Approaching right under 30 hours until Kentucky tips off their season against Duke in the Champions Classic, John Calipari met with the media to address where the season currently sits at. I gathered together the main points from todays press conference for you.
Jacob Toppin Earning Spot In Rotation
John Calipari was asked if it is 'more important what a player does in practice or what he does in games to get into the rotation?' His response was, “It’s both. It’s both. There are some guys that, when you put them on the stage, they’ll blossom. That you’re not sure about them because in practice. When they get on the stage, they do it. There are other guys that earn the right to get on that stage with how they practiced. But at the end of the day, merit wins out. I mean, Jacob (Toppin) is jumping into the rotation because of his energy, not how he played. The energy, the toughness, the attacking – he’s playing. Now, he only practiced seven days, so it’s all merit based.”
Update on Oscar Tshiebwe’s hip
Oscar Tshiebwe has been battling a hip injury since the Blue-White scrimmage, limiting him from his max ability in any action we've seen him in so far. John Calipari gives a quick update on how Oscar is feeling with it. “He’s OK. He’s still a little bit nicked up. But, you know, again, this is one of those that, let’s go. But he gives us a physical presence. We’ve just got to, again, trying to figure out not only what is the rotation for this kind of game. You’re not playing 11 guys. It’s not happening. Now, you might because of foul trouble and injuries and things like that, but your rotation is going to be more normal with eight guys, maybe seven."
Update on CJ Fredrick's Return Wrote about it here for you.
If Cal already knows what his rotation will be or if he just adjusts as the game starts “Well, I may put guys in that I think are a part of the group of seven or eight and then you watch and you say, ‘Let me try somebody else.’ And then that guy becomes that group seven or eight. Again, I go back to Jacob. I didn’t think Jacob would jump in and do this, but his energy level and the spirit he brought to the court changed how we were playing. Now just think if I can get five guys playing like him. ‘Oh, that’s really hard. I’d rather shoot balls and make a couple of plays. Throw an assist. Do a look-away pass.’ No. We need five dogs that play like him. Now if we get five guys playing like that all of a sudden we’re really good, because he is 6-9. You know, he is 6-9 and that active and athletic. He’s making us different.”
On if his rotation might be different every game … “I hope not. I hope not because that means we have inconsistent players.”
The team and staffs vacination status “All of our guys and staff are vaccinated. Last year not one of our players or staff contracted the virus. Not one. Now, we weren’t able to come together as a team because we made sure we were away from each other. But none of them contracted it. Right now we’re all–most of the staff has gotten their boosters. The school has been so diligent. I’ve got to give it to Dr. (Eli) Capilouto. I mean, when you talk about the rates on our campus, it’s like near 90% vaccination. I’m talking staff, students. You don’t have hospitalizations. What we’ve been able to do to survive this on our campus is incredible. My hope is that, you know, with the shots and boosters and what we’re doing, we’ll be able to avoid any of that, but you don’t know. You just don’t know.”
Kentucky's matchup against Duke in Madison Square Garden is set to start at 9:30 pm, following the Kansas vs. Michigan State game.