Two words to describe how everyone looked on media day. Fresh and motivated. Coach Cal last season looked stressed out of his mind and with how the team was playing and the fans were coming for his job (which was just silly) he had every right to be. But during media day and even BBM and the pro day held two weeks ago, he looked energized. To me, it all starts with how the early practices are going and if him as the coach can see quality practices being consistent throughout the season. The first question he was asked was how were practices going and his response was:
"I'm having a ball everyday I walk in, because I have a bunch of guys that wanna be coached, wanna challenge each other, that are engaged... when you have veterans who are on time it starts to lead without even saying anything."
The veteran experience will take the pressure off of Cal a little and have a player lead team. He always preaches in the past that his best teams are player lead teams and this will be one of them early in the season in my opinion. Not only the mental side of the game, but veterans also know how to take care of their body to be able to handle an entire season. So when March and hopefully April rolls around, they aren't missing shots short or getting lazy on defense and etc.
Coach Cal on NIL, "Kids come here because of the culture, because of the basketball, they wanna be coached up, they wanna compete, they're not promised the world."
He then goes on to explain the legal issues that players and colleges have to deal with to make sure the player doesn't set himself up for failure.
NIL on locker room chemistry, Coach Cal, "No effect on the locker room, in fact I asked our kids individually... they were all like no we are all happy"
"They are not worried about anything except playing"
This is a very good sign because money can easily turn a team like this who have never played together, into individuals.
Coach Cal on Kellan Grady, "Now he struggled early because he has not played this fast but he is not struggling now" Grady averaged 17 ppg last season at Davidson and shot 47% from the field.
Calipari spoke to Tubby Smith on getting his name in the rafters when his squad, the High Point Panthers, visit Rupp on Dec. 31st and Cal told him this " I'm gonna be really ticked if your ovation is bigger than mine" Cal then went on to mention how he wants to get a bunch of Tubby's former players together and honor him as well.
"the league is the best its ever been... the league always gives us the hard games and if it's only one game then it is an away game and College Gameday [is there]" "I want to make Kentucky the gold standard" safe to say swaggy Cal is definitely back.
Cal was asked what basketball has meant to him throughout the years "when you take pride it can wake you up in the morning, it can make you go... basketball is a team sport... they can't be on the court with their cell phones, they must talk"
Cal looks motivated and energized to start the new season and as a Kentucky basketball fan I couldn't be more excited myself!
As always, rock Kentucky blue!
To view the full interview with John Calipari and more go to the ukathletics.com website.
All photos in this article are from ukathletics.com