A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Pre-Arkansas quotes from John Calipari


The drill, as always: Questions are paraphrased and in italics.

**

JOHN CALIPARI

On how much Arkansas’ playing style is like Nolan Richardson’s ’40 Minutes of Hell’:

They’re playing that way. They’re playing that way offensively. Motion into driving and attacking, and a few pick-and-rolls. Get it up quick, get a shot off quick, go rebound it. Defensively: deny and switching, being active trapping—they’re doing a good job of that. They shoot the ball well. They shoot it from the three, they shoot the twos well, and they shoot free throws at 70 percent. So it’s not a game you can go down there and throw a bunch of clunkers up, because you’re going to have a problem. And I think that what Florida did is, they made some shots, but they also got a lot of drop-offs. They got a lot off the penetration and kick-outs.

 

On how much of a test it’ll be for Andrew Harrison:

It’s a test for our team, not just him. I’m trying to get these guys being excited about winning and being excited about us getting better. Yesterday, I kind of hit them in the mouth. I think they were all, like, stunned. You get a team down and you have a chance to put them away, you do. ‘And here’s why you didn’t.’ And we watched tape and talked about it. I said, You’ve got to get off this, ‘Well, we won,’ and get on this, ‘Let’s play at our best.’ Now, what does that mean in the score? It may be a four-point win, it may be a 25-point win. But let’s play at our best, and let’s go out with that mentality. It’s just hard for me after games where, and I haven’t had this many times—teams, ‘Ah, they’re OK. We’re just as good.’ That usually does not happen. And so part of that’s back on us. Do you understand what’s out there? I don’t want to say lack of respect, but it’s not like glowing remarks.

 

On what he meant when he said he hit them in the mouth:

I just told them the truth. I just sat—‘Do you want me to BS you, or do you want me to tell you the truth?’ And it was kind of like—slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap. It wasn’t just one guy. It was, like, everybody. And we were going to practice an hour because we traveled back, but practice went an hour and a half because of them. I told them part of our issue is the focus we have at times on that court. We just lose the—you have to have a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose on each possession, and we don’t always do it. Guys will stop, and they’re pointing to go guard their man who came off a screen, or stop playing and a guy back-cuts. We told them: Vandy’s going to try to trick you into baskets, and they did. They probably got 20 points on trick. Just—get beat because they’re better than you, they executed. Not trick you into a layup or slip into a dunk. Those kind of things, which we had gone over. Obviously we didn’t have a whole lot of time, but you have to be focused. We’re not quite ready for that.

 

On Derek Willis:

He didn’t shoot the ball well, but I liked his post feed. I like his size on the court. He hadn’t been shooting the ball well in practice, probably because he hadn’t been playing and he didn’t think it was important. Well, now he found out it was important. But I told him, I said, ‘You and Jarrod, it’s important that you guys are ready.’ I had told him for a week, ‘I’m going to try to put you in games if they’re smothering Julius and he’s kicking it out. If guys are missing, I’m putting you in. Get in there and make shots.’ His teammates are even telling him when they throw it to him, ‘Shoot it. We know you can shoot. Shoot it.’

 

On Derek Willis coming in after hours to work on his shot:

I heard Dom was in here. You know, we’re getting to where they understand. Look, I told the story—I had Tyreke Evans, and Tyreke really struggled early, now. I’m just telling you. We’re like, ‘One year? We’re gonna have this kid for four years.’ I mean, it was ugly. And it started getting better and it started getting better. We put the ball in his hand, but he knew, ‘Man, I got a long way to go.’ He slept in the practice facility. We had a lounge that, he had a lounge chair that he put a pillow and a blanket, and two to three times a week, he slept in the practice facility. Now, granted, the housing was seven blocks away. This housing is 12 steps. He still didn’t want to walk seven blocks. He said, ‘I’ll sleep here. I got to get up at 8 anyway.’ So guys have to be that committed and driven, and when you are, you don’t let go of the rope. Someone comes in to take it, you worked too hard. ‘I invested too much. You’re not taking this from me. You ain’t takin’ this from me. I don’t care how hard you play, how much you foul. It doesn’t matter. You’re not taking it.’ If you’re invested. If you’re not invested, only doing what you’re being told to do, you basically say, ‘No, no. Don’t go crazy. Just take it. You’re losing your mind. Here, take it.’ And so guys got to be more invested in this, and they’re beginning to be.

 

On if that will be harder to do with classes starting:

Brandon did it. Brandon did it. You know, how much do you have to play video games? Really? Got to get those two hours of video in, or how are you going to live. You got to be on your phone three hours reading everything, I mean, that’s tough. I mean, I cannot give up my video games. So I mean, there are things you got to look at and say, ‘What am I gonna give up to make sure?’ All I know is, Brandon was a straight-A student, and when I walked in this building at 12 o’clock at night or 11 o’clock at night from recruiting, he was in there. And he’s up there scoring 30. Think about it. And he’s skinnier than anybody we have on this team. So again, it’s just the Breakfast Club (from 2012), those kind of things, but it cannot come from me. Because if you drag them, they become exhausted. If they do it themselves, they become inspired. Now you can encourage it, but that’s the best you can do. If it comes from them, they’re inspired. If it comes from me, ‘He’s killing me! Dying! Oh, my gosh!’

 

On late free-throw struggles vs. Vandy:

Nah, I made two guys shoot the ball. Really, three. I made us throw the ball to Willie, because I wanted him to get fouled. I made Alex go. I called high-five and I wanted him to shoot the free throw. Julius, we ran the play for him to come back and get fouled, to make the free throw. So some of it is, you know, a game a little closer, I probably wouldn’t have done that; I probably would’ve gone to somebody else. But with the score the way it was, I wanted those guys in those situations to know, ‘You’re going to get the ball (and) you’ve gotta have the mindset that I’m not going miss it; I’m going to make it.’ We’re still not quite there.

 

On wanting Julius Randle to get to the point of cramping in practice, but whether he can really do that every day:

Well, everything we do is just high-energy—it’s not long—but there are times he backs up. Now he’s still going hard, but it’s not like he’s playing. So just, you have to do it. I mean, he’s got to get to that point; he’s gotta push himself and try to get yourself to cramp in practice. Does that make sense to you? Make yourself cramp in practice. Now, maybe you don’t have the anxiety (of a game), but if you go that hard and you don’t cramp, you’re going to go into the game know, ‘I can do this.’

 

On Dakari Johnson’s minutes lately:

He’s done fine. He’s done fine. I just want to make sure we’re engaged with Marcus Lee, because he’s been way better in practice. Willie’s playing so well and Dakari’s doing—there’s not space for three of them right now. But this could be an energy game. This could be one of those games where he plays because of his energy. But we’ll see.

 

On if the ’40 Minutes of Hell’ style could bring out the instinctual type of play Calipari is looking for:

I don’t know. I mean, I’ve played against Arkansas a bunch, whether I was at Memphis or here, and it mostly affects who you have on your team. You have to have tough, strong-willed players. Those guys will give themselves a chance to win. If you go in there with any kid of—if you’re timid in any way, they overrun you. That’s how they play. But they’re not the only team that plays that way. They’re are a lot of teams that come after you and they’re flying and being aggressive and playing. You’ll have opportunities, and they’ll make some crazy shots. Just got to keep playing.

 

On if he’s confident players are ready for the atmosphere they will face in Arkansas:

I don’t know. I mean, it’s a—Arkansas doesn’t know this year, but the T-shirt company, I own, that they bought. I went out and bought a t-shirt company because everybody’s blue, black-outs, white-outs, yellow-outs. I said, ‘Shew.’ I’m just kidding (laughter).

 

On Arkansas actually distributing white towels:

Is it a towel? I got to look at towel companies now.

 

On if the 9 p.m. start changes anything for the team:

It’s 8 o’clock our time, so we’re not getting down there until tonight. That’s not—just coming back they’ll get back here late. They’ve got class tomorrow. It will be tough that way. Wish it was earlier so they could get back and not have an 8 o’clock issue where they’ve had three hours sleep and have to go to class.


Related Posts

Comments are closed.