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  • Observations from the John Calipari Coaching Clinic



    Here's some more detailed thoughts/impressions from what I saw yesterday. Can't emphasize enough how cool it was that they do this. I'm fortunate enough to get to a lot of games, but I'm certainly not a big K Fund Donor and almost always in the nosebleeds, so I rarely get to see the team up close like this. You don't get any sense for the size and athleticism of these guys from games.

    The schedule was basically:

    1) introduction and comments from Cal
    2) morning practice that lasted just under 2 hours focusing entirely on defense
    3) Q&A with Cal
    4) Lunch on our own
    5) About 30 minutes of Strickland demonstrating ball handling drills with his 2 sons (I honestly think this was filler for extra rest time)
    6) About 45 minutes from Robic on the DDMO and taking questions
    7) More Q&A with Cal
    8) afternoon practice focused entirely on offense that lasted about 1:30

    Cal said in the morning that Andrew Harrison was not participating the entire day (and he didn't) and James Young might participate in the afternoon (and he did). He offered no details on Andrew. Both were there and dressed the entire time. Young was going hard on the bike most of the morning with Rock Oliver literally looking over his shoulder and looked gassed. We were joking he probably wished he was practicing instead. At one point when that was done I saw him ask if he could come in, and he was told no. He was allowed to participate in non-contact stuff in the afternoon, and was clearly anxious to take part in everything but they didn't let him. Andrew was also on one of the exercise machines. Couldn't tell what the machine was exactly, but he worked his arms the whole time he was on it. Toward the end of the morning practice, he was standing there with a large ice pack on his right knee, but 10 minutes later the ice pack was gone, and he was standing the whole time. Got no information on it, but assume it was very minor since he was standing there the last 45 minutes of practice. Was also there and dressed for the afternoon but didn't take part.

    Cal's Introductory Comments and Morning Practice

    -Cal said he's been scrimmaging a lot with these guys from the beginning because he needs to learn what they have. He also said something I thought was telling: "Why would a teacher spend time teaching algebra if his students are ready for calculus." They had done a hard 2 hour scrimmage the day before because he wasn't happy with them.

    -In talking to the people there who are actually coaches, Cal basically stated what is maybe my favorite thing about hims as a coach, which is that he doesn't believe in forcing a "system" on a team. Clearly believes the best approach is to tailor to that team's strengths.

    -As noted, he clearly believes the new foul rules will be enforced. I heard the phrase "automatic foul" at least a dozen times. Also seems convinced the new charge rules are significant.

    -Cal said if they progress like he hopes, his plan is simply to switch everything on defense because our size and athleticism allow that.

    -Cal repeatedly told them to trust their instincts. Heard that several times in both sessions.

    -In drills Cal noted that the one thing we never do is leave a corner shooter. He wants them to force them to drive because of our size.

    -The morning was spent on defense, but Cal specifically mentioned 1) Julius Randle is an exceptional passer 2) if James Young is open and doesn't shoot, he's coming out 3) like MKG, if James Young is in front of you in transition and you don't throw him the ball, you're coming out.

    -They ran an absolutely brutal rebounding drill. They have a line painted down the middle of the lane. Bigs lined up in pairs, feet touching on the line. First one to get 3 rebounds wins. Tips don't count, one handed rebounds don't count. They really got after it. Very entertaining.

    -Poythress drew some of Cal's ire in the morning, but also drew some praise in the afternoon.

    -In the Q&A, Cal raved about Willis. He certainly looks the part, and Cal said he WILL play in the NBA for a long time, but it won't be on the same timeline as some of the other guys.

    Robic's Explanation of the DDMO and Afternoon Practice on Offense

    -This was the most "clinic" type part of the clinic. A lot of specifics and a lot of questions. The one takeaway I got from this and Cal's earlier comments is that these coaches are giddy about the options our size gives us in this offense. Sounds like they'll be initiating the offense with the PG and the 4 (Randle) up top to force mismatches right off the bat.

    -Robic: "We do not throw bounce passes unless it's a back door cut. We throw lobs."

    -We want layups, open 3's or lobs, and this offense is designed to take advantage of spacing and angles to get them.

    -Cal said we don't mind misses (because we have a skilled big coming from the other side to get the rebound), but blocked shots are a no-no.

    -Cal said we're going to dictate how the defense plays, you don't dictate to us.

    -Did a timed shooting drill to start the afternoon. Cal seemed unhappy with how they were shooting, but they seemed to get better the 2nd time around.

    -My favorite drill was one where they started out 2 on 2 in transition. When a shot was made or rebounded, another player jumped in on each team and they went 3 on 3 the other way and so on until it ended up 5 on 5. Very entertaining, all ending with lobs or layup attempts. Just unreal athleticism.

    -To be honest, I don't have as many specifics from the afternoon practice because it was just fun to watch the athletes on display.

    -As the afternoon went on, Cal seemed very pleased. Stopped them at least a couple times to say this is how we want this offense to run. I didn't stay for the last few minutes, but I'm assuming he was pleased with their effort.


    Only concern/nitpick I have: I saw 3:30 of practice, and I saw TWO free throws. Not two drills, two total free throws. That may well be normal and they work extensively on them in a different setting, but there was no work on that at all.
    Comments 34 Comments
    1. anderwt's Avatar
      anderwt -
      You will never get closer to UK basketball....I have to go to a wedding or I would be there..
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      I'm seriously thinking about it. Am I reading it right that it's open to anyone who's not a recruitable athlete? In other words, they won't give us any trouble for not actually being a coach?
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      dta, I don't think they care--as long as you're interested in the "coaching" aspect of it.

      I've been a lowly volunteer coach for many years for kids' ball--highest level, 8th grade. If it were for serious coaches, I'd never consider it, as I am sure that 90% of it would be well above whatever I could do in two practices a week for an hour at a time.

      It is a steal of a deal. You get a lot of access for your dollar.
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      You all talked me into it. I called and they clarified it's open to anyone who's not a "recruitable athlete." I'm signed up and looking forward to it. Seems like a damn good way to take advantage of an open football Saturday.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Fantastic, dta. Please post about your experience--I probably will coach one more year before taking a hiatus from coaching, and I know any additional incentive from your posts would probably get me there next year for sure.
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      Will do. Fair warning, I'm going in with nothing more than a fan's perspective, but I'll be happy to report back.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Bonus!

      @UKCoachCalipari: Decided to sign all the pieces of the title floor that we will give our Coaches' Clinic participants tomorrow.

      Sent using Forum Runner
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      Coaches' clinic was awesome. What a treat to get to see two practices up close like that. Morning was all defense, afternoon was all offense. I left Louisville at 7:00 this morning, and after getting back for dinner and the World Series game got home at Midnight, so I'll post a bit more specific report tomorrow.

      The single biggest thing I took away from it (other than how ridiculously athletic and big we are) is that Cal is absolutely convinced that the new emphasis/rule change on fouls is legitimate. The first practice today was entirely on defense, and emphasized it over and over and over. He said repeatedly, either they're lying to me, or that's a foul now. Basically, if you're the defender and they get their head and shoulders past you, any contact is an "automatic foul." He is absolutely convinced it WILL be called that way, and is coaching as if it will.
    1. Philly Cat's Avatar
      Philly Cat -
      Can't wait to hear it.

      I pick November 12th in the pool for first public complaint by Cal about the new rules not being enforced. That's the Michigan State game. He'll have to do it elliptically-- discuss how hard he practiced his team on the new rules, and how "we" abandoned that teaching in the second half of the game b/c the officials were letting it all go. Something like that.

      Cal favors this rule adjustment because he knows that he/we are the primary beneficiaries. It's a gift to any team that plays a dribble-drive offense and can hit free throws. It is also a way for us to get opponents in foul trouble when they tire (and even when not). In many ways, we could look back and say that this rule change was the key to the championship run because, without being allowed to body us, teams were left with the choice to concede field goals or free throws-- some choice!
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Looking forward to more comments from you, and glad you had a great time. I still think it is the most underrated thing UK does, and look forward to it myself next year. I hope.

      Sent from my SGH-M919 using Tapatalk 4
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      Here's some more detailed thoughts/impressions from what I saw yesterday. Can't emphasize enough how cool it was that they do this. I'm fortunate enough to get to a lot of games, but I'm certainly not a big K Fund Donor and almost always in the nosebleeds, so I rarely get to see the team up close like this. You don't get any sense for the size and athleticism of these guys from games.

      The schedule was basically:

      1) introduction and comments from Cal
      2) morning practice that lasted just under 2 hours focusing entirely on defense
      3) Q&A with Cal
      4) Lunch on our own
      5) About 30 minutes of Strickland demonstrating ball handling drills with his 2 sons (I honestly think this was filler for extra rest time)
      6) About 45 minutes from Robic on the DDMO and taking questions
      7) More Q&A with Cal
      8) afternoon practice focused entirely on offense that lasted about 1:30

      Cal said in the morning that Andrew Harrison was not participating the entire day (and he didn't) and James Young might participate in the afternoon (and he did). He offered no details on Andrew. Both were there and dressed the entire time. Young was going hard on the bike most of the morning with Rock Oliver literally looking over his shoulder and looked gassed. We were joking he probably wished he was practicing instead. At one point when that was done I saw him ask if he could come in, and he was told no. He was allowed to participate in non-contact stuff in the afternoon, and was clearly anxious to take part in everything but they didn't let him. Andrew was also on one of the exercise machines. Couldn't tell what the machine was exactly, but he worked his arms the whole time he was on it. Toward the end of the morning practice, he was standing there with a large ice pack on his right knee, but 10 minutes later the ice pack was gone, and he was standing the whole time. Got no information on it, but assume it was very minor since he was standing there the last 45 minutes of practice. Was also there and dressed for the afternoon but didn't take part.

      Cal's Introductory Comments and Morning Practice

      -Cal said he's been scrimmaging a lot with these guys from the beginning because he needs to learn what they have. He also said something I thought was telling: "Why would a teacher spend time teaching algebra if his students are ready for calculus." They had done a hard 2 hour scrimmage the day before because he wasn't happy with them.

      -In talking to the people there who are actually coaches, Cal basically stated what is maybe my favorite thing about hims as a coach, which is that he doesn't believe in forcing a "system" on a team. Clearly believes the best approach is to tailor to that team's strengths.

      -As noted, he clearly believes the new foul rules will be enforced. I heard the phrase "automatic foul" at least a dozen times. Also seems convinced the new charge rules are significant.

      -Cal said if they progress like he hopes, his plan is simply to switch everything on defense because our size and athleticism allow that.

      -Cal repeatedly told them to trust their instincts. Heard that several times in both sessions.

      -In drills Cal noted that the one thing we never do is leave a corner shooter. He wants them to force them to drive because of our size.

      -The morning was spent on defense, but Cal specifically mentioned 1) Julius Randle is an exceptional passer 2) if James Young is open and doesn't shoot, he's coming out 3) like MKG, if James Young is in front of you in transition and you don't throw him the ball, you're coming out.

      -They ran an absolutely brutal rebounding drill. They have a line painted down the middle of the lane. Bigs lined up in pairs, feet touching on the line. First one to get 3 rebounds wins. Tips don't count, one handed rebounds don't count. They really got after it. Very entertaining.

      -Poythress drew some of Cal's ire in the morning, but also drew some praise in the afternoon.

      -In the Q&A, Cal raved about Willis. He certainly looks the part, and Cal said he WILL play in the NBA for a long time, but it won't be on the same timeline as some of the other guys.

      Robic's Explanation of the DDMO and Afternoon Practice on Offense

      -This was the most "clinic" type part of the clinic. A lot of specifics and a lot of questions. The one takeaway I got from this and Cal's earlier comments is that these coaches are giddy about the options our size gives us in this offense. Sounds like they'll be initiating the offense with the PG and the 4 (Randle) up top to force mismatches right off the bat.

      -Robic: "We do not throw bounce passes unless it's a back door cut. We throw lobs."

      -We want layups, open 3's or lobs, and this offense is designed to take advantage of spacing and angles to get them.

      -Cal said we don't mind misses (because we have a skilled big coming from the other side to get the rebound), but blocked shots are a no-no.

      -Cal said we're going to dictate how the defense plays, you don't dictate to us.

      -Did a timed shooting drill to start the afternoon. Cal seemed unhappy with how they were shooting, but they seemed to get better the 2nd time around.

      -My favorite drill was one where they started out 2 on 2 in transition. When a shot was made or rebounded, another player jumped in on each team and they went 3 on 3 the other way and so on until it ended up 5 on 5. Very entertaining, all ending with lobs or layup attempts. Just unreal athleticism.

      -To be honest, I don't have as many specifics from the afternoon practice because it was just fun to watch the athletes on display.

      -As the afternoon went on, Cal seemed very pleased. Stopped them at least a couple times to say this is how we want this offense to run. I didn't stay for the last few minutes, but I'm assuming he was pleased with their effort.


      Only concern/nitpick I have: I saw 3:30 of practice, and I saw TWO free throws. Not two drills, two total free throws. That may well be normal and they work extensively on them in a different setting, but there was no work on that at all.
    1. UKFlounder's Avatar
      UKFlounder -
      Fascinating report. Thank you
    1. dtalbersjr's Avatar
      dtalbersjr -
      Two other things:

      -We're going to dunk. A lot. A whole lot. Last year's team was the worst finishing team I've ever seen, which made no sense with athletes like Goodwin, Noel and WCS. Part of it was the guards and part was the guys' instincts. I didn't get to see Andrew play, but I don't think either will be a problem this year. Looks like everyone can finish on their own and finish off lobs.

      -Cal said they just started defense after madness. Assuming the effort and dedication is there (and I saw nothing to indicate it won't be), this team has the pieces to demoralize people on defense. It won't happen off the bat, but I think it will come.
    1. dan_bgblue's Avatar
      dan_bgblue -
      Excellent, excellent report!!

      Thanks very much for taking the time to share your thoughts and impressions.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Terrific report, that was awesome.

      Sent using Forum Runner
    1. dan_bgblue's Avatar
      dan_bgblue -
      Only concern/nitpick I have: I saw 3:30 of practice, and I saw TWO free throws. Not two drills, two total free throws. That may well be normal and they work extensively on them in a different setting, but there was no work on that at all.
      Coach has said many, many times that the players are expected to practice free throws on their own. Managers are available to rebound misses almost any time of the day or night
    1. Catonahottinroof's Avatar
      Catonahottinroof -
      FG % should be good

      Quote Originally Posted by dtalbersjr View Post
      Two other things:

      -We're going to dunk. A lot. A whole lot. Last year's team was the worst finishing team I've ever seen, which made no sense with athletes like Goodwin, Noel and WCS. Part of it was the guards and part was the guys' instincts. I didn't get to see Andrew play, but I don't think either will be a problem this year. Looks like everyone can finish on their own and finish off lobs.

      -Cal said they just started defense after madness. Assuming the effort and dedication is there (and I saw nothing to indicate it won't be), this team has the pieces to demoralize people on defense. It won't happen off the bat, but I think it will come.
    1. Darrell KSR's Avatar
      Darrell KSR -
      Coaches just don't practice free throws.

      I remember Billy Gillespie meeting the Birmingham UK Alumni group the first year he was hired, and smarting off to a lady who asked about free throws. "We think they're so important, we haven't practiced them one time," he said, best of my memory.

      Stupid 7th grade analogy, but I almost never practice it with my teams either. Of course we only get two practices a week, and it is very hard to cram in fundamentals and a little of team play in that time.

      The exception I like to do is to do fatigue pressure free throws. Make the team run lines, then pick out a player to immediately shoot free throws in a situation where the team pays consequences for missing. That way it is more like game conditions. Had one player last year make 3 free throws with 0.1 on the clock and our team trailing by 2. I like to pretend those drills helped, but they probably didn't. What likely helped more is the kid shooting in his driveway daily.

      Sent using Forum Runner
    1. CitizenBBN's Avatar
      CitizenBBN -
      Wow dt, thanks for taking the time to post the report. great stuff!

      Rick was right when he said the first thing to go with the 20 hour rule would be free throw shooting. As I understand it when there were no time limits once practice was done maybe one coach would stay but the coach could require players to practice free throws and shooting and such. Now it can't be required b/c that time would count as practice time and they won't use those precious hours on free throws, so the players have got to get in there and practice them on their own.

      If Willis is for sure on the Padgett NBA track I feel a LOT better about next year. Think about how much Scott did for this team for 3 years. He was a huge part of the 97 run, obviously has a ring in 98, and got us to the Elite Eight in 99. If our "multi year guy" is that good, look the heck out.

      Going to be a whale of a fun year.
    1. Rock Hard Ten's Avatar
      Rock Hard Ten -
      Thanks for the great reports, dt