Calipari excerpt from coaches clinic

John Calipari held a clinic Sunday for fans and coaches in which he led his team through two practices and answered questions from those in attendance.

The clinic was not open to the media. Here is an excerpt of what Calipari said from his website, in which he discusses what style of play this team is built for, how intense the early practices have been and how competitive the players are for time.

“… I don’t want them to play like it’s December when it’s October. I’m not coaching, as you can see, intensity, am I? I’m not coaching hard play. I’m not coaching focus except for one or two guys, and then I get mean because they’re not focusing, they’re not listening to what I’m saying.

The reality of it is I’m just coaching basketball. This is a really smart basketball team. You can see that we’ve tweaked a lot of what we’ve been doing. It’s a lot different than how we’ve been playing.

I’ve said before that I haven’t done pick-and-roll because when I had Derrick (Rose), I didn’t want to bring another defender to him. His size, they could not guard him. Why would I want him to be guarded by a big guy? John Wall, if we put him in pick-and-rolls, how would they have played that? They would have gone under. Now what do I do? Have John Wall shooting jump shots? No, I wanted him to put his head on the rim. Brandon Knight wasn’t as physical. I’ll tell you what he could do: On handoffs he was up there (pointing to top of the key), so that’s why we started doing handoffs because he could get behind there and catch and shoot it.

Now, I’m looking at this team and I’m saying, ‘This is a pick-and-roll team if I’ve ever had one,’ and so now I’m trying to learn how to pick-and-roll. I’m in here teaching you but I’ve been on the phone with my friends in the NBA the last week trying to pick up tips of how we’re doing it, watching tapes, trying to figure how we do this.

Now what I like about it is it plays right into the Dribble Drive, so if we don’t have anything, instead of this guy relocating because of the spacing of the court … now he’s screening. Everybody else is high. When he rolls, he’s back in it and now when we make a pass, we’re back into that attacking mode.

We’re also, as you see, running everybody wide. Well, I can remember Utah did it back in the 90s, the early 90s, and now I pick up the tape and I look and New York is playing it. New York runs everybody wide. We did it by chance. Anthony Davis is too good to run just to the rim. Do we take away half of what he does out on the floor just by running him to the rim? I don’t think we do, so we’re trying to say, ‘Here’s our team, here’s how we have to play.’

And I hate to tell you, every year I’m going to have a new team. How many of you here said, ‘You can’t recruit the way you do and recruit the best players and win a national title. You can’t do it because they’re all going to leave and then next year. …’ We went to the Final Four the next year. You can do it if you get good kids who are driven and understand what this thing is.

I look at this team and our veterans – how much better is Terrence Jones (whistles)? Now you say to me, ‘Why is he better?’ Did you see him running? He was first. Last year he was last. He and Eloy (Vargas) were right there. He was the last guy in this gym to walk through that door, tied with Doron (Lamb). Now he’s the first one. He finishes first, he’s added some right hand so you can’t just play him on his left, he’s shooting the ball better, he’s in physical condition, he’s mentality better – (ala) Josh Harrellson – and you see a different player.

I hear guys say, ‘I just need a chance.’ You hear what I’m saying, ‘Chance?! Go play the lottery. There’s your chance. There are no chances here.’ So I point to Darius (Miller), ‘Will you give up 10 minutes so so-and-so can get a chance?’ You know what Darius said? ‘(No). He’s not eating any of my minutes.’ So I said, ‘Terrence, would you be OK giving up 15 minutes so so-and-so can get some minutes?’ ‘No.’ You either take minutes or you don’t play. There are no chances here.

Everybody’s competing. How will guys get better? You see it in practice. They compete against each other.

Now, there are all kinds of ways of doing this, folks. With this team, could we play a zone and win? Yes. Could we press and win? Yes. I’ve just got to figure out what’s exactly the best way that these guys can play, and I don’t know yet. Whatever that is, it will take some time to figure out how to play.

But we are going to play hard, we are going to play unselfish, we’re going to be great going from offense to defense and defense to offense, and we’re going to like each other. I know that. Are we going to run pick-and-rolls, are we going to run Dribble Drive, are we going to post up, I don’t know that yet because I have to figure out my team.

As you watch us here, I’m not telling anybody that this is the only way we play basketball. But I know this, my players like playing. …”