Notes, quotes and video: John Calipari

Notes, quotes and video from John Calipari’s press conference today. More to come later from the players.

  • Calipari is really high on Terrence Jones heading into the season. “If there’s a better player in the country, I gotta see him,” Calipari said. “Maybe that guy is in our gym. I don’t know.”
  • So what’s changed? Last year, Calipari said, “He and Doron fought to be the last guy to walk into the gym every day. And it was 30 seconds before the bell went off. And I think they were in the hallway arguing who should go first and who should be following.” Now, Jones has a better work ethic, a better physique and an ability to dribble to his right. “So it’s totally different from a year ago,” Calipari said.
  • Calipari lauded the effort and intensity from the entire team, and highlighted two players in particular. “The competitiveness in our practices has changed. You should see the wars between Darius and Michael Gilchrist. Wow. Vicious. And after they’re done they hit each other on the butt. They like each other. They like what they’re doing for each other.”
  • Calipari has long said that the Dominican Republic would teach him something he could use at UK, and it looks like that something is the pick-and-roll. He traditionally hasn’t liked using it, “because I never wanted to bring two defenders to our best player. Especially when he could beat his man by himself.” Now, he sees the pick-and-roll as being a valuable asset in getting his offense going. “When we attack, we have the players in there that we do want to get the ball to, who we do want to create space.” Plus, Calipari said, “You have the same lesson plan for 10 years, you kind of get bored with it.”
  • Calipari said yesterday, in the 13th practice, UK had its first scrimmage. Last year, UK had its first scrimmage on the 10th day of practice. “I waited a while because we have so many new guys who just weren’t ready for us to scrimmage with officials,” Calipari said. “We probably will scrimmage from here on in.”
  • With the NBA lockout, plenty of scouts and coaches — including Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat — have been stopping by UK to watch practices. But Calipari wants something in return. “Any NBA head coaches who want to see my team play? They have to come early because I get them on the floor and pick their brains about what I’ve seen their teams do. I’m taking stuff from you and then you’re welcome in.”
  • Calipari had compliments for nearly every player on the team, from Jones to Lamb to Miller to Vargas to Teague to Wiltjer. And then he reached Anthony Davis’ place in the list and had to almost hold himself back from praising him too highly. “Kyle is playing good. But so is Darius, so is Marquis. And Anthony is … very good,” Calipari said.