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JOHN CALIPARI (Oct. 31)
HOW MUCH TINKERING ARE YOU DOING WITH COMBINATIONS AND/OR THE LINEUP?
"What I'm tinkering with are combinations, so trying to figure out when these guys are in together how do we play? When that group's in together, how do we play? That's what we're trying to do."
IMPRESSIONS OF THOSE COMBINATIONS IN SCRIMMAGES?
"None, really. I'm just trying to watch tape and see what I'm comfortable with and all those kinds of things. We've just got a long way to go. Defensively, we're just awful right now. We don't stay in front of anybody. We've got guys stopping left and right and think it's okay or it wasn't my man and stuff like that.
"I watched tape of Michigan State and Northwood and you had two teams that played every bounce of the ball that are moving and helping and helping the helper. The greatest thing about playing a team like this, the No. 1 team in NAIA and was down six the Michigan State at half that made nine three, has a post up game and really good guard, is your weaknesses and the things we're not doing well will be glaring. As much as I don't like to play a team this good this early this is going to be great for this team because the more I'm watching tape the more I'm seeing they've got to change and understand that it's got to be a habit."
IN TERMS OF POTENTIAL IS THIS ONE OF THE MORE VERSATILE GROUPS YOU'VE HAD IN TERMS OF DIFFERENT LINEUPS?
"It may be put five guys out there and they've got it rolling so leave them out there for eight minutes before you do anything, let them get their run through and make a few substitutions. That's the other thing with playing Maryland and Duke (to begin the season), you're going to see it. They're going to exploit every weakness we have. You come back and show the tape and say, 'If we want to win these are things we're going to have to do. Let's go.' We've just got a long way to go."
HOW SERIOUS ARE YOU ABOUT PLAYING NERLENS NOEL AND WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN TOGETHER?
"You'll see it tomorrow. We started playing them and just wanted to try and get those two comfortable. What I liked was they were talking to each other on the court, that's what you want, a team of guys talking to each other, looking after each other, have each others' back. Who are those five? I don't know but we'll stick different combinations (out there)."
ALEX POYTHRESS SAID HE'S PLAYING BOTH THE '3' AND THE '4'. DO YOU SEE HIM BEING A MISMATCH AT BOTH OF THOSE POSITIONS?
"The way he's playing defensively it's a real mismatch for us. It's a real problem for whoever he's guarding. Both positions."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE AND NOT LIKE ABOUT THE NOEL/CAULEY-STEIN LINEUP:
"It's funny, we went to to it with Alex and the other team got three offensive rebounds right away. So then why am I playing you three? What are we talking about here? What I like is that we're so long, I just told them a simple thing: if Nerlens is out on the floor (Cauley-Stein) get in the lane? I don't care where you're man is. If (Cauley-Stein) is out on the floor, Nerles get in the lane, so you always have someone 7-foot standing near the goal. Then you tell the other guys to make (the opponent) drive. How about that for genius basketball?
"I did this, I was trying to make a point and I didn't realize it but was making a point about making guys drive and having high hands so they have to drive. It doesn't mean bump them and give them straight line drives but you don't ever close without your hands being up because our game is to get them to drive into our defense. I stopped the team for a second and said, 'Nerlens, go touch the top of the square. He jumped up and boop (touches it). Willie, go touch it. Alex, go touch it.' This is the (top) of the square. So I was joking and said, 'Kyle...now he ran from Pittsburgh but he went up and touched it. Then I said, Archie, guess what, he touched the top of the square.' Why wouldn't we bring people to us? You don't want to block your own man's shot, you're trying to block your teammate's man's shot. There are enough guys on the court who can do that and disrupt shots."
THE NBA SEASON STARTED AND THERE ARE 21 FORMER KENTUCKY PLAYERS ON ROSTERS. WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR THIS PROGRAM?
"Pretty good stuff. I mean, guys are playing well. I'm so happy for Eric Bledsoe, you've got 15 teams trying to trade for him. They love Brandon (Knight) in Detroit. I'm proud that our guys go into the league and are prepared to play. I'm not responsible after they've been in the league two years. If the guy goes in as Rookie of the Year and plays well, what our job is to do is prepare these guys for that, their dream, and life after basketball. I'm proud of that.
"My biggest thing is when I watch them play I want to see them having a ball playing like they did here. The hard thing is if you're on a team that's losing it's hard to have joy, but you still control it. You control your own joy. I saw Darius (Miller) and Anthony Davis on the sideline going nuts, waving towels, high-chesting, high-fiving and my thing is if they lose games you still have to have that if you're ever going to reach your potential as a team and a player. That's what I got on DeMarcus (Cousins) about, you've got to have joy. You can't be playing mad, mean, You've got have fun playing this game."
DO YOU KNOW COACH (ROLLIE) MASSAMINO AND DID THAT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH SCHEDULING NORTHWOOD?
"He called me and said he'd like to play an exhibition game and I said okay. The reason is that's where I won a national title, I haven't been back and it's my last year of coaching. I didn't know his team would be this good. I may have said just come watch one of our games, but I'm happy for him."
ARE YOU HAVING FUN?
"Yeah. I'm tired. I'm beat down because every moment you're trying to think of ways to get guys better. I'm having more individual meetings than I've had collectively since I've been the coach here already. But that's what this team needs and that's fine. I'm here for them. Sometimes I have to do a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less depending on the team. I like my team. I think we'll be good in time but it's kind of scary. Us getting dinged is not the worst thing for these guys to understand they've got to listen and create habits. You don't have them right now."
HAVE YOU PREACHED THINGS WILL TAKE TIME, PATIENCE AND HARD WORK?
"I think it's more hard work than patience, more of a focus on what you're doing than patience. That's what is going to get us to where we're going to go. The one guy who has to have patience is me and that will only go so far with me, I know. When you're talking young guys, that's what you have."
Maybe I should change my prediction for the game.HA HA
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