid like Marcus Lee who is a McDonald's All‑American trust me and our staff.  Tell me how you want me to play.  You want me right now not to be in that seven?  That's fine.  I said if there's foul trouble injury you're in the seven.  If I can figure out ways to slide you in, I'm going to.  But this program is going to be about you, Marcus Lee.  I just need to you get better.  I'm going to coach you and I'm going to develop you, and understand right now these guys are ahead of you, but that doesn't mean anything.  You know what he responds?  Greatest kid.  Tried to leave the locker room, he forgot shoes he was walking out with bare feet.  I said what are you doing?  He said, oh, I forgot my shoes.

Q.  How well do you think you guys stay with business tonight, no Showtime or a little Showtime?
COACH CALIPARI:  We did all right.  We got better.  We had a great practice yesterday.  Went short.  Went about an hour‑and‑a‑half, hour‑40 minutes.  Had great tape.  You know what they told me about, they said keep showing us the tape so we can see that we're not playing like you want us to play.  As hard, that we're stopping.  We had plays against Asheville where a guy cut and went four steps before our guy knew he cut.  Like were you not watching your man?  Well, I was a little tired and I had stopped playing.  You can't do that.  So it happened three times in that game.  When you show them, they all laugh, but they know.
Everything we're doing is for the time being what we have to do to be able to compete and then move on.  We can't move on until we're good at the stuff we're doing.  You see we're getting better defensively.  We're getting better at rebounding the ball.  We're getting better at driving it.  You can't now say let's press.  Well, you can't do everything.  At this point we don't have a press.  We are what we are.  Until we can get everything set and say, okay, guys, this week we'll work on our press and we're going to get a press in.  Right now it's not the time.
We worked on the zone, but you could see we didn't work on it a whole lot.  I wanted them to fail fast.  I told them we only did this in a few days, but let me see where you are so we can see what we've got to work on.  I thought they did pretty good, to be honest with you for not knowing what the heck they're doing.

Q.  You told us why Tuesday is unfair to your team, you think.  But since you've got to play it anyway, what can you get out of playing this type of game this early?
COACH CALIPARI:  We win or we learn.  That's what this game will be.  We win or we learn.  What I think is we don't play hard enough.  I don't think we cut hard enough on offense.  I think we stand around.  Instead of being prepared to shoot, we're standing straight up and down, so now we walk.  The guy throws it to you and you start running because you're standing straight up and down.  I think when the shot goes up, we turn our heads and we're going to get bulldozed in that game.  There is a lesson.  Okay, now, will you listen to me?
I think what they'll try to do is beat us up the court, fly, and we don't fly every time.  They're going to get lay‑ups or open threes.  That's how they play.
The other thing I think you'll get from this is we're not playing throughout the possession.  They'll grind us and we'll learn.  The only way‑‑ like we've gotten change right now.  But when you really want change, it's got to be a crisis.  Crisis brings about change.  Meetings and talking and tape and all that, no.  Now the crisis hits.  Are you ready to change now?
Happened to Marquis Teague a year ago.  When he was ready to change, our team took off.  We've got a lot of guys here that are listening, but not carrying it over yet.  So, look, we're going to go up and play hard and how about this one?  When adversity hits, how does this team respond?  You don't think they can go on a five basket run on us or six‑basket, seven‑basket run?  All right.  How do we respond?  We don't know yet, until we get in those wars and that game is one of those.
I just wish it wasn't so early.  I wish I had another two weeks with my team so we could have a better kind of showing.

Q.  To segue on getting Marcus Lee into the ballgame more, do you think his ability per shot or his athleticism and shot blocking perhaps down the road can be the answer?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, the biggest thing, he can guard five positions.  He was guarding their point guard today.  He was guarding the center today.  He can guard everybody.  You can put him in the game and he can guard whoever you need to guard.  He'll even tell you, let me guard him.  I said he's 6‑foot.  I know, he ain't scoring on me.  So I'm just‑‑ I'm happy right now that we're able to get him some minutes.
Again, 14 minutes maybe not a whole lot, but it is.  14 minutes is a lot of minutes because most of the guys, you know, again, I gave the six minutes to Jon Hood and those guys their guys that would have played 25, 26 minutes.  That's a lot of minutes.  He's good.  He's a good player.

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