Whenever Brad Calipari has the ball in his hands, a murmur can be heard in Rupp Arena. It escalates into an audible plea. It goes something like this: Shooooot!!
“I don’t really listen to it too much,” he said Thursday with a smile that suggested he’s all too familiar with this sound. “I’m not going to shoot every ball when I go in. I’m going to make the right basketball play. And if I have a shot, I’m going to take it.”
His father, Kentucky Coach John Calipari, explained. He reminded reporters of an earlier game in which his son did not have a quick trigger on his shot. His son, he said, reminded his father that it’s probably not wise to launch a 30-footer seconds after entering a game.
“So he’s trying to play basketball,” the UK coach said. “He wants to be a basketball player. He wants to prove he can be on the court and help his team win. And I appreciate that in him. He deserves to play, but maybe not in front of these guys.”
Those guys include point guard Quade Green, Hamidou Diallo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The UK coach expressed the satisfaction he gets from coaching his son and watching him improve.
The son apparently inherited a sense of humor from his father. Thursday was his mother Ellen’s birthday. The UK coach had tweeted about marking the occasion by bringing her breakfast in bed.
“He texted me today,” the UK coach said of his son. “‘Why didn’t I get breakfast in bed? What happened? No one brought me breakfast in bed.’”
In retelling the story, the UK coach said in a quiet voice, “I enjoy walking in the gym and seeing him. I really do.”
Get your motor running
When asked to assess his performance to date, PJ Washington said, “I started off pretty slow. But I feel like I’m picking it up.”
Washington pinpointed how he has made and must continue to make improvement.
“Just my motor,” he said. “Just (playing harder) at both ends of the floor every time, every possession.”
Washington acknowledged that the transition from high school to college had been more challenging than he expected.
“In high school, you can really do what you want,” he said. “And then on the college level, they’re not letting you get by with that.”
Take a meeting
During an appearance at the Lexington Rotary Club on Thursday, Calipari said he had held more meetings with individual players than in past seasons.
Washington said he had had “two or three” such meetings with the UK coach.
“The best thing I took from it is he said he’s always on my side, and he wants me to do good,” Washington said. “And basically he said he’s there for me as long as I do what he says.”
Cal and Joe B
Thursday was former UK Coach Joe B. Hall’s 89th birthday. Calipari saluted Hall.
“He’s been a great supporter of mine,” Calipari said. “I love seeing him in the gym. I love hearing his thoughts.”
“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “I’ve had guys who never tried to overwhelm me or be over-opinionated. But I listen to their opinion.”
Hall said he never tries to influence coaching decisions.
“It’s not a coach-to-coach relationship,” Hall said this year. “But just a friend to a friend. I have never tried to influence him in his coaching.”
Then with a smile, Hall added, “But I have talked to him a little bit about feeding the low post.”
Before Calipari spoke, the Rotary recognized one of its members, Ty Warriner, on his 100th birthday. Calipari presented Warriner with a signed basketball.