Notes and Quotes: “Big white kid,” Knight and Calipari adjust

Here’s some notes and quotes (and video, but that doesn’t quite rhyme so it doesn’t go in the headline) from today’s media session, held one day before the game against Indiana and two days after UK’s win over Notre Dame.

  • The best quote of the day came when UK head coach John Calipari talked about Josh Harrellson (we think):

“I had a great call from an NBA buddy of mine, saying, ‘I really like your big white kid,'” Calipari said. “And it made me feel good that here’s this guy nobody expected, but he still does things that make you want to punch him in the mouth.”

  • A lot of talk centered on Brandon Knight, who recorded 20 points, five assists and two turnovers against Notre Dame. Calipari characterized his play immediately after the game as the best he’s run the team to this point. Today, both talked about adjusting to each other — Calipari adjusting to a different kind of point guard, and Knight adjusting to a different kind of coach.

“I’m getting on him,” Calipari said. “You have to understand, he’s probably had no one coach him this way. Like, I’m onnnn him. Because he’s vital for us.”

Knight has consistently said he enjoys Calipari instructing him. After all, that’s a main reason why he came to UK — to get better, under the tutelage of a coach with a history of improving his point guards. Knight said he is held responsible for the entire team — “When Terrence (Jones) is in the wrong spot, I get in trouble” — but Calipari sees the eagerness to learn.

“When he got off the bus after the (Notre Dame) game, he gave me five,” Calipari said. “Like, I’m just happy, I’m trying to get it, I want to get it.”

Calipari said Knight has become smarter about controlling the pace of the game. He’s quicker to realize when he should push the ball and when he needs to reset the offense. Calipari has been emphasizing controlling the tempo in practice — and often loudly. Knight said a lot of yelling is involved, but he knows it’s to make him better. But it’s still a change compared to his high school days, when him taking a bad shot was probably better than anyone else taking a good shot.

“When I played in high school, there were no repercussions for a bad shot,” Knight said. “It was, go out there and do whatever you can do to get us the win. Now I’m being coached, taught how to play the game the right way.”

As the point guard, Knight has set an example that’s been evident to all his teammates. Calipari said he recently posed a question to the team, and the answer was clear.

“(I asked), who’s the most conscientious guy we got? Who’s the hardest worker we got? And they all pointed to him,” Calipari said. “And it tells you within a month you’re going to see a different player.”

  • The topic of Darius Miller’s inconsistent and frustrating play arose again. Calipari said there’s something missing from Miller’s game right now, and they are working together to figure it out and get him producing up to his potential.

“There’s something that holds him back when it’s a four-point game and he can bust open the game,” Calipari said. “There’s something that makes him evaporate when we got guys out and now you must step up to take over.”

Miller said he thinks the key is to get it going on defense, and let that carry over to offense. Calipari pointed out to the team at halftime against Notre Dame that Miller had zero rebounds.

“I think it starts with aggressive rebounding, and defense, going after loose balls, and that will carry over,” Miller said.

  • Against Notre Dame — which didn’t start a player over 6-foot-8 — Terrence Jones found a home on the left block of the post. It was from that position when spun into the lane and dunked through three defenders, igniting the run that surged UK ahead for good. With Indiana relatively small, as well, Jones could find himself posting up players again. Without a player who has proven to be a capable offensive threat in the low post, Jones might be that guy, which would be important to UK.

“I think any team that doesn’t have a post presence, basically you’re flawed,” Calipari said. “You got to have someone you can throw the ball to. Could be a point guard, could be your five man, could be your four. Someone has to be able to draw double teams and get some easy baskets.”

Calipari said it’s a brand of basketball he doesn’t prefer.

“Now, we will never play that way, because I can’t stand what it looks like,” Calipari said. “Run down, throw it in the post, run down, throw it to the post. I can’t watch the game, then I go to the bathroom. But there’s got to be times when you have to be able to do that. If we’re not making shots, breaking down, they’re sagging, and (Jones) gives that to us.”



Brandon Knight discusses adjusting to Coach John Calipari:

John Calipari discusses Brandon Knight, Darius Miller and the “big white kid” earning solid NBA reviews:

Darius Miller discusses needing to be more aggressive:

More Calipari on Stacey Poole and Indiana: