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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.