Video, Quotes from Coach Calipari, Players Before Heading North

Aug. 13, 2010

2010-11 Kentucky Basketball
Pre-Canada Video and Quotes
Aug. 13, 2010

Video from Cat Scratches:

Head Coach John Calipari

UK Players

Quotes:

UK Head Coach John Calipari

Opening remarks…
“I’ve had a lot of fun here in the last two weeks. It’s kind of gotten my juices going to be able to coach. And the stuff we do traveling, I call it the presidential wave. I’m standing in the gym and it’s like I’m a cardboard cutout and I want the kid to see me, and I’m tired of that. And now you get down to what we do which is coach and get these kids thinking different, changing the whole culture of how they practice and work and it’s been fun. We’re not very good, but it’s been fun.”

On if he can see the potential…

“I’m not going to go that far. And I’m not trying to compare them to last year, because you’re going to get disappointed if you do. That was a unique group. (We have) a bunch of good kids. I’m having fun, but everything’s new to them. We’re out there again with five freshmen. There’s stuff that we teach and we’re doing right now 90 percent dribble-drive, where last year it was about 30 percent. It’s like DeWayne (Peevy) says to me, I’m sitting there listening to it and watching it and it’s ‘geez, how can they remember it? What’s the playbook look like?’ Well, a lot of it is actions versus plays and it’s teaching players to play versus run plays. It’s been some of the crew that was watching us teach and watching us work and the guys that think we just roll out balls and say, ‘shoot it!’ They’ll probably tell you that’s not what’s going on in there.”

On DeAndre Liggins’ role…

“You go from a supporting role to a starring role and who knows how that turns out, but it’s like coming from an assistant coach to the head coach, all the suggestions now have to become decisions. And it’s the same when you’re in a supporting role to a starring role. But they’re doing great. DeAndre’s better than I would have projected when I saw him as a high school player. And Darius (Miller), it looks like he’s grown. He’s gotten taller. Jon Hood’s grown. I think Jon Hood’s grown about an inch. And Jon Hood’s much better. The biggest thing is the anxiety of knowing what we’re doing, they don’t have. Now the freshmen have it, but they (the returners) don’t have it. So they’re playing a little more unleashed because of it.”

On the importance of having freshmen playing with players who are experienced with the dribble-drive…

“It’s big. It’s big because you had a whole team that no one knew. They couldn’t even talk to each other about it. So I think it’s been helpful. We’ve had nine days of practice, we’re going up not knowing who we’re playing, we know nothing about them and only in Kentucky would they televise this; to 14 states. Not even just Lexington, I thought it would be Lexington. They come back, ‘no the whole state is taking it.’ Now Fox South is taking it. Now Fox Ohio is taking it. Is Fox California taking it? Only in Kentucky does the stuff just keep coming at you.”

On looking at the Canada trip as a chance to build team camaraderie…

“What you said is the number one thing, last year’s team was like that (meshes hands together). It started where we showed them movies and we talked to them about ‘everyone will rise and fall together.’ We talked about going underground in the mine and the guy tells me, ‘we come down together and we come up together. No one leaves without the other.’ And trying to get them to be together that way and respect each other because they’re all sniffing a little bit. Who’s doing what? And I’m learning. Doron Lamb has a lot of Chris-Douglas (Roberts) in him. I mean, I’m going to start calling him Buckets. He just has a way. You’ll see. Like, ‘man he just keeps getting buckets.’ You open up the court for him and he figures out ways of getting in there and making a shot or making a play; great feel. Terrence (Jones) has been hurt so I haven’t been able to ride him like I need to, to get him to where he needs to go. Brandon (Knight)’s been terrific. It’s hard on the point guards. I feel bad for him because I can remember back to Derrick (Rose) and Tyreke (Evans) when I moved him, and even John Wall and Bledsoe. It’s hard because you’re not only playing fast, and you’re attacking and beating your man, then you have to figure out, ‘what am I doing now?’ It’s not like I’m going to run a play and I just hit and go away. That’s conventional basketball. ‘I’m going to boop and I go away, or I’m going to boop and I go down there.’ No, this is, ‘Beat your man. Now who are you passing it to? And then why are you passing it?’ But he’s doing fine. I think we should shoot the ball better and all that, but what we’re doing on this trip, let’s come together. Let’s learn about our team, let individuals learn about themselves. And let me learn about individuals. That’s what this is. You want to win only because you’re on 22 states. But it’s not even about that. If we go up there and we really learn about our team, and they beat us, they’re better than us, just as long as we learn we’ll be fine.”

On what he wants from Liggins…

“DeAndre should be an attacking player who, I’m telling you, is shooting the ball better. The guys who are in there were stunned at how he’s shooting the ball. But if you are worried that you’re not making it, you’re not helping us. He’s attacking the basket. And the biggest thing is that energy. But he has to bring it every game. That’s got to be who he is. And then he becomes that player. I told everybody last year when you see this court opened up for him you’re going to see a player that everybody told me, ‘you have to get him out of here.’ You’re going to see a different young man. And I think that’s what you’re seeing. He’s got a great temperament. He’s missing layups right now and I’m almost laughing because he’s doing everything right but he’ll miss a layup and he gets mad. I’m like, ‘come on, it’s August.’ ”

On Liggins staying focused and being vocal…

“He’s maturing, he’ll be fine. We have a lot of guys like that. Darius (Miller)’s not a verbal guy. Brandon’s not a verbal guy. Terrence isn’t a verbal guy. Doron’s not a verbal guy. So all of a sudden you put a bunch of guys out there that aren’t verbal, and you’re saying ‘you got to talk,’ and we’re doing every drill to get them to talk with one another. But it’s August. They’ll come back in September and we’ll figure out now what we’ve got to zero in on in the individuals for the two practices a week of what we’ve got to do. Try to get better from there.”

On Samaritan’s Feet…

“I haven’t talked to the guys a whole lot about it. But it was such a touching, emotional thing that we’re going to discuss it tonight why we want to do it, what it’s about. I just told them that we’re going to be giving out some shoes, but they don’t understand the whole concept behind what this is. And when you talk about service leadership, and I talk to my team a ton about that, if you want to lead you have to serve. And if you’re not leading, so everybody does something for you, gets you a towel, then you’re serving. And we’ll explain it in those terms to them and how it’s going to go. But I’m anxious to see. It’s powerful. It’s a powerful thing for the people that are there along with the children that are there. It’s powerful both ways.”

On Enes Kanter’s status…

“No, he won’t be making the trip because we’ve heard nothing right now. He’s with his father who’s in the country and he’ll probably be with him for the next couple weeks until he comes back.”

On the health of the team…

“I think so. Terrence’s shoulder has been bothering him and stuff, but the good news is we’ve done a lot of scrimmaging. (There have been) a lot of bad shots, a lot of turnovers, spacing bad, not beating their man to make a play, driving next to their man to make a pass, you can’t play that in this offense that way. But I’ll tell you, they’re all trying. They’re here. They’re here early. I’ve challenged them. This will be their 17th practice in 10 days. Now some of (the practices) were cerebral on the court, but they still were an hour and 15 minutes. And the scrimmages we’ve stretched out a little longer because you’re playing eight or nine guys. I put Jarrod (Polson) on the other team. Jarrod’s doing fine. Jarrod’s as good a walk-on as I’ve coached as a freshman. The Krebs effect, but he was a senior. I mean I don’t know how he would have been as a freshman, but Jarrod’s fine. The best thing about this is they’re coming together. The other part is the academics. They get here in the summer. They had a collective GPA, all of them, I think it was a 2.875. Not bad, probably not a story. So they’re here to get that started and they did a good job. They’re here to get to know one another. They’re here to weight train, to condition. And understand we can only do this once every four years, so we’re done now, we won’t be able to do it – and it’s like three more years and it’s got to be that next year. But I think this was a good year to do it when you have this many young guys.”

On if leaders are developed on trips like this faster than normal…

“Derrick Rose did not lead right away. He was trying to figure it out. It’s hard to tell somebody, ‘you don’t know what you’re doing.’ You’re just trying to figure out. So Brandon, who’s trying to learn and speak, Doron the same thing, is trying to. DeAndre is not a guy who’s going to lead by talking; he’s going to lead by example. Probably Darius is doing the most of it. He’s playing really well. Now it’s got to be consistent. Now it’s got to be, game’s on the line you’ve got the ball, make plays. That’s what we had a year ago. And you know early in the season we could have easily been 9-7 or 16-0. Easily. Guys made plays at critical times. Now what you have to find out is, as guys move from supporting to starring do you make that? Do some of these freshmen, do we expect them to be? Well, we’re going to find out on this trip. There’s going to be some baskets that – that was the basket. Did he make it or miss it? How did he respond to it? Tyreke Evans, John Wall never made game-winning baskets until they started playing college basketball. The greatest thing the people that run our practice saw was that every drill we do has a winner and a loser. Well we do that for a reason. I want players in practice having to win games. Win that drill. ‘You missed it. You were wide open.’ You start getting the feeling that he didn’t really want to shoot that and another guy takes a guy off the floor because, it’s the game winner, ‘I’m on, step off.’ And he makes the game-winner. He wants the game-winner because he’s not afraid to miss it. It’s not just making the game-winner, you can’t be afraid to miss it. And if you miss it, it can’t affect the next time you’re in that position. And we do so many drills that way you could make it up in three minutes. The same with free throw shooting; we did free throws the other day which I’ve never done. I just wanted to see. I said, ‘shoot 50, 10 at a time, and let’s see how we shoot.’ We shot them really well. Again, no pressure, no game time, but you had guys making 95 percent. I think Jon Hood may have been 98 (percent). I think he made 49-out-of-50.”

UK Players

#55 Josh Harrellson, Sr., F

On where does he sees his role with this group of guys …

“Whatever coach needs me to do, if it’s just coming off the bench to spare Enes Kanter minutes. Maybe like 10 or 12 minutes a game that’s fine with me; whatever it takes for this team to be successful.”

On how practice has benefitted him …

“Going against Enes and just batting him everyday is going to make me better. He’s just a huge body. It’s kind of like me going against myself but, he’s a lot lankier and taller.”

On whether the trip to China benefitted him …

“I think China really benefitted me getting back into playing. It’s been awhile since I’ve played, especially since I’ve been here at Kentucky. Going over there regaining confidence and playing against pros over there helps you out tremendously in coming back over here.”

On how he compares this team to last years …

“I think it will be a lot different because obviously we’re not as tall as we were last year. It will be more of a dribble drive motion type team. We’ll go to Enes a lot in the post, but it will be more perimeter type driving the ball offense getting to the rim instead of the post game we had last year.”

#4 Jon Hood, So., G


On the early play of the freshmen…

“They are going to help us tremendously down the road, maybe not in Canada, but certainly when tournament time comes around. We’ll have all of this experience under our belt and we’ve picked up the dribble-drive pretty well.”

On his personal play…

“I feel pretty good. There is a big improvement from where I was last year and I think everybody that has been here and watched practice can see that. China helped me out a lot, just being able to get out on the court and make those mistakes. I’ll learn from them. I feel confident, I’ve always known I can play, I just [need] output on the floor.”

On the importance of the Canada trip…

“It’s experience. It’s experience for these young guys, it’s experience for all of the freshman we have. These guys are inexperienced in college basketball. Coach has said before, we don’t want to throw them to the wolves. We don’t want to throw them to the wolves and have Sam Houston State drop 13 threes on us and not know what to do. This is also a team-building thing. We know what we’re doing going up there, we know we have fun; we’ve been around each other all summer now. But, at some point you have to get on the floor and get competitive against another team.”

#34 DeAndre Liggins, Jr., G

On looking so much more confident and not having to learn a new offense for the first time at UK …

“I know what Coach Cal wants. I just try to do whatever it takes to get on the court and do what he says. It’s really nice to be an upper classman knowing what to do and going the right way and teaching these younger guys.”

On teaching the younger guys …

“They’re willing to learn, smart kids, good guys and I like being around them.”

On what’s changed in his game besides being more confident …

“I just know what Coach Cal wants. I’m just trying to compete and always play hard, that’s always going to be in there. I’m just trying to focus and do whatever it takes.”

On what specifically he’s been doing on the court to improve his game …

“It’s ball handling and shooting. I’ve been in the gym just shooting, shooting, shooting, and shooting until my arms fall off. I want to be a better ball handler too. The ball wasn’t in my hands a lot last year, but he wants me to handle the ball more this year.”

On having three different sets of teammates in the three years he’s been here …

“It's crazy, it just seems like they come and go. Five guys left and it’s a different team and we just have to make adjustments.”

#1 Darius Miller, Jr., G


On the play of the freshmen…

“They are catching on pretty quick. They are doing a great job of getting the offense down and knowing where they are supposed to be. Everybody has a great attitude and comes ready to work every day. I think by the time season starts and we get practicing, we’ll be fine.”

On replacing the nine departed players…

“We don’t feel like we have anything to prove, we’re just trying to be the best team possible. We come out everyday ready to work. We’re not trying to fill in the shoes of John (Wall) or DeMarcus (Cousins), we’re just trying to come out and be the best team we can be. We’re going to have a successful season. We have a lot of confidence in our team and our abilities, so I think we’ll be just fine.”

On the difference between Brandon Knight and John Wall…

“They are way different, they just have different games. They are both extremely talented, but they don’t play the same at all. I think Brandon (Knight) is going to do a great job. A lot of people look into comparing the two, but like I said, they are different players. Brandon gets it done in a different way.”