John Clay: What Calipari said, what he meant

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistMay 15, 2013 

John Calipari held a press conference Wednesday to wrap up some details from last season and to look ahead to next season.

John Calipari held a "summer press conference" on Wednesday where the Kentucky basketball coach addressed last season, the state of the program and his incoming freshman class.

The session lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Calipari said more than 6,000 words.

In the interest of helping you the reader — we're always here to help — we bring you the annotated John Calipari.

What Cal said: "What we're about to undertake has never been done before. Trying to put teams together like this where you're talking a big number of players, whether it be the Lakers or the Miami Heat, it takes time. There's a learning curve."

What Cal meant: He wants to be more like this year's Heat than this year's Lakers.

What Cal said: "I don't have any regrets (about last year) where I gave guys more than one chance to make it and it hurt our team. ... Guys got the full season to prove themselves and do what they were gonna do, and you know what? I told my staff, 'If I'm going to err, it's going to be on the side of a player.'"

What Cal meant: He gave Ryan Harrow every chance in the world and it just didn't work out.

What Cal said: "Two years ago, we did not have one bad practice. Not one. Last year, we had about five good practices."

What Cal meant: He didn't really like his team as much as he said he liked his team.

What Cal said: "You have Kyle Wiltjer. Body's got to change. Sixth Man of the Year has to get better. Physically. We all know what his skill set is. He has to take his defense and all those areas of his game to another level."

What Cal meant: If Wiltjer doesn't, with 13 players next season, he could go long stretches on the bench.

What Cal said: "We don't have as many (alpha males) as you think. This team will have maybe two. But that's OK ... When you don't have that alpha male at all, you have to do things to try to lead yourself as a coach and your team never can have the kind of success you want."

What Cal meant: Julius Randle, whom he called an "alpha beast" on Wednesday, and Andrew Harrison are all the "alpha males" he needs.

What Cal said: "Andrew Harrison, my hope is by the end of the year, he's just like some of the other point guards we've had. You look at him and say, hey he can do things that other point guards can't do at his size, his scoring ability. And both (Andrew and Aaron Harrison) are terrific drivers, which kind of tells you that we're going to go back to a lot more dribble-drive."

What Cal meant: Happy days are here again.

What Cal said: "I've had (players that fought each other in practice). The thing is, when they walk off the court it's got to end right there. I've had teams that laugh about it when practice is over, a hard screen and somebody comes up pushing and shoving and has to be broken up. Yeah, there is a competitive spirit. I think it will drag us to where we're trying to go."

What Cal meant: There's nothing he loves more than a team with fight.

What Cal said: "Now they're saying all this stuff about the charge/block and, 'We're not going to let the fouling go.' Do you really believe that? You watch the games. The more you foul, the more you shoot free throws. I don't understand how that works."

What Cal meant: They are still going to allow Louisville to foul, foul, foul.

What Cal said: "I'm as confident before and after (the Andrew Wiggins to Kansas) decision and I wish him well. I mean, he's a great kid and he's going to be a terrific basketball player. It didn't change me any."

What Cal meant: With or without Wiggins, he likes his team.

What Cal said: "(People predicting UK will win the national championship) are probably people really rooting for us to do well. So that's probably part of the reason. They want us to do so well, they're putting that out there to help us build this team right."

What Cal meant: Plenty of people out there want to see him (and UK) fail.

What Cal said: "I've had the gun to my head for 20-something years. And you know what? I'm at my best when the gun is to my head versus, 'OK, I'm good, I can kick back.'"

What Cal meant: Bring it on.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

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