Men's Basketball

JAN. 3, 2019

Head Coach John Calipari
Opening statement …
“We’re getting better. It takes time. The guys are all dialed in right now. I like where we are. More of a team, player-driven practice than a coach-driven practice. We’ve used the last two, three weeks to really spend more time being together and at the game. This is that time of the year where we try to do that every year. We’re getting better.”
On the amount of time he spends on scouting opponents vs. focusing on his team with the quick turnaround of conference play
“Well, there’s all kinds of ways of doing this. Different ways of playing, styles of play, ways of defending, different ways of defending pick-and-rolls, post-ups and isos. The other thing that happens is how much time do you spend on the other team vs. your own team is also a coaching style. I learned from Larry Brown to worry more about your team than the other. Normal situation when we’re playing Tuesday-Saturday, our team will not see video on the other team until the meal on game day. We will have been giving them in practice what they need to know. There are certain things a team can hurt you with and certain things you have to take away. We never give a scouting report as far as paper scouting report, but I get one. As a coach, I’ve watched their last five games. I want stats from their last five games. I really don’t care about November, and we go from there. Again, I’m just telling you, there’s all kinds of ways of doing this. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s the way that I learned when I started with Larry Brown.”
On what the focus has been during the break on offense …
“Well, we really had to define roles a little bit better and I had to help them with that. As we did that, people rolled into those positions and started playing better. I said from day one that this should be my best 3-point shooting team that I’ve had since I’ve coached here and it’s becoming that now. Early in the year we weren’t willing passers, which made shots tough. We were slow getting shots off and most of them were contested. We didn’t have great spacing where we posted the ball. Because one of our strengths is that we can throw the ball to the post to two or three different people and force you to do stuff. Well, our spacing was so bad that we didn’t get it. So, we’ve worked really hard on those areas to make sure that happens and then we’re trying in transition to – like I said, if we’re defending the way we are, why aren’t we getting breakouts? Why aren’t we getting baskets in transition? Again, defining roles a little bit has helped us with that. This period of time, I don’t know where it was nicknamed ‘Camp Cal,’ but back in the day – we have two or three sessions a day. Some of it’s film. Some of it’s on the court. Some of it’s scripted. Some of it’s practice. Some of it’s a movie. Some of it’s time together as a team. But, they’re not in class. We give them their one day a week off it’s been on a Sunday. And then the rest of the time it’s all basketball or we’re together. Now that will end next week when we start class, but by next week we’re going every Tuesday-Saturday, so, you know, our day off in my mind would be Wednesday and a light day on Sunday. Wednesday would be an off day, a light day on Sunday and the rest you’re playing games from that point on.”
On his impressions of the NCAA’s new NET rankings …
“I was on the group that was part of the group of coaches, along with (former SEC commissioner) Mike Slive, who was the chairman of the group, to come up with ideas to make the selections more fair. The one way of doing it, which was people gamed the system, which was who scheduled and teams that are going to have wins that you can beat. And all of a sudden we had leagues that when they played each other, you lost and you went up because teams were 11-0, 12-0, played a schedule of games against lower-level teams but teams with good records. So we all came up with, ‘There’s gotta be a better way of doing this.’ And then, through that same system, they would rank your top 50 wins. And so now you had leagues – that’s why they were getting 10 teams in based on that. So the NET now comes back with, let’s deal with efficiency and throw that in the mix. It’s not only efficiency, it’s both. It now kind of eliminates the opportunity for teams to game the system so that their league gets 10 teams in. And when they were doing it, eight of the teams lost in the first round. So I think it’s a good thing. Now let me say this: It may need tweaked. Great. Well, then tweak it. Let’s play it out and see how it plays out. I was always more concerned about efficiencies than I was the RPI because I thought it would say more about your team. How are you defensively? How are you offensively? Are you an efficient team, which means you’re going to win most of your games? But I know that you could also game that (the efficiencies) if the RPI is not involved. My one thing that they did not take was I think (the selections) should be an S-curve. An S. One, two three. After you pick the teams one through 64, 68, however you’re doing this, you then go S. One, two, three four. Five plays four, six plays (three). You know, you just go S. Keep S-ing. Now what happens if two league teams happen to play each other early? Well, just keep them on the same line but move them a little bit. But they don’t move two lines. So now at the end, you don’t have a team – every year it seems that has the best road to the Final Four and there are certain teams that have the hardest road you’ve ever seen called death row. Well, that’s only because you’re not doing the S-curve. Now I have people that disagree with me, which, you know, I’ve been wrong before. I think it was 1978, ’77, ’78. I think that’s the last leg of this. I like the fact that we announce who the top 16 teams are (before Selection Sunday). Because you can’t all of a sudden just surprise us. And, you know, I think the coaches did a good job. So I’m saying with the NET, let it play out. Let’s see how it goes, and if f it needs to be tweaked a little bit, we’ll tweak it.” s

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