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Cal quotes from SEC teleconference (part 1 of 2)

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MBSK 09_10 UK_UL Web 23.jpgThe Southeastern Conference held its yearly summer teleconference with the 12 men's basketball coaches Monday morning to give an update on where the teams are midway through the offseason. As usual, UK head coach John Calipari joined the call to provide us with an update on the Kentucky men's basketball team.

Below is part one of a full transcript of the interview. Read part two here. Fans can check out the complete audio of all 12 coaches on SECsports.com.

John Calipari: "I've had two really, really powerful days in this past week and I just want to address both of them quickly. One, I went to Haiti. The program and the people of Kentucky raised $1.5 million through the "Hoops for Haiti" telethon. I wanted to go down and really see what kind of impact it had. I can tell you that any money was given to save lives, it is really a sad state of affairs even six months later. The money is truly saving people but it's not doing anything for the infrastructure. There's no lights, there's no garbage pickup, there's no sanitation, there are a million people living in tents, food in ration. It's a total mess. I hope people haven't taken their eye off the ball. It's not going to be cured just by the people in Haiti. I think people are going to have to step up. Ellen and I are trying to figure out in our own little way what we can do. We went to an orphanage. It was a powerful day for me.

"And then Thursday, draft day. Just being able to -- and I can't explain the emotions -- of being able to be with five families and five players who have realized their dreams, and we were connected to that. We helped created hope for their families. Obviously they did it, but we were a part of it. The call with Eric Bledsoe -- he's screaming, I'm screaming, (his) mom is screaming. It was just incredible. I made a statement - and I'll make it again -- that it was the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history. I wasn't talking to the past. I was talking to the future. Chris Douglas-Roberts, one of my former greats at Memphis, was at my house last night for two hours and we talked. He said, 'What a great statement to make for those kids.' It was a two-hour infomercial for our league, the University of Kentucky, and it will speak volumes for five years, maybe longer. That's what I meant by that (statement). We're a players-first program. Players will win us national titles. We've got to figure out as a staff with the rules they are - 40 years ago it was different. They all stayed four years. It's not that way anymore. With the rules the way they are, which I don't agree with, kids should be able to go directly to the league and then stay two or three years. Those are not the rules we're playing by. How are we going to deal with those last three games and then the next two with a young team like we had last year because it looks as though we'll always have a young team.

"The returning team I'm excited about. We've got nine of them on campus right now. They're training with our weight strength (program), they're playing pickup (games). They're great kids. Brandon (Knight) comes in with almost a year of academic credits under his belt before he goes to one (college) class. You've got Doron Lamb and Stacey Poole -- great kids -- that are just going to add up that depth and strength to our guard play. Terrence Jones is just going to be one of those unique players along with Eloy (Vargas) and Enes (Kanter), who gives us size. And then there are the players coming back. Right now everybody is talking about Darius (Miller) that it's ridiculous. See, Darius could put himself in a position at the end of next year that he's making a decision, and maybe DeAndre (Liggins) the same deal. They're all doing well. The biggest surprise right now has been Josh Harrellson. He went to China and they were stunned how good he was. Right now, with the weight strength, are people are saying he's on a mission. All of a sudden you have a 6-10 guy, and you say, 'Well, he didn't play last year.' He played behind two first-round draft picks. No kidding. So we're looking at this saying it's going to be good. We are going to Canada and finalizing those things in August to try to figure out this team and who's who and who's what. I'm excited about the future. I'm excited about the future of our league. I think we've got three teams in our top 10. It's all good stuff, but I'm excited about it."

Question: In having a group like you did last year and having so many freshmen, did you learn anything as a coach that you could apply with this group since you have so many new guys?
Calipari: "The biggest thing is they've got to be good people who respect each other and want each other to do well. You cannot come to Kentucky if you want to be the only guy who can play. Go somewhere else. You cannot come here because there are going to seven or eight other guys on a mission the same as you and you've got to be for each other. If one guy is having great success for two or three weeks, you've got to be happy. If he slips, you've got to be there to try to pick him up, to tell him he's going to be OK. Those are some of the things you have to have. The lesson at the end of the day is, you can win a lot of games, you can win leagues and do all that, but those last three games with a young team, the anxiety of never being in the Final Four, the anxiety of not knowing how it plays out, the anxiety of our case of going 0-for-20 and never being in that position because they didn't play enough seasons. If they had been with me three seasons, there would have been a game or two that we started 0-for-20 and figured out how to win, but we were too young. We started breaking down defensively. But my point is, with a young team, what do we have to do to give ourselves the best chance to win? The players are going to win us national titles. That's why you've got to keep looking after players. The '96 team had 11 NBA Draft picks on it. If we're about these kids, we're about them getting better, and then figuring out with a really, really young team, how do we finish it off, because we did everything else. Only one Kentucky team won more games than last year's team and that was 1948. So we did everything short of those last couple games. This is a one-and-done tournament so one game can shut you down. But believe me, we're looking at this saying if these rules don't change, we're going to have a young team just about every year we coach."

Question: There was great value in what Patrick (Patterson) did for you. How much do you need a Darius and DeAndre, who have been around, to step up in leadership roles.
Calipari: "It's not just leadership roles. It's service leadership. Sometimes leaders think you get the towel for me, it's my turn, go get my water, understand this is my team (so) don't try to do too much because this is my team, my turn. We don't need that here and you can't have it here. What you're doing is you're challenging them to get better because they're in turn going to challenge you to get better, which means you're going to have the opportunities to realize your dreams. If we really do well together, even if I score less and play less minutes, it's going to be better for me and I'm going to get a chance to realize my dreams. I understand parents want their kids to play 40 minutes and score 30 points and truly be the only one to score any points, but you can't be that way here. If you're having that on the outside, you just can't listen to that. You have to be strong enough to withstand all the chatter. You've got to have a leadership by service leadership, that you're there for all these kids. I believe we have that. Darius, last year was the first time he had every played for me and the first time he had every played that way. It was the first time he's played (a lot). Now, all of a sudden he's put in his second year with me in a position that yeah, it's on you a little bit. I think he's going to respond."

Read part two

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1 Comment

I agree. Darius is going to play a major roll in the uk line-up this year. He was pretty impressive last year. I belive with the talent, and contribution from this team, they may be a "Repeat" SEC tournament winner. Maybe and hopefully even a NCAA Title to add to Calipari's belt. GO CATS!!!!!!!!!

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  • Johnathan Fragassi: I agree. Darius is going to play a major roll in the uk line-up this year. He was pretty impressive read more