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  • Preseason look at the Kentucky Wildcats with John Calipari

    By: LARRY VAUGHT

    Question: What held Sacha Killeya-Jones back last year?
    Calipari: He’s young. His age. He’s now the age of a freshmen, right now. This is all new to him. Inexperience. Bam [Adebayo] was better than him. We went to a small lineup so I wasn’t playing two of those bigs together. Derek [Willis] gave us — again, we’re totally different this year — Derek gave us a stretch four at 6’9”. These are playmaking fours. Derek was a shooting four, that’s what he was. These guys are — they can do it on a bounce, they’re not as good as shooter as he was. But they can do stuff off the bounce. So, okay, now, how do you play? Your pick and roll becomes more of an action to get the ball back in the hands of the four so he can make plays. With Derek, it was to get him to the three point line so it would open up for a guard or he could shoot. So, we’re different. I’m not trying to get ahead of myself, but we…there are things that we’re going to have to teach that I haven’t done before here, with this team.

    Question: Was learning to push through stuff part of the deal with him?
    Calipari: There are things they get away with and I’ll still be okay, and then you get behind, it happened to Wenyen. Then you get behind and all of a sudden, every game is on national television and all of a sudden you shoot three airballs and all of a sudden, oh my god, I can’t play them. And then, the season ends. This thing is a daily grind of building your own self-esteem, your own confidence. I can’t build it for you. You work and then you have to have demonstrated performance. If you’re not building your own confidence, more than likely, you’re breaking it down yourself. And by not working, knowing you’re not doing what you’re supposed to, knowing you’re not doing everything and thinking it’s going to be okay, and when it doesn’t happen and things go south, you know it was me. Now it doesn’t matter what I say, what you say, what the fans say — I always come back to that. They build their own self-confidence and they build their own self-esteem. Yeah, we’re there to be positive when we need to be and tell them no when we need to tell them no but at the end of the day, you’ve gotta get in and prove to yourself what you are.

    Question: Is Kevin Knox playing guard?
    Calipari: He is. When you talk about shooters, he might be — he and Jemarl [Baker] might be our best shooters. I want them to drive the ball and have to make decisions. We’ve done some of the dribble drive stuff, but because of these new rules we’ve had to give them time off now. So, the way we’re doing these days, we haven’t started. But he is. He’s good. He’s a good player. He’s young. He just turned 18.

    Question: Did Knox successfully keep you in the dark as well as any recruit ever has until he committed?
    Calipari: Probably. But Hami (Diallo)
    was really — no emotion, wouldn’t say anything and then call you and say, I’m going to come midseason. What? I thought Hami was important for this class because of his athleticism and his ability to get to the basket. We haven’t mentioned him. He’s — again, what I’m trying to get these guys to understand is none of them are there yet, and if you think you are, you’re delusional, or you really don’t want this. You don’t want the work. Or, you’re delusional. There’s no two — none of the guys are where they need to be. This is going to be one of those season-long — we’ve been through it before. It’s hard. It’s hard to be patient for me and our fans and everybody else, but you’ve just going to have to be. We’re not going to know exactly how we’re playing until February and March. We won’t. But we’re talented. We’ve got a great group of kids. Again, the fantasy campers, two or three campers are with each team. I probably had twenty guys come back to me and say, what a great group of kids. Some of you in the media that met with them the other day said, what a great group of kids. We have that, but it’s just individually, they’re not there yet. Collectively, obviously, we’re not there yet. It’s not just athletically, running up and down the court, it’s how do we play? It’s not exchanging baskets, it’s how do we play to win? They have absolutely no idea. They’re exchanging baskets. You get one, I get one. Watch this! I can’t get one here, you try to get one. I mean, that’s where they are right now and that’s where they should be.They’re a bunch of young kids that were the best player on their high school teams and took all the shots. Now we come in and say, okay, here’s how we’re going to have to play. There are ten of — they want to be coached, they want to win. It’s just going to be that road that we usually take here. It’s going to be hard.

    Question: Why is Quade Green better than what you thought?
    Calipari: Quade was almost a walk-it-up point guard, like would get it and have to — he runs the floor like Tyler (Ulis) ran the floor. Now I’m not comparing him to Tyler because that wouldn’t be fair to him, but he runs the court like Tyler did. You guys will say, ‘Wow, he has a lot of those traits of — but that doesn’t get it here. You have to be able to play fast. Pace matters here. And pace matters because we need more possessions. Why do we need more possessions? Because we got more players. We have to get them a minimum number of shots so that everybody gets some shots, to be honest. If we walked it up and took 50 shots, I’m not sure it would work here, what we’re doing. So, I told him that: you have to either spring it or throw it ahead; one of the two. I didn’t see him in a high school game do it, but I watched the rest of his stuff and — so the summer unfolds, we do some workouts, they have some stuff, and he’s playing fast. He’s really sprinting the ball up, he’s throwing it ahead, he gets people involved. He’s got some things to do defensively; you know, be more disruptive and all those things because of his size. But I said to him in front of team before we went home for summer, I said, ‘Quade is better than I thought.’ I said, ‘I didn’t know you were this fast.’ You know what his comment was? ‘I didn’t know either.’ Then I said, ‘So why are you playing like this?’ He said, ‘Because you told me. You told me if I didn’t then I wouldn’t play.’ That’s good for the other guys to hear. So the rest of you understand, you’re going to play the way you have to play for you and us, to be on that floor. And so that was a good thing and for him to be able to tell his teammates that.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Preseason look at the Kentucky Wildcats with John Calipari started by Darrell KSR View original post
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Krank's Avatar
      Krank -
      Love it. Never can get enough of this stuff.

      Thanks Darrell and especially Larry!
    1. KeithKSR's Avatar
      KeithKSR -
      This stuff makes me giddy over this season's squad. We could lose ten games, but I like the potential of where we could be come tourney time.
    1. Hoss's Avatar
      Hoss -
      This is the good stuff!
    1. DanISSELisdaman's Avatar
      DanISSELisdaman -
      From what I've read and the difference in Gabriel's body from what it was last year, I think we will see the player we thought he would develop into last year. I'm hoping he can get his shooting eye back like it was for several games last year.