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Calipari on SEC Coaches Teleconference

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image013.jpgWith the men's basketball team off until its Thursday night rematch with South Carolina, there will be no media availability today with the team. In lieu of our typical Monday coverage, read what head coach John Calipari had to say on this week's SEC Coaches Teleconference.

On this week's matchups with South Carolina and Tennessee ...
"We've got two hard games. South Carolina beat us and Tennessee had us 52-50 with a few minutes to go and played well against us. (Tennessee) threw some zone and different things at us and affected us. Going up there, I imagine it's going to be probably a huge crowd and crazy game, so I think both games are going to be hard. We're just a young team trying to get better."

On Eric Bledsoe's play in recent weeks and if there is anything that concerns him about his play ...
"He's a freshman. You're not going to play great every night out. He's not going to make great decisions every time. He missed some free throws, which was really, really unusual for him. But he's a tough kid. What I loved about it, is I didn't think he played particularly well against Vandy - as a matter of fact, it wasn't one of his better games - (but) he was the happiest guy in the locker room after the game. That's what I want to see. I don't care that you don't play great. They're not machines. They're not going to. I just want to know that it's not about you, it's about our team. He was ecstatic, so I feel good about him.

"He's emotional, but he's coming back quicker than he did at the beginning of the year. There were times at the beginning of the year that he wasn't playing well where you just had to sit him out the rest of the time. He's getting better. He's young. He's 19 years old. You've got to understand that they've got to learn, and by the time March hits around, you've got to have less and less of this hopefully or we're not going to be the team we need to be."

On hesitating before shooting and the consequences of not shooting freely ...
"It happened three or four times - it didn't happen 20 times - but on those, they lead to bad shots or they lead to turnovers. What I'm trying to say to our guys is we're one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. Only three things can happen when you shoot the ball: You make it, I like that; you miss it and we rebound it and make that, I like that; or they rebound the ball. I don't like that but that's OK because we get two of the three. You're trying to convince them (that). What happens is we've got some guys not making shots and now they don't want to shoot? Well, then you can't be in the game. The consequence is you cannot be in the game. You've got to shoot it. 'Well what if I go 0-for-5? I'm embarrassed.' I understand that. Then get in the gym and spend more time in the gym. Get in there at night. Be there in at 11 o'clock at night. It doesn't change overnight. So you work for two days and you don't shoot it any better and you don't feel any different, that's right. It happens over a period of time - weeks, months and then all of a sudden you're in a different frame of mind. We've got a great group. We're still one of the best shooting teams in the country. There are games we don't shoot it particularly well and most of the case is because I think we're tentative.

On whether being one of the best shooting teams in the country is a product of offensive rebounding and second-chance points ...
"No, we're one of the best 3-point shooting teams, too. I think we're the best 3-point shooting team in our league overall and for the season. We're better than everybody gives us credit. I think why Kevin (Stallings) went man-to-man against us the whole game is he didn't want us to get open 3s. He thought, you know what, if we give them contested 3s vs. open 3s, we're going to be better off. So all this stuff about you've got to play them zone, the two teams that gave us the best games were South Carolina, who beat us, and Vandy, played zone."

On the most important part of team chemistry and why a team that is made up of so many parts has had such great team chemistry ...
"They like each other. I think they respect each other. I think the veterans respect the talent of the young kids. I think the young kids respect the talent of the veterans. They've all accepted roles. The biggest thing is they like each other. As long as that's the case, we're going to be fine.

"Some of it has to be natural. You've got guys that are respectful kind of people that like each other. The other part of it is you're doing things to get them to understand how important it is to get along. Whether it's doing things at the house, whether it's watching movies together in Wildcat Lodge - whatever it is you do to bring them together to get them to understand the more we're together the more you're going to respect each other."

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Dear Coach, I just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed watching the Cats this season. I have been a fan as long as I can remember. This team has been a joy to watch grow. They have all done a great job. You have done a fantastic job in bringing pride back to the Big Blue fans. There is just one other thing that I would like to say. I know that it won't mean a hill of beans to DeMarcus Cousins on what I think, but I am very proud of how much he has matured and how well he has done in the self control department. He seems like neat young man and he is one of my favorite players to watch. Thanks again and best of luck with the rest of the season.

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