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Preseason Q&A part 2: Calipari on physicality, 3-point shooting

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In September, John Calipari sat down with a select group of media members to talk about his 2013-14 Kentucky team. We will be posting a transcript of the entire conversation on Tuesday and Wednesday in four parts. Today, Calipari touches on topics ranging from physical play to 3-point shooting to the block-charge rule. Check out part one here.

Question: How much more physical do you think your team is going to be this year?
Calipari: Oh, man. Yeah, it's (going to be different). I keep hearing that they're going to call fouls this year. I just watched a whole season where people beat the living crap out of each other, all the way through to the finals. So we're going to play like we're on the verge of fouling every possession. I've got enough guys. So that's what I think others are teaching. Just play so you're on the verge of fouling and I'll complain about too many fouls called. We can play that way because I've got more numbers. And then physically, you have to want to play that way. You have to have the physique to play that way, and I think we do. I think we have it. Hopefully they start calling it. We can always back up, but it appears as though, get body to body, hip check people, push them in the back, just play, bang, do it. And that was not one team; there were 50 teams last year that played that way. And that's how the game ended up being. And now they're all mad. The guys that were all doing it are saying we've got to call more fouls. Are you out of your mind? You're the reason we're playing this way. You see how it's played; we can play that way with this team. I want to press more with this team. I don't know if we'll press with a big on the ball, but you can with both Marcus (Lee) and Willie. Dakari would have to go back and play our normal press. We played with Willie on the ball at times last year and I kind of liked it. We have more players now. We have more toughness and that kind of stuff; more athleticism. We may press from 25 feet and down. In other words, in the quarter court. Well, how do you do that? You're trapping certain passes. You're trapping certain areas on the court and scrambling. So we may do that because of this team. But at the end of the day, this team, like my other teams I've - well, last year's team with Nerlens (Noel) was one of the best defensive teams for who we had. When we had Nerlens, we were still one of the best defensive teams. After Nerlens left, we weren't the same. But, this team should be like my teams where we should be one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country; stop drives, being physical, making it tough on people to score, length. I think a lot of teams will play zone against this team. If we really get going how we want to play, I think teams will just say screw it, play zone, make them shoot it. The difference with this: It can shoot. So now all of a sudden you've got four and five guys that can make shots. It's a different (game). The other thing is I like size against zone because you can just look over it. When you've got smaller or weaker guys, they're just trying to throw it to the guy next to him. When you've got bigger guys, they're looking at the zone like, whoa man, that guy's open. So my best teams against zones have just been longer teams. This team should be pretty long.

Question: Are you confident you have enough 3-point shooting on this team?
Calipari: I would say. We talk about Alex and just a disappointing year, (but) I think he averaged 11 points and seven rebounds, shot 58 percent, 42 from 3. He just wasn't Anthony Davis. But as far as freshmen go, he was good. But, I had to play him whether he was playing bad or good. It wasn't his fault what happened. But he can shoot it. All I want to do is we've got to figure out how we're going to play, who we're going to have where. We're starting to work through some of that as I work them out. I may do something different this year. On the 15th of September, we can start working out with the team twice a week. We may do one hour a week - the drill work we always do to get them ready for Dribble Drive and teaching them how to play basketball. And then for an hour a week, they play and I kind of coach them through it, which I've not done before. So in other words, they're playing 5-on-5 and we're just playing. Like right now they're playing pick-up. The weight staff and people are saying they're playing so hard. We don't have the coolness, like I'm going to act like I just don't care. You know what I'm saying? We don't have that. These dudes are going after each other. So if you play for an hour and a half and you're really going and you're up and down the whole time, that's good. You're learning about each other, you're getting in shape. You don't need to do all kinds of other things if you'll do that. So when I heard that, I told the guys, I said, "Look, if that's what these pick-up games are like, then when we start practicing, I'm going to coach you while you're playing and I'm going to get you playing. I'll stop you and make you (do the right things). We'll go up and down the court." Now we're not playing any pick-and-roll basketball right now. See, I think pick-and-roll basketball has set our game back. And what happens is, because you watch the NBA run pick-and-roll, what's every team from seventh grade on running right now? So you do get movement? Do you get motion? Do you get cutting? Do you get screening? You get none of that. Two guys come down and the other guys space out and you go pick-and-roll. Well, think about that. So we're not right now, there is absolutely no pick-and-roll basketball when they play. You've got to create for your teammate, you've got to get it on the drive, set a screen for your man, run the court, create, cut hard, get a backdoor (cut), cut to the ball. You've got to learn to play basketball. So that's what we're doing right now.

Question: On sheer volume of talent, have you ever had a roster like this?
Calipari: Until I get with them, I don't know. My first year in 2010 was really a good (team). I told you at that time it was the most talented team I had ever coached, probably more talented - more guys than the 2012 team. But see, we all look at the 2011 team and say, "Well, that team wasn't (very talented)." Wait a minute. Doron Lamb in the NBA. Terrence (Jones) in the NBA. Josh (Harrellson) in the NBA. Brandon (Knight) in the NBA. DeAndre (Liggins) in the NBA. "Yeah, that team was shaky." Darius (Miller) in the NBA. You had six guys that played in the league, and still do now. "That team, how did they get to the final four?" You know what I say? Like some other guys say, I say I coached them up. That was me. We should have never been to the Final Four with that team. That was the way I coached (sarcasm). The reality of it is we had six pros. I mean, we didn't know it then. None of us knew, but in reality we did. So you're talking 2010, that team in 2012, you had a lot of talented kids on that team that decided to come together. And we talked about it with this team. This team, reaching their dreams is going to be based on how far this team goes and what this does and how much we win.

Question: How confident are you that the block/charge change will be called?
Calipari: How long have I been saying it? There are a lot of things I've been saying for five years that are coming to fruition. The block/charge, I've just been screaming about. Well, you've got teams that can't play, so what they do is they just flop in front of people and just start flopping. Well, that's not our part. Recruit better players. Do what the NBA does. If it's even close, it's a block. Stop it. Play defense. Quit trying to have a bearing on the game because you're not this. We're going to do this to play. No, you've got to play basketball, and if you're in there flopping around, if you're on the ball and the guy sticks his shoulder down, that's a charge. If you're standing there and his head is down and he runs into you, it's a charge. If this guy is driving and he comes over, "Well, his toe was -" That's a block. "What? That's a charge." No, if it's close, it's a block, which I hope they do. It's good for the game. We have to play that way, too, now. Now you encourage more blocks versus charges. Block the shot. Come weak side and block it. Well, I can't so I'm just going to flop underneath this guy and hope they give me a charge. The crazy thing was if he was outside the area, what'd they do? They called it a charge. Like what in the world? But they say they're changing it so we'll see.

Question: Can you talk about Marcus Lee and what you see from him?
Calipari: He's different than all these guys. He and I talked the other day and he was in the office and I said, "Look, you just keep being you." I said, "What do you do well?" He said, "I defend, I block shots, I run the court." Do that. We'll figure out your offense. You just do that. So we're playing and doing drills one-on-one-on-one with the bigs and he's there. He gets scored on and didn't try to block it and I go, "Didn't you tell me you block shots?" "Yeah." "Well then block it. You're just standing there. Go block every shot. Go try to rebound every ball. I'm not asking you to be Dakari. Guess what? Dakari can't be you. Just be you." So in time he's going to be really good. And these practices, he wants to learn, he wants to get better. He's a guy that wants to be in this kind of environment. He'll be fine.

Question: He's a volleyball guy that blocked over 500 balls in high school. What natural ability does he have there?
Calipari: You look at his body, he's got those long legs, long arms. We're doing on one-on-one-on-one  with the bigs where you play him, then he'll play you and just keep rotating, and he's going against Dakari. Now, Dakari weighs more pounds than him - at least 45. So are you going to bang with him? You've got to out-quick him. So he's trying to bang. Stop. Why are you trying to do that? You lose that battle every time. Dakari is going to do it to you because he wins that battle every time. So you're going to use your quickness to not let him get the ball, try to steal it from him. You're going to use your quickness. Try to block a shot that he's trying to put his body on you. And when you catch it, you're trying to run by him. He's trying to put a body on you. Don't let him. It's all the coaching them to play to their strengths, which we're trying to get them all to do.

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