LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – UK head basketball coach John Calipari held a news conference Wednesday before, he said, he goes “underground” for a while. Calipari hit on a wide variety of subjects, including what went wrong in the season ending 73-67 loss to the Indiana Hoosiers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“When I look at it, what else could I have done? Could we have gone small? And I’ve run that through my head. Could we have just played all five small guys? Just, here we go, let’s see what happens. But then you look back and it was a five-point game with seven minutes to go, and if I would’ve done that and something happened, you guys would’ve said, ‘Why in the world? You didn’t do it all year. Why would you try to?’ Because I knew we had guys struggling and they weren’t going to change. I should’ve just said, ‘Look, it’s not your day’. That was my opinion. Would it have worked? Maybe, maybe not, but if you ask me of anything, it would’ve been that,” Calipari said.
The coach also addressing a blog post that generated a lot of buzz this week. A high school player said the Kentucky recruiting pitch involved the NBA, but the Duke recruiting pitch indicated players would be taken care of for life if they became a Blue Devil.
Calipari posted on his blog Monday: “I refuse to go in a home and paint a picture saying things like, ‘If you come with us you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your life by the program and by our alums,’ even though you may only be in school for a year or two,” Calipari said. “How preposterous does that sound? What if I say that same thing and the young man decides to transfer for one reason or another? Does that still hold true that we’re going to take care of them the rest of their lives? Our approach is to give them the fishing rod and the lures to help them catch fish, not to just give you the fish.”
Wednesday, he said that was not a direct a shot at Duke.
“That post was more in a general sense. It wasn’t geared to one person or one program. It was in a general sense,” Calipari said. “You guys know how I do this, but someone on the outside that lives in another state (might not). So it gave me a chance to say, ‘This is who we are. This is not for everybody.’ It isn’t. And it gave me that chance. Now you guys ran with it and did what you did, but it was broader. Normally I say when you throw a rock at a pack of dogs, the one you hit starts yelping. That hit, it should have hit about 15 heads, OK? Not just one.”
On his comment that he would coach until he's 75: "At my age – mid-50s, that’s right – to think about 20 years. If you’re thinking four to five down the road, it’s kind of easy to make a decision. ‘I’m going to go ‘til I’m 75.’ But when you’re 57 to say that, it was more joking. I didn’t think I’d ever coach to age 60, but you know what? I’m at a place now—it took me 20 years to get to this place. It’s the Carnegie Hall of basketball. And what I mean by that is if you put players on this stage, they make it. This is that stage."
Calipari says his incoming class will mesh well with the returning players.
“We should be great defensively. We should be one of my better defensive teams, which, probably some of you didn’t read that part of the post because you just started getting all crazy with the early stuff. But we should be great defensively and we should be a great shot-blocking team and rebounding team,” he said.
The 2016-2017 version of the Wildcats hit the floor October 14th for Big Blue Madness. The team will then meet for the annual Blue-White scrimmage October 21st before hosting Clarion for an exhibition game October 30th followed by another exhibition against Asbury on November 6th.
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