John Calipari Press Conference Coverage

May 13, 2009

 

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Head Coach John Calipari

Q: Can you talk about Patrick Patterson and his decision to come back?

"I'm excited about it. When I talked to him afterwards I thought that he was fabulous in the press conference. I was blown away by his maturity and his thought process that went into it. When he called me I was doing a clinic in Vegas and I said, `Tell me why you want to come back,' and after he told me the reasons, I said, `Perfect.' If that is what you want to do I am all for it. I told his mother and father that I wanted them to understand that he and I had two conversations with him and Jodie together and not once did I tell him that he needed to come back. I told him that he needed to explore and do what he needed to do and that I would be here for him. I did not coach him into coming back, because if he came back I wanted him to know that he is coming back for himself and to help the university. I was proud of him."

Q: What do you think about Patrick not even going through the process of a NBA workout?

"Do you know why he said he didn't want to do? Because I asked him that, he said, `Because I know what I want to do and I don't want to drag anybody out. I don't want to do it to the NBA teams or to you.' Think about that, how about that one? I asked the same question, why don't you go workout for a couple of teams? He said, `Why do that, why waste their time and mine? I want to come back.' I was smiling on the other end of the phone, but I am looking at him saying `wow.' This was very thought out and he did not just say, `I want to come back.'"

Q: Coach, you have been here for a couple of weeks no. Can you talk about if there are any surprises that you have found about Lexington or the job?

"I think that I have been here 40 days, it seems like ten. I have been at work speed and in the time machine in what I have been doing. The one thing that has struck me and really hit me in the head is that this is like Seattle, it rains every day. It has rained 30 days out of 40. I got off the plane and was like, `Are we in Seattle, where are we?' So they tell me that it doesn't always rain like that here, but they also told me in Massachusetts that it didn't always snow like that either."

Q: It has been a while since we have talked to you, and you have signed a couple of players since then. Can you talk about Darnell (Dodson) and Eric (Bledsoe) a little bit more?

"I am very excited about both of those guys. I think that the class that we have coming in thus far is a class that can help us and is filled with good young people that are driven to do what they are suppose to do and driven to win championships and play. We are filling the needs that the team has. I am excited about all the kids. I am excited about Jon (Hood) and Daniel (Orton) too. I have seen them enough that I think that they will help guide us to the direction we want to take things."

Q: Can you talk more about Eric (Bledsoe)?

"He reminds me of the point guard I had at Memphis, Antonio Burks. When I recruit players, I want to make sure that they play big and are big. If a guy is 6-foot-4 and plays 6-foot-2, then he is not big. If a guy is 6-foot and plays 6-foot-5, then he is big. Antonio played bigger than his size, he was 5-foot-10 and Eric is probably 6-foot-1 maybe, but he plays big. He is fast and very physically strong and tough. He has great vision on the court, and in this offense you have to be able to react. Everything that we do in the drills and teach is trying to get them to react better and to keep their heads up and recognize what is happening to them. Some guys never get it, they just can't. They have to run plays and set screens, but he is one that gets it. He just gets it."

Q: Could you talk about who you have been impressed with in workouts?

"I was worried about some of the players and then each time they got better and tried to pick it up. I was worried also about how coachable all these players are and if they were going to pick up how we were going to play and how to be on the floor. I was really impressed with Patrick and I put him in the same position as I played Robert Dozer a couple of years ago and he did things that I had no idea he could do. One of the things was that I didn't realize how fast he was. He is really fast. He hasn't always run fast though. Last year, Tyreke Evan's mother called him and said, `I didn't realize you were that fast.' She had seen him his whole life and he never ran as fast as he could; he just ran. Now he is sprinting and she is saying, `Geez you are fast.' With Patrick, it kind of hit me where there were a couple of plays that he just took off and I was like, `Whoa, I didn't know you could run like that.' He also shoots the ball better than I thought, and handles it and passes it better than I thought."

Q: Coach, you said in you opening press conference that this turnover won't happen overnight, but with all of these recruits coming in the fan base is getting excited ...

"We will calm them down don't worry, it is not that time yet but we will calm them down. You are going to have people that will say that we are going to be the national champion and they are No. 1 or No. 2, but I have done this too long, so it doesn't have any effect on me at all. It's not going to put more pressure on us. Can you do that at Kentucky? I am not buying it. Half of the team is going to be new players that have never played college basketball; the other half has never played this style. So to say that we are going to be one of the best teams in the country, and Dicky V(itale) is out there saying stuff; and he never embellishes ever. We have a ways to go and this is going to be a step at a time. What you are going to be finding out is that in September and November, balls are going to be playing everywhere and they will be questioning how we are playing. All of a sudden it will hit January and we will have a couple of breakout games and they will say, `Oh my goodness.' Then it hits February and we aren't turning the ball over as much and we are shooting better and still running people into the ground and that is how you are playing. Then by March you are playing your best basketball. If you asked me how my vision of what it will look like, it will look something like that."

Q: You have talked a lot about Jodie and Patrick and their workouts, but could you talk about some of the other players that you have been impressed with?

"Darius (Miller) has played well, and Josh (Harrellson) has played well. Perry (Stevenson) has done some things that we had to stop practice and the whole team clapped for him, because he did some things that they haven't even seen him do. Kevin (Galloway) and DeAndre (Liggins) are completely out of control. Your feet have to move really fast in this offense, like really fast, like a duck where your feet are moving really fast under water, but above the water it is really smooth, but when their (Kevin and DeAndre) feet move really fast, their minds move fast as well. That is all about being coached and drilled. They have the mentality to take the ball to the rim and drive the way I want, but right now they would run over cheerleaders, fans and officials."

Q: Can you tell us some of the players that might not be back next season?

"I don't know. There are some guys that we will sit down with and talk to, but I haven't really sat down with any of the players that way. We told them to get everything settled with academics, and put everything together and the guys have played enough to know how they fit in and where they fit in."

Q: When are you going to let them know so that they can plan for the future and where they go next?

"We will do stuff here in the near future. I just got back into town and they just got done with finals. They will have time and whatever happened for all of them, I want this to be a situation for them and that we are all being fair and doing the right thing."

Q: What are your thoughts on walk-ons? I think that they had five to seven last year ...

"We had a football team when I first got here. I have never seen so many players on a basketball court at one time. My focus is going to be on the 10, 11 or 12 that are really going to be playing. We will have walk-ons, but I am not going to keep seven walk-ons I will tell you that. I have always had walk-ons earn scholarships. Chance McGrady who just graduated, was one of the best teammates I have ever coached. He earned his scholarship because he was a great teammate, but he was a great player too. He was not as good as the rest of our guys, but he could have played Division I. I want to continue to do that, there are guys out there that have always dreamed of playing for Kentucky and hopefully you can help a couple of kids accomplish those dreams, just not seven."

Q: Coach, can you talk about Daniel Orton and is your entire incoming freshman class eligible to play?

"To be eligible, you have to first be graduated and turn in everything. Most high schools have not graduated yet, so until that happens nobody is through the clearinghouse so they are not eligible. Having said that, if you ask me all the kids that we have signed will get through the clearinghouse. That is my opinion, but I am not sitting there evaluating all the stuff. I have done it long enough though that I know how things work.

"Daniel Orton is going to be terrific, because he has great size, really long arms and he is skilled. You can play him inside, or outside and he is a terrific passer. He is not a guy that you have to say, `Oh my god, he doesn't have the skills to be in the way they play,' because he does. He also has the skills that if you want to play two big guys you can. There is DeMarcus (Cousins) that you can play with him and together. I am watching Boston right now and what they are doing with their two big guys. If you spread them out on the court, they are not guarded. (Celtic coach) Doc (Rivers) and I have talked about the motion offense and he has run different portions of it. He is doing things with two big guys running at the ball and I am watching it, because we have an opportunity to, at times, play two big players at one time and maybe we play a little zone. You have an opportunity to play two guys that are big because they are really fast, aggressive and skilled."

Q: Coach, there is a story out at USC that has broke over the last couple of days, is there an inherited danger in recruiting top players?

"I didn't read the story, but in my opinion we shouldn't have summer recruiting. I have said that for years, we don't need it. We need to get it back into the high schools and should do what football coaches do, which is take a month off and shut it down. Nothing, no calls nothing. We should put it back in the high schools, while they are there. Some of the smaller schools say, `Well I have to go and it saves money if I can see 150 kids at one time.' OK, so you are at Morehead State and you go see a kid and South Carolina and Clemson loses a guy and a guy that you thought you could get a Morehead State is now going to South Carolina because they saw him at the same event you saw him. But if you are at Morehead State and you go see a kid in season, then you will get that guy because he hasn't had as much exposure. I asked a friend of mine that coaches at Drexel, a former assistant, `How did you get this guy he is really good?' He said, `He didn't go onto the circuit, he was injured.' That is my point. I think that it would be good for everyone. We don't need to be recruiting in the summer. I would like to be like a father and be at home. I end up being the cardboard cutout. They tell me what gym to go to and I do the presidential wave and stand there. I have already seen the kid five times but I have to go across country so he sees me watching him. He sees me, I see him, and he sees me watching him as I see him watching me. I already know if he can play or not. They keep shorting it, so now in seven days we have to do what we did in 18 days. Now the kid truly wants to see me Vegas and Orlando and New York and Chicago. In one day I have to hit four cities. I'm in the time machine again. One coach and I'm not going to mention his name - I may as I keep talking about it - he says, `I don't even go. I call the kid and say it was nice seeing you. I was up top. You really looked good and played your butt off.' The assistant was probably out there and calls him and tells him how he plays."

Q: What will Tony Delk and Scott Padgett's job will be?

"They are going to be `coaches-in-training.' They will be part of our family and watching what we are doing and learning. They will be a part of our camps and clinics and that kind of stuff. Basically, be learning and if they do a good job and create their own niche in what they are doing and one of my assistants get a job, they hire them or I hire them. We will have a retreat here, and there will be 40 or so NBA and college coaches that come and that is where I meet Tony last year. Mike Woodson and he have gotten close; Mike is one of our family of coaches. Tony is going to have an opportunity to be in the NBA or college, but he just wants to get started. A lot like Rod Strickland did."

Q: What about this midnight madness in Commonwealth Stadium ...

"You guys have got to tell me, can we do it? (Crowd says yes and laughs.) You say that, but listen. The average weather in that time period is from 50-to-66 degrees, what if it is 50? (Media member says, `I don't care if it is 10 degrees.) Yeah, you don't care because you have a coat on; I'm talking about the guys that are running around up and down out there on the court. Here is what I would like to do and you will get to know me, I am usually outside of the box where you just shake your head and leave and say, `This guy is out of his mind.' I would like to do it on the football stadium and you get 70,000 people there and have the weather be perfect and have Ashley Judd come and Justin Timberlake and other celebrities come and you make it an hour and a half of fun. The thing is on the players though, I don't like doing the rapping and the dancing and all that. Look, we are going to do some drills; you are going to see them play and introduce them and that is it. It is about them, not them being stupid. It is seeing them. Weather wise, you put a court down and all of a sudden it might rain. There are some things that are going on. I am throwing it at the athletic department to say will it work. What happens if it is nice and then it gets bad? Can we then go down to Rupp? How do you do that? It is harder than you think, but I let everyone else deal with the hard stuff and I come up with the ideas."

Q: What about the schedule ...

"We are winding it down. We still have two games to schedule, but the rest of it is pretty much laid out. We are working on next year. I have some stuff going on that will be unbelievable if we can get it done. We are trying to move one game in Louisville and play at another neutral site. Texas has called and wants to play a neutral site game in Houston. We are thinking about Cincinnati, but you really want to protect your home fans in Lexington and make sure they have games. You may want to shove a game into Nashville at some point. It may not be a bad game as a neutral site. I like neutral site games for all of you to understand because what I like to do is split tickets. You get half of the tickets and we get half of the tickets. The reason is that is an NCAA venue, which is what the NCAA is. You are not playing a road game in the NCAA tournament. It will be half and half. We did play one, we played UCLA in California. We were the higher seed but they had 17,000 and we had 1,500. I would love to get a team that would agree to play us in Louisville every year and split the tickets. That would be my preference because every year you know that is the team that we are playing and you don't have to worry about other things."