John Calipari opened the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball media day on Thursday with a question-and-answer session.
Among the topics the UK head coach covered were:
▪ On what kind of team Kentucky will put on the floor this season: “I would say we are going to be a mauling, helping, rotating, shot-blocking team. ... On offense, a team that tries to score within three seconds. ... I’m going to be disappointed in February if this isn’t the best defensive team (he’s had at Kentucky).”
▪ On what the playing rotation might look like: “My guess would be three guards,” he said. But, at times, UK might go with three 6-foot-10 players and two guards.
▪ On whether perimeter shooting could be a question mark this season: “It could be. May not be. We may be the best shooting team I’ve had. It’s too early (to tell).”
▪ On seniors Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins: “Can you imagine who they played against for four years, in practice? How much better they got?”
▪ On having the Kentucky head coaching job: “Every morning you wake up, you stop and think: My team has a chance to win the national title. ... If we can keep this going, it keeps me young.”
▪ On Isaiah Briscoe’s shooting: Calipari says he’s telling Briscoe in practice to shoot every open shot he gets. He says he already knows Briscoe can get to the basket.
▪ The coach said UK continues to seek to be the “gold standard” and stay ahead of the curve. “The fun part” is staying ahead when others start adopting UK’s approach.
▪ On what success means at Kentucky: Calipari said he would enjoy the team winning a national title but would be disappointed if nobody off that team got drafted. “Everybody should benefit from the success of this program.”
▪ On freshman Wenyen Gabriel: “Fear is driving him. ‘Am I good enough?’ Like MKG (former Cat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist). My advice is stay in the moment. ... Gabriel has “only touched what he can be.”
▪ On freshman Sacha Killeya-Jones: “I didn’t know he was this good. ... You come here because you wanna walk into practice and know you get pushed.”
▪ On 6-foot-10 freshman Edrice “Bam” Adebayo: He is fast enough that he can get a defensive rebound, then get down court to dunk on the break. “He flies up and down the court.”
▪ On the “greatest thing” about being at Kentucky: “You can get the best and the brightest (players).”
▪ On how he expects this team to come together: “This team is not going to be what it is before February.” Calipari said he might start four freshmen at times, or at least three.
▪ On coaching his son, Brad: “My wife has been to three practices since I’ve been here. She’s been to two this year.”