Preseason roundtable with Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari


Kentucky head coach John Calipari addresses the media during the press conference before Kentucky’s open practice on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia. Kentucky will play Kansas State in the Sweet 16 game in the NCAA tournament on Thursday, March 22, 2018. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

In early September, UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari hosted a roundtable discussion with several reporters that featured a variety of topics.

Here’s everything that was said.

On if he changed anything about the schedule after the Bahamas trip compared to the 2014-2015 trip.

Calipari: Yesterday (Sept. 4) was our first day of basketball. They’ve been on the campus almost two weeks and yesterday what we did was mostly defense. So all the stuff I did on offense, there’s only a couple of things I will add in this timeframe, and it’s mainly so we can guard. I told them if we’re really going to be good, it’ll be because we’re outstanding defensively. Just a lot of defensive stuff yesterday for an hour. The four hours a week, most of it is going to be team stuff. The individual stuff, I told them that you’re responsible for you and being more consistent with your skills. It means you’re going to have to get in the gym a little bit with us but a lot of it by themselves. 

On if Jemarl Baker and E.J. Montgomery are healthy now.

Calipari: Yeah. I’ve told those guys, asked them if they knew Wally Pipp, they did not. I told them the story so E.J. said ‘I’m not going to be Wally Pipp, I’m just telling you.’ He said I’ll never act hurt, you try to tell him what— you know your body better than anybody and if you’re hurt, you shouldn’t be playing, but when you come out and you’re not playing, understand other people are moving by. It’s just how it is.

On if it was disappointing not to see Montgomery play in the Bahamas games.

Calipari: That doesn’t disappoint me. It wasn’t disappointing when you didn’t play, I mean he was hurt. I’ve seen him, he’s really good. He’s really skilled; I’ve watched him enough. He’s more skilled— he’s better than I thought he was. He just has to get in a situation where everyday he’s got to fight and then he slowly becomes what he’s going to have to become to be his best version. I told him yesterday, I said— everybody keeps asking me and I said the biggest thing about this team is the Brandon Knight culture, which was time in the gym. That’s what this group that walks in here, they love being the gym. They just love the game, they love getting better, they love competing, that’s fun for them. Not running around and can’t wait till this is over so I can go— that’s not who they are, they love being in the gym. The teams I’ve had that way, normally they’re reaching beyond what you think they should be able to do, those kind of teams.

On if he can see that mindset when he recruits players or if it’s just a surprise.

Calipari: You kind of knew— I didn’t know that Keldon [Johnson] was to that level, and I didn’t Tyler [Herro], even though his dad kept telling me ‘Believe me, he’ll be in the gym all day.’ I didn’t know that though. I knew Immanuel [Quickley] was like that and then what you have when you start having those guys and Ashton [Hagans] and all of a sudden, you start having four or five that challenges the other guys. When you’re all in there, they all know it. It isn’t like there’s a secret; it’s these are the guys spending the most time with this. Last year the guy that spent the most time in the gym and spent the most time with this was?

Reporter: Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander].

Calipari: Shai. It wasn’t close. He went from our 12th player who no one knew to a lottery pick. It’s good, like I said; yesterday Brad [Calipari] even said to me ‘Man are we farther along than last year.’ I said ‘Well we did spend 21 days practicing and in the Bahamas.’ Twenty days, anyway. 

On what kind of defender Hagans is. 

Calipari: There were some times yesterday we were doing some stuff and what I did was— I said ‘You know you’re one that don’t need to take chances, just keep mauling people.’ You take a chance because you’re trying to stop, ‘I’m done, I don’t want to keep going.’ I said you’re not that guy, you’re the guy that just keeps mucking stuff up, that stays in the guy till the guy just wants to pass and get rid of it. We got a couple; I think Immanuel will play that way. You’ve got to get that other one guy to be that way and watching P.J. [Washington] and Reid [Travis] yesterday and even Nick [Richards]. They’re all trying, I think they’re excited and I think they like each other.

On if the veterans are pushing the freshmen or if the freshmen are pushing the veterans.

Calipari: The culture is the just— the culture, players drive the culture, it’s not the other way around, it’s just how it is. The culture here has always been about putting in the work, being committed to the game, scarifying— if you don’t sacrifice, you can’t play here. If you don’t give up something, you’re not going to play here. You’re not taking 30 shots here a game; it’s just not how it is. That culture of achievement and personal achievement and all the team achievement is a culture that we’ve developed here. Being responsible, being responsible for each other. This group had— I always said Brandon Knight changed the direction and what we wanted and how we wanted it then, and he took that to another level and we ran with that for a while. Then sometimes you get away, you get a group that’s not as— either it was easy for them till this point, they were enabled, whatever you want to say, and then reality hits them: ‘Wow.’ When you say the young guys, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist kind of drove that group to approach it different. We had some veterans on that team, so this could be similar to that and that— Reid walking in, he is a veteran but he gets after it. He works, he’s in the gym a lot. It’s a good mix and they’re going to help each other. The young kids have no idea about what they’re about to face, the veterans do, but if the veterans try to get these young kids to back up literally the young kids will laugh at them. Like, you know, no, that’s not how we’re doing this. You come out every time you miss a shot; well then I’ll get in the gym more. Anything that’s thrown at these young kids, they’re like ‘No, I’m not buying it.’ It’s a good group and it’s a good veteran group. Someone said what do you like about your team; I said I got some vets. I got some older players.

On how it feels going into his 10th season.

Calipari: You know what, that is amazing. Ten seasons. I can remember asking coach [Joe B.] Hall how long of a run is this and he said about 10 years. He said about 10 and this— the lifespan of a president, an athletic director, this level of coaching, it’s usually about 10 years and then after that stuff gets harder and harder.

On how old he felt at his introductory press conference and how old he feels today.

Calipari: Well the thing that happens to you is you still see yourself a certain way till you look in the mirror, then you say ‘What in the hell happened?’ I always— everywhere I go, I joke and just say I want to go look at me, the picture of me at the press conference when I first took the job, and now look at me now, and you’ll feel bad what you done to me, all you people. That is not that long ago, I mean you’re not talking 15 years ago. This is one of those all-encompassing— I was just in an NWBC meeting and one of the coaches said ‘Cal, how much in a year do you think you travel?’ I’m like ‘I have no idea.’ I just go till I don’t go anymore. I told Eric I may go back and just try to figure out how many days was I really— did I travel with recruiting, with personal stuff, with game days, speaking, with university functions, how much did I travel. What did you say you thought it was?

Eric Lindsey [UK basketball spokesperson]: I guessed about a third. Quarter to a third that you’re gone.

Calipari: Well we’re going to find out because I have every calendar and I’m going to go through it and just add them all up. So it’s not just coaching, it’s not just sitting in a chair, its not just watching game-tape, it’s not— you’re involved in a lot of stuff here and— so if you don’t want to take that on, this is probably the wrong job. I’ve said it before; the seat carries a different weight here in this state. You can move people for good or you can move them the wrong way if that’s what you choose to do. 

On how much longer he can coach.

Calipari: I didn’t think I’d be coaching in my 60s when I was doing this, mainly because of the pace I was going. But then again it took me 20 years to get a job like this. At this point, I don’t know.

On if his time spent coaching has flown by or gone by slowly.

Calipari: It’s flown. It’s flown. The opportunity— this is one of those places where you can coach your basketball team, still be involved in the community, but the university and the department takes care of the things that when you’re at a smaller school you got to do yourself. Many things that I don’t have to touch here that literally I oversaw all that stuff when I was at the other schools. The biggest thing for me, the impact we can have on kids and their families. That’ll keep me going and if I ever get to a point where I’m not feeling that I’m having that kind of impact, that the program is not having that kind of impact, then that’s when you start thinking. I’m not going to do this for numbers; I’m not doing it to win more this than the other guy, that’s not how I operate. Right now, this still is— it’s been pretty good for everybody. My comments running into the FedEx guy when I came in, he was standing out front, he said ‘Cal, [mumbling],’ he said, ‘it’s one of the great thing you’ve ever said.’ ‘What’s that?’ ‘No crying on the yacht.’ I said where did you hear me say it? He said it must’ve been written somewhere, but that’s here. You going to complain coaching at Kentucky? There’s no crying on the yacht. We got guys trying to coach till they’re 80; I don’t know how I’ll feel trying to coach in my 80s.

On how Adolph Rupp’s 42 years of coaching weigh on his mind.

Calipari: Well, I would say Kentucky during that time was, when he started, it ended up being like three or four different jobs. So when he first got here, it was this kind of job and then he started growing it and it was this kind of job. Then they built that arena and it became another job. By the end, those last eight to 10 years, it was a different job. Recruiting changed, things changed, and that’s what’s amazing, that he was able to do that for 42, but the biggest thing he’s the one that created what this program meant to this state. He did it, and it’s amazing that it has not quavered. How many years ago did he coach?

Reporter: I think it was ’72 when he last coached.

Calipari: So we’re talking what?

Reporter: 40 years.

Calipari: That’s the end, and during that time, there was not when he started, there was nothing here. It’s just, I don’t know, this day and age with the social media and all the other stuff, it’s just hard to start now, start in the last year or two and say ‘Okay, I’m going to stay at a place 50 years.’ Too many things can happen, there’s too much stuff. There’s stuff that would be pushed rug that just doesn’t get pushed under the rug, it’s stuff that was not that was not that big of a deal that would be within your little region is now national. It’s on the ticker. It’s stuff that no one had to deal with, you had one or two people that you dealt with media-wise, now you’re totally different environment for coaches. 

On what kind of things he tends to now while his staff tends to the other things.

Calipari: As you get older, it puts less it’s more about the process, as you get older. It’s more about how is this affecting the people around you for me. The longer I do this, the less it’s about what I’ve accomplished. Somebody will say ‘Well, have you ever?’ no, I haven’t. At some point I’ll look back and say wow, we had a pretty good run. I don’t right now; I just keep pushing and seeing where we can go with this. You learn that when you make it about everybody else, life becomes easier. When you’re finished trying to just grab and push and pull and you’re pulling out and pushing out, it’s easier to do that then drag into you. I think that’s you wish you were that way when you were 30, but you’re trying to survive. I was. I had nowhere to fall. Your approach to it was a lot different. But being here, seeing the other side of it, which is you have what you need and your focus becomes what you’re doing within the program or you have more time to be involved in charity work. I’m doing more of that, 10 times what I’ve ever done when I was younger. I would say my wife and I always try to give back and be charitable, but not to the level what we do here, which means I’m probably spending twice the time doing that then I have ever spent in my entire life. 

On whether the charitable work make it easier to keep coaching.

Calipari: Yeah, it does. This platform will go away at some point; no one is going to worry about what I’m saying or what he thinks. I laugh at times, I say I wonder if someone will say, ‘Hey Cal, let’s go get a coffee and talk basketball when I’m done.’ You laugh about it because I try to take care of veteran coaches any chance I can because of that, but everybody says no way. You’re here and it’s a position that like I said, took me 20 years to get a job like this, so not as anxious to leave and probably going to stay much longer than I thought I’d ever stay in coaching. I had a call last night, one of the guys in the fantasy camp sent me a picture of him and what’s so memorable is listening to your comment as I made this play, and then you play the video and you can hear me on the side saying something to him, and you think about they’re getting from that an unbelievable memory. So you’re taking care of all these people that are involved, but the other side of it is all that money is going to causes and people that really need it and so it’s like wow, this is a win-win. Literally, I’ve thought why am I doing this fantasy camp? It’s just one more thing on my schedule, it’s stupid. This is ridiculous, I don’t need it and then at the end, I’m like we got to keep doing it. Everyone is benefitting by it. Could I have done that at the others [schools]? No. Could we have done a telethon? Yeah, and raised about 100 bucks. That’s what’s been unique, the people here. One, this is a generous state and it’s not a rich state. Some may say it’s a poor state, but it’s a generous state. It’s a provincial kind of place. In other words, they’re from where they’re from and they’re proud of it and if you ask somebody, they’ll tell you the county they’re from, and then the other thing they’re protective of is their basketball program, and that’s beneficial to me as their basketball coach. You come after me, this army comes after you, so if you’re going to say something, you better be right, because if you’re not, that’s part of being here. I don’t have to defend myself. Someone says something, there’s an army that’s watching it, and it’s not personal. Sometimes people take this personal, and it isn’t. Whoever is in this seat will get the same treatment that I’m getting. This program and this seat belongs to this state, and until you get here you don’t realize to the level that it has an impact on people and their lives.

On if it would be hard to let go of his position if there is another kid and family he knew he could impact.

Calipari: If I could, I may not physically be able to. Literally, I’m not, and not to I don’t want to say brag but I don’t need to I don’t have to do this anymore. I can stop coaching and I’ll be fine and my family. The problem is my wife’s family lives till they’re like 105, she may have a problem, I’m good. Kind of looked at the stuff and I’ll say we may run out, but you’re going to have a problem, I’m going to be fine, so I don’t have to do this because of that. I literally don’t have to do this to win more games than so-and-so or win more championships than so-and-so or legacy stuff, I’m not worried about that. That stuff comes when you’re dead and gone and done, and it won’t be evaluated by most of you, it’ll be evaluated by others, and I feel good about what I’ve done and however the history states it, it’ll state it. I’m not going to have whole lot of control over that. So, again, the impact you have on all these things kind of makes it wake you up in the morning, keep you going. Yesterday, we practiced; I was so jacked to be practicing. I only went for an hour, did all defense, but I think they could tell I was excited to be back, and I’m excited abut the team because the culture that they’re creating is going to be one of personal and team achievement. I mean, think about coming here, where you’re going to have to share, you’re not promised you’re going to start, you’re not promised that you’re going to have the ball in your hand, that every play is not going to be you, that you got to carve your way out, carve your little piece of the world out, but you’re going to be taught in a way that’s going to prepare you for the future. But you’ve got to accept that, and as a parent, you got to want sometimes another kid’s, another person’s son to be the star, not your son. Your son was the star two games ago but he got in foul trouble or didn’t shoot it well so the other guy did it and you got to deal with all that. This is a hard proposition but it’s what I’m feeling right now in the next couple of groups is kids are looking more at results now than what they’re being told and I think things are feeling pretty good about where things are. 

On if the timing of this group is good since the last couple of years have been considered grinds. 

Calipari: This will be a grind because of the schedule; the schedule will make this a grind. The good news for me, I don’t remember because of how I think, I’m not thinking back of the misery, that three weeks of misery to get them and then the anxiety, ‘Are they going to get it?’ ‘Well every team of yours has gotten it.’ ‘This team hasn’t!’ Then they get it. Well, I only remember that they got it, and I remember that we made a run and we could been like there and we were right there again, that’s what I remember. Even last year’s team, how we finished and what we did, that’s what’s in my mind, not the misery of this because believe me, every season we go through— you remember the team that was 38-0, I think our first two league games went to overtime. I believe so, it went to overtime, like ‘Well they’re not that good,’ then all of a sudden we started getting better and there was a time where like maybe we’re not as good as everybody thinks.

On what he would say to people who believe UK should have more national titles with all the talent they’ve had.

Calipari: We could have won nine. I wish we did. Its different when you have teams for three years than when you have them for one; it’s a different animal, but we easily could have won the years we were in the finals. The ’15 team could have won; we could have four or five, and we don’t.

On if there is one of those years that still gives him bad feelings.

Calipari: It doesn’t jolt you awake but when you talk about, I wish we could have gone 40-0. I wish we could’ve done it just to be able to say you win 38 games three years and no one’s won 38, but 40 is like, you know.

Reporter: And that’s the one no one could say anything to you ever again if you had done it.

Calipari: Yeah but I don’t when we won the national title, my wife, when I grabbed her I said okay, that’s over now, we don’t have to deal with this anymore. They can say what they want, it’s done. Now the next thing, ‘Well you haven’t won enough, you should have won more. You’ve had all these kids and why aren’t you winning more?’ You’re right, I should be John Wooden, I should won nine, 10, 11, but people’s opinions, that’s fine. I accept it. Maybe someone here could’ve, maybe the next guy will, have at it.

Reporter: Every year there is a really good team that could’ve won it, but only one team gets to win it.

Calipari: Yeah, and you know what’s funny? I may say something that you’re saying I’m not right on this, but everywhere I go, everybody says ‘How do you do it there?’ I go, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Like they expect you to win it every year, these people expect that.’ I don’t feel that, I mean they want to win it every year and there is some that are the outliers that would create anything they could to make it like this hasn’t been a great run, but I don’t feel like if we don’t win a national title, it’s just I just busted. I don’t feel that way. What I say to them is they want to be in the hunt for recruits, they want to have a chance to win it every year. They’d love to win it every year, but they want to make sure we’re one of those teams every year. That’s fair I think, that being at Kentucky, that’s a fair thing to want, and my hope is that every year we’ve been, whether it be in recruiting or one of those teams that are talked about, we’re one of them. I’ve said before, sometimes the time you expect it the least is when you bounce through. No one thought we’d win in 2012. Back then, what were they saying? Do you remember?

Reporter: Can’t do it with…

Calipari: You can’t do it with freshmen. There is no way they’re winning it, and we won it, so that did that away. Now it’s we’ve got some veterans on this team, it’s hard to win with five freshmen. You don’t know at what point something may affect them, but to tell you I have any disappointment, I really don’t. I wish we would have won a couple more for all our fans and everybody there, but wasn’t going to change my life any, but it may be more kids would have gotten drafted. I wish we could’ve done it but I’m not every year I’m coaching to win a national title, that’s what I’m coaching for every year I coach here. Have we been in the hunt every year? I would say every year but one and if a kid didn’t get hurt, who knows if that would have been every year.

On what Reid Travis does for the locker room.

Calipari: This is a funny thing because he’s what he does do is coach on the floor ’cause he knows more, and some of the things that we did down in the Bahamas defensively, we did some different kind of scheming and he was the one that got it and would talk people through. So there were things that we did that I know coaches watched and said ‘How in the world are they doing that?’ Well it was because you have a veteran out there that can talk the other guys through it. He’s also one that’s kind of stepped back a little bit in his watching. He’s not just tried to take over the team, that’s not who he is, but he’ll do that by example, by how he works, how he performs. He’s done well.

On if it’s easier to have a team that’s ahead offensively instead of defensively.

Calipari: Well the only reason you like a team ahead offensively is so that you can run your stuff. If they’re ahead defensively, nothing you run offensive looks right and then you don’t even know if you’re a half decent offensive team, and sometimes you might be, others times you may not be, because a lot of this stuff is confidence. So you’re trying to build their confidence, you’re trying to build their comradely, you’re trying to build a sense of team and if your offense is ahead, your defense will catch up, but it makes it a little bit easier in my opinion. I may be wrong; other guys do it the other way. They just do all defense all summer, all preseason, let’s get better defensively.

On if he was able to learn all the different roster combinations in the Bahamas. 

Calipari: Well the only thing we didn’t do was because of E.J. [Montgomery], it made it a little bit different but here’s what it did do: It gave Nick [Richards] and P.J. [Washington] and Reid [Travis] a chance to get a rotation going with those three, and those three did well. It helped them. How we play, maybe a bigger team, I wanted to try down there, I really didn’t get a chance to try it. What we walked away from was we got a lot of guys who’s going to be the catalyst? You need a couple. Who’s going to be the guy that can change the game for three to four minutes to help you win? Who is that? Still not sure who that’ll be. You try to have one or two or three of those if you can. If you do, your team is really really good.  In other words, someone has got to be as good as anybody else in the country. That dude can just he can physically, skill wise, whatever it is, length, speed, quickness, John Wall. He can, for three minutes; he just changed the game, now we can go win the game. I don’t know who that’s going to be for this team, that will probably play out.

On if the Bahamas trip helped the team embrace the spotlight.

Calipari: Well, it showed. You could say that but they were sold out, it was on national television and the teams were professional teams. You had NBA scouts looking at one of the kids from Argentina and two of the kids from Serbia. Then Canada plays with a kid that was in the NBA for a while. They weren’t like ‘Okay, we’re coming down here to beat everybody by 100,’ they were good teams. So not only did you learn what am I supposed to do and how are we supposed to play. Lights come on and it’s sold out. It’s on national television; you’re doing interviews with national people. We learned a lot. I didn’t see anyone on our team who was afraid. As a matter of fact, some guys played better there than they did in practice. When we had Brandon Knight, that was the case. Brandon was okay in the practices, I started getting worried, and then we went to Canada and he was the one guy that just, he stood out. He just took everything to another level. 

On if there is anyone defensively that reminds him of Ashton Hagans.

Calipari: He got a little bit of the stuff that Tyler Ulis would do, which is that you go and he’s there and then you go and he’s still there, and you go and all of a sudden he took the ball from you, like where did he come from? So he’s got a little bit of Tyler. Tyler had to be really had to play angles and really had to be advanced in that what was happening next because of the size. Ashton hadn’t done that yet, Ashton just mauls you, like he knows to stay in front and to… body you and he’s not afraid to be physical.

Reporter: Is there some DeAndre [Liggins] in him?

Calipari: DeAndre was a little longer, but DeAndre could guard, again, we don’t know this yet but DeAndre could guard like positions, even four if we had to. I’m not sure, Ashton, because Ashton off the ball isn’t the same as he is on the ball, when DeAndre could keep you from catching it, he’d be just as good off the ball, but this kid [Hagans] just turned, he’s 19 and my man [Liggins] was 23 at the time, so in four years I bet you Ashton will be able to do all that. 

On if someone who harasses people on defense could be a catalyst.

Calipari: You look at Tyler [Ulis], Tyler was a catalyst on that team, and it was as much what he did defensively as what he did offensively.

On how close this year’s schedule is to burying the team.

Calipari: Well what you didn’t know when you did this, some of the stuff we’re locked into, but you didn’t know the league was going to take the top five teams and have you play them all twice. That’s what you didn’t know. So every team in our league, us and the top five, we’re playing. Now I don’t know if the other teams are playing each other twice, I don’t think so, they can’t, but I know we are. So when you take our non-conference schedule and throw that schedule in, I don’t think we’ve played a tougher schedule since I’ve been here. Again, it’s going to be thrown at these kids, and I think they know it. 

On if he’d be interested establishing a home-and-home series with Memphis. 

Calipari: Probably not a home-and-home, but he [Penny Hardaway] and I have talked. I mean I like Penny and I congratulated him, he and I have talked a couple different times, but I don’t believe look, it’s hard for us to go home-and-home with anybody. It just is, and so the ones that we have and that we’re challenged to do, we do. I think he’s going to do a fabulous job there, I really do, and the city needs him to do well there. It’s a place that kind of like Kentucky is as a state, that city is. The basketball program moves people in that city, and I think he’ll do fine. I don’t think a home-and-home would be in the cards, but playing them, maybe we can figure out something.

On how Immanuel Quickley fits in with the team.

Calipari: He’s— and again, what he does, he’s like a Brandon Knight in the building. Always here, always working in the weight room, he’s like Shai, the best in the weight room. I’m trying to get him, like he wants to be perfect, and he almost was down there [Bahamas], I want him to be a little more aggressive, take more chances. He wants to he’s used to when the ball comes out, alright let’s hold. No, that ball comes out, get in that lane, keep coming. There will be a time when it’s a dead ball where everything dies and you have to take it and get us back to where we’re doing, he’s learning that. He was terrific, I thought defensively he did well too, and he can play any position. He could be out there with three guards, shoots it well enough. I don’t think he was overlooked at all.

On if he had a read on the team’s basketball IQ.

Calipari: Pretty good. They’re all different, though. It’s funny; we’re talking about doing what the NBA has done and NFL, you remember when the NFL used to have pieces of paper they’d show their players? They’d come down and be on the sideline and the offensive coordinator would come in with a sheet of paper and show them and now they’re doing it with iPads. So now they come down and there is video that they show them. The NBA is going to that, we’re like right now talking ‘Why aren’t we going to that?’ So I have guys like Malik Monk, I can talk to. I didn’t never had to draw, he’d say ‘What do you want me to do?’ ‘You’re going to come down off they’re going to pin you down, you’re going to loop up.’ ‘Got it, you want me to loop up, alright,’ and he’d run and do it. Other guys. They have no shot if I don’t draw, none. They have no idea what I’m talking about, they can’t. Other guys, I draw it, they leave the huddle, they come back and say ‘This is what you want me to do?’ I hope they do that cause if they don’t do that; they’re not going to do what I’m asking them to do. Other guys need to see it on video, Shai needed video. He needed to see it. So my thing is why not have video? You can still use a board, you can do the video. I would say they’re a smart group and I think they have a pretty good feel for what we’re trying to do.

On how he feels on the NCAA going from the RPI to the NET. 

Calipari: We were apart of that. I was on that committee that recommended that, and I did it based on, or at least was part of the group that recommended it. My feeling was you have people gaming the RPI that are playing schedules that are gaming the system, then all of a sudden they start playing themselves and nothing moves, and now they get nine teams in and eight of them lose right away. Wait a minute. So I’ve always looked at efficiencies, because I think that talks about the strength of your team. So what they put together was a combination. I also felt it would be what would it do to Kentucky. I don’t think it does much to us, it may even hurt us a little bit, but I thought for the rest of our league, and for teams, whether it would be Atlantic 10 or [Conference] USA, where I’ve worked before, it gives them a fighting chance. In other words, outliers come in. Not changing things drastically, it’s just these outliers are not going to be there. When you start combining all this stuff, it brings it closer to where it’s fairer. I thought if you’re in certain leagues, you have a big, big advantage because of who you’re playing and who they played and their winning percentage and all of sudden you’re like ‘Wait a minute, we could beat those guys, or we did beat those guys.’ Yeah, but your RPI is 25. They used it for, you ready, for 40 years. We kept coming to the group saying ‘Guys, it’s 40 years. Don’t you think the game has changed a little bit?’ Other stuff has changed a little bit? So I was really happy that they did it, I was trying to get them to do it before. I’m still trying to get the s-curve. Do you know why? So that certain schools don’t get a good draw every time and other schools get a worse draw every time. If you go by the s-curve, one-two-three-four [draws an ‘S’ with his finger], and then it’s five-six-seven-eight, and then it’s nine-ten-eleven-twelve and now you rate all the teams and it’s totally balanced. Now, maybe within that line, because of two-league teams, you have to change it a little bit, but they don’t agree with me. 

On if college basketball needs to be fixed.

Calipari: Well, what some of the stuff we’re doing all came out of the FBI investigation and four guys getting arrested, and it’s kind of morphed into how we evaluate players. Some of the changes I don’t agree with. And those guys, who we’re talking about top 20 players, so they said we have to get rid of one-and-done. I’m good with that, but why are we doing a player stays in the draft and then a week later can come back to school? Well that’s not a top 20 player, that’s a top 150 player. Why are we worried about that? But those four guys arrested, and I thought it was top 20 players. Kids going directly to the NBA, I’m good. Kids going directly to the G-League, I’m not good. What I mean by that is: Ff we’re going to, for society, if we’re going to encourage young people to pass on education to take a stab at being professional, I am totally against it. I will be on mountaintops and top of buildings screaming it so when I’m done, 30 years from now and you’re looking at what where I stood on things, people will say ‘Well, he was against it and look what’s happened.’ My guess is they’ll say he was right because we have the highest graduation rate of basketball players, of African-American basketball players. How many of those thought that they were going to be one-and-done? 

Reporter: All of them. 

Calipari: Yeah, they all did. ‘There was no way I’ll stay in school four years.’ So now they’re left with an education. So here’s my thing. How are we going to more important than just letting them go to the NBA? How are we going to get them the information so they eight, 10 or 12 that should go, go? And the others go to college. How are we going to do that? Can we get the G-League to guarantee college education if they don’t make it? If they did that, I’d be for the G-League, go to the G-League ’cause if you don’t make it, you’re going to get your education paid for. 

Reporter: Never going to happen.

Calipari: Okay, so I’m saying stuff. Again, I said this all the time, if we make every decision based on what’s right for these kids, we won’t make mistakes. If we start talking about the good of the game and this other. I mean, it’s basically if you take care of these kids, ’cause that’s why we do this, it will be for the good of the game, and so I let everybody know, I just don’t know how we got from this is what happened and here’s what we’re talking about to over here. Why did we do that? A lot of it looks political, like it’s statements that make no sense to me, but here’s what I would say: Whatever we’re going to try, one, let’s just not be locked into it’s got to be this way. If it doesn’t work, let’s change it. We’re going to try to do stuff. And the second thing being, it’s not going to affect Kentucky. So whatever you do, don’t think, well this will break Kentucky; it isn’t going to affect us. We’re going to eat first whatever you do, so it doesn’t matter. Whatever they do, we’ll figure it out and we’ll play whatever that game is, we’ll play that game. I’m more concerned about, are we encouraging young people? I get upset when ‘Well none of those kids belong on a college campus.’ Whether you say that directly or indirectly. Why would you say that? Because then I didn’t belong on a college campus. I was just reading a book and did any of you what’s the West Virginia effigy?

Reporter: Hillbilly.

Calipari: Hillbilly. Basically, if you test well, you’re a good test taker, and you come from certain families, your advantage to do things is enormous. If you don’t test well, you got a big problem. If you not in a family that are we saying, just because they don’t test well, it doesn’t mean they won’t work harder, they don’t have better character, they don’t all the stuff that we all cherish, we’re telling them none of you belong in school. And on top of it, we’ve had straight-A students here that do belong in school, did belong in school and do belong with that opportunity. Anyway, that’s one of my pet peeves all the time; I mean I don’t want to hear that none of these kids belong in school, that’s not true. They do belong in school, they do. Everybody in this room knows if you have a college education or a higher education, it doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed, but not having it makes life really hard. You better be Steve Jobs, you better be somebody that’s like, you didn’t need to go to school. Short of that, where are we going with this and what are we doing with society and what are we doing with kids that need education the most and need the opportunities the most? What are we doing to them? ‘Well this is the good of the game.’ What? That makes sense?