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Calipari on the SEC teleconference

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Head coach John Calipari took part in the Southeastern Conference's summer basketball teleconference on Monday. Coincidentally, it took place the same day as the announcement of Cailpari's new eight-year contract, meaning most of the questions revolved around the new contract.

Since I already have a full story with Calipari and the new contract, here are some basic notes and quotes from what Calipari said:

- Asked to give his thoughts on next year's team, Calipari said, "We're going to be young again." Calipari said they'll be made up of a couple of sophomores and a junior to go along with some freshmen. I think the junior Calipari referred to is actually senior Darius Miller. He believes UK will be deeper next year. "I'm happy with what we have as a team. They seem to be getting along right now."

- Calipari reiterated that he is "happy" and "humble" to be the coach at Kentucky for two more years. A local reporter pointed out that no contract is binding and asked how binding this new contract is to Kentucky. "Obviously, there are buyouts and all that kind of stuff in there, but I'm excited about being there," Caliapri said. "I'm excited about this opportunity. It took me a long time to get to a place like Kentucky. No disrespect for Memphis or UMass, they are both great programs, but to have an opportunity like I have, to be connected to our fan base like we are and to be part of a situation that is so passionate, I'm excited about it." One thing worth noting is that if Calipari leaves at any point between now and March 30, 2014, he will pay a $1 million buyout. Coupled with the $1 million he'd lose from not fulfilling the $1 million retention bonus. Even by Calipari's standards, $2 million is a lot of money to leave on the table. Will that ever stop the NBA coaching rumors? Probably not, but I'm not sure Calipari can do anything to stop those regardless of his interest.   

- The big topic of the day on the teleconference for all 12 coaches was the new one division format and the possibility of changing to an 18- or 22-game schedule in the near future, which I'll have a separate post on later. As far as Calipari's take, he said he was in favor of the one division and said that changing the amount of league games is inevitable. "I really, really think 22 is a number that very few leagues do that, and there's reasons for that, so I think you're talking about 16 or 18 games," Calipari said. "More important than the 16 or 18, whatever that may be, it's our nonconference schedule. Leagues that have gotten tons of teams into the NCAA Tournament have figured out it's about your nonconference strength of schedule and your nonconference RPI. In other words, play the very best teams you can play and still win. You have to win. If you play a really strong schedule, like a winning percentage of the teams you play is up at like 60 and you win 12 games or 13, you're going to have the No. 1 RPI ranked schedule nonconference in the country. If the schedule you play has a 52 or a 53 winning percentage and you win 12 or 13 games or 11 games, you're going to be in the top 40 or 50 in RPI in nonconference scheduling. That's as big of an issue for us as scheduling within the conference."

- Asked how realistic retiring at UK was with the new deal, Calipari joked that "he could retire after this year." When I talked to Calipari on Sunday, he said couldn't see himself coaching too far into his 60s. On Monday, the number was his 70s. Calipari is currently 52. Make of that what you will. What he did emphasize again is that it's about the players. "My concern is, are we doing right by our players," Calipari said. "It's a players-first program."

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