John Calipari's Pregame Comments for Notre Dame

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John Calipari's Pregame Comments for Notre Dame

Post  BestdamnUKfanperiod on Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:41 pm

John Calipari's Pregame Comments for Notre Dame

Here is a transcript of John Calipari's pregame comments as Kentucky prepares to battle Notre Dame in Louisville:

UK Head Coach John Calipari

On what lies ahead for the UK men’s basketball team…

“Well, you see now why I didn’t want to go to Maui. This team was too young to go play seven games with five of them away from home, and now eight games with six of them away from home (counting Wednesday’s game against Notre Dame in Louisville, Ky.); we’re too young of a team. But the good news is, our areas we need to get better at within the team and then how we play are very easy to see. So a lot of what we’re doing right now is individually and as groups talking about how we have to be, talking about trust, having respect for each other’s games, understanding that a month from now is not what we’re going to look like. Figuring out how we’re going to play at the end of a game. I talked to them about trust, because we have so many young guys, you have to tell them that means when you talk defense, when you talk offense, when you talk a will to win, what does that mean? So I have to explain it to them where you would think they know. I talked to them about what it means on a game day, from the pregame meal on, how to prepare for a game. Things that you would think they know that they don’t. Like I said, we’re a young team but we’ve got the pieces we need to do well. But to play a senior-oriented team like Notre Dame is going to be a hard challenge. You’re talking about five seniors who have been through the wars. They’ve played on that floor more than my guys. It’ll be a tough challenge for us.”

On getting Terrence Jones back ready…

“I think, again, he learned a great lesson about preparation. He learned a great lesson. And the thing I keep saying to these guys is, as long as you accept where we are, you can change. If you’re not going to accept where we are, and what we have to get better at, and you have an excuse for everything, you’re never going to get better. You can’t change it. You can’t make adjustments. So I think he’ll be fine. I think that was one of those games that he learned from. He didn’t do a real good job of preparing to play and from the beginning of the game never got into the game, he was never emotionally connected to the game and there was no sense of urgency the entire game. And what you say to guys, ‘It’s not usually how you start, its how you finish.’ It’s just hard. If you haven’t done anything up until game time to get ready for a game – if you think, ‘Alright, I’ll turn it on five minutes in’ – that’s high school. ‘I’ll do it in the third quarter.’ ‘Second half I’ll be ready.’ No. It just doesn’t work that way. And so it was a great lesson for him.”

On what game preparation is supposed to look like…

“Well you get up for a pregame meal and from that moment on everything you’re doing is geared toward getting you ready for a game. Everything. You don’t go back to sleep. Everything you do is, ‘Here, I’m going to get myself ready.’ Sometimes, you’re thinking too much on the game so you put some earphones on and listen to some music to calm yourself down. But whatever you do, there’s one purpose: getting ready for this ball game today. What I tell them is, if you’re a little tired, from a half-hour after the game until the next day in the afternoon you never have to leave your bed. You sleep the whole time. But between that meal and that game, you’re getting ready for that game. And you owe it to your team. Your team has to have the trust that you’re going to do this. You have to be responsible to each other. They’re all learning this. We’re not yet playing for each other. We’re still kind of playing, and there are spurts where we look good, but we’re not playing for each other yet and that’s what we need to crack and go through. But this was us a year ago. People forget John Wall was turning the ball over five-six times a game. I can remember DeMarcus Cousins at Stanford. I can remember watching DeMarcus Cousins against North Carolina which I watched on the tape – he was awful. These guys are young. The difference is we don’t have as many guys. The North Carolina game, the amazing thing with it, we should have and could have won the game, and Terrence (Jones) was 3-for-17 and a no-show. Brandon (Knight) had six turnovers. And we still had our chances up one with 1:46. And then foul and another kid catches it. Again, the will to win, we’re not quite there yet.”

On the team’s mental toughness given the way they played and the environment and still being in it at the end…

“I don’t know yet. I don’t know. I thought we should have won the game, especially after I watched the tape. We had two stretches: (leading) 25-17, we had four possessions in a row everybody broke it off and did their own thing. So now it’s 26-25. We’re up 57-51, the same thing happened again. We all broke it down, ‘I’m going to get mine, I’m going to do this.’ And then all of a sudden we’re in a tie ball game. And then we’re up 68-64 and we do the same thing again. I mean, again its stuff that we showed them and we’ll learn. We have good kids, it’s just that they’ve never ever been in this environment and it’s all of us in this together and it doesn’t matter. Like, Doron Lamb should have got the ball more. But guys were like, ‘Well, he shot the last two, I’m getting this one.’ No. He made the last two, you missed the last four, he shoots this one. I mean that’s what they don’t understand. But that’s OK. That’s where we are. Here we are a brand new team. I like my team. I just like to win every game, but I like my team.”

On the play of senior forward Josh Harrellson in the post…

“Well Terrence (Jones), obviously when he did what he did in that game he gave us absolutely no post presence. But I said to Josh, I think Josh is really making great strides. We need to Josh to be about five to 10 percent better in the next month. Josh is giving. He made a play in that (North Carolina) game he’s never made in his life. It surprised him. If you look at the look in his eyes when he grabbed the ball, he’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, I grabbed the ball.’ And then he said, ‘Oh my gosh, I scored.’ He was so excited he went down and fouled the guy. He couldn’t believe he made the play. So what I’m saying is, he’s doing more than he’s ever done. Now I’m just saying, ‘You keep doing what you’re doing and let’s get up five percent, 10 percent. What can you add to your game? Can we throw it to you in the post a couple times where you can get something in?’ He’s a terrific free-throw shooter. He can make a 3 if we need him to. We need everything out of everybody. This isn’t one of those years where you can say, ‘Well these two can no-show.’ No. When we had what we had last game, Terrence no-show, it’s hard to win the game. Then everybody else has to play perfect, and we’re not ready for that yet. We just have too many young guys.”

On the concerns that Notre Dame brings to the table…

“Five seniors. They know how to play off one another. They don’t get rattled. They were down to Georgia, down 14, and they were down against Wisconsin 14 or 15, they were down against Indiana State and they never get rattled, they just keep playing. They play a good 2-3, 3-2 zone. They go to it and they stick with it. We’re a little different team than we were a year ago so playing zone against us is a little bit better for us. But they do what they do well because they’re a veteran team, they’re seniors. They go to their bench, they’re young, but even those guys only one is a freshman. The other guys have played last year. (Notre Dame head coach) Mike (Brey) does a great job and they’ve played a good schedule. Whatever their record is is not against cupcake city. When you play Wisconsin, when you play Georgia and the people they’ve played, you’ve played good people.”

On the evolution of junior guard DeAndre Liggins, both on and off the court…

“He’s trying to figure it out too. We’re all trying to figure out where we’re plugging everything in and how we play off one another. But I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, I’ve coached a lot of players, and there’s a few in my mind that I’m as proud of as though they were children, and he’s one of them. He came from a tough environment, tough background, hard for him to trust. First year was a debacle for him. But, he trusts me, and he’s made unbelievable strides from a guy who can’t shoot, ‘you have to get rid of him,’ is what I was told when I got the job. ‘Get rid of him.’ To a guy who’s maybe our best shooter. You think about what I just said. We have to get him to play with more emotion defensively, but the reason he can’t is he’s playing so many minutes at the pace that he’s playing. But my friends have all called, from (Charlotte Bobcats head coach) Larry Brown, to others, that say, ‘We love him, because he can defend at multiple positions, he can make shots.’ Again, the trust factor for him is a hard one, for our team to trust a coaching staff and he’s got to talk more. He’s got to be more verbal, he’s got to be more connected to his teammates. Right now it’s kind of our team and not just him, you’ve got this guy, that guy, that guy and DeAndre. That’s our team, versus this, and that’s a hard thing for him to give up, sacrifice and bring it together. But I’m proud of him. For us to have the kind of year we’re going to have, he’s a big part of it.”

On if he saw Liggins’ evolution progressing as it has from high school…

“Well I liked him because of how he played. I knew he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but we were a slashing team and that’s how he played and I thought he played extremely hard. Yet again, there are guys like him that if you go to a high-low offense where they have a guy in the high post and a guy in the low post and you can’t drive and slash, you look like how he looked. But I always liked him and I thought he was a nice kid. I knew the background was tough and all those things. But it’s a neat thing, you understand that when a young man like that, like a Joey Dorsey, like a Tyrone Weeks, who had unbelievably tough backgrounds, and to make it, to survive it, to come to the point they’re in college is amazing. And then if you can get them to grow and blossom and trust and love and all those things, you look at it and you say, ‘You know what, that’s a special thing.’ I’m proud of him. I’m proud of him. He’s doing well academically; he does everything he’s supposed to. I want him to talk more; I want him to be more of a leader. He’s a leader by how hard he plays, but we need more than that on this team. We need more than that.”

On what piece needs to come together for this team for the season to click the way they want it to…

“Well, first of all, it has to be consistent. So you’ve got to come out in this practice for one. I’ll give you an example defensively: I need to know I can be really aggressive because if I get beat someone’s got me. I need to know I can leave my man to go help a teammate and someone’s got me. I know I can step over to take a charge because even if it doesn’t happen someone will take my man. I need to know that if I’m denying the wing and I’m really working hard and a guy goes back someone will steal the pass anyway. If I’m helping a guy come out, someone has to – well, the only way that happens is if everybody’s talking and they’re doing it on the court so they can get on and feel comfortable being aggressive. We were passive against North Carolina. They were the aggressor, we were passive. Why? Because we had a couple guys on the court you could not trust. Then everybody pulls back. No one becomes aggressive, no one helps, no one makes a rotation, no one wants to leave their own man because they don’t have any trust. And on offense the same trust is: I’ll make the extra pass because when I’m open it will be made to me. Or, I finally got the ball, and I may not get it again and I don’t trust my teammates so I’m just driving in on three players, I’m going to throw my body in to three guys and just shoot it and get it blocked and they’ll go dunk it on the other end and I’ll say no you could have made the extra pass, but the last time I – and it happened to us a little bit with Connecticut – no, a lot. So it’s a new team, they’re learning, and we had these issues last year. Believe me. Who’s the man? I’m the man, he’s the man. Yeah but you have to respect each other’s ability and you have to trust that they’re coming in. And the other side of this is we’re not really good right now at certain spots but you have to trust that guys will get better. Brandon Knight will get better. The greatest thing that Clark Kellogg said to me was, when I moved Tyreke (Evans), who was a scorer in high school, to point guard, he was at the Georgetown game, and he took the next four shots were the worst shots he’d ever seen, Tyreke took them. He said a month later he was a different player. It’s the same thing. (Brandon) will be different in a month. He’s conscientious, he wants to learn. I’ve got to do a better job with him, to be honest. I’m trying to still feel him out a little bit, but I’ve got to do a better job coaching him because he wants to do the right things. And that’s an important position with the kind of players we have because we have a lot of weapons but that guy’s got to be able to get the ball to all those guys yet he’s a terrific shooter. We want him to be able to shoot some balls himself.”

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