Kentucky Previews South Florida

Kentucky head coach John Calipari


Q. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Orlando (Antigua). How far back it goes, how did it start?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, he played at St. Raymond's High School in New York, so. Ended up going to Pitt, but he went after I left Pitt and went to Massachusetts.

I watched him and got to know him. And when he got into coaching, stayed close with him and had an opportunity at Memphis and he came with me, did a fabulous job, just like he did here. I mean, I've not ever met one person that has anything bad to say about him. And I tried to hire guys that that's how they are, because everybody talks bad about me. So you would like to have, you know, people around me they're thinking good things about.

He's done a great job. They lost some games. But if you watch the games, they're running good stuff, they're organized, they're getting the shots, they're missing a lot of shots. They're missing a lot of 3s. But they're trying, they're fighting, and it was a great win for them tonight.

Q. How tough is the USF job for anybody?
COACH CALIPARI: It's a very hard job. But he's up for it. I'm telling you, I've watched him, I've seen him. But it's just like anything else, those are the kind of jobs that it takes time. It takes one or two, three classes to come together and then you see it.

But when you're walking into a situation like that, it's just hard to say, hey, we're going to --. I remember at UMass we were 10-18 and 17-14 my second year and they were saying like, man, I'm not sure this guy can do this. And then by my third year, we were 21-14. Happened to get to the NIT and still questioning what we're doing. And then I got that group of seniors and then we started going and it changed the whole thing up there. But it takes time. It took four years. My fourth year is where we started getting to where we were pretty good.

Q. How often do you talk to Orlando and would you anticipate maybe scheduling him to play a game here?
COACH CALIPARI: They will play here next year, I believe. But he and I, we probably talk once a week, maybe more than that. Like, I'll call him and that. It was a two-point game with two seconds to go while the anthem was playing and I was looking at Chris (Woolard), tell me if it's over, give me the thumbs up or down. So I wanted to know that he won that game.

Again, I hope he loses the next one. But after that I hope he wins them all. But, you know, he's somebody that's helped me in two different situations, Memphis and here, turn these things around and I wish him nothing but the best. And I think not only is he a great guy, a good person, a great heart, good family man, he's also a terrific basketball coach.

Q. What do you do with your kids for Thanksgiving to keep it a family thing?
COACH CALIPARI: We're going to have a meal down there at a country club with a friend of mine. We'll leave tomorrow and we're going to do something at the Alonzo Mourning Center and then we're going to practice at their Miami facility, take them out to dinner tomorrow night, and then practice probably around noon on Thanksgiving day. Have Thanksgiving at five.

Some of them have parents down there, so we'll probably have a dessert bar after at the hotel, so we can meet all the families and do all that stuff. Play the game on Friday and I think we come back.

Kentucky Student-Athletes


#23, Jamal Murray, Guard


On Thanksgiving away from family and playing in Miami … 
“I don’t think they will be down for Thanksgiving. Canada already had their Thanksgiving in October. I’m going to be in Miami and that is going to be a great experience for me.”

#22, Alex Poythress, Forward


On playing against former assistant coach Orlando Antigua …
“O is my dude. We’re always laughing and joking. I can’t wait to see him when we go down to Miami. He’s been one of my guys ever since he recruited me and I can’t wait to see him again.”

On what Antigua did for him as a player …
“He was just a mentor to me. He was always in the gym with me, helping me, him and KP (Kenny Payne), just talking to you. If you needed something he was there.”

On spending Thanksgiving in Miami …
“I’m excited. Everyone wants to spend Thanksgiving with their families, but we get to spend it with our second family in our teammates and coaches. We’re a brotherhood. We’re excited for that.”