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Transcript: Cal looks ahead to SEC Tournament on coaches' teleconference

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John Calipari joined the Southeastern Conference Coaches' Teleconference on Monday, discussing his team entering the league tournament this week. He touched on a variety of topics, from the one-and-done rule (again) to the significance of the SEC Tournament.

Here's a complete transcript:

On this upcoming week ...
"Yeah, we're, again, trying to get into practice today. Very important the next few days to get our mindset where we've got to be. I said it after the last game: We've got to get our mojo back. We played an outstanding Florida team (on Saturday). You're talking about a team that, No. 1 in the country on Senior Night, and they played well. And what I'm trying to get our kids to understand is let's get back to where we were two weeks ago. Let's get back to the kind of competitiveness and how we were playing and some different things we're going to do in practice to get our mindset back to where we were. But again, young kids, you can get rattled in a game like that. But I think these kids want--they understand that they're going to have to do this together, they're going to have to come together as a group, and, you know, it's time to do it."

On how the one-and-done rule has affected the college game ...

"Well, I've said for years it should be two years. If you're going to let them go out of high school then let them go whenever. The baseball rule won't work in this environment because there's no minor-league stuff, so my belief is it should be two years. And if the NBA and the Players Association, who would make that decision, come together and say, 'OK, you take a year off their rookie contract.' Instead of having four years, make them three years. Make them stay in school an extra year. And then you get with the NCAA and say, 'Hey, how do you take better care of these kids? How do you pay for their insurance so they don't have to pay themselves? How do you do the stipends and all the other things?' It may be they have the opportunity for every one of the kids on our team to get a loan if they choose to - to be able to do stuff to make them normal college students, yet also understand they're unique in what we're trying to get them to do.' So there are things that can happen. What's happened with the one-year rule is I don't think it's good for high-school players who--the top 150 players all think they're going to leave in a year. I think it's hard on the college players because by the end of the year this isn't five, eight years ago. They're all on the Internet -- all the things going -- I think it's a tough deal. So hopefully cooler heads come together between the NBA and the Players Association, and if that happens, the NCAA does their part to make sure that this all works."

On how difficult his job has been because of the one-and-done rule ...

"It is hard, but again, if you're about these kids, you've got to do what's right for them. So at the end of the of the year I'm not going to convince a kid who's in the draft - or even DeAndre Liggins who wanted to go in the second round or Jodie Meeks who, 'I'm good if I'm in the second round' - I'm not holding kids back. So at the end of the day I've got to do what's right for them. And I will tell you, one year, I don't think these kids are ready. Now, I'm not going to hold anybody back, but I think it would be better two years. They'd be better pros, they'd be more mature, they'd be more ready to walk in and have success. It's been hard, but I'm not complaining. I think we've done right by these kids. You have -- whatever it is -- 17, 18 kids in the NBA, and doing well. It's not like they're not doing well. But they would be doing even better, I think, if they had another year. But I'll say this again: If their insurance isn't paid for by the NCAA or by the schools, all the things you're seeing, kids in the draft - the Mitch McGarys who got hurt - what happens to a kid that was a top-10 pick and stays in school and is all of a sudden is injured? How do we deal with that? Because we're asking them to stay. And it's not us; it's the Players Association and the NBA. But how do we do our part to protect these kids? It's harder, but you deal with it if it's about these kids."

On the importance of the SEC Tournament ...

"Here's what I would tell you about us: A tournament, conference tournaments, a couple years ago we beat Florida in the finals and we beat them really good and it made no bearing on our seeding. That's why I'm saying, you know, what is the conference tournament for? Some teams are trying to play in (to the NCAA Tournament) but I'm saying, whether it's play in or improve your seed, that's why you're playing in the tournament. That's my opinion. My teams historically over the years have done pretty well in tournament play but it's not been the end-all. The end-all is that next tournament. So I would tell you that, (is the SEC Tournament) important for my team this year? Yeah. We gotta get our mojo back. Two weeks ago we were playing and we were looking pretty good and right now we're not. So we gotta get it back. We got four days of practice and then we're playing in that tournament. I will tell you, there are probably teams that are playing (as) well as they have all year. Arkansas, the game at Alabama kind of surprised me, but they have been playing well. Tennessee is playing as well as anybody in our league. Georgia's playing as well as anybody in our league. What do you think about how Auburn goes to Texas A&M and wins? South Carolina beats us and Missouri at the end of the year. I mean, you got a lot of teams playing that could go on a run. You got other teams that have played well during different spells of the season, whether it be us or Missouri or some of the other teams - Texas A&M has fought to stay in games - that are saying, 'Let's just get this back to where we were.' And Mississippi, another team. Won the tournament last year, probably coming in saying they're going to win it again this year."

On the one thing UK needs to improve on the floor ...
"Well, there's two things. I can't give you (one thing). There's a lot of different things but the two things in the bigger picture: You gotta sustain your defensive effort. You gotta be scrappier. In other words, we all gotta be playing the ball. We all gotta do it for the entire shot clock. We all gotta have discipline because at the end of the day we are a defensive team that's a good offensive post-up team. And then on offense we just gotta share the ball more. Very simple stuff to talk about, but we got four days to really ingrain let's get back to these things that we have done at different points of the year that we now say, 'Let's do it for 40 minutes.' If you do, you will have a ball playing. Scrappy as heck, diving, crashing. We're going to be more physical in practice. The games have gotten more and more physical. Hands up and be physical. Put your hands up in the air on a drive and be physical. Put your hands up in the air in the post and be physical. We're going four days of that. The teams that have played that way have had a big advantage. So we're going back to that, but the flip side of it is, look, we gotta share the ball. We gotta share the ball to create good shots for each other. I said it: We got the game to six and we took two of the worst shots with people open that I could have told you throughout the year the last game. So those are the couple things that we're zeroed in on."

On what he means by "mojo" ...
"Just playing off of one another more. More into each other. More emotion for the good stuff that's happening in the game."

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