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Basketball Presser Notes

John Calipari has no regrets about how he's coached during Kentucky's disappointing season that resulted in the Cats missing the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in the past 22 years, but that doesn't mean he hasn't learned some lessons along the way.

Speaking before the Cats' traveled to Robert Morris for Tuesday night's NIT opener Calipari said he won't alter his approach of going after the nation's top prep players but he'll pay closer attention to their mental makeups and the fit with the UK coaching staff along the way.

"I like that national title. I like that national title," Calipari said, referring to Kentucky's 2012 national championship. "Guys that can deal with us as coaches, me as a head coach, and can play with a mentality we want them to play with. We've got to be more precise in that. You can't just go…You've got to…There's a certain toughness that you've got to have in this thing, and I've always had it. When you don't have it…you know."

For more of Calipari's thoughts you can read a full transcript on the House of Blue.

  • JOHN CALIPARI (Mar. 18)

    WHAT CAN YOU GET OUT OF THE NIT?
    “We’ve got time to work with our guys. We’ve got 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’re delusional. We’ll see if we have delusional guys or if they understand.”

    YOU TWEETED THAT YOUR TEAM NEEDED TO PROVE ON THE ROAD IT STILL WANTS TO PLAY BEFORE FANS PAY FOR ANOTHER TICKET TO A HOME GAME. DO YOU THINK THEY THEY STILL WANT TO PLAY?
    “We’ll 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? Tough. And scramble and shoot threes. Nine threes a game. Top five or six in three-point field-goal percentage, or thereabouts. A lot like Arkansas. (Makes concerned face).”

    JON HOOD CALLED ROBERT MORRIS A BUNCH OF ‘TOUGH PITTSBURGH GUYS’?
    “I don’t know if they’re Pittsburgh guys. I’m not a tough Pittsburgh guy. I don’t think they’re from Pittsburgh, but they’re a bunch of tough players, tough guys. They are. They’re a veteran kind of team. Their leadership, their point guard, he’ll grab guys. I’ve seen him on tape just go grab a guy. But it’s because he has the ability to physically dominate a game that he can do that and no one messes with him.”


    IS THERE SOME POETRY IN HEADING BACK TO YOUR ROOTS IN THIS SEASON WHERE YOU'VE HAD TO SCRATCH AND CLAW?

    “Well it’s funny: I’ve coached about 25 games in that gym at Five-Star (camps) when I was 23, 22, 24, 21, whatever it was, 25. And, you know, if we took care of Vanderbilt and we didn’t get in, I would’ve let loose. But by losing to Vanderbilt, I have nothing to say. I don’t care that we were close to this team, this team, that team. It could’ve been us or it could’ve been them. We have more top-50s. The three (SEC) teams that went to the tournament, we were 3-1 against those teams. How can this be? Because we didn’t take care of business in that game. And it wasn’t even close. So we’re where we deserve to be and let’s go see what we’re made of now.”

    WILL YOU VISIT ANY OLD FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN PITTSBURGH?
    “Nah. It’ll be quick. I told my wife not to even come. Too quick. We’re going to get in there late tonight and leave late tomorrow night and it’s not worth that. There will be some guys at our practice tonight that I’ll see.”

    WHAT HAS THIS SEASON BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?
    “One thing is I have no regrets because I tried everything. 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. Again, learned a lot of lessons that our staff has taken 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 we've always had in the past. It's a great learning experience. Hate going through it. I would 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, so I have no regrets with what we did, yet just disappointed that the response wasn't there.”


    ARE THERE ANY GUYS ON THIS TEAM THAT MIGHT NOT BE WELCOME BACK NEXT YEAR?

    “Well, we'll sit down and all that stuff when the time is right and that's when the season is over.”


    YOU'VE SAID IT'S DIFFERENT NOW BECAUSE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY IS SMALLER. IF YOU KNEW YOU'D HAVE THESE GUYS FOR FOUR YEARS WOULD YOUR APPROACH HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT?

    “You're more patient. It doesn't matter that you're this way you better get it the next year and we're bringing in other guys so you're going to have to step up, but you're here. This may be a group of four-year players. There's nothing wrong with that. Why is everybody panicked? So they're four-year players? So? You move, you get another group and now you have a nice big team and you take on the world.”

    DOES THIS CHANGE YOUR RECRUITING APPROACH IN THE FUTURE?
    “Nope. Nope. I like that national title. I like that national title.”

    WERE THERE THINGS YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE TYPE OF PERSONALITIES YOU RECRUIT?
    “Yep. Yep. Yep. Guys that can deal with us as coaches, me as a head coach, and can play with a mentality we want them to play with. We've got to be more precise in that. You can't just go…You've got to…There's a certain toughness that you've got to have in this thing, and I've always had it. When you don't have it…you know.

    “Toughness -- and Jay Bilas wrote that book, and it's a great book because it's not just you want to get in a fist fight. There's a certain thing about mental toughness, and those 15 or 16 things that you have that you're just tougher, you understand that preparation makes you tough, that hard work, doing more than is expected in 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 a game and you let go of the rope, you have no toughness. So, it's more than that. There's a certain thing that we've had that…We'll see, and you know what? It's never too late for this team. It's never. We've got games left, we're still playing.”

    JON HOOD SAID SOME HARDWARE THIS SEASON IS BETTER THAN NONE...
    “It's more or less did we use this time to get better cause if not then why you doing it? We've got issues, let's deal with them. Let's use them to get better. We've got more time to practice with our team. We've got a bunch of young players. We're going to use the time to get better.”

    SPECIFICALLY SPEAKING, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THEM GET BETTER?
    “Make more free throws, I guess. I don't know. Work harder, turn the light on, get in the game and play more physical, don't get pushed around, go in there and play off of one another better like we have at times. We seem like we're discombobulated at times: 'I'm only gonna give you the ball when the guy knocks me down and I can't drive it anymore, so here you take it.' We can't play that way. So we're hoping that they improve as a team playing off of one another.”

    IS IT HARDER TO DEAL WITH A TEAM WHERE YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO GET THAN A CONSISTENTLY MEDICORE ONE?
    “Yeah. You have no idea. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I told DeWayne (Peevy) this, there's no anxiety with this team for me cause why am I worried about it? Cause I have no idea what's gonna show. Now, we had great practices and we're tough and mentally tough on them, verbally tough on them, getting them ready for the war, they're ready. Willie (Cauley-Stein) before the game, "I think we're ready. I'm really ready, coach. I think we're ready. Man, I hope we're ready.' 

    “Cause this guy and that guy, you don't know. Are you gonna show today or are you gonna…But, you know what? I'm gonna say it again, at any point in your life you can change. Start today. Start today at practice, the game tomorrow, and go forward and change. Wishful thinking cause I've been saying it every day and we haven't, but that's my hope and I won't change off of that. This team can be as good as they want to be. We could have backed into the tournament. We didn't. No we've got to go on the road and play, which is a good thing for us. Do you want to keep the season going? Let's go, keep it going.”

  • This says A LOT to me. If this isn't an indictment of certain guys on this team, I don't know what is.

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  • Sounds like one frustrated coach!! Reminds me of a high school coach just trying to get a bunch of kids to mesh together.

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