Head coach John Calipari sat down for a roundtable interview with some local reporters on Wednesday to wrap up the 2010-11 season, talk about the upcoming NBA Draft and next year's freshman class. Here is part two of the complete Q and A with Calipari:
Question: Do you expect NBA opportunities for yourself and where do you stand on those things if they arise?
Calipari: The good news is they can't say I'm taking other college jobs, which my whole career they've been saying. I wasn't involved with the North Carolina State (job), the Georgia Tech, the Missouri, the Arkansas. Any job that was open (in the past) I was involved in, which I wasn't, but that would be out there. Now it's only pro jobs. Part of it is to try to screw up your recruiting. I laughed when the rumors came out. I said, 'You're not screwing up our recruiting. We already have the kids signed.' Those rumors are going to be out there. I've got a great job. I've got one of the best in our sport. I can't stop the rumors. I just don't deal with them.
Question: Granted it hasn't been a whole lot of time, but there has been a little bit of separation from the end of the year. How do you look back on how this season played out and is there any sense of a bounce here, a bounce there and things could have been different?
Calipari: I won't. Maybe this summer I'll kick back, but I probably won't. I never look back on any of the years I've coached. I really haven't. I just move on to the next one. Right now I'm spending 80 percent of my time talking with NBA teams trying to figure out how we're going to do this to get these guys the best information, so I have not thought about that. I'll say this and I said it to the team after: What a rewarding year for all of us; for a team to come together like they did; for a group of veterans who were never thrown into the situation to perform like they did on that stage. Now, the lights got bright the last game for them. But, up until that point, those veterans were ridiculous. For young guys to accept veterans, for veterans to accept the young guys, for us to play six guys and do what we did and be a couple of road wins away from like, 'Oh my god, look at their gaudy ..." Every game we played down the stretch was an NCAA Tournament team, even Alabama, who should have been an NCAA Tournament team.
Question: There is still some movement, coaching carousel wise. Would you expect any of your guys to have opportunities at this point to move on?
Calipari: I don't know. I would tell you within the next year, if not two, we'll probably have a rollover; guys getting jobs and having opportunities. But you're at Kentucky. You don't just leave this for any other job. These guys, yeah, you'll leave another job to go to another assistant's job, but they're at the place that now you make sure whatever job you're getting is a great opportunity.
Question: Even among head coaching jobs you want them to be choosy?
Calipari: Yeah. That doesn't mean leave now. Like someone says, 'What's a good Division I job?' When you're in this profession it's one you can get. That's a good Division I job. A great Division I job is one of the top two or three jobs in any league. It doesn't matter the league. If it's one of the top two or three jobs, you're going to win at a high level and then you'll have opportunities to make that you're next job - right where you are - or have an opportunity to move. It doesn't matter if it's the OVC. Is it the best job in that league? If it's a great job, go for it. If it's the worst job in the OVC, it's a good job. It's a Division I job, but it's not a great job.
Question: You've got four guys coming in next year and you could have four guys coming back. You usually say you want seven guys playing, but you could have nine guys next year that could see lots of action.
Calipari: I played guys too many minutes this year. I had no choice. You don't play guys 40, 39 minutes. I had no choice. So what happens is their efficiency slips greatly. You saw Brandon at the end of the (UConn) game. You want to play guys anywhere from 29-32 minutes. Their efficiency becomes really high. Now, you want to know how they are judged at the next level? How am I going to judge you if you are playing 39 minutes and he is playing 28? How do I judge you? Well, he is getting only 14 points and you are getting 17. But you are playing 39 minutes and he is playing 28. How do I judge you? It's all based on per minute and it's all based on efficiency. How many rebounds per minute, how many baskets per minute; that's what they do. And what I have told these guys is that, yeah, their numbers are up, but their efficiency isn't what it could have been. So, I don't see that as a problem. I have had teams here where I have played a lot of guys. It will be better for everybody. Practices will be wars. We may be one of the first teams to get six first-round draft picks. No, we will be the first. That is the least of my worries. We will have guys like Anthony Davis who will do whatever I ask him to do. Those kids want to be part of a winning program, and they want to be coached and challenged. They want to play now. The ego is 'I want to play 40 minutes,' or 'I want all the shots.' I don't deal well with that. You guys have watched me coach. That doesn't come into play.
Question: Is Anthony Davis a guy who can fill the middle for you physically?
Calipari: He is like Marcus Camby. I played Marcus wherever I needed to play him. All I know is that per minute, he will probably lead the country in blocked shots. Per minute. Whatever his (blocks) per minute is in the country, it will be number one in the country. Now that is good for your defense. We will probably press a lot more next year. We are going to play a little different. We will probably go back to a little more dribble-drive than I have done in the last couple of years because of the numbers and the guys that we have. Probably, depending on Brandon, more pick-and-roll hand-offs, sticking with the dribble-drive. But, you know, it will be a different type of team. We won't look like this team.
Question: What do you like about Kyle Wiltjer?
Calipari: Well, you can trail him in the break. If he takes it out and trails and you throw it back to him, he shoots 3s. You stretch out their defense. You run more pick-and-pops. It doesn't need to be a pick-and-roll, it can just be a pick-and-pop. You throw it back and he will make a 3. He does that running hook, too. So now we are doing the dribble-drive and the starting point is nine, 10 feet, square up and hit the running hook. How do you defend that? He is a great passer. Someone may say 'Well he hurt's you defensively.' Yeah, but if you have a bunch of guys blocking shots, you can beat them on the dribble and two guys come out of nowhere. I remember the team we had two years ago. We had two guys blocking balls. We would look around like holy cow. What he does, we just have to figure out where he plugs into the whole scheme of things. But I will tell you this: He is talented and he is skilled. He is a great player. He is a great kid, hard worker.
Question: Do you think there is an NBA future for Josh Harrellson?
Calipari: I do, but he is going to have to, right now, refocus and go right back into basketball. We need him to Twitter something so I can get back on him. He needs to shift gears. It has to be all basketball from now on. This has been fun. You are at Kentucky. Now, everybody is all over him and I love it for him. This is the first time in his life. Now, why are they all over you? Because you really played basketball well. That's the only reason. Other than that, (the fans) wouldn't be the same, so make sure you understand why it is the way it is, because you performed on that court. Now get out there and do it again. I think he will be fine. I'm happy for him. I have had more people say they have never seen a player improve like him before. I am proud of that. I say it again: It wasn't what I did to him. It's what he had no choice to do. And he changed everything about him. It's a great lesson. I will use him as an example for the rest of my coaching career. Don't complain to me about playing. If your body doesn't change, your skill set doesn't change, if your attitude, habits don't change, you're not playing. You want to play? Change. It's easy.
Question: Does Josh Harrellson have a place in the NBA right now?
Calipari: I think he does. But again, only one team has to like you, and you only have to fit for one team. There may be 20 teams that say no, but it only takes one team. It's the same thing in the draft. They say, 'Well, he is in the top 12.' Well, one of those 12 has to take you. 'Well, he is at 19.' 'Really?' 'Well, what if they like you at nine?' It's the same for him. We have to figure out what teams like him. The kid rebounds, he shoots better than you think, he is a load down there. There are a lot of those in the league.
Question: You talked about Anthony's defensive ability and you've praised Michael Gilchrist in the past for his defense. How rare it is for high school player to be defensively ready for the NCAA level?
Calipari: "Well, the shot blocking is what Anthony does. I think Marquis (Teague) can be a great on-ball defender because of his size and toughness. Michael is like having another DeAndre, only he is 6-7, 6-8. Then we have two guys going like this (claps). Not just one; you've got two. Normally, it two do it, it will lead to another couple saying, 'This is how we play.'
Question: You talk all the time about communicating, clapping and encouraging teammates. Is Michael going to have to be taught that less than other guys that come into college? It seems like he does a lot of that already.
Calipari: He'll be fine. He's a vicious competitor. That's what he is. You put him on a team with other competitors and he'll just take his stuff up another notch. I've seen it and I'm just like, 'Wow, how hard does this kid play? How much effort does he make to get the second and third and fourth ball?' And that's what he's going to add to this team and that's why he's so highly thought of.
Question: If there were no lockout at all, do you see a situation where Brandon and Terrence would return to UK?
Calipari: Yeah. Again, it's where are they going to fall in this? We may have a kid that says they want to be a top-three pick, and if I'm I not, I'm coming back. We may have another kid says that he just wants to be in the league. That's fine. I told all of these kids, if you aren't willing to come back and work as hard as you ever had before, put your name in because you are not going to prove yourself. If you know, I had a ball, I am going to get better, I am going to challenge myself, I am going to prove my habits, well, then yeah. Like I said, I am spending time with this stuff and meeting with the players.
Question: What have your conversations with Darius Miller been like as far as next year?
Calipari: It was good. One of the things I told him was I would like him to take karate or a kick boxing class. He laughed. We have seen him be the best in our league, and then we have seen times where he has not. It all comes back to that aggressiveness and that toughness. It is just wanting to say, 'I am kicking this guy. He is not guarding me and I'm going to let him know.' Well, you almost have to have that mentality. I thought he had a wonderful year, and at the end of the year, if there were 12 big shots we made during that (late-season) stretch, he made seven of them. He made them. Whether it was a big 3, a big drive, a big and-one layup, I can remember the plays. But that has to be who he is. If (the NBA scouts) see both, they are like 'Wow. Do I see this or do I see that? Which one is he?' I see him as that guy that you're as good as anybody in the league. That's who you want to be.
Question: What does Stacey Poole need to do to see playing time?
Calipari: Do what Josh did. He has to do what Josh did. And he and I had a conversation about that. I told him, I love him and I want him to play, but the results are not going to get you more minutes the way you are going right now. You have to do this, this and this. He is a great kid. He was never a problem all year. He was never disrespectful. It's like Jon Hood. I want Jon Hood to play. I want him on that court. I want Stacey on that court. We would have been better if I could have played those two. Every game we played, tell me any game where it wasn't a tight game. OK, Alabama. Other than Alabama, for those last 12-13 games, there just wasn't a chance. Too tight. I want him to play. He has to make a decision. Am I going to do this or is it easier to go to something that's not as demanding. What do I do here? He and I have had that conversation. He is a great kid.
Question: At this point do you not expect Doron to put his name in the draft?
Calipari: I don't think so. If he chose to, that would be fine. The problem with putting your name in is the next time you put it in, you're out. You can't even test the waters. That's why I say right now, if you are projected as a second rounder and you put your name in, are you OK with that? Jodie was OK with that. But Jodie had played three years in three different (systems), you know. That's why I say I don't believe so, but if he chose to, I'd be fine.
Question: I saw you coach's show and they showed the last locker room scene after the UConn game and you looked and DeAndre and said, 'Son, you need to grow up.' What do you mean by that?
Calipari: I can't remember what it was then and what I said to him. That's what I said? He probably did something childish during the game, and I just said 'By the way, you have to grow up.' He has come so far. I mean you think about it, he has come so far. It's like Darius. I know how far he has come, but it is not enough. I want them to talk about Doron Lamb or DeAndre Liggins or Darius Miller like they did with Josh. He got every ounce of his body. That's what I want for those three. What kind of talent do those three have compared to Josh? If I can get those guys to think that way and drag them that way, what will they be saying about those three? I just keep dragging. It's never good enough. I want you to be everything you are capable of being.
Question: I know you only have one chance to test the waters, but since Darius is a junior, will you encourage him to put his name in?
Calipari: I'm not sure. I'm not sure about that. That may not be. Is he ready to put himself out there and project the way he needs to project? He's got this summer and this season to get it right so they only see that. And even DeAndre. If I thought DeAndre was going to put himself out and then they'll say he'll never play in our league, they'll never change that attitude. That's why you have to be careful of putting yourself out there. If you're not ready and they see it, that never changes their mind. I am just careful with what I am doing with these guys. But, at the end of the day, it is still their decision, not mine.
Question: DeAndre talked about how good of a job you did with him to make sure he went out of his way to spend time with his baby. Is that something you would typically do?
Calipari: Part of what I was doing was because of his upbringing. I wanted him to understand that being a father is just not birthing a child. Part of being a father is being there. You have responsibilities here, but you also have responsibilities there now. That's why I tried to accommodate to say that if we have an off day, you get your butt up there. We'll practice later so you have time to get back the next day. I did stuff like that. I think it's important for him to learn to be a father. Because of his own background, I think it's an experience he's going to have to work his way through.
Question: Can you talk about the dynamic of potentially Brandon and Marquis on the same team?
Calipari: It would be scary. It would be scary. You would have two of the best point guards in the country, kind of like Eric (Bledsoe) and John Wall. Brandon has earned that role and that spot, but they both can play both positions. If you watch Brandon, there are times where you want him shooting the ball. How about this: bring it up, pass it, go to the baseline, now shoot it. And we wondered why we wore them out. Now it's like you two are in there together. You take the wing, come off the screens, we need you to get some baskets. We put him in pick-and-rolls, we don't put Marquis in as many pick-and-rolls. We can also play three guards. There are a lot of combinations we can use, which is what we did that year (in 2009-10). (Wall and Bledsoe) played together. What if Jodie would have came back? Eric probably would have been the third guard.
Question: Where do the Ohio State and North Carolina wins rank?
Calipari: Those were two good wins back to back. But, I have been doing this a long time, and if you ask me to look back, I could tell you we beat Oklahoma when we were just coming on the scene and they were eighth in the country. We beat Arkansas like a drum, by 30, the year they won the national title. We beat North Carolina the year they won the national title. Kentucky the year they won the national title. Those wins were against teams when Kentucky had like nine NBA Draft picks on it. I have coached a lot of teams. I will tell you those were two great team victories. Everybody did what they had to do for us to win. They made a lot of people mad.
Question: Did you watch the title game?
Calipari: No. I turned to it one time and I was just like, 'Blah.' It made me sick to my stomach. I don't want to take anything away. Connecticut obviously made us play bad and Butler play bad. But 4 for 12 (from the line), they did not guard our free throws. Couldn't make a 3 in the first half. The best 3-point shooting team in the history of the program - and that's pretty good stuff when you consider one coach relied on 3s - and we were 2 for 12 at half, 1 for 12 out of your veterans and we had a chance to win the game. How in the world? We had a chance to win that game. I'm sitting there the whole time saying we're going to win this. Blocked shot, bad 3, blocked shot, baseline drive layup and the game changed on us. We still had the last shot to tie or win the game. It was incredible. I'm not that upset because the veterans played so well for that stretch and even the young kids. Doron came on and kept us in the game by himself. Brandon , you know people ask, 'Well, how did he get tired?' There is an anxiety to this thing. There were 80,000 people there. I told him prior to the game, 'We are going to deal with this like it's practice.' And they walked out and went, 'Holy ----, this isn't practice.'
Question: The NCAA is never going to change it, but is it bad to play the Final Four in that kind of a venue?
Calipari: No, it wasn't that. Everybody is saying that. My team played on that court (when I was at Memphis). We played Texas and Michigan State and beat them by 100 on that court and shot the ball well. The kid here from Lexington at Butler, what did he shoot the first game? It wasn't (the stadium). It was the enormity of the game. Every team there was saying, 'Oh my gosh, we may win the national title.' You don't think Connecticut was saying that? They were saying the same thing. How about VCU? I watched the beginning of that game with Butler and who do you think I did not want to play? I didn't want to play VCU. I said, 'I hope Butler wins if we win.' I didn't want to play VCU. Butler is saying the same thing. 'Oh my god, we may win the national title,' and then you can't make a shot. It was big stuff. That's why I said after the game, 'You gave us a chance to win the game. That's all I could ask. Yeah, we were tight, but we still had a chance to win. Yeah, we took more bad shots in that game than we had in the previous four games. But we still had a chance to win.' You're top five (at the end of the year). Let's just stay at that. Let's keep bringing it back. Just be at that.