In a four day article that was starting to be published earlier this week, on CoachCal.com, University of Kentucky Wildcats Head Coach John Calipari sat down with a group of reporters and answered questions about this year’s team and the upcoming season. The first two parts of the interview have been released and Coach Cal discusses both Willie Cauley-Stein, Kyle Wiltjer and Julius Mays.
In reference to Willie Cauley-Stein, Coach Cal said that he is 1 of 7 players on this year’s team that could average the most points per game. Coach Cal describes his confidence in Cauley-Stein as stemming from his ability to out run any other big man on the court.
He finishes first in all the runs. He’s 7-foot tall and he’s finishing first. And he’s running hard. He’s not just striding; he’s flying. What we’ll look for him is just take off. If he can get two, three layups a half, just flying, just outrun their big.
I had mentioned in an article a couple of months ago that Willie Cauley-Stein was going to surprise a lot of people as he is being overlooked with all the top rated talent surrounding him. However, Cauley-Stein is improving at an incredible rate, with this being the first year of his life that his sole focus is on basketball and no other sports.
I told him when we recruited him, “You don’t even know how good you’re going to become. You have no idea.” He and I were sitting in the lodge the other day and I said, “Are you kind of amazed?” He said, “Yeah yeah.” I said, “You’re better than you thought, aren’t you?” “Yeah.” So he’s taken on the sport for the first time where he’s really focused on this sport. He’s gained weight – 20 to 25 pounds – his skill set is absolutely improved, he’s fast, he’s nimble.
John Calipari said that Cauley-Stein has easily been the biggest, most pleasant surprise of the summer workouts. Coach Cal even went as far as to say that Cauley-Stein could end up being the glue guy that comes off the bench, as Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins have been in years past.
Coach Cal has stressed the ability of this year’s team to be able to run and gun and move with a very fast paced style of play. But then there’s Kyle Wiltjer. Now, everyone knows that Kyle Wiltjer isn’t anywhere close to the quickest guy on this team; however, Coach Cal believes that it can be used as an advantage in their offense.
He’ll be behind the ball all the time. So now he’ll take it out, we are flying, and if he rebounds it, he’ll be behind it. If he doesn’t rebound it, he’ll still be out ahead and he’ll be fine. And we still may try him into a dragging screen. What I like is we fly and as the ball comes back, it’s coming back to his hands. Now you have a skilled player.
Coach Cal believes that Kyle Wiltjer creates a mismatch on the court that will be very difficult to guard for opposing defenses due to his ability to score from both the inside and the outside.
They’ll say, “Well, you can switch because you don’t have to guard him in the post,” but he’s a really good post player. If you’re too small, he will score on you in there. Right now he’s having to score against these two long ones (Cauley-Stein and Noel). With Kyle having to score over those guys, you put a little guy on him, he’s scoring baskets.
Coach Calipari stated that he thinks Kyle will have to step up to be a leader for this team, due to the lack of experience on the roster. He believes Wiltjer will have to be one of the guys to drag a couple other players over to the gym with him for a late night workout. Calipari also believes that Julius Mays will be able to provide that sense of experience as well. Coach Cal described the reasoning behind going after Mays when he decided to transfer away from Wright State.
Great kid who had performed at a high level, who could make baskets, especially jump shots, and that wanted be a part of this and understood what it meant.
With Julius Mays being a transfer though, Coach Cal said that he needed to make sure Mays was going to be a good fit for this program, and part of that was making no promises to Mays in regards to playing time.
We don’t make any promises. Are you good with coming off the bench? Are you good if that’s the case? “I’m good, I’m good.” He knew what he was walking into.
The third and fourth parts of the Q and A with Coach Cal will be released later this week, head over to CoachCal.com if you would like to read the full story.
For now, stay tuned to Wildcat Blue Nation for all of your Kentucky Wildcats sports news.