LOUISVILLE — Kentucky Coach John Calipari counseled patience as he spoke about the upcoming season at Monday's annual UK Tip-Off Luncheon here. As his enthusiasm repeatedly bubbled to the surface, anyone in an announced audience of more than 1,000 might have thought: physician, heal thyself.
Calipari spoke excitedly about the possibilities for a team blessed with nine McDonald's All-Americans. And that doesn't count 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein.
"This has got me stirred," he said. "It's stirred my thinking."
The ideas he floated here included:
Never miss a local story.
■ Playing faster than ever in order to better use UK's depth.
■ Pressing much more, for essentially the same reason.
■ Using more zone defense, which might lead to the instruction of "just stand there" for the many big men (three 7-footers, two players 6-10, a 6-8 player who "puts his head on the rim" and three 6-6 players).
Like basketball's version of the old woman who lived in a shoe, Calipari has so many children, he doesn't know what to do ... quite yet.
"Please be patient ...," he said. "I've never done this before. I'm doing things I've never done before."
Calipari spoke of continuing the five-man platoon experiment he tried in UK's exhibition games in the Bahamas in August. He made no promises of continuing using platoons in the season, although he noted how adjustments must be made because of varying game conditions.
"I hope we do it throughout the year," he said before noting a moment later that someone like Doc Rivers had advised him in the past to give a player more first-half minutes.
"But," Calipari said of rewarding a player with more minutes, "I don't want to leave anybody behind."
The UK coach said he had 12 players who deserved playing time. That might mean fewer minutes and, thus, less glittering statistics for individual players. To help compensate, Calipari said he would use analytics to put the less-glittering statistics in perspective. By prorating, say, 20-minute stats to 30 minutes, the numbers will carry more luster.
UK also planned to borrow "how the NBA evaluates" players by emphasizing efficiency and what Calipari called "defensive playmaking."
"Listen, folks, I have never coached this way," Calipari said. "I haven't. But I'm going to."
Calipari noted the many player options at his disposal.
"I have 10 guys — really I have 12 — who really deserve to play," he said.
After listing the many "bigs" on Kentucky's roster for next season, Calipari playfully added, "And we've got the little kid."
Of Tyler Ulis, the 5-9, 155-pound freshman, Calipari added, "How do you like the little kid?" The crowd applauded.
Calipari also referenced Ulis in speaking of UK's NBA-styled Combine scheduled for next week. Among activities for NBA eyes will be UK players trying to reach as high on a backboard as possible.
During that drill, "Tyler will go to the bathroom," Calipari quipped. More seriously, he called Ulis "a competitor, a battler. He's a special kid."
Rather than be a way to get NBA scouting out of the way (and, perhaps, out of players' minds), Calipari described the Combine's function as a tool to further unite the players.
"All of you are going to be evaluated," he said as if speaking to UK players. "Not just five of you."
As in previous seasons, Calipari said he would use early-season games to help decide how best to maximize the possibilities.
"What we do early may be at the expense of losing games ...," he said in repeating a familiar pre-season refrain. "You may say you'll be fine with that. You will not."
Some fans may "jump off the bandwagon," Calipari said. He teased about not allowing fans to reboard, as he did during the surprising run to the 2014 Final Four.