Posted: Feb 8, 2013 5:58 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2013 6:08 PM
Cal made some strong comments on how he isn't coaching a lot of basketball. He is concentrating on helping this team with life lessons.
Cal's thoughts before playing Auburn
On Willie Cauley-Stein having more energy now with a healthy knee ...
"He has more in the tank. He really does. Obviously, not only does he make our team better, but he makes our practice better. So now you have competitors on that second unit that are really coming after the first unit and it is great stuff to watch and see."
On if this Auburn game will be the same as the first meeting ...
"Who knows. We are better when we think ‘Uh oh. We might get beat, we better play.' The other way is you start playing well and all of the sudden the other team will make a run and we will wilt. Wilt at guard, wilt at every position, really. But, we are getting better. Our team is improving and every game is a challenge. This game is going to be physical. They gut it out, they play hard, Tony (Barbee) has them playing in a way that they play a great zone, they are man-to-man with how they play pick and rolls, they will trap the post, they will put a 2-2-1 press back to the zone. This could be a game where he puts the zone out from the tip. It's a good zone. It's a really good zone. They have speed at guard. (Frankie) Sullivan could score 40. I shouldn't even say that, but he could."
On the first Auburn game being a good test for UK ...
"It was a good game at halftime and then we spaced it out in the second half. This again will be a challenge for us. You're seeing Texas A&M beat Missouri yesterday. In this league you are seeing Arkansas getting beat by 25 by South Carolina. 25. Then come back and be up 20 something on Florida. You see Mississippi beat this team by 25 and come back. It's just crazy. We're all the same and so I'm not worried about anybody else. I didn't see the Indiana score until this morning. Didn't see it. I saw the last couple of plays. This is about us getting better and we don't need to worry about anybody else. Let's just get us better and then worry about where that takes us."
On what worked in the first meeting with Auburn ...
"Our guard play, especially Ryan (Harrow) was physical. He was down. He wasn't standing up doing that stuff. He was down and physical, taking contact, making baskets and Kyle Wiltjer in the middle of the zone was a killer. Alex (Poythress) on the baseline of the zone was a killer and made them play man-to-man, so there were some good things from it."
On the time that Willie Cauley-Stein missed giving others a chance to improve ...
"Kyle (Wiltjer), Alex (Poythress), and it gave Jarrod Polson a chance for some quality minutes, but those aren't the issues. The issue on this team is that players are trying to establish who they are versus ‘I know what I am and I am going to give this to the team'. It's a natural thing. It's not selfishness, it's natural. We have to get by that. They are going to see tape today of two plays. The kid from Indiana losing the ball, and running down and blocking the shot. The kid from Michigan losing the ball, and then running back and stopping the basket. Our guy would lose the ball, and where would his head go? You all know it. His head would go down, jog back, and you lose. And again, that is because I am more into how I am playing more than the way the team's doing. It's natural. I am not upset, I just keep pointing that out to them. Every time -- I point it out; I point it out. We are pretty well squared away with how we need guys to play so it should be in that direction, but you don't know. You just don't know."
On whether he feels that the team has recognized the need to define themselves...
"I would say, and probably me as a coach, also. You know, you get used to, for seven years, whomping
on people. Then, you go into games and its touch and go the whole game; you've got to coach them a
little different. You've got to be a little different, knowing, don't get excited that the game is closer and you
think it should be 20 and it ain't going to be 20. It's going to be four. Now, coach the game. So, it took me
a while to get my feet under me, too. So, it's not just them, it's all of us."
On how Tony Barbee is different from Coach Calipari as a coach...
"He's about 6'6", opposing figure. He's his own man. I'm going to tell you what I do, giving away secrets
here. When we're getting ready to play a team, this is how I prepare for the game. This shows you the
respect I have for him. I watch our game with them the last time. If we played them twice, I'll watch them
twice. Then, I watch their game against Auburn and I watch what Tony did to guard them and what he did
to exploit them. Then, I got on to other games. Always. So, he's the guy that, the stuff that happened for
us at Mississippi, that was Tony. I called him the night before the game and he convinced me to switch
out on that kid every time. We were on the phone for a half hour. I said, ‘Are you sure?' He said, ‘I'm
telling you. Watch our tape again,' and I watched it again and that night, without a practice, that's what we
did. So, I have great respect for him as a coach. Obviously, as a person, as a father, as a husband and,
you know, I've known him since he was fifteen, fourteen."
On how Tony Barbee is still assisting...
"Yeah, well hopefully we're assisting each other. I'm calling him at times if he needs my help in anything
but, I just have the utmost respect for him as a coach and I know him as a person. I know how
competitive he is, too. He wants to win this game. I know, and that's fine. Let's go play the game and see
what happens. I hate playing friends. I hate playing somebody that I love. Can you imagine? If we lose,
I'm going to be sick. If we win, I'm happy and then I look at him and I'm not happy. So I don't even get to
enjoy the game. Either way, I'm going to be sick. So, that's why, get the game over with. Next. Who's
On whether he's worried about his team looking ahead to Florida...
"Is that the next game? If I don't know, they probably don't know. I don't even know if they know what
position we're in in the league. Half of my staff said, ‘I bet you they don't even know where we are,' you
know. So, these guys are oblivious. And again, a lot of it is, they're trying to establish themselves and the
only thing they know is a four-foot circle around their own body. That's what they live in. They know all of
that stuff in there but, outside of that it becomes a little dicey. But, I keep saying, it is natural. Michael
Jordan took three years before he thought about championships. He tried to establish who he was, so did
Magic [Johnson], so did [Larry] Bird, so did Kobe [Bryant]. They all did. ‘I have to establish who I am as a
player. Now, let me worry about being a champion now. Let me worry about getting that chip.' These
guys, that's what we're trying to address and break through."
On whether it's okay if the growing process takes three or four years...
"I told them, ‘Sometimes it takes long.' Well, we don't just have one. I told them, ‘This thing may not be a
year. It may be two. It may be three. It may be four. It doesn't matter.' It's going to be what it is. And so,
it's addressed, some guys will continue to fight. In other words, ‘I'm not giving in. I'm not surrendering.'
But you all, what happens is, they stand out. You see it. Everybody sees it and so, we're just going to
continue to coach and push them and try to continue to get better and try to teach life lessons. I mean,
every night we're going through different things to talk about different lessons. I'm not watching game
tape with them. None. The staff is doing that. I don't want them to see me in a basketball sense right now.
I'm just teaching life skills, that's all. How do to deal with this, how to deal with adversity. What does it
mean to love? Tell me what it means to love. We've got a lot of stuff, these kids are 18 and 19 and their
whole life has been in that four foot space, right there. This has been, like I told my staff, ‘write this stuff
down because if it works let's make sure we remember what the heck we did because this is all new for
On not watching tape with his players ...
"I've never done it before. I'm doing stuff this year, from heart monitors, we're just doing stuff, I'm doing
anything I can to try to get them to tweak, to try to get them to take that jump. But they all have to take it,
we have a couple that are not right now."
On what he does to improve the team ...
"I read books all the time, I do it all, I talk to (Bob) Rotella, I talk to Ken Blanchard, I'm reading three books
a day, I'm taking stuff from everything I'm reading. (I'm) praying in the morning. Hard. Just for strength to
keep going for these kids because they deserve to feel the joy of doing something unique. It doesn't matter where you are right now, where do you want to be? What are you willing to accept you are so you may change? We have guys that won't accept right now. ‘I really want that.' What are you willing to do?
‘I'm not willing to do anything, I just want it.' Well, you must go play the lottery because that's the only way
you're going to win something with not doing anything. What are you willing to give up? What are you willing to sacrifice? This is all life lessons that I'm trying to teach, that's all it is right now. I'm going to go in the room and I've got three lessons I'm going to give them before practice and it's not basketball. I'm doing it before every practice and if I feel it in the evening, I get in my car and I meet them in the lodge and we pull out books and we start reading. I'm just doing life skills, that's what this team needs. It was great seeing John Wall. ‘How much do you talk to Eric (Bledsoe)?' ‘Three or four times a week.' ‘How much do you talk to DeMarcus (Cousins)?' ‘Great, he and I talk all the time.' Those guys loved each other. What about last year's team? They loved each other. What about the year - they loved each other.
See if you love, and truly love, that means it's more about the other guy than you. Then you have discipline. The reason you have discipline is you're playing for him because you love him and you've got his back. It's a hard thing now, ready, four-foot circle, it's not been about that and that's where we're trying to get them. When you feel that joy, which you control, it's by being grateful, by letting people know that you appreciate what they're about and who they are. When you're making things about everybody else, you become joyful. When it's solely in that four foot circle and it doesn't go right, watch this one, (puts his head down) you ever see this? We've got a couple guys that we're trying to get them out of that four-foot circle."