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Conference Teleconference Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari Pre-Kansas Big 12/SEC Challenge Press Conference Comments

UK Coach John Calipari Pre-Kansas Big 12/SEC Challenge @Rupp Arena Press Conference Comments

Opening statement:
“It’s going to be a hard game, a hard game for us. What I’ve seen, barring that last game, they’ve been able to figure out every kind of situation, play a man-to-man that’s stingy, they’ll got a 2-3, a triangle-and-two if they have to. They got a lot of bullets in the gun. They got veteran guards, and boy they’re making 3s right now. (Josh) Jackson is a breakdown kind of player that can go get his. They’ll post it when they need to. They’re very worthy of their ranking, and I think that the West Virginia game was just a one-off – tough place to play and a very physical game, and a scrambled-up kind of game. But they’re a legit No. 1-ranked team.”

On if he likes the placement of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on the schedule …
“Probably would rather have it before the conference starts. For both of us now coming off road losses and then having this game. I mean, are there ties, or does one of us have to lose? So, it’s a tough deal, but it is what it is. It’s the next game for us and we know the challenge. Our schedule is one of the toughest in the country and this is what we do.”

On the matchup between Kansas and Kentucky’s guards …
“What I don’t want to have our guys do is get into the one-on-one stuff. We’ve Slipped a little bit in our ball movement, creating shots for each other and kind of slipped into, ‘Let me go get something here and if I can’t let me try to pass it now.’ So, let’s hope my team doesn’t get into that.

“But I will tell you that these are veteran guards, they’re crafty. Watching the tape from a year ago, they’re not going to make a whole lot of mistakes that are unforced. If you leave them open, if you lose sight, it’s a 3. They’re shooting a high, high number from the 3-point line.

“So, it’s a big-time challenge for these young kids. We saw it last game where you have your chance to get back in the game and try to win the game and we just make some unforced errors. That’s the process of learning with young guys. Now you hope that they realize, OK, what did I do, what could have I done, and next time I’m in that situation I’m going to try to do the right thing. But these are experiences my young guys have never been in.”

On what sense he has of how “sobering” the loss at Tennessee was for his players …
“We were off yesterday, it’s an off-day, getting caught up in the academic stuff. So, the only guys I saw were the ones that stopped through the office and there were about three or four of those. We’re going to find out on the practice floor today, alright, where are we? Are they ready to really focus on what we’re trying to do? Are they really ready to do the things that we have to do to get back to – it was only two weeks ago, ‘Man, they play hard, they dive on the floor for loose balls, they scramble defensively, they really help each other. Man, they share the ball, they’re fast and they give it to the open man.’ Well, over a two-week period that has slipped and slipped and slipped, now you’re not. Again, that’s what happens to young teams. Sometimes they get intoxicated by some wins and you think, ‘Well, I can do it the way I used to do it. I don’t really have to …’ and you take some Ls. That’s a college basketball season.”

On Mulder’s status …
“My guess is 10 days, but I could be wrong one way or another a few days. But I would guess 10 days.”

On freshman forward Sacha Killeya-Jones …
“He’s just learning how to fight, battle, come up with balls and have yourself judged not on being able to shoot the ball but being judged as a player making a difference in the game. He’s learning that. And then the other thing is, he’s a little bit behind Isaac (Humphries) and maybe even Tai (Wynyard), (and) obviously behind Bam (Adebayo). Most players are. He’s got a great mental approach to this. He knows he’s gotta get better. He knows he wants to help the team, and what I’m saying to him is, ‘Please be ready for your opportunity, because it’s going to come and I want you to be able to go on that floor and perform. Right now, you’re behind a couple guys, but like Mychal went down for two weeks now, or even longer, so it gives other guys a chance to play more. Are you ready for that opportunity, or do you have excuses, which none of them work?’ So, hopefully he’s getting ready.”

On the depth of the SEC …
“We just played a team – and I said to Rick (Barnes) before, ‘Your schedule was ridiculous,’ who he’s played non-conference. I watched them play Mississippi and they were up 15 or 14, they were up on Florida on the road, and those teams came back shooting 3s and scrambling up the defense to beat them by a few. I knew how he was coaching and what they were doing, and they’re a middle of the road team for us and they beat us – and literally from bell to bell they beat us. South Carolina and Florida and Arkansas, you got teams that the issue becomes, you take a loss in this league and they act like it’s the end of the world. Whereas another team will take a loss in their league and, ‘Ahh it’s just a road game, it’s a tough game.’ That’s what we’re trying to overcome.

“Now, the numbers for our teams, a bunch of them in the top 50. I think the numbers are better than they’ve ever been in the time I’ve been here anyway, top to bottom. A couple teams are struggling, but the reality of it is the league is way better, it’s tough winning on the road.

“Mississippi State had a chance to beat us. We played really well against Mississippi. But, you go on the road in this league, it’s hard to win. We got a bunch of teams that are going to deserve a look. Unfortunate what happened with Georgia on that clock stuff, because again, going to Texas A&M and winning is hard. We’ve been in two or three overtime games down there. But I still think Georgia is one of those teams. They’re that good, too.”


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Conference Teleconference Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari Pre-Kansas Big 12/SEC Challenge Press Conference Comments

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