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January 25, 2014

John Calipari

Kentucky – 79
Georgia – 54

Q.  Talk about Willie, how he came back.
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I told you, he was unbelievable in practice, and he was in a totally different frame of mind, and he performed.  Now, he was a little shaky at times out there, but he's just now coming back from that other stuff, so you still had the dregs in there.  He had a little bit of it in there.  But I thought he played well, blocks, steals, moved his feet, made some baskets, two free throws.  That's who he is for us.
But also, Alex.  My thing with Alex is I need him to shoot a couple jumpers, like he drove in there a couple times and he didn't need to.  You're at 15 feet, shoot the ball.  That's a little bit of his comfort zone right now.  He's more comfortable getting to the rim, dunking it.  Well, you've got to pull up on some of those, so he was good.
We've been on Aaron.  Aaron played his butt off today, but he shot all twos.  I don't want him to shoot threes.  If you shoot a couple, that's fine, but you're not shooting six or seven threes.  That's not who we are as a team.
Andrew did a good job, Julius did a good job.  I don't think we had very many ball stoppers.  Everybody moved the ball.  Happy Derek got some time.  Dakari was good again.  Dominique and Jarrod are doing what we need them to do.  Jonny Hood got in.  I was so happy.  Such a great kid.  He's got a young man in there today in a wheelchair and his father, and he had him at the gym last night and he's taking him around here to see all the guys.  It's good.  You see Jarrod Polson last night.  As a coach to be around those kind of kids, and we've got every one of these kids is the same.  This is a great group, I'm telling you.
We're still not there.  We got better, more energy off the ball, didn't stop the ball as much, but we're still a ways away.  We still do stuff like most of it's mental discipline now.  That's the next level of the process.  Get the players right, playing hard, thinking right, understanding their role and how they have to play for us to win.  Okay, now you've got to get your team right.  Now we've got to be more like a team, and that means don't hold the ball.  That means play with energy off the ball.  On the ball, that's fine, but what about off the ball?  That's what a team does.
And then the next level is the discipline, defensive and offensive discipline.  That one is going to be a little longer for us to crack, but we're getting better.

Q.  The stats aren't necessarily crazy for Andrew, but it seemed like again‑‑
COACH CALIPARI:  He missed three like runners that when he got upset about the one, put his head down, I took him out.  It's a great shot; you missed it.  But you're going to have an attitude, head down on that?  It was a great shot.  You know, that's the thing he and his brother are getting by, so now you don't see it as much anymore.  They understand, just play for your team, take the shots you're supposed to take.

Q.  I'm certainly no basketball Bennie, but when you look down through your stats sheet, is that more like what you like to see from your team overall?  Seemed like a lot of your players are doing what you said you want them to be doing.
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, we need, again‑‑ you like to have every guy in here have an opportunity to get in that game, but this isn't CYO, so there are games you can play a lot of people and there are other games guys don't get minutes and they've got to be prepared the next time it happens.
But when you look at this and what we're doing, it is about players first.  You've got it get them right.  You've got to get them in the frame of mind, and then you get your team right.
Now, for us that means‑‑ if you in any way are not playing for your team, you're watching me sub guys out now.  You're out.  If you're not doing what you're supposed to defensively for us, you're out.  Somebody else is playing.  And I'm trying to hold them more accountable.
Like I said, what hurtthem, George and I told Mark after, having that guard out really put them in a tough spot.  Here you go, this shows what a great coach he is.  He kept them in the game with that guy not in there.  He played a lineup he's never played at Georgia.  He had like four centers on the court at one time.  They had a chance.  It shows you the job he's doing with his team.
But the guard being out, that was a big blow.  We didn't learn about it‑‑ he hid it until right before the game, and we saw he was starting like this huge team.  I said, he must be playing all zone, which is what he did.

Q.  Since that Arkansas game, it seems like you've had a couple smoothly officiated games.  Have you noticed any changes in the this league is calling games now?
COACH CALIPARI:  I barely pay attention to it (laughter).

Q.  Lately you've been talking about how your team needs to play more like a team and less more themselves.  You've kind of touched on it a little bit.  Do you think they took a step forward in guys playing for each other?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, but here's the thing.  My job is to teach them that.  Well, they should know it.  Let's just think about it.  Every one of these kids was the centerpiece of their high school team.  Whenever they got the ball, they tried to shoot it.  If they couldn't shoot it, they tried a little bit more to shoot it, and then one more thing to try to shoot it, and if they couldn't shoot it they passed it.
Now, where they passed it, knee high, head high, ankle high, and then after they passed it they all stopped to watch him play.  If they played a man that was scoring, they played.  If they played away from the ball, they didn't play because it wasn't their man.
Now all of a sudden you get them here playing against 22, 23 year olds, and they're 18, 19, who have been through wars, and you're trying to teach them to be a team, and you can't start until they learn how to play hard, until they learn how to compete, until they learn how to battle, they learn how to play a full possession.  You can't worry about your team.  Your team will stink if individual players don't learn those things.
Now that they learn it, you move on.  The process is the next step.  That's why teams are way ahead of us.  They're three years with the same unit.  They're going to be way ahead.  But I'm pleased with our team.  I like this team.  Just will we be disciplined enough to be special.  It's not about do you have enough bodies.  It's not about well, they're really that skilled.  Well, we're okay.  Will we become the team and have the discipline it takes to really make a run to do something unique and special?  We'll see.

Q.  It seems like Dakari's teammates are more confident in taking the ball into the post.  Have you seen that progression, that trust over the last few games?
COACH CALIPARI:  The amazing thing about this team, they all are rooting for each other.  They all want Derek in there playing.  They're happy for Dakari.  They throw him the ball.  And the biggest thing is they do want to win, so if he's helping us win, they're ecstatic.  They were worried about Willie but they helped Willie.  They talked to him.  Like I said, we can win without Willie.  We're not winning big without Willie.  We're not playing with those big guys without Willie.  But you can win games.  We need him.
This stuff is a process.  This was a good game for us.  We're learning.  They're trying.  I'm giving them the day off.  They've got 24 hours until we practice again, tomorrow after 4:00.  I told them you've got a day off.  You've got 24 hours off, and then we're on our way to play a good LSU team down there.
Again, I'm sure it's some shirt night:  White, purple, it'll be something.

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