Cats Officially Open John Calipari Era
Nov. 12, 2009
Cats Officially Open John Calipari Era
With the exhibition schedule complete, the Wildcats open regular season play on Friday, hosting the Morehead State Eagles at Rupp Arena.
Kentucky ended its preseason schedule with a 2-0 record, posting wins over Campbellsville (74-38) and Clarion (117-52). Three newcomers led the Wildcats in scoring. John Wall led the way offensively, averaging 27.0 points, while DeMarcus Cousins (15.5) and Darnell Dodson (15.0) were the other Cats in double-figures. Dodson also led Kentucky in rebounding, averaging 7.5 boards per game.
Kentucky shot effectively from the field at a 55 percent clip, while outrebounding the opposition by an average of 11.5/game. UK also averaged 10 blocked shots per game.
- Kentucky is in its 107th season of basketball.
- Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,988.
- The Wildcats were picked to win the SEC East by select media and were the overwhelming favorite to win its 44th SEC title.
- Once again, every Wildcat basketball game will be televised live, including both of UK’s exhibition games as well as the Blue-White scrimmage and Big Blue Madness.
- Kentucky is 87-19 all-time in season openers and has won six of its last seven season openers.
- UK is also 90-16 all-time in home openers and have won six of its last seven home-openers.
- Patrick Patterson was named Associated Press Preseason 1st Team All-America.
- Patrick Patterson and John Wall were named to the Naismith Preseason Watch list.
- Patrick Patterson was named preseason SEC Player of the Year, while freshman John Wall garnered the second most votes and was named a second team performer by the league media.
- The Wildcats’ recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the country by Rivals and Scout.
Quotes from the Pregame Press Conference
Head Coach John Calipari
"We've got 22 coaches from China that will be here tonight through the next week, I am excited about that. I have not seen them yet; I've been kind of busy today. That's going to be exciting, showing them our arena so that'll be exciting for them. But we're going to play a little ball game tomorrow. The real stuff starts, the balls go up, the popcorn smells, the people in the seats and all of a sudden the guys go haywire."
"(Eric is) good and Orton's good. They could get hurt today in practice but, yeah Bledsoe was very, very fast in practice yesterday which was good. We've been working really hard on the dribble-drive, trying to get him into the lanes and trying to create gaps and doing those kinds of things. So hopefully it'll show but you never know."
Do the guys have a feel for the dribble-drive?
"(Mark) Krebs has the feel for the dribble drive. The other guys are still (learning). They did some stuff in practice yesterday and I just busted out laughing. I've given them too many things right now and I know that. I'm hoping it doesn't confuse them and get them paralyzed in this game. Anything could happen with the first game out; new team. It was nine years ago that I started (with a new organization) and then five years before that and then eight years before that and I always forget at the start of it, everything is new. I probably make the same mistake every time. It's too much stuff. I want to have enough (plays ready) if they play zone, when we're out-of-bounds, or inside (the lane). We've practiced 20 times, so I'm slightly worried that I've given them too much. But if I have and it hurts us, then that's on me."
How do you feel about Morehead State?
"They're good. The most important thing for me - and it always has been - is that in November and December, I must learn about my team. Now we want to win every game we play, if you know me and how I am. But the most important thing is to learn. You cannot learn against "Popcorn State." What you learn against "Popcorn State" is that you're better than "Popcorn State" - that's all you learn. Now you play Morehead State, who is well-coached and the shooters shoot; the post-up players post-up; they have roles to execute and offense is executed. So when you go zone, they have good stuff. On out-of-bounds plays they have good stuff. But we're going to learn about our team. No question we're going to learn about our team because (MSU) is an NCAA tournament team and that's what you want. The only way you can learn is against teams you risk losing games to. It's the only way. Our first two games we could be 0-2 and me feeling wonderful that I've learned enough to know what I've got to do. They've exploited our weaknesses and we move on and we get ready. It's not football. This isn't football. You lose your first two and you're out of the race for the national title. That's not what this is."
Are you going to be anxious for your first regular-season game?
"Yeah. I'm anxious in this way: I'm learning about players and it's going to unfold right before my eyes and I'll see. We're all going to learn."
How do you think you'll feel when you walk out there for your first regular-season game?
"Every game I walk out, every morning I wake up I'm absolutely excited and just humbled. I'm the coach at Kentucky. When I walk out there, you know what's a big game for me is the next game. It's a huge game because it's the next game. Hopefully I'm going to walk in that arena excited every time I walk in."
How is Eric (Bledsoe) coming along in the system?
"Eric is one of the more intelligent players that I've coached on both offense and defense. He also has unbelievable instincts. In this offense, there are a lot of key words that you call: key word - bang. With this kid, I call a key word and boom, he's right into it. What he's got to start doing is be more vocal. He's smart in his own mind. He's got to get that brightness and that creativity and spread it out and talk to his teammates and get them to go. He'll do it with a head nod, when he may need to yell. He's just not used to doing it. He's a really, really intelligent player."
The last two years they've lost to VMI and Gardner-Webb and it kind of stirred the waters here to say the least, your thoughts?
"Well, this is a different team. This is totally a different deal. We're going in with an attitude of let's play our best. Let's play and do what we do and whatever comes out let's learn from it. I do not want these kids feeling that they have to win. No, you have to prepare to win and let it go. We're going to create our own happiness. If I see a great effort and an experienced team beats us because we couldn't do X, Y, Z, we'll learn and move on."
You brought in the best player in the country, you're preseason top five. Realistic or not, the bar is pretty high, isn't it?
"Absolutely. You know what? That's why you come here. I looked at our team and I said, `You guys know why you came to Kentucky. You weren't afraid of it. You came here because you wanted to do something special.' I obviously accepted this position because I understand what the expectations are."
#3 Darnell Dodson, So., G
On what he knows about Morehead State ...
"Not too much, just that they play very hard and attack the basket to create open shots."
On how excited he is to get things started ...
"I'm really excited and looking forward to it."
On any discernable difference from when Eric (Bledsoe) is in there instead of John (Wall) ...
"No not really; they both play the same way. They're both fast and both like to create open shots for us."
On what Coach Cal has said about getting off on the right foot ...
"He really hasn't said too much about that. He just wants us to go out there and do the best of our abilities and we'll come out victorious."
#12 Mark Krebs, Sr., G
On how far the team has come in understanding the dribble drive ...
"It was a good week of practice; a lot of the guys were really picking it up well. It's all about confidence; the more we play together the better we understand where the other guys are going to be. You know he's going to be in the middle or beside you or in front of you; you just know where everyone is going to be and everyone's on the same page."
On how it feels that Coach Calipari is complimenting you again after the second exhibition game ...
"It's great to hear don't get me wrong. I keep the same attitude every time. I just try to go out and do what he asks and have a good attitude and do whatever helps the team to win."
"The best part about it is nothing really changes. They both push the ball really fast and are talented. When you get in there you know they both have the same mentality, pretty much score first, then look inside, then run the play and do whatever we need to do. (There's not) a huge difference when one is in instead of the other. No matter who's in there you know you have a good point guard."
#55, Josh Harrellson, Jr., F
On the first regular season game in the Calipari era ...
"So far everything is good. Everybody gets along with him great, he's a great coach. He's a good teacher and he has improved everybody's game. "
On the whether the adjustment to the office is easy or not ...
"I think it's easier because he just gives everyone a different outlook on it. That gives everyone more confidence that everybody can play this way if they just put their mind to it."
"I don't think much will be different. It will probably be just as fast-paced. John gets the ball up the court so quick, but Eric is just as fast as John when it comes to that. I don't think much will be different though."
On what he's seen from Morehead State ...
"Coach Cal has really emphasized our rebounding with guards helping to rebound the ball. He said their big guy down low is a great rebounder and a great jumper, so that could be a hard matchup for us."
On battling their big guy down low ...
"Yeah I am. I go against DeMarcus in practice every day. I'm sure their guy is just as good, but DeMarcus is a great athlete."