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Notes from SEC Coaches' Teleconference (Jan. 16)

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John Calipari spoke on Monday's SEC Coaches' Teleconference. (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics) John Calipari spoke on Monday's SEC Coaches' Teleconference. (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics)
John Calipari and the other 11 coaches from around the Southeastern Conference participated in the SEC Coaches' Teleconference on Monday. Kentucky has home matchups this week against Arkansas (9 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN) and Alabama (noon Saturday on CBS) as the No. 2 Wildcats look to extend the nation's longest home winning streak. Calipari talked about the two upcoming games and his team as a whole and here are some notes from his comments:

  • Calipari first pointed out the contrast in style of play between the two teams the Cats will face this week. Under first-year head coach Mike Anderson, the Razorbacks play a brand of up-tempo, high-pressure basketball and they won't slow down for UK. Alabama, on the other hand, relies on a slower place and a punishing half-court defense. "One team, when we play Arkansas, is going to play a hectic, frenetic (style) with traps and push it up and down and run a motion," Calipari said. "The other team is, in the half court, absolutely going to physically defend, defend the 3, more of an old school way of playing. It's just two totally different ways and this is all good stuff for my young team."
  • Calipari said he has watched just two tapes on Arkansas so far, but will watch more today as he returns from a recruiting trip. It's a completely different way of playing than the Tennessee team UK just beat, but Calipari compared what Anderson is doing at Arkansas to what Cuonzo Martin is doing at Tennessee. "Mike's teams are going to play different and they take on his personality. Both of the guys have done it in short order, which is hard," Calipari said. He went on to praise the way Arkansas' style "unleashes" players. "(They have) three guards where they put it on the floor," Calipari said. "If you can't stay in front of people, they're getting to the rim. They're doing a good job and I like their team."
  • If you were thinking Arkansas would change the way they play because they're facing UK's athletes, thing again. The Razorbacks are going to do what they do. "We're going to attack them," Anderson said. "That's how we play. We play up-tempo, attack basketball. They play the same way in terms of getting up and down the floor. I think for the fans in attendance and hopefully the fans that are watching it should be a great game with two teams that are going to go after each other."
  • One subtle adjustment you could see the Razorbacks make is to slide in and try to draw more charges. UK has been frequently whistled for charges all season and even more so over its last two games. Point guard Marquis Teague has been a prime offender, as he's committed four charges over his last two outings. Calipari, though, isn't overly concerned. The calls aren't going UK's way at the moment and he wants to make sure his guys continue to attack. "If those are the turnovers we're getting, aggressively and we're attacking the rim and it's a charge, we can deal with that," Calipari said. "The worst thing would be if we're out there just jacking up 3-point shots." Calipari, though, does want his guys to make some adjustments to the way opponents are defending them. "Either way, you've got to be aware, whether you're Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) or whether you're Marquis Teague, that that's how they're playing," Calipari said. "You've got to stop short or you've truly got to move to a side so it's so obvious that they're moving that they've got to call it."
  • On the defensive end, UK is drawing very few charges, but again, Calipari isn't worried. UK has blocked 164 shots on the season and he'd prefer one of those to drawing a charge. "We lead the nation in blocked shots so instead of taking charges, we're blocking," Calipari said. "I'd rather have that too because those lead to fast breaks. We've got a couple guys that are told, 'You guys take charges, the rest of you block shots.' "
  • Finally, Calipari was asked about the health of his team following a physical win on Saturday. He has not yet had a practice with his team since this weekend, but he didn't report any injuries beyond bumps and bruises. He did, however, offer a familiar prescription for his team to cope with the physical play UK should expect to see the rest of the season. "It's all the M.O. that everybody's looking at saying this is how you play these guys and we've got to learn to negate it," Calipari said. "I just keep saying it over and over. If you don't negate it, that's what they do." There will be games when officials are calling the game tight and UK will shoot a bunch of free throws, but there will be others when players are allowed to bang much more, but the Wildcats can't be affected either way if they want to live up to their lofty ranking. "It's not acceptable to get beat like that if you want to be a special team," Calipari said.
  • Some coaches have reported they didn't know Kidd-Gilchrist was as good of a player as he is until after having faced him, but Anderson isn't going to be fooled that way. The Arkansas head man had great things to say about the freshman they call MKG. "I think he just plays the game with a lot of passion," Anderson said. "His versatility I think is very important for their basketball team. Not only is he a tremendous competitor, but he makes big plays and it seems like he plays better in the big games. Whether it be rebounding, scoring or assisting, even blocking shots, he's just very active for their basketball team."

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