Coach Cal Press Conference Wrapup

June 4, 2015

Kentucky men's basketball head coach John Calipari met with the media on Thursday for a wide-ranging summer press conference. Calipari discussed his returning team, his newest additions, how the Wildcats may play next season and even declared for presidency. Check out a partial transcript below and watch the full press conference in the video above.

Media Opportunity - June 4, 2015 - Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On the loss to Wisconsin in the Final Four ...
 
"First of all, I never thought we were going to lose last year. When we won a couple of games and how we won them, and then what we did to West Virginia, I just didn't think we'd lose. It hurts because we had a chance, and even though we made history, we had a chance to be one of those iconic teams. I haven't spent a lot of time reflecting, but the thing with this job is that stuff never ends. You're always doing something. Even when I took some time earlier after the season, we were still in the throes of recruiting and I was on the phone, but it hurt us all. We all thought we were winning the whole thing. We thought we were going 40-0."

On why UK lost to Wisconsin ...
"We didn't play as well, but Wisconsin played great. Look, every team that we played this year played their best. Wisconsin at their best, they're good. When you talk about teams last year: Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Arizona, us, Duke, maybe one or two more, maybe Michigan State, which was playing well at the end. Those were the teams and we had to go through most of them to get there. The hard thing about that tournament is one game someone plays out of their mind and one game you don't play up to par. When we had a four-point lead with five minutes to go, I don't think there was anybody in the universe that didn't think we were winning the game because we always did. It surprised me how we finished, but it happened. And you gotta give Wisconsin credit."

On the roster for next season ...
"I feel good about it. I just think we will be different. Kind of excited about it. I think this may be one of those multiple pick-and-roll kind of teams. Could be more of a dribble drive team than I've had here in a while. I think we have a little bit of everything, and again there's no one like anyone else on the team. There are not two guys that are similar. Every guy is different and has his own thing. It's exciting because we're still going to be good. I think college basketball will come back a little bit. This past year there were really good teams."

On why it's good to have a team with diverse skill sets ...
"Because they can worry about being the best versions of themselves. They don't have to worry about anybody else. Just be your best and that's going to be good enough for us and for that player."

On looking forward to coaching without platooning ...
"That was hard last year. No. 1, I had never done it. And so there were all kinds of things we were dealing with, and not just on the basketball court. You're basically having to sell how we're doing this and how it's going to benefit each player. And it did. Karl-Anthony Towns got better. And now he's projected as the No. 1 pick. Willie Cauley-Stein got better. If we had play six or seven guys could Willie or Karl done what they had done? I don't know. I do know this: We got better with the way we did it. Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Dakari (Johnson), the (Harrison) twins, they all got better. So I don't think anybody was hurt by it and our program obviously wasn't hurt by it. We set records. We were historic. A little bit short of what we wanted to do, but still a historic team. And our thing every year is how do we just get guys better? How do we play that will benefit these players, which in the end benefits the program and benefits the University and all those things. There was a young woman from the military being interviewed. They asked her, `What makes a great leader in the military?' Without hesitation she said, `They love their people.' And it didn't say strategically this. They loved their people and they made decisions based on that. That's what we do here. It's not like you can be that way, but not care about results. You can do both. They are when you zero in on those, those get you more than you can get any other way in my opinion."

On comparing the buildup to next season with his previous years at UK ...
"The other years we brought in some pretty good freshmen. We had some pretty good veterans and those were the teams that did well. When you talk about Tyler Ulis, everyone that talks to me about him says that they love him as a player. I was just with Steve Alford and he said, `I absolutely loved Ulis.' Alex is going to be back. Before he got injured, you had people telling us that he was going to have a monster year. You watch him. I've had more people come up to me and say that now is Marcus Lee's time to shine. He's ready for it. You also look at Dominique (Hawkins) and what he's been able to do. You have some veterans. Derek Wills, who now should not feel anxiety, but be able to come back and lead a group of young players who are pretty good."

On Alex Poythress' rehab ...
"He sent me some videos. He was doing some box jumping, he's probably running at slow pace right now, but he's running, jumping, doing stuff. But obviously it takes time."

On Poythress playing at the No. 4 spot or the perimeter ...
"Depends, but he can do both. It's nice that you can play, now obviously you guys remember down in the Bahamas where he was in that slot and he was ridiculous. So we'll see. If that's where he's at his best, then that's where we'll play him."

On other coaches hurting him in recruiting ...
"I don't know if it was that, but there were a lot of things that were thrown, and look, here's again, I put this out because I had heard LeBron had said it: Where his game changed when instead of worrying about being great, he was worried about the process to be great. It changed him. That's what happens here. If you're into `I just want to show you what I can do,' it's hard. You're going to be here with six, seven other guys that can all play. If you want to be the only guy that can score. Some people think, `Well, my best chance of getting where I want to go is being the main guy and taking all the shots and playing all the minutes.' Really? Ask Devin Booker. Really? But if you really believe that, and I'm not going to convince you of anything different, you won't come here. So I don't think it was just that, but it's hard for me when 26 in six years, when they've had the academic success they've had, when they've had 14 players have graduated, three in three years. Where it's more of a college experience for these kids. Where they have a lifetime education, so when they come back they can get their degree and where you come in here and perform and prepare yourself to go forward. You have to admit that our guys in the league have had great success. They're not flaming out. They're not all max contracts, but more than anybody else I'd say."

On negative recruiting against UK given the program's successes in recent NBA drafts ...
"They're good. I mean really good. I started talking to a friend of mine and he started coming back with the answers and I said, believe me, I know all that, but this thing is hard because again, a lot of times kids are looking for the easiest route to what they want to do. They think, well, I'm there with seven other guys or six other guys and they all can play, how hard am I going to have to work? I'd rather be my only guy and I will get all of the balls. You try to explain that's not the path. The path is the process to get better and that that is what you enjoy. What we did with Anthony (Davis) and Karl(-Anthony Towns) both. Karl just phoned me yesterday. He called yesterday and we were talking about we forced him to do stuff he didn't want to do. Like, you're going to get in the post and you're going to become tougher. We did it with Anthony and now look at Anthony's game. Now they're all writing about Karl like he's got all this. Yeah, but you had to have him establish toughness, a post presence, free-throw shooting, all the things like being able to guard pick and roll. So it moved Karl from a guy that they said boy, if only he were tougher. Now all of the sudden he is a lock to be the No. 1 pick."

What does Mychal Mulder bring to the team ...
"The good news is he's played in a terrific program where there were other really good players he played with, yet he was still a First Team All-American. He can really shoot. Terrific athletically. We may press more. This may be a team that I press more with. May go back to some of the presses I used at Memphis. But until I get everyone, we won't know that. But he can, with his length and his athleticism, he gives us that -- Charles (Matthews) gives us a different look than he gives us. Charles is more of a slasher. And Mychal is making 3s. They're both pretty athletic. Mychal is probably more so than Charles. Charles is probably a little tougher. They're just different, which is perfect."

On his expectations and outlook for Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins ...
"It doesn't matter what I envision it's what they envision for themselves. And they've got to come in and do it. Which is why (I made) my comment don't come here not expecting to play this time. You expect to play. Then you make that happen. You fight for your spot. You improve your skills. `Well, if I just had more time.' No, then you'd be bad for more time. No, it isn't about more time. It's you earn your minutes. You -- and I'm not saying those two specifically, I'm saying any player. `Well, if I just got more time.' Really? What would you be? 0 for 12 now? `Well, you know, I wouldn't be afraid to make a mistake.' Really? Or would you just make twice as many mistakes? And then the confidence that they have you build that through the process and enjoying the day-to-day grind of the process. Instead of -- I'm going to be great, no I'm going to go through the process to be great. And then go into games and perform. You build your confidence. If you're not confident then no one on the court is confident with you, and the coach is not confident in you. If you're confident then the players around you are confident with you, and the coach is confident -- `he's alright.' But, you have to be confident and you have to build that yourself. And there's only one way to do that -- through the process of getting better and better and better which brings great joy to you, more than the anxiety of worrying about being great. Just go every day. And then when you get in games -- perform. You build your own confidence. So, that's for all of the guys that we talk about not just Dom and Derek. But, I'm proud of where they've gone with themselves as students, with themselves on the basketball floor -- how they've improved, how much stronger they are, how much they've grown and matured. Both of them. Derek has matured more than I can even tell you. Now, he's got to get on that court and it can't be `Ah we wish he could play more.' It's `Look at him play. He needs to get more minutes.' You know?"

On what Derek Willis has to do to get more playing time and what he meant when he said Willis doesn't have anxiety anymore ...
"Well, they all do (have anxiety). Anyone that's trying to break their way through and doesn't know exactly how it's all going to play out, you have anxiety. I think he's gotten better and better. He's done great in school. And he and Dom are on, like, a normal college path. I mean, the first couple of years you don't play a whole lot, you're trying to bust through your third year, and you're trying to make sure your senior year is, you know, you're fulfilling your own dreams. But they're on a normal path. It's just, for some reason here, it doesn't seem normal but it is normal."

On fighting the perception of what's wrong with a player if he stays more than one year ...
"They tried to say that with Willie. Willie went from where he was to being more prepared. I mean, it's all in each individual player, but yeah, they would feel that. But it's not just here; it's everywhere. If a kid was a really good player and he went to a school saying, `I want to be the only guy that can play,' and he gets in there and they start double teaming him and now all of a sudden he's there three or four years, did he fail or did you pick the wrong school? Or did you have the wrong idea of how you were going to get there? Or did you really fail? Or did you do it the right way? I mean, each kid is different, and Dom and Derek came in on a different track than some of the other kids. But I'll tell you what, they both have gotten better. They're both great kids and great students, and I'm rooting for them. They know that. And I told them, `You better come back here expecting to play.' I told them that at the end of the year: `You come back here expecting to play.' Now you go make it happen. I can't do it for them. They're going to have to do it."

On his expectations and outlook for Willis and Hawkins ...
"It doesn't matter what I envision. It's what they envision for themselves. And they've got to come in and do it. Which is why (I made) my comment, `Don't come here not expecting to play this time.' You expect to play. Then you make that happen. You fight for your spot. You improve your skills. `Well, if I just had more time.' No, then you'd be bad for more time. No, it isn't about more time. It's you earn your minutes. You -- and I'm not saying those two specifically, I'm saying any player. `Well, if I just got more time.' Really? What would you be? 0 for 12 now? `Well, you know, I wouldn't be afraid to make a mistake.' Really? Or would you just make twice as many mistakes? And then the confidence that they have, you build that through the process and enjoying the day-to-day grind of the process. Instead of I'm going to be great, no, I'm going to go through the process to be great. And then go into games and perform. You build your confidence. If you're not confident then no one on the court is confident with you, and the coach is not confident in you. If you're confident then the players around you are confident with you, and the coach is confident -- `he's alright.' But, you have to be confident and you have to build that yourself. And there's only one way to do that: through the process of getting better and better and better, which brings great joy to you, more than the anxiety of worrying about being great. Just go every day. And then when you get in games, perform. You build your own confidence. So, that's for all of the guys that we talk about not just Dom and Derek. But, I'm proud of where they've gone with themselves as students, with themselves on the basketball floor, how they've improved, how much stronger they are, how much they've grown and matured -- both of them. Derek has matured more than I can even tell you. Now, he's got to get on that court and it can't be, `Ah we wish he could play more.' It's, `Look at him play. He needs to get more minutes.' You know?"