Calipari gives his thoughts on early practices

UK head coach John Calipari has now run his team through six full practices — two on Saturday, two on Sunday, and one each on Monday and Tuesday. Here are his observations, via a release on his website.

1. These kids bring it – My biggest observation is I have not had to coach effort and intensity for six straight practices. When you’re talking about going Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, back to back, and having six practices along with Big Blue Madness, that’s saying something. As a coach, you don’t ever want to coach effort, enthusiasm and passion. With this team, I don’t have to. They bring it — together. There are no egos on this team.

2. They are their brother’s keeper – They’re listening and focused, and they like each other. I can really tell they enjoy playing with one another. When one of them makes a play, the others are really happy about it. Did you see how happy Anthony Davis was for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Twitter when Mike dunked on him over the weekend? That’s what I’m talking about.

3. Coach Hall’s observation – Joe B. Hall walked in today and said we’re way ahead of where we were a year ago. Now, I don’t know exactly what Coach Hall means because we weren’t very good early on a year ago, but we’re way beyond where we were. Remember, we had extra practices last year because of our trip to Canada and we’re ahead of that team.

4. The veterans are changing – Terrence Jones is not even the same player. He’s got a different body, a different skill set, different practice habits and a different attitude. Sound familiar? Josh Harrellson? And he didn’t have to tweet something bad about me to get himself ready. Darius Miller, as long as he stays aggressive, the way he’s playing right now, his leadership and his toughness are beyond where they’ve ever been. Doron Lamb is way beyond his toughness and physical play from last year. His concentration is better. He’s in practice early, which he was never early last year; he was the last one out. Eloy Vargas and Stacey Poole are way better than they were a year ago. Now, they still have a ways to go to fight for minutes, but they’re way better than they were. Jarrod Polson is better. He’s out there balling with these guys. Twany Beckham is going to be fine. He’s learning right now concentrating on how we’re playing and the speed of the practice, not only the up and down speed but how we move from thing to thing, but he’s physically ready to go.

5. They are who we thought they were – The young kids are what we thought. If you said to me, “Are you blown away?” my answer would be no. They’re all what I thought they would be. Michael is a fierce competitor, I’ve got a bulldog point guard in Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis is Spider-man, and Kyle Wiltjer is a skilled, long big guy.

6. How we’ll play – This may be a Dribble Drive team. Instead of using it 30 percent of the time, we may use it 70 percent of the time. They’re reacting quickly and they’ve got a feel for what’s going on. They’re doing pretty good with it.