LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- John Calipari sat for his annual season-ending press conference about the University of Kentucky basketball program Tuesday morning but it was unlike his past season-ending sessions.
He sat on a table at his home office and communicated through the ZOOM video-conference program that was set up by his wife, Ellen. The novel coronavirus has kept Calipari home for more than three or four consecutive days for the first time that he can remember.
His players have returned to their homes. Although he has advised them to try to remain in shape, Calipari said that is a considerable challenge, because workout facilities are closed and American have been asked to practice “social distancing.”
"Every day this goes on is one less day we will be in it," Calipari said. "Because it will end. We just don't know when."
Here are highlights from the 45-minute Q & A.
1. Calipari said that Kentucky’s game with Michigan for next season that was booked for London on Dec. 6 is in doubt because of the pandemic.
He said a decision will have to be made by June and and that the game could be rescheduled for a domestic location.
2. Calipari said that he expected four to five of his players to pursue the NBA Draft process but that the situation is uncertain because NBA teams cannot schedule workouts with players or settle on a date for the NBA Draft combine.
"The situation is changing day by day, hour by hour," he said. The current date for players to remove their names for consideration for the 2020 NBA Draft is 11:59 p.m. on May 30. Calipari would like that date to be moved back.
"I have more questions than I have answers for," he said.
3. He said that he strongly advised his players not to interact with their grandparents or older family members.
People over 60 are considered to be an at-risk group for the coronavirus, and Calipari noted that over the last month of the season Kentucky traveled to Texas, Florida and Nashville.
4. Calipari and his wife have partnered with Kroger and the Fayette County public school system to provide groceries for 400 families in the area for the next four weeks.
He encouraged others to participate.
“I’d like it to be 500-to-1,000 families,” Calipari said.
5. Calipari said that his family has ordered take-out food twice a day to try to support the 18,000 restaurant workers in the Lexington area.
6. Without directly saying that he opposed the likely change to NCAA rules that will allow players to transfer one time without the provision of sitting out for a season, Calipari said that one consequence of that rule is that many other programs will become farm teams for Kentucky.
He said that if the rule is adopted that any coach proven to tamper with players from another program "should be fired."
He also said that one change that might develop from this situation is a change to the NCAA recruiting calendar that would result in less summer basketball and time for coaches to be on the road recruiting during that period.
"It would lead to more of a normal life for all coaches," he said.
7. Calipari said that the UK players learned about the NCAA's decision to cancel the NCAA Tournament as they rode home on a bus from Nashville after the SEC Tournament was canceled March 12.
He said after the players return to the Craft Center they played a pick-up game in their last time together as a team.
Calipari said that his hope was this team will be remembered as one a fan favorite of his coaching era at Kentucky.
8. Calipari said that he has been sorting through his clothes, reading and cleaning his garage.
"But you can only clean the garage so many times." he said.
9. He said that he and point guard Ashton Hagans ended the season in a good place, even though Hagans did not make the trip for Kentucky's final game at Florida and the two argued on the bench during the Wildcats' final home game against Tennessee.
"I love to coach competitive kids," he said. "They get emotional. It doesn't bother me because I get emotional, too."
Calipari said that Hagans improved this season and has a solid future as a player, if he returns for another season or decides to become a professional.
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