Courtesy of the fine folks at the University of Kentucky Media Department, here is a full transcript of today’s Media Day session with UK Head Coach John Calipari:
Q. Now that you’ve had a few practices, what have been the revelations or maybe surprises to you about your team so far?
COACH CALIPARI: No revelations, but Marcus Lee is better than I thought. Derek Willis is better than I thought. I just got done watching our practice tape from yesterday. Jarrod Polson and Dominique (Hawkins) played well. Guys are learning new ways of playing and are making strides.
Everybody that walks in the building, the guy that they’re saying is the standout is James Young, like every day. We’ve had NBA scouts in here every day. They’re all speaking about him, and I’m kind of watching everybody so not seeing it.
Jon Hood is getting better. Jarrod Polson is getting better. Willie (Cauley-Stein) yesterday for the first time practiced, and James practiced. Now you’ve got a couple of 7 footers on each team, a couple of 6’9″s on each team, a couple of 6’8″s on each team.
Q. Cal, just a couple of your comments the last couple of weeks, it seems like you’ve gotten some of the swagger back. Just how excited are you for this team compared to where you were a year ago?
COACH CALIPARI: You know, everybody keeps saying, well, I sound different. Well, there’s a process that we teach with, and you guys who have watched me know I don’t need a team in October playing like it’s January.
We have not done any defense, none. Yesterday was the first rebounding that we’ve done. We’ve done no pick and roll. So I’m not letting them play pick and roll basketball, making them cut in space and create, instead of two guys playing and three standing.
That being said, we do have an out of bounds play on the baseline, we do have one on the sideline. We have nothing no zone, but what I like is the instincts of the players.
So their instincts are normally right. They’re not thinking. They’re instinctive, and that makes it kind of fun, especially as fast and as aggressive as we play.
Q. What is it that’s impressing people that come in here about James Young?
COACH CALIPARI: He is really fast. He’s now not settling for jump shots. So you’re seeing a young man get his head and shoulders by people, take contact, and make baskets, which a month ago he was not going in there.
In transition, he’s kind of like Michael Kidd (Gilchrist). If he’s out ahead, you throw him the ball. Something good will happen. And he has a chance of being a terrific defender.
Part of what happened to us last year with Nerlens (Noel), some other guys we thought would be good defenders really weren’t. I think this team could and should be, not just because you have a shot blocker. We have a couple of big kids. We can guard the ball better.