Notes and Quotes, pre-Georgia

Conference play starts Saturday with a game at Georgia. Here’s notes and quotes (and video) of today’s media session:

Georgia’s Travis Leslie is an athlete — so said both John Calipari — “one of the best athletes we will face all year” — and Jon Hood — “he makes highlight plays.” Leslie, along with Trey Thompkins, form a potent duo for the Bulldogs.

Terrence Jones is in a slump — and acknowledged that fact on his Twitter. Calipari said he has been holding him accountable in practice.

“At the end of the day, he’s the least of my worries,” Calipari said. “I’ve had guys like him, my job is to bring it out of him and there are ways to do it. Sometimes you have to hug him and sometimes you’re saying, not acceptable.”

Calipari is working extra with Hood, Poole, Polson and Vargas — About 30 minutes before practice Calipari is personally working with these four players, trying to get one (or more) to step up and solidify UK’s rotation. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t expect less than maximum effort. He said he almost sent one off the other day because he was just going through the motions.

“That’s how you’re going to go for me?” Calipari said. “Then I’m not working you out. I could be upstairs in my office, I got stuff to do.”

Calipari needs his players to have confidence in themselves so that he has confidence to put them in the game and teammates have confidence to get him involved in the game.

The SEC doesn’t matter that much to Calipari — Calipari said he never talks about winning the league as a priority and that he hates the conference tournament and thinks it shouldn’t exist. The redeeming quality of conference play is that it improves their seed for the NCAA Tournament.

“If winning the league is going to get us the best seed possible, then yeah, let’s go win the league,” Calipari said.

UK is projected to repeat as SEC champions this year by almost every national media outlet.

“Our picture is bigger than league,” Calipari said. “That may be wrong, but that’s just how I’ve done it.”

UK can’t comment on whether Enes Kanter’s appeal was yesterday — So there’s that. Calipari said he would support Kanter’s family if they decided to take legal action against the NCAA, should they lose the second appeal on his eligibility.

“But I hope it doesn’t come to that,” Calipari said.

**** VIDEO

John Calipari discussing Georgia, SEC, and other things: