Coach Calipari addresses the media after Kentucky’s 88-56 win over Samford. For more on the Wildcats, visit WildcatWorld.com and be sure to visit us regularly for all your news on Kentucky basketball, past present and future.
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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Cal.
Q. On the team’s effort in the second half.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we’re going to condition in the morning for the next three weeks and then practice because I can’t think of any other reason why you wouldn’t come out in the second half and play. I just don’t understand that. Especially what we’ve been going through.
You need to learn how to play a full game. They had that opportunity today. So we have to chalk it up to they’re not in shape.
They will be. We’re going to be the most in-shape team inside the next three weeks. We’re going to condition in the morning, we’re going to practice in the afternoon.
Don’t understand it.
Q. Much or anything about tonight you liked?
COACH CALIPARI: First half. I thought, okay, let’s go do this the second half. There were three or four plays we talked about, then the second half. We win by 1.
Obviously they don’t get it yet, but they will. They’re not going to have a whole lot of choices here, so…
Q. Kyle Wiltjer still not necessarily shooting it great.
COACH CALIPARI: Must not be in shape. Didn’t go on pick-and-rolls, didn’t go get balls. Must not be in shape.
Q. When you talk about running in the mornings, can you elaborate on what that means? Suicides?
COACH CALIPARI: Whatever it is. We’ll get Ray Oliver. 20 to 30 minutes of straight running. Heart rates will be high. Not heart rates at 120. Your heart rate is going to be at 175, 180.
Q. You seem puzzled. Are you also angry?
COACH CALIPARI: No. This is matter of factly me. If I was mad, you’d know I was mad. I’m fine. This is what they need. I’m not mad. They’re going to get in shape. I don’t know why else they wouldn’t play when we’ve lost our last two games because we didn’t compete.
So you come out for 20 minutes and you compete, then you come out the second half and you don’t. Then you’re not in shape or you don’t care. I don’t want to even go that way. I don’t even want to hint that way. So they’re not in shape then. But they will be. Ask Josh Harrellson. Changed his life.
Q. Does your team play with enough emotion?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know, but they will because they’re going to be in better shape and have a lot more energy to be a little more emotional.
Q. Can you talk about your point guard play tonight.
COACH CALIPARI: It was okay. But, again, Ryan (Harrow) got cool because he’s not in shape. Decision making by Archie (Goodwin), why? Because he’s not in good enough shape right now. Mind goes. It’s called slippage. Jarrod (Polson) was shaky at best I think because he’s not in great condition. Last year he and Kyle were in the gym as much as Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) and Anthony Davis. They have not been in the gym one night this year. I don’t know why.
I know this, we’re going to be there in the mornings and we’re going to get in shape.
Q. This is the first time all season you’ve mentioned conditioning. Had you seen things earlier?
COACH CALIPARI: I just thought it was physical play. But I can’t imagine what else it would be if you didn’t play the second half. I just can’t. I don’t understand. There’s nothing you can tell me other than you’re not in shape. That’s okay. That’s an easy one.
Q. On the team’s conditioning.
COACH CALIPARI: We’ll see. Some of it may be mentally you’re not strong enough, you’re soft. So the conditioning is good. It makes you stronger mentally.
Q. Times you couldn’t get things going, set up a few extra plays. Are you looking to set a few more things up?
COACH CALIPARI: No, that’s the same stuff we ran against Baylor, Notre Dame. We just had no competitive spirit in those two games, no will.
The way we played in the first half, we took these guys out. We played, blocked shots, took charges, played, like played basketball, competed against the other guy.
In the second half we played like we did against Notre Dame and Baylor, which was, If they beat you, they beat you. I didn’t get there.
Can’t be anything other than that they’re not in shape.
Q. How much of this, if any, may be young kids thinking, I can turn it on when I need it?
COACH CALIPARI: They’re not in shape (laughter).
Q. How early in the morning are you talking about?
COACH CALIPARI: Before class, 7:00 in the morning. I’m going to try to go three weeks with it. We only practice two hours. We don’t do the three-and-a-half-hour practice. You have other programs that will go 3 hours 45 minutes individual work, then three hours of practice. We’re going two hours, 2 hours and 15 minutes trying to get them to do individual work, trying to get them to fall in love with the gym.
We’re sliding into Camp Cal time. No classes, no timeframe, no four hours, 20 hours a week, none of that. It’s like three practices a day. Do nice conditioning in the morning. Do practice in the afternoon. Come back in the evening and walk through and do some shooting and other things.
So we got three weeks of that.
Q. How big a surprise is it they haven’t been guys in the gym, especially now that you’ve lost three games?
COACH CALIPARI: They’re starting now. But it’s not surprising.
I think we all got intoxicated, including me, about everything that was written and said about this team. I kept telling you, ‘We’re not that good.’ I’m looking, ‘Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re better than I think. Huh-uh.’
I like my team. I like my players. I got good guys. They’re going to do what I ask them to do.
If you demand a lot, you get a lot. If you accept mediocrity… Obviously, I’m accepting something less than their best, and that’s on me.
Q. Willie Cauley-Stein had a very busy line, most of it in the second half. How much was he an exception to all this?
COACH CALIPARI: He’s 0-3 at half, 0-2 at the free-throw line, and like two rebounds, missed two-footers.
First half, our bench was 1-9. The bench. Should I have played him at all? 0-3 from the 3, 2-5 from the line. Is there a stat sheet here? No, it’s embedded in my mind. Second half he played better.
But, I mean, we got to play basketball, folks. Every game we play is someone’s Super Bowl. They’re celebrating after wins. We got to be better than we are right now. We got to be in better shape. We got to be mentally tougher. We got to play for each other more. We got to find time to be in the gym. We got to condition more. We just got to step on the gas.
It’s good we found it out now. That’s why you play this kind of schedule early. You find out exactly where your team is. You make adjustments and go from there.
Q. On coaching the team different than past teams …
COACH CALIPARI: Every team I coach is different. There’s different things. This team right now, this is what we need.
Now, they play a full game, like both halves, yeah, maybe we won’t condition. I don’t think they can. I don’t. I think they can come out, play a half or start the game. We got a couple guys literally that can play three minutes at a time right now.
Q. You said you like the way your team played in the first half. What did you like about them?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I like what they did defensively. I liked their effort. I liked how they talked to one another. Second half, we didn’t talk. No talking. We were back into what we were the last two games.
Again, I told them I’m holding them accountable. I’m doing it in practice right now. If they break down, we run. Just trying to hold them accountable.
Q. What did you see in their eyes when you told them this was coming?
COACH CALIPARI: I didn’t see anything. I just looked and said that’s what we’re doing. Strap ’em on, boys.
Q. Samford’s coach was trying to motivate his team by saying this was the worst Kentucky team he’s ever seen. Do you have a comment on that?
COACH CALIPARI: Ooh. I haven’t seen all the Kentucky teams, but I can’t imagine there weren’t a few that were worse than us.
Q. Question regarding if he has a magic wand …
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t have one. I know that.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F
On his thoughts about the new conditioning program Coach Calipari has implemented …
“He’s the coach. If he doesn’t think we are in shape I guess we aren’t in shape.”
On how to approach the new conditioning program …
“It’s all mental. He is trying to get us more mental toughness. There is no way we can’t be in shape. Going through the offseason and even how practices are now, there is no way we are not in shape. It’s all mental.”
On if he is dreading or worried about the new program …
“If you dread them, then they are going to be worse. You have to approach it like it’s going to help you. A lot of guys don’t do that. You approach it like it’s going to make us better and three weeks it’s going to be crazy how good we are. If you approach it in a good way then it is going to be a good outcome.”
#22, Alex Poythress, F
On the difference between first half and second half…
“I think we got a little complacent, you know. We have to keep on pushing when we have a big lead.”
On the extra work this team puts in outside of practice…
“We are trying to put in work before practice and some times late at night. Just trying to get in the gym and work on our skills, get better as a player.”
On the improvements of this team…
“I see us getting better each and every day. If we continue to get better every day we will be fine at the end of the road.”
#33, Kyle Wiltjer, F
On the impending 7 a.m. practices….
“We’re excited about it. We’re ready to get in better shape. We just want to do what (Coach) Cal wants us to do.”
On working hard to get out of a shooting slump …
“I just want to try and keep working every day and try and get myself out of this slump. I just have to keep getting in extra practice.”
On the team’s performance in the second half…
“We just lacked energy. We let down on defense so we just have to work on not giving up on any play no matter what the score is.”
Samford Head Coach Ben Seltzer
Opening Statement …
“I never envisioned my team coming out and playing like they did in the first half. I thought we were spooked from the very beginning. Once you get down by 30 you get settled in. We played a lot better in the second half.”
On his comment about this Kentucky team…
“I said they are not that good. I said a lot about this team, but it was all for motivation. I said they are human just like you. There is no need to go out there and be afraid. There are 24,000 people in the stands and not one of them can play defense so relax. So yes, it was all for motivation. Their still not as good as some of their other teams.”
On what he did differently in the second half…
“It was them. We tried to run the same things. Instead of throwing it to the guys in the white jerseys, throw it to the guys in the blue jerseys. We only turned the ball over three times in the second half. You take care of the basketball and you rebound, and get back on defense, you have a chance to win. Those have been our keys this season.”
On Coach Cal’s comment about Kentucky being out of shape…
“They didn’t seem tired to me. I heard some of his comments while I was standing back there. In terms of my team, I can’t wait for this time after finals. We need to get in better shape as well. I heard him talk about Camp Cal, well Coach Seltzer is going to have a training camp of his own during that time. I can’t wait for that time. That’s when we are going to get better. We played a lot of games over the past few days so it’s hard to get your conditioning and development in. So we will have a chance to do that in the next couple of weeks once school is out.”
On comparisons between this Kentucky team and previous teams under Coach Cal …
“There is no John Wall, there is no Eric Bledsoe, there is no DeMarcus Cousins. Those guys were high, high level, not to say these guys aren’t very good. I don’t want you to take this out of context, I was talking to my team. I know we are here in ‘Wildcat Nation’ and everybody loves Kentucky, I understand that, I was just motivating my team. This wasn’t a sense of ‘this team can’t play’ or ‘this is the worst Kentucky team ever’ this had nothing to do with Kentucky to be quite honest with you. I was just trying to motivate my team. I guess being a new coach I have to be careful with all these ears around, especially when you play here at Kentucky. They are a good team. They are a very good basketball team. Quote me on that.”
On if it is frustrating his team plays better in the second half…
“How difficult is it to play hard when you are down 30? There is not a whole lot of pressure in that so shots seem to go in and we start to take care of the basketball. There is no pressure in that; we were just trying to stay within 50. Our guys played a lot better simply because there is not a lot of pressure in the second half. I would love for our guys to come in the first half and play that way, but Kentucky has something to do with that.”
#23, Jaylen Beckham, G
On playing in Rupp Arena…
“It wasn’t too pretty, we lost and there is nothing positive about it. We just got to come together as a team and play much harder (in our next game).”
On being a Kentucky fan growing up in Lexington …
“Alway’s. I still will be for the rest of my life.”
On what Samford can build on from the game …
“We need to stick together through tough times and realize that we need to stay together as a team.”
#11, Raijon Kelly, G
On playing in Rupp Arena…
“It was a pretty nice experience. It’s a nice gym with a lot of tradition.”
On playing against Kentucky…
“It was a challenge. They are probably one of the most athletic teams that we will face all year, so it was definitely challenging, especially around the rim.”
On Samford’s play…
“As a team I felt like we didn’t play that well. We came out and started real uptight. In the second half we loosened up and relaxed. We were able to be more consistent, but we started out pretty uptight. It was a bad start.”
On what they will take from this game…
“We can be smarter against more athletic teams that we may face. Just on how to play them and take away things we would from any other game. Just learn from it and try to make our season that much better.”