Pre West Virginia John Calipari press conference Q&A


Kentucky head coach John Calipari argues with a referee during the first half of the game against Mississippi State on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 78-65. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Mohammad Ahmad

Opening Statement:

John Calipari: The only rules I know we have are be on who you’re supposed to be on. There are boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable, including individuals and how they play. Here are your boundaries; go and play within those boundaries. Some guys are doing things that just aren’t acceptable. 

On Quade Green discussing his different perspective on game film:

Calipari: This is new for all of them. It is hard to accept responsibility. He (Green) said, “You know what, I was wrong and I’m gonna change it.” The best way is to defend yourself, and how you play and your actions or whatever. These guys are just learning and it’s ok to be wrong. It’s ok to say ‘It’s on me!’. That’s why we looked at the tape. We got a young team that’s learning, and they are just trying to figure this out. It’s all a part of the process.

On Hamidou Diallo mentioning that players see things differently from coaches:

Calipari: It’s not his (Diallo) fault, that’s what he saw (crowd chuckles). It’s not my fault either, I don’t know what you’re talking about. He did see things a little differently; he saw it my way, but he did see it differently. 

On Green saying that Calipari is throwing 8-9 managers on guys at them:

Calipari: We don’t have that many managers. What we want to let them know is that this is going to be a physical matchup. I don’t want to hear anything about fouls. I would like to come over on the court and see something I did not see. I don’t care; you’re gonna have to be physical in this game. You’re gonna have to meet people before they meet you. You’re gonna have to be strong with the ball. These are all things you have to do in a game like this. However, this is not only against West Virginia, but it’s gonna be like this in just about every game we play. 

On Green feeling like he’s close to 100 percent better and being a critical piece to the team:

Calipari: He’s getting better, he’s getting better.

On Green and Diallo feeling like the West Virginia matchup is a “must win” game:

Calipari: If that’s what they said, I’ll talk about it. You know, this is only a big game….if we win. This is a huge game. But, more than that, it’s the next game, and it’s not even against people within our league. It’s gonna be a hard game, but it’s not a “must win” game. I would even say that Bob Huggins is saying the same thing that I’m saying. We win and it’s big for us, and if they (WVU) wins it’s a big game for them. 

On WVU’s Sagaba Konate and how much of a force he presents for WVU:

Calipari: He is a presence around the goal both offensively and defensively, and he does what we’re trying to get our bigs to do. With shots and releases, he’s figuring out where he needs to be. He knows who to meet and how to get the ball with two hands. But, again, we’re playing a veteran team that, with all the stuff we’re trying to teach, is pretty good at doing. 

On what Kentucky needs to improve upon going into the WVU game:

Calipari: The things we need to improve upon are not just for this game, but for the rest of the year too. We need to communicate with each other more on the court, especially on defense. It’s hard to do that sometimes. Second thing is that we need to keep creating those shots that give opportunities for teammates. We need to say, ‘If I catch this pass, what can I do with this to score? And if I can’t score, who can I throw it to?’ It’s also gotta be the other way, whether it’s getting in the lane for a basket or creating a shot. A lot of times when you drive the lane will be crowded, and that’s good. Now find someone to give the ball to. We just need to keep doing that.

On any advanced statistics or figures that Coach Calipari might be interested in:

Calipari: Right now, we’re looking for the guys to pass the ball around more. Last game, Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) had 16 assists. We had some guys with 5 to 6 assists, and some guys only had 1 to 2. I hope that when you look at that, you understand that ‘I’m not passing the ball’.

On the Florida game ending and whether Coach Calipari sent any video tape to NCAA officials to review:

Calipari: Look, for me, in most cases you just shake your head. My concern with refereeing is not ‘Did you make the call’, it’s ‘If you’re gonna call a carry on my team, then call the carry on that team’. If you’re gonna say that your guy initiated contact and leaned in on another player and shot that, and I’m not calling that, then when their guy creates the contact and shoots the ball, then don’t call that. If you listen to what I’m saying, it’s not that I’m arguing a call. Be consistent. If you’re calling a moving screen on my team, then I’m gonna watch you. And if the other team commits a moving screen but you don’t call it, then I’m gonna get on you for that. You just called it on my team. Consistency is all I’m looking. Sometimes it’s ok to be consistently bad, that’s fine too. Whatever you are, just be consistent.