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SEC Media Day tidbits

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Thumbnail image for MBSK Coach Cal Press Web 01.jpgI'm stuck in Lexington today, so unfortunately no unique coverage from me regarding Southeastern Conference Media Day in Birmingham, Ala. Good thing is most of what Cal and Co. said we've already heard before.

However, a couple of new highlights have been reported from the local media, most notably Matt May of The Cats' Pause and Brett Dawson from the Courier-Journal. Just a couple of highlights from those guys:

- May reported that John Calipari absolutely raved about freshman John Wall, calling Wall and Patrick Patterson the hardest workers on the team. May reported that Wall is ahead of where Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans were at this stage in their offensive development, but Calipari still has to get a gauge on where Wall's desire and willingness is to make the play when it's absolutely necessary. Rose and Evans had that ability. Time will tell if Wall does.

- Patterson called Calipari "a god," according to May. Patterson told the media that Lexington has already given him a key to the city and that he could be "Mr. Kentucky." Good stuff.

- You will have to get the rest of May's notes at The Cats' Pause. It's a subscriber service so I can't disclose the rest of the information. If you are a TCP subscriber, though, I recommend clicking over.

- Dawson tweeted earlier that Cal said he might start three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. My guess would be John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Darius Miller and Patrick Patterson. Again, just my opinion.  

- Calipari did tell the media that he thought the SEC would get seven or eight bids to the NCAA Tournament this year. I'm not sure if the league will get quite that many, but it will certainly be very improved. I'll go with five to six teams. 

UPDATE: Well, the SEC just posted some quotes on its Web site. Quotes are below. As I said before, nothing all that newsworthy.

Men's Head Coach John Calipari
On the team's outlook...
"We are very big, athletic and fast. On our first day of practice, it seemed like we missed 70 layups and we do not shoot as well as I would prefer. We have got a lot of room to grow. I really thrive on coaching defense, which means teaching discipline and fundamentals."

On perimeter scoring...
"I do not know yet. Darnell (Dodson) and Darius (Miller) can shoot the ball well. I feel comfortable with particular shooting, but we are focusing on layups and getting the ball inside."

On teaching the offense...
"We have had six practices, so we are still a month away from the guys being comfortable. Once they are comfortable, there is no holding them back. My offense is meant to put players in a position to make their own shot."

Patrick Patterson, Jr.
On the differences from last season...
"Everything is different: practices, coaching style, day in and day out. We have a new coaching staff and new players. There is a lot more enthusiasm, anticipation and competitiveness this year. It is a drastic change."

On expectations for this season...
"This year feels a lot different. Everyone expects us to have a great year this season, not only us, but our fans and people close to us expect us to have a true "Kentucky" season. They expect a national championship, a run in the SEC tournament and an SEC championship. They expect our team to be successful and have one of the best years in a while. We embrace expectations and do not see them as pressure. Everyone wants to be great and this year we think we can get it done."

Women's Head Coach Matthew Mitchell
On if the team is ready to take the next step in his third season as head coach...
"I think we are a team that is going to be totally committed this year. I think the first step is to be focused and committed about what we are doing. I like the makeup of the team. I like our athletic ability and the way they are going about practice. We have some big aspirations for the year. We want to challenge for the conference title. All of that is going to happen because of what we do every single day. We just have to stay focused on that and we will see how it ends. I am very optimistic about this group."

On being picked 11th in preseason SEC polls...
"We are always looking for motivation. We look for it every day. We look for motivation on our campus because there are a lot of great things going on there. We look to the examples that other athletes in the athletic department set. We look for motivation in any way we can get it. As a team, you have to be picked somewhere in the preseason poll. It doesn't really have a bearing on what the final outcome is, unless you perceive yourself as an 11th place team, and that would be the result you would probably get. That's not how we will approach practice every day. We will go out there, believing in the gifts and talents that this team has. I think we can have a very good season."

On the freshman class...
"They look great. I have been so impressed with just the maturity level of this particular freshman class. They have not had some of the normal things that freshmen have to deal with, as far as homesickness and getting into the rhythm of college life. Sometimes you have freshman classes that have a hard time making that adjustment. These three have been particularly mature about how they approached college life. They made good grades in the summer and have worked hard in all their conditioning. They are performing well in practice. It is a unique group of freshmen."

Victoria Dunlap, F, Jr.
On the upcoming season...
"We are changing mentality from being laidback to getting in the gym more, wanting to play basketball and be successful. In order to go to the next level we are going to need hard work, honesty and discipline. We have to let everyone know about our goals and get into the gym everyday. We are not happy at all being picked 11th in the SEC. We actually printed out papers with '11' posted on and placed them in the locker room for motivation.  We want to surprise a lot of people, win the SEC and get to the NCAA tournament."

On Coach Mitchell...
"He is intense and very enthusiastic on the court. Off the court, he is very reflective on life and always there to talk to the players. He is very up-tempo and has lots of energy.  I am very excited to be around his up-tempo personality. He has helped me recognize and realize the player I should be along with allowing us to be a team and see our strengths and weaknesses. He has more expectations for us as we have older and more experienced players on our team now."
 

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