Solid Blue Pre-NIT Notes and Quotes

Reported by: Alex Risen
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Updated: 3/18/2013 4:51 pm

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Media Opportunity

Lexington, Ky.

March 19, 2013

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On what can the team get out of playing in the NIT …

“We (have) got time to work with our guys. We have a bunch of young guys. Keep coaching them and maybe the light goes on. Maybe reality hits. When you hit rock bottom you either want to change or you are delusional. We will see if we have delusional guys or they understand.”

On if he thinks the players still want to play ...

“We will see, won’t we? Let’s go throw it up. I’m watching a team that plays really hard in Robert Morris, really hard. Guard play, you ready? Scramble and shoot 3’s. Nine 3’s a game. Top five or six, top five or six (nationally) and 3-point field goal percentage or there about. Nine steals a game. A lot like Arkansas. Two physical teams going at each other and neither one wanted to back away.”

On Jon Hood’s reference to Robert Morris players being like Pittsburgh players …

“I do not know if they’re Pittsburgh guys. I am not a Pittsburgh guy. I don’t think they are from Pittsburgh.  They are a bunch of tough players and tough guys. They are a veteran kind of team. Their leadership, their point guard is you know, he’ll grab guys. I’ve seen him on tape, just go grab a guy. Just because he has the ability to physically dominate a game that he can do that and no one messes with him.”

On his thoughts on going back to Pittsburgh …

“We’ll it’s funny, I’ve coached about 25 games in that gym.  At five star (camps) when I was 23, 22, 24, 22, 21 whatever it was 25. If we took care of Vanderbilt and we didn’t get in, I would have let loose. But, by losing to Vanderbilt we have nothing to say (about not making the NCAA Tournament). I don’t care that we were close to this team that team, it could have been us or it could have been them, we had more top 50’s, the three teams that went to our tournament we were 3-1 against those teams. ‘How can this be?’ Because we didn’t take care of business in that game. We weren’t even close. So, I’m not saying anything. We’re where we deserve to be, so let’s go see what we are made of now.”

On his plans for this trip and going to visit people from his hometown of Moon Township ...

“I told my wife don’t even come. (It’s) too quick. I mean we get in there late tonight and leave late tomorrow night. It’s not worth that. There will be some guys at our practice tonight that I’ll see.”

On his feelings about how the season is turning out …

“One thing is I have no regrets because I’ve tried everything.  (It’s) Humbling because it’s probably the first group in a long time that wouldn’t respond and change, which means that you know to say well it’s going to happen every year because it happened eight-straight years, now it’s like think back to that year because it didn’t happen. And again, I learned a lot of lessons that our staff is taking into account as we go forward.  What kind of team we have. What kind of personnel we have. What kind of mentalities we have. The guys that we’ve always had in the past. You know it’s a great learning experience. (I) hate going through it. I’d rather learn from someone else’s issues than my own. This was hard. I feel good, but it was hard going through it. We never stopped coaching them. We never gave up on guys, never. So, I have no regrets on what we did. Yet, I’m just disappointed that the response wasn’t there.”

On who will be on the team next year …

“We will sit down and talk about all that stuff when the time is right, but that’s when the season is over.”

On how he would coach differently if he knew guys were four-year players …

“We’ll you’re more patient. (It) Doesn’t matter that you’re this way. You better get it in there next year, and we are bringing in other guys so you have to step up.  But, this may be a group of four-year players. There is nothing wrong with that. Why is everybody panicked? So they’re four year players, so?  You get another group and now you have a nice big team, and you take on the world.”

On if this season changes his philosophy on recruiting …

“Nope. Nope. Nope. I liked that National title. I like that National title.”

On if this team has made him look for certain personalities when recruiting players …

“Yep. Yep. Yep. I will look for guys that can deal with us as coaches, me as head coach, and that can play with the mentality we want them to play with. We have to be more precise in that. There is a certain toughness that you have to have in this thing, and I have always had it. When you don’t have it, you know. The thing again is toughness. Jay Bilas wrote that book, and it’s a great book because it’s not just that you want to get in a fist fight. There is a certain thing about mental toughness and those 15 or 16 things that you have that you are just tougher at. You understand that preparation makes you tough. That hard work and doing more than what is expected at practice makes you tougher. Not ‘I’m trying to get out of this, this is torture.’ ‘I don’t want to do this,’ and then get in the game, let go of the rope, and you have no toughness. So there is more than that. There is a certain thing that we have had. It is never too late for this team. Never. We have games left and we are still playing.”

On Jon Hood saying that leaving with some hardware is better than nothing …

“It is more or less. Did we use this time to get better? Because if not, then why are you doing it? We have issues; let’s deal with them. Let’s use them to get better. We have more time to practice with our team. We have a bunch of young players. We are going to use the time to get better.”

On how he would like to see the team improve in this period …

“Make more free throws I guess, I don’t know. Just work harder, turn the light on. Get in the game and play more physical. Don’t get pushed around and go in there and play off one another better, like we have at times. We seem like we are discombobulated at times. ‘I am only going to give you the ball when the guy knocks me down and I can’t drive it anymore, so here, you take it.’ You can’t play that way, so we are hoping that they improve as a team, playing off one another.”

On if it is harder to coach a team that plays so well one game and then turns around and plays so badly, as compared to a team that is consistently mediocre …

“Yeah, you have no idea. I told DeWayne (Peevy) this, there is no anxiety with this team for me because why am I worried about it because I have no idea what is going to show? We had great practices and we are tough, mentally tough on them, verbally tough on them. We are getting them ready for the war. They are ready. Willie (Cauley-Stein) before the game said, ‘I think we are ready. I am really ready Coach. I think we are ready. Man I hope we are ready.’ This guy and that guy, you just don’t know. Are you going to show today? But you know what, I am going to say it again. At any point in your life, you can change, start today. Start today in practice, in the game tomorrow, and go forward and change. It is wishful thinking because I have been saying it every day, and we haven’t. But that’s my hope and I won’t change it. This team could be as good as they want to be. We could have backed into the tournament; we didn’t. Now we have to go on the road and play, which is a good thing for us. If you want to keep the season going, then let’s go; keep it going.”

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