Men's Basketball

Bruiser Flint Introductory Video Conference

Bruiser Flint, who was officially named an assistant coach for the Kentucky men’s basketball team last week, was introduced to the media and Big Blue Nation on Wednesday via virtual press conference. Below is a full transcript from Flint and head coach John Calipari.

Bruiser Flint

On what he knows about the personnel he’s coming in to coach …
“I know a few guys that I tried to recruit. Lance Ware, Isaiah Jackson, Keion (Brooks Jr.), Terrence Clarke. So I’ve watched them a little bit. I’ve watched BJ Boston a little bit and a couple of guys in AAU but not closely. But those guys I tried to recruit a little bit so I’ve watched them pretty closely. They’re long and athletic, good skill level, so I know a little bit about them.”
 
On how John Calipari has evolved …
“A lot of the things are the same. That’s why he’s had so much success. One thing about Cal is he’s always open to changing and doing things differently, although he does things the same if you can understand that. He stays with his principles, but I think he’s not afraid to experiment with some of his basketball. But I think his principles stay the same. Honestly, he’s a lot less crazy than he was back in those days at UMass. I know you all think he’s crazy at Kentucky now, but it’s not even close to his UMass days. So, I think he’s calmed down some to be honest with you. I think the biggest thing about Cal is he’s always is he’s always stuck with his disciplines and how he wants to run things, but I think he’s always been open to how his teams play and how he wants to approach the basketball with the personnel that he has.”
 
On the pressure he feels from the fan base …
“I think all assistant coaches, especially with social media, have pressure because they can talk about you. If they don’t think you’re getting any players for the coach and things like that, that comes out now. That wasn’t the case years and years ago when I got into coaching. There’s always pressure and one of the biggest pressures is to bring in players. The better your players are the better your coach is. I know that myself. I was a head coach for 20 years, so I get that part of it. And not only that too, like I said, you’re at UK. People talk about you. They put you on social media and ask, ‘What is he doing?’ Those are the types of thing that go on down there. Probably didn’t go on when I first got into coaching, but that’s part of the game now and you’ve got to deal with it.”
 
On how much of a decision he had to make to leave Indiana to come to Kentucky …
“I don’t know if you knew about the relationship, so to be honest with you when I called Arch(ie) (Miller) and told him. He just laughed because actually they went through Cal to get me to sort of come and work for Archie. So, everybody knows the relationship. Honestly, I just wanted to make sure that our relationship could stay the same before I came to work for him. I want us to have a good relationship. We’re best of friends and I appreciate that relationship. I didn’t want that to be messed up because I come work for him. We discussed that a little bit. So that made me a lot more comfortable. I didn’t have to leave Indiana. It’s a good job. But I wanted to keep the relationship that we had, but we talk all of the time anyway. So, it was one of those things that we’re on the phone with each other almost every day even though I worked at Indiana. That was the big thing. Arch knew the deal. He knew that my relationship with the Millers is through Cal. There was nothing to be said actually.”
 
On what impact he wants to make in recruiting and if there is a position he wants to focus on coaching … “Just trying to find the best talent out there and the people that will fit into the program, people who can play for Cal, people who can take the pressure of being at Kentucky. So I think that’s the most important thing right there. In terms of position, every year I was a head coach Mmy point guard was All-League so I think I’ve done a pretty good job with guards and I’ve had pretty good job with big guys. In terms of teaching it doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t matter to position. It’s is all about just helping the guys get better and feel confident and that they’re going to be better and feel more confident in game-type situations. It’s all about the teaching and having guys get into good habits and things like that. I know one of my chief jobs and same thing at Indiana was to help the coach get good players that fit into your system and fit into your program. So, that’s the bottom line with it. If you can do that and you’ll be an asset.”
 
On trying to get the UK-Indiana series going again …
“You sound like these guys I walk by when I come back to Indiana every morning and they get on me about, ‘You’re going to get this series back together again.’ [Laughs.] So, what am I supposed to say that? I mean, I think that’s a that’s above me at this point in time, but we’ve talked about it. Believe me, I talked about a lot with DeWayne (Peevy) when he was there and Scott Dolson, who’s now the (deputy) AD at the Indiana. But I mean, like I said, I would hope so, but that that’s not something that I think is part of my job description. I’ll put it to you that way.”
 
On if he could ever imagine working with Coach Cal again …
“No, that’s 30 years ago, so that’s a long time. There’s a long time to be apart so no, I never thought I’d worked with him again. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d be an assistant coach again but things change and I’ve been fortunate to be able to not only just to come to Kentucky but go from to go to Indiana and then to Kentucky, two big-time programs and two of the better basketball programs in the country. And honestly, it’s been a blessing because of family. Not just Cal but Tony (Barbee), Robes (John Robic). Even Joel Just, you know, his teams played against my teams at Drexel when he was at UNCW. So it’s family. Everybody says, ‘Well, how’s the transition going to be?’ It’s going to be easy because, you know, going back to be with guys I have been with for a long time.”
 
On his feelings on the grad transfer rule having come from a smaller program to one that has now had several …
“I still don’t like it but you got to do your job. I mean, I get it. But, you know, I don’t like it, But, you know,  in the end, if the kid wants to leave and go where he wants to go and he’s good enough, you gotta recruit him. So, you know, I think it’s become part of the job now. Now you gotta know who the grad transfers are and where they want to go. And I think my kid (Damion Lee) was one of the first ones, impact players. Now I think everybody knows that’s part of it now, so I think they accepted a little bit more. And you’re a little bit more prepared. Everybody asked me about the situation. They said, ‘What happened?’ I wasn’t prepared for it because it wasn’t a big deal at that point in time. And when a kid walks in the office and say, Hey, I’m leaving,’ to be eligible to play somewhere else, at that point in time when it happened, I don’t think a lot of coaches were prepared. I think a lot of coaches are little bit more prepared for this situation if it was to come up now and they prepare themselves for it in terms of their own recruiting, where back then you really weren’t ready for that.”
 
On the transition from head coach to assistant coach and how he’ll embrace that at Kentucky …
“After Drexel I sat out for a year and I actually thought that that was a big part of it. I thought I got myself together to be able to go possibly interview for a couple of head coaching jobs, but I didn’t get them. But I think I prepared myself to be a be an assistant coach. I thought one of the things that Arch would do is he would bounce some things off me that he may not have done with the other guys on the staff because of the experience. And hopefully the same thing (here), but Tony has been a head coach, Robes has been a head coach. I think it gives you a different perspective. I think sometimes you’re a little bit more patient because you understand what goes on. But you’ve gotta go and do your job and whatever Cal needs me to do, I’ll be able to do it. But I think a year sitting out, I think the transition would have been hard for me if I would have went right from being a head coach to an assistant, but I think that year sitting out gave me a little bit of time to sort of reflect and prepare myself to look at the changes might be able to that may be coming towards me.”
 
On what Cal’s sales pitch was to him to get him to Kentucky and if he really thinks Cal will be open-minded to his suggestions when he’s on the bench …
“[Laughs.] I’ll be honest with you, I tell people this all the time: Sometimes when you’re a head coach, you don’t want to hear from the assistants. So, I’ve experienced that. ‘OK, be quiet, let me coach my team.’ So I get that, you know what I mean? And you should get that if you were a former head coach because you’ve been through that. So, I don’t think it was a sales pitch. You know, I know Kentucky basketball. I’ve been around it and now, like I said, it’s just going back to family. This thing happened pretty quickly. And like I said, we’ve been talking about it anyway, but I don’t know if he really taught Kenny (Payne) was going to go. So then he said, ‘Yo, if this goes up, I really want you to think about this’ So I was like, ‘OK.’ But it wasn’t a lot to it, wasn’t a lot to think about. But I get the whole thing with the head coaches I have done it my whole career. ‘Just let me let me do this. This is my team, so let me do it. I’ll start listening to y’all when I want to.’ At times you do that as a coach and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
 
On playing Kentucky when he was the head coach at Kentucky and how tough it was to play his mentor …
“It wasn’t tough to play and because they gave us a lot of money but I will say this: They beat us by like 50 and I must have got 30 phone calls. ‘I thought it was your boy. He’s not supposed to beat you like that on national television.’ But I knew we were in trouble because that was for the 2000th win (in school history) if I’m not mistaken. So it was for the 2,000th win. So I’m in the hotel getting dressed. It’s like 5 o’clock, I think the game is at 7, and like the building was three-quarters full. I was like, ‘Oh brother, this is going to be one of those nights. This is not going to be one those regular guarantee games.’ And they had a kid on his team — I can’t remember his name — he was shooting like 8% from the 3-point line and he made his first three 3s to start the game. I knew we were in trouble at that point. But, you know, that’s what happens sometimes. That’s what happens.”
 
On what his first recollection of Kentucky was growing up …
“Probably my first time watching Kentucky was, Gene Banks was from my neighborhood, he played at Duke and he’s from my neighborhood, and watching Kentucky play Duke in the (1978) national championship game. I think that’s probably one of my first real recollections of really watching them. I know Sam Bowie, Pennsylvania guy. So, you know, you watch those guys. But you know they always have those great teams, great tradition. But I would probably say that team there was probably the first team that I really watched and started paying a little bit more attention and then Bowie came through and Clarence Tillman, who was actually another Philadelphia player that played there at Kentucky I think for a year or two. So, you know, you follow him a little bit. So probably late 70s, mid to late 70s, that’s when I started really paying attention to Kentucky.”
 
On how excited he his to come to a school where winning is more expected than celebrated …
“I’ll be honest with you, they expected winning at Indiana. So, I get that. But this is the monster that you’ve built. I mean, Cal has put that in everybody’s head because of what he’s done here, so they expect you to win because he’s treated the job that way. He’s built that program to the point where everybody expects you to win. And then you have great tradition. But he’s done it. So, you know, expectations are there because he made it that way. If it wasn’t then people wouldn’t think about it the same way. But his résumé since he’s been here is incredible so the expectations are going to go with it. So, I have no problem with it. That’s part of the program and you added in there and you have to approach the job that way.”
 
On Calipari saying he’s been re-engergized and if he gets that sense from him as well …
“Yeah, I think, you know, Cal’s always re-energized, one because he always has a new team, so I think that re-energizes you a little bit. You always got new players, new kids always coming in every year. That re-energizes you. You guys know, you cover them, so you know the energy level is always there. Change is always something different. I think one of the reasons – and maybe that’s not the case; you can ask yourself — is that he’s bringing in somebody in he already knows, so I think he’s more comfortable with that you’re not bringing somebody in that you don’t already have a really, really good relationship. So hopefully that’s the thing that he talks about would be being re-energized with the new staff – that, you know, I’m a person that’s known him, that’s been a mentor of mine and that, you know, I’m just going to slide in and we’re going to try to do what he’s been doing since he’s been here.”
 
On how much Indiana, a traditional program in its own right, has prepared him for this job …
“I think in recruiting I had never really recruited. I think I have always done a pretty good job but it’s a little bit different when you move up the levels. And you get used to the fans, and the fans can be a little bit crazy at these places. So, I think that was probably was the biggest adjustment there. One, I hadn’t been an assistant for 20 years, and then, you know, the recruiting becomes a little bit different. That way, and recruiting at this level becomes a little bit different. So that was an adjustment that I had to make, and then you realize the pressure that the fans put on you to win. I think that’s one of the biggest things right there.”
 
On if he can share one of his favorite past Cal stories …
“[Laughs.] That was a long time ago, man. But, I mean, you know, you see him see him go up and down the court all the time. I mean, he was just way more energetic. He sits down a little bit (now). He never sat down at UMass. He was up the whole time or he was bending his knees and, you know, suits are a little bit more expensive than they were back then so he tries not to keep them as wrinkly. But I mean, especially in practice, I watch him in practice, he’s a lot more patient than he was. Back then, you know, you didn’t have all these rules. We practiced for like five, six hours. We would come back and we would have four or five practices a day. So, you’re not allowed to do that anymore and I watch him a little bit, you know, even before I came on, watching practice, he’s a lot more patient with the guys. So I will say that’s probably the biggest thing.”
 
On Terrence Clarke’s game …
“A big guard. A big guard who can do a little bit everything. Unbelievable versatility. Shoots it. Puts it on the floor and can almost play the point. I mean, that’s one of the reasons he was ranked as high as he was. I mean, in terms of versatility, there wasn’t many as good as him in the country. You saw it. You watched him, he could do a little bit everything. So, when I look at him. I just see his versatility and what he can do on the floor. I’m sort of old school though. I’m a guy that believes that, you know, it’s a little different level so you’ve got to prove it. But in terms of his talent, I think his talent is as good as you’re going to get.”
 
On what he liked about Keion Brooks Jr.’s game having recruited him at Indiana …
“Well, great kid. So, I mean, in recruiting him, he was one of the nicest kids you will ever be around. I thought he had an unbelievable work ethic. And Cal has talked about him because I used to always ask about him — not just to Cal but to Tony and the guys on the staff – how Keion is doing because, you know, we did recruit him pretty hard. I don’t think he’ll have a problem taking up a leadership role just because the type of kid and how hard he works. And I think he wants it. I think that’s the most important thing right there so I’m looking forward. His mom and his dad hit me up when they heard I was coming and they talked about how excited they were having enjoyed when I tried to recruit him at Indiana. And then when I saw him, I wasn’t able to really be down there with them, but he threw the ball up and hit the (glass) like to say, ‘Yo, I’m here.’ So, he’s a great kid and I’m sure he’s going to have a good year. Cal said he really worked hard and looking forward to coaching him this year.”

John Calipari

On losing DeWayne Peevy and Kenny Payne and the how he will adapt without him:
“Well, you know, as you guys know, I’ve only done this a few years, but I’ve had many staffs and what you do every time this happens is you’re trying to piece them together in a way that your team needs them to be in. Time changes. It’s different now than it was 10 years ago. So now, again, as I look at assistants, it’s all right, what is their relationship with players? Are they into that? Are they into that development? In this program, it’s the most important thing. Is their focus creating relationships with recruits? Or is their focus the next job? ‘I’m trying to get here. I’m trying.’ Well, in this job at Kentucky, our total focus has to be on what we’re all doing for these young people. With Bruiser (Flint), I worked with them so there’s no guessing who he is and what he’s about. We worked together and he is as good a guy, as good person. He’ll have unbelievable relationships with the players that we have. He’s a listener. I felt very comfortable. It was easy for me. I’ve done things in the past where I brought in assistants together, that I was having to hire two, and I brought them in together because I wanted to make sure they got along. How you’re going to have a team if your staff doesn’t get along? If one guy wants to, ‘I gotta be this guy and you gotta play my (player).’ We don’t ever. I’ve never done that. My staffs have been this is all of us doing everything. And so I think it’s going to be terrific. Now, on the other hand, I worked with DeWayne. He didn’t work for me – he worked for Mitch (Barnhart) – but we worked together and he’s become a dear friend. It’s like anybody else that leaves a community you’re in, a job that you’re in that has become a great friend and a great ear and a great voice that I trust. But, if I’m about him, you gotta wish him (well). And as he was going through this process and I was talking to some people, Ellen looked at me and she’s like, ‘You understand that he could leave. You’re helping (him leave.)’ I have to. That’s my job. That’s what I’ve been about. So, I’m happy for him. I think he’s going to do a great job. You know, when you heard the press conference, I think people said, ‘Why didn’t he get a job a few years ago?’ Again, hats off to Mitch. He’s done a great job of preparing people for their next step. In DeWayne’s life, for he Allison and the kids, this is that next step. And he’ll always be a phone call away . If I’m having an issue here I’ll call DeWayne. ‘DeWayne, tell me what you think. He’ll be doing two jobs: at DePaul and what I need him to do here.”
 
On if this change will re-energize him and what he can reveal about a new position he’s creating … 
“Well, the first one is, if you look at things—like, change is good. I mean, I’ve always been that way. It’s not like you want to lose friends. Forget about Kenny (Payne) working with us; he was my friend. But if it’s a two-way friendship, you’ve gotta cheer for them and their success, and if that means they have to leave to do that, well then you have to be about it. Look, you guys are getting to know me. I’m pretty much, I try to do the same thing every year and play the same way. What? I mean, what gets me going is trying to figure out a team every year. That’s what wakes me up in the morning. Creates some fear in my heart and some anxiety. Maybe I’m getting up because I can’t sleep, but it’s what moves me. I’m trying to come up with new ways like reworking the staff. We bring in another person that again, is he going to have great relationships with the players? Is he that kind of person? Is he a gatherer? Is he somebody that everybody will like, that will bring people together? Those kind of people, the reason they’re thought of that way is because they’re into the job they have, not the next one. They’re into that one. So you try to find those kinds of people and as you help them reach their dreams. We’re doing it together. So, reworking, possibly a recruiting coordinator, trying to get things more organized on that front. You know, figuring out on-court stuff. I’ve got some decisions to make on what I want to do. But I’ll tell you, here’s the one thing that hasn’t changed: I’m at Kentucky! I’m the head coach of Kentucky! Oh, yeah! And let me say this: Whoever the next coach here is will say the same thing. Stuff is going to change. This is going to happen. How about all those kids leave? How about you’re watching these playoffs and you’re like, ‘That kid wasn’t the best kid in the class and he was already a pro before he got there. I watched him at the beginning of the year.’ But then you watch them in that league, in that bubble. I don’t know if they have bubble trouble. I don’t know what they got, but they’re playing really well. And those are our guys. And that’s not going to change. So, you know, I’ve got some things I got to do. But here’s what I do know: I’m the head coach at Kentucky. What we do for kids and the opportunities, not everybody wants it, not everybody wants to go through this. And what I’m saying is the glare is on you. There’s no place to hide. You’re going to have other great teammates. You’re going to be coached and loved by me and have a relationship the rest of your life with me. But it’s hard here. It’s Kentucky. You can’t hide. Things that you could do at other schools, can’t do. You’re not going to be told you’re the only guy and I’m going to do everything through you. You’re not going to be told that here because there’s seven, eight other guys. But here’s what I do know: Change happens and the Kentucky program has kind of stayed where it is.”
 
On Peevy saying he wants to schedule a series with Kentucky …
“You know I’m going to help DeWayne in any way I can, and he may call me for scheduling, but I got some issues I’m dealing with that I’m going to be calling him about. We have him until Sept. 1 so I probably don’t want to hear anything about DePaul until Sept. 1, and if he talks about it–I said, ‘Enough DePaul stuff. We still got stuff we gotta do here.’ But, we’ve played in Chicago. I’ve been up in Chicago. I think DePaul’s a terrific program. The biggest thing, when I was in the Atlantic 10 and I took over a program that was in a similar position as DePaul, my question is, has anybody in the Big East been in the Final Four or the Atlantic 10? And at that time, Temple had been No. 1 in the country. So my question is, we’re in the same league, why can’t we be No. 1? Then again, I was young, I was stupid, I was dumb. I didn’t know what I was talking about. But that was my vision. And in the Big East, it’s the Big East. It still has the aura of the Big East. I grew up in the Big East. I had to fight the Big East. I was at UMass and we were like surrounded by Big East. I know it is a big beast. And so what I’m saying is, he’s looking at this, like, why not? And then everybody’s got to jump on board with that. Why not? You know, the statement he made about, ‘We want to win a championship.’ When I was at UMass, Michael Hooker, rest his soul, who was our president at the time, later became the chancellor of North Carolina, we’re at a meeting in front of media, he said, within the decade – this was the president of the university – ‘Within a decade we’re going to have a team in the Final Four.’ At that time we were top 20, top, 25 and I was sitting there like, ‘What?!’ And so my comment was–I was there with Joanie O’Brien, our women’s coach, and I said, ‘I think Joanie can do it and I wish her well.’ But through his eyes, it got us all to think different. Like, Final Four? No one in the Atlantic 10 has ever been in the Final Four. Why would we think we could do? Because he said we could. And I think that’s kind of what DeWayne did. But you’re going to see DeWayne’s a gatherer, he’s a listener, he’s a problem solver. He is a person who will negotiate. Like there are things like, ‘Cal, you can’t. No, we’re not doing that. We can’ afford. No, but how about we do this? It would this solve that issue.’ You just don’t want to hear when you’re trying to build, you can’t because we’ve never done it that way. Yeah, but that’s why we’re where we are so we got to try some different things! And that’s the kind of guy you’re going to have. A problem solver, a smile on his face, yet – and Eric (Lindsey) knows this – dude’s a tough dude now. Ooooh. Oh yeah, it’s in there. It’s just, you know. Like, we’re all rolling. I think, again, you all in Chicago are going to say, ‘Wow, this is something interesting going on here. Let’s jump on board.’ “
 
On how Peevy said Cal helped him become an idea person and what types of things that led to success in Lexington with Peevy will translate to DePaul …
“Well, there was trust. I had to trust when he told me about Twitter because I didn’t know what it was. I mean, Eric can tell you, I can get on Zoom now because this computer stays on all the time because I don’t know how to turn it on and off. And the second thing, I know what three buttons to push. Like, move the little thing, whatever that arrow is. And so when he talked to me about that and Facebook and this and how we’re going to do this, I said, ‘You gotta talk to me now.’ And he knew I’m never gonna do anything to embarrass you, but this is a way, and we went with it. And all of a sudden I’m like, ‘You know what, this guy’s pretty sharp.’ And the other stuff that we went back and forth with, I can’t–maybe sometime he and I should put in a book how many stupid things that we came up with that we never ran with that are so stupid that you on this call would say, ‘You didn’t talk about trying to—what! That’s so stupid, who would even say that?’ So, there are things, and there are other things that we tried that we kind of buried because they didn’t work. But that’s all part of having ideas and trusting each other. I knew I could trust him and he knew he could trust me. I tell them all the time, you know, I would trust him with my kids. And so, he is an idea guy. Not all of them are good, but so what, you only need two of them. The other 30 throw away. Here are the two that are going to work that are moving us in the right direction.”
 
On who takes over the role of teaching Kentucky big men now that Kenny Payne is gone …
“Well, Tony (Barbee) would and Tony’s always been that guy too. Again, I don’t want you to pigeonhole Kenny as a big-man coach. Kenny is a coach. You know, when I talk to the Knicks, you can’t–he’s not a workout guy. Yeah he can work out players but we all can do that; that’s why we coach. He is a basketball coach who creates great relationships and gets kids to do things or thought they couldn’t do it or literally didn’t want to do. Now some ran from it. They would walk in to see if he was in the gym and they put their head back and wait for practice to start. Those kids never broke through. Now they may break through after because they realized, ‘I gotta work. There’s no given to this.’ That’s who he was. But Tony will take on some of it. You know, we’ve done some things and last year that I had Tony really put defensive schemes together and then come to me and then I if I liked it, if there were things I wanted to change, if there were different ways that wanted to play something that would be fine. And then Kenny really zeroed in on the offense, getting us to make extra passes, getting our spacing right, getting guys to cut hard. And then I had each guy doing that. Wow what I’ll do with the offense this year, right now, we had Joel (Justus) and I were the only two on the floor for the last month and a half. Just he and I together. And I’m just telling you, I love it. It’s back to my UMass days where I got one assistant and I’m on the court coaching. So, all that I’m doing right now is putting in the dribble-drive slowly because I have time, and I’m really getting them to understand spacing. And then I’m getting them to watch an NBA game who are running dribble-drive, who are running it from middle pick-and-rolls to where it’s called a short roll where the big guy doesn’t roll all the way to the rim; he just short rolls and they throw that little pocket pass and the starting playmaker now becomes that big man. You’re seeing Bam (Adebayo) do it. And again, the spacing is what I’m teaching right now. So, how I’ll do the offense and will it be Bruiser? You know, he and I’ll sit down and, you know, to catch up on all this. We didn’t run dribble-drive when I was at UMass so, you know, he hasn’t gone through all the teaching of how we do this.”
 
On the progress of the team over the last month …
“Yesterday’s practice reminded me of a practice about four or five years ago where you would drive and two players would block your shot. Like, bam, bam. I laughed and we were out there and I just said ‘That’s what I’m talking about.’ That kind of team makes somebody shoot jump shots. That kind of team has your shooting percentage defensively so low that most of the game you’re out running and then you’re flowing into dribble-drive. We’ve got a long way to go. Again, it’s August. But it was funny yesterday. It was the first day we’ve done anything against each other. Everything has been separated in groups. I want to keep going through the testing. I want to make sure if we have any issues–I’m challenging the players. If they can’t live like this, they can’t be here. You gotta–we’re in the lodge, in the practice facility, cooks in the building, the weight room. Look, if you go out and do something outside, you don’t need to be here because you’re going to infect everybody, and we got this pretty well in order So, you know the guys have been great. Hard. This thing is hard. I’m more concerned with mental health than anything else because they know to wear the mask and gloves and stay away and social distance and they know they hear what parties are doing and all this. But when you’re locked in a room for 18 hours a day, my concern is, all right what do we do with these guys every other day? Something to get them off, out away to get them (out). I’ve taken them to some meals where it’s been great separation in a private room just to get them off the campus and out of their room. How do we do that? I’m dealing with that. You know, we talked about opening up our locker room. Not sure I’m ready to do that yet to where they can all congregate together because, again, you know, one guy doing something dumb can lock you down. Even if we’re going live, I’ll go five, seven minutes and then we’ll do something scripted. In other words, five on oh, three on oh where they’re spaced, and then we’ll come together again for five to seven minutes and then we’ll separate. I’m trying to be respectful because we’re learning new every day, and I just want to make sure with my guys I’m doing this in a safe way.”
 
On how he would respond to players wanting to protest or demonstrate on the court next season …
“Well, you know, Myron (Medcalf), you know me well enough, you know, first of all I had to sit back and listen. I’m white privileged. Even though I grew up the way I grew up, I was still white, which meant I had an advantage. Even though we didn’t—it was Friday to Friday (for paychecks) and I had one pair of tennis shoes, it didn’t matter. So, when this all happened, that’s why I shut down the Coffee with Cal (show). I gotta listen and really–am I missing? What else am I missing? And so we came up with the thing we were going to do on our campus only, (the) Minority Leadership Initiative, and then I had friends come and say, ‘Why don’t you do this to scale and get other coaches to do what you’re doing?’ We’ve got 75 coaches committed. We already have, I don’t know, 18 jobs posted. I’m hoping this year, we end up with double that, like 36 to 50 jobs posted, And it’s for young minorities to get involved in college administration, which may lead to whatever. Jobs in business, whatever. That being said, I sat down with my team and I said, ‘I know your opinion. You can speak. You can show how you feel, But to me, it’s always about action. What do you want to do?’ So, the first thing was, the way you move your feet, the first way is you vote. I’m not telling you how to vote. Vote for who you want. But that’s an action. Vote. We sign them all up. They’ve all registered. And now the last piece of that will be getting some mail-in ballots. But they’re all excited about. But I ended the meeting with, I want to know, opinions, talk, speaking, showing, what action can you take as a group to make a difference and maybe one person’s life? What can we do that you can do together or individually that we can make a difference with people? I told them, I’m going to want them to be involved with the six minority leaders that are going to be on our campus, that are going to be learning and growing. I want them to be involved. I don’t know how yet, but we’ve talked about that action. Move your feet. Voting. And now, we haven’t gotten to the point. Maybe they mentor at the Boys and Girls Club, they become mentors and once a week, I create a time where they can be where they’re changing one life. And so all the other stuff out there, I think again, I will listen. It’s what I do, you know. Talk to me. Tell me why. Tell me what, what can we do.”
 
On new assistant coach Bruiser Flint’s role with the program …
“We got to get together and figure out, you know, what’s the best thing for these kids with this staff that we’re piecing together. Let me say this: You’re right, he would work with big guys. Well, he’s not a big guy. Doesn’t you can’t show them and teach them. There were times Kenny was with Tyler Herro or Devin (Booker). He was in it with Devin Booker in the gym at 11 o’clock at night. I mean, it didn’t matter. We’re coaches here. We’ll get pigeonholed at times, but I want my guys to coach basketball. Let me say this: We all recruit together. We’re not having you’re going to recruit this guy, you’re going to recruit this guy. And here’s what I come back to: You have Kentucky to sell, the results of what this is, and me and the results. I mean, that’s you. You go in and that’s where it is and it’s bang, let’s go. And now, if someone else has to jump in on the recruiting, they do.”
 
On his social media post about getting his players registered to vote and the controversy surrounding it …
“Well, I didn’t (see it). I knew it would bring both, but I’m not–first of all, I don’t see it. I may ask Eric and Eric would protect me if I’m really getting bashed, but the whole point of it is to teach someone to vote. And you’re talking now 12 votes. It’s more of their action than they’re going to make some sort of big difference. We said, ‘You vote with someone who believes in what you believe. That’s how you vote. You listen to the facts and listen to what they’re saying and you vote for them.’ So, if someone was disappointed or someone thinks I’m the worst human being, if they asked me that I would say, ‘I agree, can we move on?’ And if someone came back and said, ‘Aw man, Cal, that’s the greatest thing,’ I’d say, ‘Great, let’s move on.’ But it’s me teaching my team and, you know, there are times I’ll do things that I know aren’t the most popular, but what’s right isn’t always popular and what’s popular isn’t always right. I’m just trying to do what I think is right.”
 
On his opinion of the request for the Rupp Arena name to be changed and if any of his players or recruits have mentioned to him as a concern …
“No, I haven’t heard anything on that side. But again, this for all of us is, that was a from what I understand, they were talking about a lot of different things. This is another chance for us to listen and learn. Some people agree and some people are not going to agree. I would tell you, again, for me personally knowing the family, knowing Herky (Rupp) like I did, all right, what’s out there that tells me it’s something different? And I’m all ears. I’m going to listen. But here’s what I do know: The university is doing stuff going forward. Diversity issues on our campus, they’re dealing with. Very important for us. What we’re doing in the Minority Leadership Initiative, we are taking the front position in this, the lead position. As this thing goes and grows, it’s going to be Kentucky is going to be the lead in what we’re doing and be the that the program that’s going to say, here are the best-case scenarios in this and how we do it. But again, you know, I’m all ears to all this stuff because again, you know, you have a thing in Wisconsin. What in the world? How can this again after this, all that we’ve been through again? So, am I missing something? Is everybody missing something? We just gotta keep talking about it and then you got to look at this in a bigger picture of what we’re doing. And I’m telling you what we’re trying to do here on this campus and what I’m trying to do within my basketball program, the influence that I would have within athletics — that isn’t all encompassing but I do have an influence – we’re trying to take advantage.”
 
On if he ever believed that Peevy, originally his sports information director, would ever take control of an athletics department …
“Yeah, because when you’re around him, you looked at a person that was Steady Eddy as far as the highs, the lows. You’re talking about a servant leader who was trying to help everyone around him. You know, I never looked at it white or black. It’s just how good is this guy. And Eric will tell you, you know, I’ve been here and I’ve done this a long time, and as deserving as anybody that I’ve been around whether it was UMass or Memphis or here. DeWayne Peevy deserved to be at the head of a program and athletic director. He deserved it. The more you’re around him. Listen, for any coach to give an assistant AD their scheduling, the No. 1 thing, because some of you complain, ‘Ugh, the scheduling, they play nobody.’ Normally that’s the head coach scheduling and he ain’t playing anybody. Well, we’re at Kentucky and it kind of got to where I felt more comfortable with him and I working together than anybody else. Like DeWayne, you take this on. Everything goes through you and then you come to me and let’s talk about. We’ll see what’s the best for these kids. We can’t overdo it. We can’t underdo it because everybody would kill us. But we can’t overdo it because we always have young teams. How do we challenge them but not bury them? And then having to deal with the RPI and all the other stuff, he was tremendous. But it showed me, you know, at the time and the trust I had and the trust he had in what I was doing that we could work together and build something, and that tells me – and Eric will laugh – if you can work with me, you can work with anybody. I’m kidding, folks, and you better laugh at that. But he’s going to do a great job.”
 
On if he’s getting concerned about the eligibility of Olivier Sarr and if he’s doing anything outside the box to ensure there’s a college basketball season …
“I feel good about Olivier’s (Sarr) situation. It’s just going through channels. So, you know, we should hear. Let me put it (this way): We’ll here when we hear. But I feel comfortable with it. The other one is, yes I’m on all kinds of things. I’m on an ad hoc. I’m on the NABC board. When we start, how we start, how do we do this safely. You know, if you want my opinion on league only, if you ask my players they’d say, ‘Coach, we don’t want to just play in the league. We want to play some other people.’ How do you do that safely? I have a big concern. My big concern because I’ve coached there is that schools that need the guarantee money. So now all of a sudden, you know, there are teams that–my son goes to the University of Detroit. They play seven or eight buy games, which means those games they’re paid to play those games that help their program. If you take a half a million dollars or more away from Detroit, I can tell you, 80-90 schools, you take that money away from those programs, they’re gonna be on their back. So how do we include them in this and not forget? Like, OK, ‘We’re only worried about the power five.’ I coached at these other places. I know what they’re doing. And we’ve talked about it. Do we guarantee contracts going forward? Do we do something in a bubble and try to give them a percent? We don’t have those solutions yet. But again, the league, our league, you know, I trust our league that they’ll come up with stuff. How many games we’re going to play, don’t know yet. Do we play on long weekends coming together someplace? Do we, you know, do you play on different on-campus sites where if there are two on-campus sites, one’s at Kentucky, one’s at let’s say Tennessee, we go to Tennessee, Tennessee comes to our court so there’s no home-court advantage. There’s not any way. You’re seeing it in the NBA right now. You understand there’s no home-court advantage there. They’re all in this bubble. There’s no fans. There was somebody that was up 20, Houston or somebody or the Clips. They were up 23. If that was in a home, they were not going to lose that game. That game can be lost now. Well, that’s going to be the case with playing multiple teams together, which the NBA and the WNBA have given us a path that we can do it safely. Not going to be exactly the same. It’s not going to be for two or three months. But how do we do this and make sure everybody’s safe and include all the programs? Like, if 70 programs say we’re out of business, no more basketball, do you know how many scholarships that is for young people in our country like my son to be able to go to a lower school? What does it do to some of the leagues? What does it do to HBCUs? Tell me how this is going to play and how we’re trying to do it. That’s why I said there’s a lot of people involved trying to do right, keep people safe, yet all of us–but I just saw school today cut five sports. I want you all to hear this: We have to have this tournament if we can do it safely because none of us want any cuts on our campus for sports. We don’t want to see any sport at the University of Kentucky, ‘We’re not having the sport anymore because we can’t do this and we can’t do that.’ So, playing that tournament, doing anything we can to save all the programs. It isn’t about Kentucky basketball. Listen to me, after this year is over, there’s going to be Kentucky basketball. Just is. But if we don’t do this right, there may not be this sport, that sport, this sport. Not fair to those students. If you want to read a sad story, read the one of the, I think it was Iowa, that had to cut programs today. It’s the last (thing we want to do). No one wants to do it, so we gotta try to figure out a way and do it safely even if it’s a smaller or however we decide.”
 

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