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Transcript: Coach Cal talks Florida and more on SEC teleconference

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After missing a week due to baseball and softball media day last week, it's time for another transcript from the Southeastern Conference Basketball Coaches Teleconference.

Before we get to the transcript, Kentucky has made its return to the AP Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 26, checking in at No. 25 in the latest poll released on Monday.

This week, John Calipari fielded questions about his team's matchup with Florida on Tuesday and talked yet again about what he's asking of his Wildcats. Here's what he had to say as well as some relevant quotes from a pair of other SEC coaches.

Coach Cal


On the upcoming week ...
"Well we have two hard road games. Neither team loses many games at home. They're both - Tennessee's coming off a win, Florida's coming off a win. Both will be hungry teams and hard games for us. Florida's a top-five team and deservedly so. They've got basically the team they had a year ago that went to an Elite Eight and they're playing better together and playing harder, playing great defense. Billy's (Donovan) doing a great job with his team."

On the importance of guard play vs. Florida, especially since he has been down on Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow of late ...

"When you say down on them, I'm not down on them. We're just raising the bar and asking them to reach higher and play to the best version of themselves for our team. So they have to play a certain way that makes us have success and at times they're doing it and other times they're not. They have to be more consistent, but I'm not down on them. You want them to be at their best all the time and you want to raise that bar and help 'em try to change that."

On whether there has been a game where guard play has been more important than vs. Florida ...
"Yeah, you know you got the Louisville game, you had the game with Duke and with Notre Dame when Ryan wasn't even there and we had to go with guard play and do it anyway and hung around for most of those games. But every game we play, in college basketball guard play is vital and for us to be what we need to be, they've got to keep striving for the best version of themselves. They gotta keep striving to, 'What do I have to do for this team?' When you talk selfishness to any player, it's not, 'You're taking all the shots.' It's, 'Are you doing what the team needs you to do? And if you're choosing not to, that's selfish.' And so we're continuing on, 'Here's what the team needs you to do.' Even yesterday, I went through the room and said, 'Is there any question, does anybody have any doubt of what I'm looking for from each player for our team? Do you guys know what we're asking Kyle (Wiltjer) to do? Do you guys know what we're asking Julius (Mays) to do? Do you know what we're asking Nerlens (Noel) to do? Is there any doubt?' So there should not be any doubt with the individual player. So now it becomes a choice: 'Are you going to do what we're asking (you) to do or not?' That is - again, it comes back to what I've said all along is when you have players trying to establish who they are, we gotta get those same guys now losing themselves in the team. Just lose yourself in the team. Whatever they need me to do, I'm doing. Me missing shots, turning over, it's not about me; it's about our team. And we're not making every shot, we're not making a game without any turnovers. It's just how it is. But if lose myself in the team, I'm not so wrapped up in my own play, which affects my body language and my effort throughout the game."

On Florida's defense and what makes Florida such a good defensive team ...

"It starts on the ball. Defense always starts on the ball, and that's why when Jarrod (Polson) goes in the game, he will change the complexion of the game for us at times. They really play the ball good. As you're bringing it up, they've got a guy that can play pick-and-roll defense and also put great pressure on the ball and make that first pass - your entry into offense - very difficult. So it starts right there. The second thing is, they're doing a great job of scrambling up the other team from three-quarters court where they just, they're running at the ball, taking chances, taking opportunities, using their athleticism. But when they run at the ball, I come back to the point guard is playing the point so hard that it makes it tough when that other guy defends him. If you don't play the guard and my eyes aren't occupied, when you're running a man, I'll find an open man. But they're not letting you do it. They're doing a terrific job there, and they're a good rebounding team on top of it."

Florida head coach Billy Donovan


On the upcoming week ...
"We're starting this week with Kentucky, a team that is obviously very talented and continues to get better. I think John has done a great job with the development of their team. And then obviously at the end of the week, going to Auburn, tough place to play. Tony's (Barbee) teams just, they may be undersized, but just the way they play hard and change defenses. A tough place to play, another challenge for us. So we obviously have two very challenging games this week."

On the status of Erik Murphy, who injured his ankle recently, and Nerlens Noel ...
"Murphy's fine. He practiced yesterday. He just went back, I think, during the game just more (for) precautionary (reasons). But he was full-go yesterday. He practiced the entire time. I think it was more precautionary him going back into the locker room, but there's no problem with him. Obviously Nerlens is a terrific shot blocker. I had a chance to watch him in high school, and he's one of those few and rare guys that's very, very gifted blocking shots and altering and changing the game around the basketball. He's got a great talent and a great ability to do that."

On the loss of Will Yeguete to injury ...
"Well he's just a very, very versatile guy because he can play, one on offense he's played three different positions for us on offense and he's played three different positions for us on defense. I think he's just one of those rare, unique guys that--he takes a lot of pride and gets a lot of pleasure in doing things that for a lot of players are very uncomfortable. He really enjoys defense, he's an active guy on the glass, he can offensive rebound, he's a good post defender, he's a good perimeter defender. So he just adds a different element all the way around for our team. He's a very likable guy on our team. Our guys enjoy playing with him. He's about the right things. He's not a high-volume shooter. He's not trying to do a lot of things he can't do. He's figured out and carved out a way to impact the game of basketball without scoring in a lot of ways. I think every coach for every team loves having guys like that on our team."

On Florida being a system team and the disruption to the system of losing Yeguete ...
"I think every team plays to a system, whatever your principles are or things that you want to do. You're always going to play to a role or whatever your responsibilities are when you're playing both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. So I think for us, inside of our system in terms of things that we do - pressing, different things defensively - yeah, he was an important cog into that, as is a lot of other guys that are on our team. But he has fit in just because of the way we've tried to play defensively, the way we've tried to play offensively. He's figured out how to kind of carve his niche so to speak inside of our system."

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin

On what it takes for UK or anybody to stay with and beat Florida ...
"Guard play. Your guard play better be good because Florida is going to force you - they never give you anything easy through their defense, so your guard play has to be extremely good so it doesn't turn it over, so your offense doesn't take bad shots. Because if you do either one against Florida, they just make you pay. And then your guard play just has to be extremely strong and disciplined in its approach because Florida tests your will with their defense. If your will is weak, then they just jump all over you. So your guard play is probably most important when you go up against Florida."

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