Men's Basketball Media Day Coverage

Oct. 15, 2009

Video of Calipari Press Conference Video Icon | Calipari Quotes | Player Quotes

Player Interview Videos:

Today is men's basketball media day here at the Joe Craft Center. As usual, media day is NOT open to the public, however, we will be bringing you the latest news right here on ukathletics.com throughout Thursday afternoon.

We'll have a live blog of John Calipari's news conference at approximately 2:30 p.m., followed by some small blurbs and posts on Cat Scratches from the portion with the players.

UK Head Coach John Calipari Quotes

Opening presentation ...

"Before we get started basketball wise, there are a few presentations that I want to be made here today. Obviously, this social networking stuff is crazy. 850,000 Twitter followers and it is nuts. I sat down with Jude Thompson from Papa John's and said `how do we gather all our followers and do something good for the community'. We came up with a program where people are buying Papa John's Pizza using a code and all of a sudden in five weeks or so, 45,000 pizzas later from every state in the union, including Alaska and Hawaii, there were pizzas bought under this program. Today, Jude is going to give a check for $50,000 to Dr. (Tim) Bricker from the Kentucky Children's Hospital.

"The coachcal.com website, Roe Frazer, from Digome is going to present a check to my wife Ellen for the Children's Foundation that will be used here in Louisville and Lexington and other places. This is from the members, who have signed up to be members. Roe is going to present a check for $50,000 to that fund from the members of coachcal.com and I would just like to thank those members."

"Thanks for being here. I take it there is some interest in this basketball program across the state, which is why we are here. Why don't we just open it up for questions and answers?"

On the impressions he has had traveling the state of Kentucky ...

"I have been blown away. I have been in Pikeville three times and they have wanted to take my social security number because they want me to pay taxes in Pikeville. We had a dinner of 1,500 people - there are only 6,000 people that live in Pikeville and 1,500 of them showed up for dinner. Whether I was in Owensboro in front of 1,500, Louisville was 2,000, there were 1,200 in Paducah. The response to this university and this basketball program, I have just never seen anything like it. Let me use this term - it is awesome, it is what you live for in coaching. Every place I have been it has taken me five years to build this kind of passion and you know what, I walked into it here at Kentucky."

On having an impact on fans throughout the state ...

"How many of you have been following me on Twitter? And you are following me on Facebook, so you know that I have been traveling and doing different functions and being at different places. Someone said that there must be a twin. I enjoy doing it, I enjoy meeting people and I enjoy gathering people, but I love to coach basketball. I am anxious to just get my team - my calendar has been shut down, from October 14 now, there will be one or two things a month now, but I have done enough at this point. It is like waiting for the Election Day. I was kissing babies, I didn't care if I won or lost the election, I just wanted it to happen. When is the Election Day? So now that I start coaching, it is why I am here, it is what I love to do. I think when I went around this state, what I found out is that one, the seat that I am in is temporary. It is important to this state. I am not going to be here for 20 years. What happens is that you find out that it is important to people everywhere. And what I found out also is that they want me to come to them, they just don't want to come to the Mecca of Lexington. They want to shake your hand, they want to see you, they want to hear you talk, they want to hear your vision. It is like the 500 tents and the 1,000 people that sat outside our office. I told our players `these are the neighbors that I grew up with that could never have gone to a Steelers game or a Pirates game, could never have gone to a Pitt football game because they didn't have the money, they were the neighbors. Truth be told, if I wasn't coaching here it would be me and even though I was coaching here I was one of them for a night. I told our team, these were your neighbors too. I told them to go out and have fun, this is their chance to touch you, to see you, to see that you are human and you are a normal person and that is what we tried to do for the three or four days that they were out there. This is different here."

On what he wants to come out of Big Blue Madness Friday night ...

"No injuries. We are going to do more than I have ever done at a Madness and I'll tell you why. Because if people can stay out there for seven days in the cold and the rain to have an opportunity to enjoy this night then we are going to do things that I have never done. I have never spoken at one of these functions; if I spoke it was for two minutes. We are going to talk a little bit about what we expect from the team and the vision of this program tomorrow night. So, I will probably talk more tomorrow night then I will the rest of my time here. We are going to have some special guests, that are going to be co-coaches that are going to be there from the sports world, to former (players) - I am not going to  tell you specifically - to entertainers that are going to be at this event. And you know why - for the fans, that is why. Because if they are going to camp out for those tickets and some of them put them on EBay for $500, then obviously then we are going to have a good event and show them a good time."

On molding the team into a close-knit group ...

"I think it is both. It is the character of them, they are all good guys. The second part of it is, we watched the movie Remember the Titans, that is one of the first things we did. Remember the Titans, there is a race element to it, but it is about people from different backgrounds coming together, learning to respect each other, learning to have some affection which eventually turns into love, the type of love where grown men will cry to each other. When you have that kind of love, you care about the other person more then you care about yourself. If we get to that point with this team, we won't lose many games. Now we don't have much time to get there and you have to go through wars to figure out who is really with us. It is kind of like you are in a fox hole, who do you send for ammo? Who is coming back? We are trying to figure each other out right now. But I tell you what, it is a good group of guys and they know we need each other."

On freshman John Wall being declared by some as the top player in the NCAA ...

"They are saying that about me too, so I don't know what to say. They say all this stuff and I haven't even coached a game. What I would tell you is that he is handling it in stride and if you talked to John Wall, he will defer to his teammates. He thinks Patrick Patterson is the best player in the country. He is going to what he can to help the team win. His best friend on the team, his closest brother is Eric Bledsoe. They are going to be competing and also playing together, yet that is his best friend. He is just like the other great players that I have coached, they defer to their teammates and they understand that it is not about them, it is about everyone else."

On his impressions of Patrick Patterson ...

"The way he works. Someone at some point told me that Patrick doesn't work hard. I don't know who ever said that he needs to work harder, this kid works hard. He works hard in the classroom; he is going to graduate in three years. Everything that he has done on the basketball court has amazed me. He is better than I thought. We are playing him like a guard. He also knows that if the game is on the line, he is going to be positioned exactly underneath the rim. We need a basket and he needs it. But he also knows that he needs a skill that he can play out on the floor and he is doing it. We need leadership from him, but you know what, leadership can come from a lot of different places. What you don't want is buffalo leadership. You know what buffalo leadership is? If one buffalo goes off a cliff, you know where the other buffalos go? They go off with him. You want more like geese. After the leader gets tired, then the next guy jumps up and he leads for a while. Then he gets tired and the next one leads for a while. You want more than one player to be your leader. You want different guys who know they can take it on. That is when you start to get winning streaks together. If you are looking at teams and they are winning 20 in a row, 15 in a row, 10 in a row. It is because they are being led by different players and we try to foster that in how we practice and what we do."

On freshman DeMarcus Cousins ...

"Someone said the other day that he hugged my son Brad out on the tennis courts and said `this is my boy', and asked me if they were that close. I said, `yeah, they are both 12'. I said they were watching cartoons the other day at my house and they were both like this (staring at the screen) together. I say that lovingly. He is a young 6-foot-11, 270-pound guy that is a child, but he is a great kid. He wants to do well. He will do some things where you wish he was a little more mature, he is a great kid, he is harmless, sometimes you will just have to deal with him a little differently that's all."

On the impact of seeing over 500 tents outside his offices for several days to get tickets to a practice ...

"What the tents did was it showed that the program is so important to people that you have to respect the position and understand it is a privilege, I do as a coach. When you go in there tomorrow and I haven't been in a Big Blue Madness, and they have been telling me there are more tents then there have been and there is more excitement then there has been and they are telling me it has been crazy here every year. So what is it going to be really crazy? What it does is show the team that it is a privilege to be here and there is a responsibility. They are held to a higher standard than other players across the country. And so am I as a coach. You are held to a different standard. That is the privilege of being here; things that go on over (at other schools), just cannot go on here, that is just how it is. I am excited, they are excited, they are a little nervous, I am a little nervous. I have to give a talk that I initially said I was not going to do it. Let me just tell you what we are doing. We are introducing the players, they are going to dunk in the layup lines, if we don't think we can make 3-pointers, then we won't have a 3-point shooting contest. We are going to scrimmage. Then I started seeing how important this day is to the state and I thought that I had to let this thing go. It is what it is and we are going to have fun with it. We practice twice on Saturday, twice on Sunday, practice on Monday and they get off Tuesday."

On the impact the UK fan support has on the players and how they can come together as a team ...

"Here is what it does, they are able to look after each other a little more. They see a player ready to do something and they know they can't do that here. They might be able to do something over there that isn't going to be written and talked about but you do it here, we just can't do it. So they start being their brother's keeper. Are you your brother's keeper? Will you step in when you know he is a freshman and he doesn't understand that here it cannot happen. I think that living together like they do helps them. They get together; we had the same thing when I was at Memphis. They lived together and all of a sudden they are looking after each other, they are around each other, you learn to trust each other, you learn to talk about issues instead of a silent treatment, which a child would do. If you have an issue with someone, you need to be a man and talk about it. There are a lot of things that are going to have to happen for them to come together."

On being ranked highly in his first year ...

"Obviously, the recruiting helped and it is all opinions. That is the greatest thing about our sport is you get on the court and then you start playing and then you have a tournament that everybody has an opportunity to be in and then you get a true champion. So you can be No. 1 in the country, which I have had my team a couple of times at the end of the year not win the whole thing. What I'm excited about is going on that basketball court and coaching these young men. I'm going to challenge them to break barriers and do things that they have never done. If you want to accomplish something that you have never accomplished before you have to do things you have never done. And that's what I have to get across to these men, I also have to get across there is a good sweet pain that you're going to have if you are really training at a higher level. It's not bad pain, it's sweet pain, it's good pain and if they enjoy that and have fun with that and fun with the grind, it's on. But there are going to be ups and downs. We're going to stub our toes, I stubbed my toe the other day I went out to Keeneland and I was talking to some members of the horse industry and I called them, by accident horse farmers, and then I grabbed it back and said I mean horse breeders. They did not laugh. So we're all going to stub our toes believe me."

On if he uses positive reinforcement as a coaching tactic ...

"They make me how I am. If they want me to be positive they are going to come with a great attitude and they are going to do their thing, I will be the most positive cheerleader they'll find and I'll hug them. I do coach even when I'm not happy with them, in other words I'm not going to say `that's not right', I'm going to say `it's not right and here's how you have to do it'. There are days where I'm going to be mean because they make me mean. You want me to be mean today, very good. I haven't been mean in three weeks, but I will be mean today. I had to tell them the other day in my house where I grew up and did not talk loud, I grew up in an Italian family, you not only talked with your hands, you talked loud. So if you wanted to be heard you talked loud. Because if you're at the dinner table the conversation is finally at the peak and you are like `yeah, can you pass the salt?' So I talk loud. So the other day I said Darius `go baseline on that' and he (looked shocked). I had to stop the team and say guys `when I talk loud it doesn't mean I'm mad, I'm happy, I'm really happy, so don't take my loud talk to be mean, I'm not being mean.' We did a drill, and the winning team never runs, the losing team runs. The winning team was the white team, and I said `white team on the baseline you run.' And they ran. And after we were over I asked them `why did they run', and they answered with `you told us to'. Then I said `what are you afraid of me? I don't want you to be afraid of me. If I was wrong tell me, you shouldn't have run, the blue team should have run'. So the next day I did the same thing. I said `blue get on the line, and they said but coach we won'. And I said `ok white get on the line'. So there are a lot of things I have to get through because they don't know me yet. And even though we have been together seven months and three of them I have been on the court for two hours a week with them and have had meetings and individuals with and all that. It's still going to take time."

On pushing the players for greatness...

"The only thing I try to do is let players play. So I think guys look at it especially from the outside they say `wow'. But I'm going to tell you early on, guys are going to be angry with me because I'm going to make them do things and feel ways they have never felt before. And they won't know how to respond to that. The first one is to pull a tantrum. Because you don't know what to do, I've never felt this way. That's how it's going to be, but after they get going they will say that he is making me do things I have never done and I'm feeling good about it and that's when you have a team, but that takes time."

On players setting high goals ...

"I have no problem with the players dreaming big dreams, but it's kind of like playing fast, and to play fast you need to be in the best shape of your life. And then when you start training them to be in the best shape of their life, they say we don't need to play this fast, lets slow it down a little bit. To do something that has never been done in college basketball collectively, they are going to have to do something no team has ever done. Be closer than any team has ever been as individuals. And they all want to play and they all want their glory, you're going to have to bury that for one thing, you're going to have to be in the best shape of your life. You're going to have to take on all comers because you're going to be the hunted everywhere you go you're someone's super bowl. Every game you play you are someone's super bowl. You have to except that, you can't have an off day, which means you can't have an off practice, are you willing to go that route. Let's just be a good team. What I'm saying is, I want them to dream big. The great thing about having young players is that they don't know they are supposed to lose. So they come in saying that they only know winning. In every team that I have built I have had to walk in to losing programs where I had to recruit players from state championship teams. Why did I do that? Because you were either in the state championship and won or lost, but understood what it meant to win at the highest level. And you knew that you had to do it with your teammates to win the state championship, you couldn't do it by yourself. And that's who I recruited. And if you look at my Massachusetts teams and my Memphis teams, that's what I have done. If you look at the players we have here now, most of those players had won the state or in the state final, but they understood winning at that highest level."

On comparing John Wall to other great players he has coached ...

"I haven't coached him long enough to tell you. I can only tell you when the game was in the balance (the great players) would take over the game. Now we have to see if he is able to do it.

On his coaching style ...

"Look at that movie Remember the Titians and you figure out all the issues they went through, it's a pretty good starting point. I have had teams where I have had to walk in and had to take over programs but they have never been like this. They were never a team that had a chance to really win. They were teams that you were wishing would win some games. This is a little virgin territory for me as a coach too, I'm going to be learning. I'm going to be learning the whole way through. I talked to Larry Brown for an hour today, we went back and forth and I told him some things in my mind, like I have to do this and I have to do defense but I don't want to do too much at once. So it's not set in stone, and I don't have all the answers and some of this is going to be guessing and if I don't guess right, I'll change. The one thing I've always been able to do is to look at something and just say, `it's not right, we're changing.' That's how we will defend and that might be the way we play offensively. So there are some things were going to have to do and work out and figure out once I get those guys on the court."

On DeAndre Liggins ...

"Coach Joe B. Hall came in and watched a practice last week and said he is the most improved player on the team. It makes me feel good. As a coach that is what you want to hear guys are getting better. He's working, he's committed to working, he's done well in school, he's on time for everything he is doing everything he is suppose to do. He is going to have to get used to this offense, he's going to be sloppy at first, he's going to miss some shots and give some balls over but I think what you will see if a player much more comfortable playing basketball with less thinking and more reaction to what is happening around him. That's what I would hope."

On if the returnees will respond to the new system in a positive way ...

"I won't know until they get on the court. I know they have all gotten better, but with this offense, you can't be delusional as a player running this offense because the ball is in your hands and you can either beat your man or you can't. And if you can't beat your man, you can't come into the huddle with excuses. There is no delusional play here, either you can do it or you can't. You're going to have wide-open shots you don't have to be delusional, you either make them or you don't."

On figuring out the personnel ...

"The thing I have to figure out is when I play two point guards, how do we play and then when we play two big guys how do we play? Last night I stayed up thinking of ways to run the break a little different, then I have run in the past where were really focusing on the first guy running down the floor and driving off of him and he stops and screens the point guard or runs down and we drive off and if it's not there, we throw it back and we look in and play from them. The problem is we don't have that much time to experiment so my guesses better be right."

On dealing with a playing rotation ...

"I don't know yet. I thought in one way I like to play nine guys, eight or nine guys and maybe even a 10th guy in a game. But this may be a team where I play eight guys and then I bring in the other five guys to play about four or five minutes a half and that way you play them all. We have no bad players on the team, so I could do that."

On having skilled big players ...

"It is because the more skill that that big guy has, the more free throws he's going to make and more dangerous he is. And this team is big. Did you see how big we are? At all the positions, not just up front, we have got three guys that are 6-foot-10 and that's not even including Patrick Patterson or Perry Stevenson. And then your wings are 6-foot-6 with long arms. John Hood is 6-foot-6. And our point guard is 6-foot-4 and our other point guard is 6-feet tall with a wing span of 6-foot-8 and a vertical of 40 inches. So he plays about 6-foot-5. Which means, we should be a heck of a defensive team. I want to have the most blocks in the country."

On if Darnell Dodson as good a shooter as Jodie Meeks...

"I don't know I didn't coach Jodie, but he's a good shooter."

On winning all the games...

"I said were winning them all and it's the greatest thing here. When I first got the job, it was going to the Final Four, then a month later it is was we are going to win all the league games and then about two months later it was were going to the Final Four, and then a month ago were winning all the games by 10 and now were winning all the games by 21, it's kind of morphed into that."

"What I want is us to have our fans to have fun. If my team is miserable because I've made them miserable or they are reading too much and the outside is making them miserable or they're making each other miserable, I'm beating them down so they're miserable. Do you think they want to extend the season two more weeks? Let's go two more weeks of this misery, that would be fun. They don't, but if they're having fun and they're seeing achievement and they're enjoying achievement and enjoying each other they don't want the season to end. When you have a team with that frame of mind what will happen is they will win games they shouldn't win, and that's because they don't want the season to end. We got to get like that, but it's a period of time with that period of trust. Can I trust you, you trust me, we trust each other. It's more than words. We got a ways to go with that.

On leadership styles ...

"Well I've had some great leaders, like Marcus Camby. The only time he got mad at a teammate was when they were selfish because he wasn't selfish. His point was if I'm not selfish than you can't be selfish because I am the best player. That's the only time he would get mad. Every interview Derrick Rose did he would bring in his teammates because he wanted them to be a part of it. If they took pictures he would bring someone in like a counselor. Tyreke Evans was very similar to that, he was a guy that would defer and go to his teammates and talk. I've been fortunate and have been blessed. John Robic said it, our best players have all been good guys and that is why we won. Our best players are good guys. If your best player is a taker and an evil dude, we have all been around evil guys. You sit at table with them and say that is a bad guy and you get up and leave and say that is a bad guy. I haven't had that in my good players, my best players, have all been good guys."

On Darius Miller fitting into the offense ...

"Darius has been fabulous. I got to get him to get a little more aggressive at times but I tell you he does everything well, he shoots it well, he drives it well, he's got a great floater ,he's a good layup shooter, he's a good athlete not a great athlete but he'll dunk on you. I think he'll be fine, he probably fits in this system as well as anyone in the program right now."

On the team messing early ...

"Offensively, early in the season will be right 30 percent of the time and wrong 70 percent of the time. But as long as were aggressive it's okay as the season goes along we'll be right 75 percent of the time and wrong 25 percent of the time. In other words, someone went where they should not have gone or went to a corner they weren't supposed to. They didn't get to the spot they were supposed to or they didn't relocate that possession. Defensively, on the other hand if I see a swarming team that when you watch it the naked eye thinks they have six guys out there. 1...2...3...4...5 it looks like they have six guys out there, that's when our defense is where it needs to be. When you look and say how in the world did the try to steal, the guy drove they rotated, they swung it, we closed, he drove and that guy took a charge. How? They only got five no they got to have six let me count. That's when you know, right now they help the helper. In other words who has my back? That won't be there early in the season. The help is ok that's any college basketball team, that's an eighth grade team."

On not being under the radar anymore...

"People have rated us high, hoping we can't reach that. My job is to get my team to believe we can be better than that but they'll rate us high knowing we can't get that high and that will be good. My teams at Memphis, we were everybody's super bowl, they would sell out one game and it was us. Does that sound familiar? When I was at Massachusetts it was the same, we had one playing partner and that was Temple. But everyone else we played it was someone's super bowl, it was their biggest game. As a coach I've been there. When you say being the underdog, I was the underdog to win a national title because I was at Memphis and Massachusetts and you're not supposed to win there. So we were the underdog and even when we got good they said there's no way they are that good because of their league. But in our league we couldn't lose a game. Now I want you to understand we were in a league where we couldn't lose one game, so we didn't. We were not allowed to lose, we could not lose. So when you say that I've been through this and I know it's going to be the super bowl and I just got to get across to these players why everyday matters. We have an early morning practice for one reason cause I know you're tired and I know you don't feel like practicing. You know how many games you're going to feel like that out of 40?"

UK Player Quotes

#24, Eric Bledsoe, G

On the expectations of the season ...

"There's a lot of hype, but we feel good about it. We are coming together as a team and starting to get our team chemistry down."

On his excitement for Big Blue Madness ...

"Yeah, I'm very excited."

On the dribble-drive offense ...

"We're picking it up well, but we still have things to learn about it. I think it is coming along well."

On the team's chemistry ...

"It's coming along well. Everybody has been a team outside of basketball. We've been going places together, going out and having fun. I think that definitely helps our chemistry on the court."

On the media and fans expectations ...

"We're not worried about it. We're just coming to practice to try to get better, that's all we're worried about. "

On the competitive practices ...

"It's been real tough. I've been going up against John (Wall). He's been really tough. I've learned stuff from him and he's learned stuff from me. "

On the combination of the two point guards on the floor together ...

"We're both fast. We like to run up and down the court."

#15, DeMarcus Cousins, F

On playing against Patrick Patterson ...

"Pat is tough and big. Everything you hear about him is true. The guy can play ball, bottom line he can play ball. Pat's work ethic is unbelievable. It's like he never gets tired. Everybody on the team will be worn out and can barely walk and then you'll see Pat come in and get on the treadmill and start walking. Pat never stops working. I'll ask him `Aren't you tired?' and he'll say `No. I'm cool.' He goes all day, he is amazing."

On the work ethic of Patrick Patterson ...

"There's a lot to it. He sets the tone and everybody follows. He's just showing his leadership."

On his personality ...

"I'm just me. I like to have fun. I'm a person just like everybody else. I'm not a superstar or something. I'm just a person like everybody else that likes to have fun. Having fun takes the pressure off of you a little. If you go out there and have fun, it gets you off of the negative and just helps a lot. I'm pretty mean on the court. I don't smile much on the court. I guess it's just another side of me. That's the "Big Cuz" side of me on the court. I can be mean. DeMarcus is what you see now; "Big Cuz" is the ball player. When the lights go on, you get "Big Cuz," when it is time to chill and relax you get DeMarcus."

On the fan attention ...

"That's crazy. I've never been a part of anything like this before. It's fun though. Everywhere you go people know who you are. They show you love, so it's fine."

#3, Darnell Dodson, G

On the team's chemistry ...

"It's good because everybody has the same common goal. It's not like anyone sets themselves apart or thinks they are better than another player on the team. We're all just together right now, so I think that helps out a lot."

On his style of play ...

"I think the best aspect of my game is my shooting. I can do a lot of things on the court like rebounding, and I can bring size to the team at my position."

On the dribble-drive offense ...

"It just basically gives you the freedom to do what you can do best. It opens up a lot of opportunities for everybody else too."

On the fan attention ...

"Wow! I've never been a part of something like this. It just makes you want to work harder and play at the highest level for the fans."

#55, Josh Harrellson, F

On his role this season and practice sessions with Coach Calipari ...

"I think my role on the team is whatever Coach Cal (Calipari) needs. I think I'm just going to be a big body and a banger, a rebounder and defensive player. Hopefully I can come off the bench and be a big shooter when we need shots. Working with Coach Cal over the spring really improved my game a lot. I'm a little quicker. I'm better with the ball. I'm a better shooter, and I have more confidence."

On his expectations ...

"My expectations are to play a lot and be a key player. I need to come in and hit big shots when we need them. I need to be a good defender and be a good rebounder. I'm going to be a presence in the lane."

On what he has improved on ...

"I'm quicker. I can jump a little better. I'm smarter, and I can shoot a lot better."

On who is the best shooter among post-players ...

"I'd say we are all pretty close. Everyone can shoot really well because we all work on it. We are all pretty close."

On the attitude of the team going into this season ...

"Everybody's attitude last year was positive. Everyone this year is so pumped and the fans all around us are so excited about this year. Everyone can't wait to get to tip-off."

#5, Ramon Harris, G/F

On how playing time will be divided up ...

"It's going to be fine because the way that we play, Coach Cal (Calipari) says that one guy can't play the whole game. The way that our team is built, everyone is going to be able to play."

On the advice he has given to the newcomers regarding Big Blue Madness ...

"I haven't told the younger guys that much about Big Blue Madness because I feel like it's an experience they have to get for themselves. I don't want to ruin it for them because it's something they've been waiting for. It's something you always hear about when you come to college and us having one of the best fan traditions ever that is just going to make it better, and I don't want to spoil it for them."

On playing at Rupp Arena ...

"It's definitely a blessing, figuring out where you came from to where you are now. Just looking at the steps and what you have been through, it is definitely a blessing."

On the expectations of the fans and media ...

"No, I don't really like to listen to the message boards and stuff like that. I really try to keep away from it. Everyone has their opinion and I'm not saying it's wrong, but I just like to let people have their opinions about the team and coach. I just try to work and do what Coach asks."

#4, Jon Hood, G

On the dribble-drive offense ...

We've only had a few practices with it, but I do believe that it suits me well - open floor, open shot. I like that. I don't like having to create (my shot) with three, four guys draped all over me, it's not as much fun as getting a wide open shot and sticking it. It's a ton of fun with these guys, the system, the coaching staff, everybody. It has been so much more than I ever imagined."

On the speed of the frontcourt ...

"We are coming as fast as we can because we have two point guards that don't slow down. John [Wall] and Eric [Bledsoe]'s speed, it's just crazy. I'm still adjusting to the speed. Those first couple weeks I thought I had adjusted to their speed, and then we went in the weight room and took a weekend off and went home. When we came back it was nuts. It was like they had a seventh gear."

On the speed and play of the point guards ...

"They run by everybody. They get the rebound and just dribble past everyone. They are so good at doing that. They can go coast to coast and pull up and shoot it. Those two are really good and complement each other really well."

On Patrick Patterson ...

"He's powerful. He gets in the lane. He grabs rebounds, tips stuff back in, tip dunks, and runs the floor so well. He and Daniel [Orton] run the floor so well. He's an animal on the boards, down low he's just too powerful for anyone to move. He's just big and so much stronger too."

#12 Mark Krebs, G

On earning a scholarship...

"I haven't changed much in the way I look at myself or anything like that. I just gave it the best effort I had, played well and did the best I could and left it up to them (the coaches). I wanted to be a good teammate. I didn't understand his philosophy on walk-ons at the time, but I just went with it. When he told me I got the scholarship I was amazed. I was in awe. I was just happy. He (Coach Calipari) made me feel like a part of the team the whole summer and going into the fall so being on scholarship is an amazing thing."

On his plans after graduation ...

"I just want to live in the moment right now. I want to enjoy this year. It's going to be a great year. I've met a lot of new people. I have a lot of new teammates. I haven't even thought about it. I'm a business major so something in business."

On the newcomers...

"As soon as the fall hit and we got to school we became best friends. You can talk to them about anything. We go to dinner all the time. We go eat lunch all the time. It hasn't been hard at all. Practices have gone really well. They are all really good. They are very athletic and they incorporate the team a lot. They pass really well and try to get the whole team involved."

On fighting for playing time...

"It is coach's decision who plays and right now we don't know who is going to be playing a lot. Everyone has been really looking good in practices. Everyone's time is going to be different with a new coaching staff. We just want to see each other get better. If I see Perry (Stevenson) do well it's just like I do well. That's what is so cool about this year."

# 34, DeAndre Liggins, G

On his role in this season's offense ...

"I see myself playing multiple positions, a slasher-type player. I look to score more and redefine my game."

On Coach Calipari's coaching style during the season ...

"Things are going to heat up. We know what he's trying to do. "we just need to do what he says."

On the fans' excitement ...

" There was excitement last year. But, Coach Calipari's background brings much more excitement."

On what he has learned from his freshman to sophomore seasons ...

"I learned to stay humble and take one day at a time and try to get better. The things I didn't do last year I need to this year. I also need to stay positive."

#1, Darius Miller, G

On if he is ready for the season to begin ...

"I really can't wait to get going. It's been a long preseason, We're just ready to play."

On the team's dynamic ...

"We're playing really well together. A lot of people had questions on how we would blend but it has been great. We're having a lot of fun and blending as a family."

On the leader of this team ...

"Pat (Patterson) is definitely the leader. He leads in every way, vocally and by example. He does a great job. Most of us are young. He does a great job getting everybody focused."

On the fan excitement ...

"It is a lot different this year. It was crazy when the fans were camping out. Everybody was having fun, it's just a lot different this year."

On the expectations of going to the Final Four this year...

"I would like to think that's every team's goal (Final Four). It's definitely our goal. We need to work better and get better every day."

On Coach Calipari's expectations of him being a breakout player ...

"I hope he's right. I'm trying to get better and learn the offense. We have just done bits and pieces. I still have a lot to learn."

#33, Daniel Orton, F

On how practice is going so far ...

"Practice is going really well. I really like practicing with Coach Cal (Calipari) because it is so fun, and we all have a lot of excitement during practice. So far, everything has been going really well."

On the play of DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson ...

"You have seen them play many times before; I am sure so there really isn't anything that I can say that will give you new information on him. But recently, Patrick has been lights out in pickup games. He can't miss a shot. They both have been playing really well. They are both really strong and get getting stronger by the day, so it is a battle every day."

On the improvement he has made ...

"My overall game is okay, but I really have to work on my shot more. I have been working on my shot a lot here lately, but I have a long way to go. I did a good job of keeping my strength up from the summer and have actually gained about five more pounds."

On the talent of the team this season ...

"We have a lot of talent. Everyone knows that, but coming together has been really well. We hang out a lot and have a lot of fun together. Everyone gets along really well, and that is something that is special about this team."

#54, Patrick Patterson, F

On the fans' excitement for this team ...

"Yeah, I can see it. I can see it in their eyes when they look at John Wall or me or anybody else on the team, especially Coach Calipari. We see in their eyes that they think this can be a special team. We have heard a lot of anticipation from them and the success they want us to have. Whether it is winning by this amount or having this record, we hear it. We know that they expect a lot out of us, and we just want to get to work and hopefully win a national championship."

On what he likes about Coach Calipari ...

"I just love his demeanor and the way that he handles himself around the team and his family. He says that he loves us like he loves his family. He is always talking about his wife and his children, and I know he is always talking about us."

On his decision to return to Kentucky ...

"It makes it that much sweeter. To see everything that we have in front of us this year, with all the players, great fans, great coaching staff and a chance for me to get a degree. It just makes everything that much sweeter."

On his role this season ...

"It will still basically be the same, but maybe a little different. I know I am going to have to be a leader like I did last year, but now I am going to have to step up even more and be that leader to the newcomers. I have to do whatever I can to help them anyway possible, whether it is with plays or the coaching staff, or on and off campus. I know that I will have to do my part and be the leader that I can be and push my teammates on and off the court."

#21, Perry Stevenson, F

On playing for three coaches during his time at Kentucky ...

"No, I mean, I signed with Coach (Tubby) Smith and that was the guy that I expected to play all four years for, but sometimes things happen. You have to learn how to adapt. In a way, it has been a good thing for me because I have learned three different styles of how to play basketball. So it has been kind of neat. All three are really good people, on and off of the court. They are all good coaches."

On his relationship with his roommate Ramon Harris ...

"We have been close. Also, we are roommates so that makes us closer. Closer than I want to be I guess. I have to hear him snore, and I am sure that he says the same thing about me if I fall asleep first."

On who will impress the fans the most at Big Blue Madness ...

"Mark Krebs. He hasn't been playing much the past three years, but he has gotten a whole lot better. He came in as a walk-on, but has a scholarship now and is probably the most deserving person (for a scholarship). Not only is he a good shooter, but his ball handling has gotten a lot better. I have seen him going around people more making layups. He can be lethal because you can't play off of him because he is such a good shooter."

On the close relationship of the team ...

"Living in the Wildcat Lodge helps. We are always around each other, playing video games, eating together or just watching TV. We also walk around campus together and just try to be together and get to know one another."

#11, John Wall, G

On his excitement to begin the season ...

"I cannot wait. That is how I was in high school. I am glad that football season is going and I really hope our football team does well, but I cannot wait for basketball season."

On the excitement surrounding the team ...

"Every school in the country wants to go undefeated and win the National Championship. We try not to focus on that too much. We just want to come in this gym everyday and get better anyway we can. I am doing well handling the expectations that are on me and the team. All the coaches here and our staff are doing a good job of not letting us focus on that. We are focused on getting better in the gym and being a good student-athlete."

On playing for Coach Calipari ...

"I love him. He is like a father-figure to me. He knows what he is doing with this offense and what he can do to get players better. If you just listen to him he can get you where you want to go."

On the fan attention ...

"It was kind of surprising. I knew that Kentucky fans were crazy about basketball because there is no NBA team around here or anything like that and with the good tradition that we have here. But I didn't know they were that crazy. People were sitting outside in the freezing cold and rain in tents just to get tickets is crazy. That just shows how great it is that we have good fan support here. It makes you feel like you are a part of another family. We have family back home, but you come up here and Kentucky is all about family. The fans show you support and love like you are their own kids. It is great."