By LARRY VAUGHT
Because he wanted to give long-time friend and assistant coach John Robic some time after his father passed away, Kentucky coach John Calipari made Joel Justus a full-time assistant coach during the summer so he could be on the road recruiting.
Calipari also realized that having Robic on campus and around him even more was a good thing, too.
“ You won’t believe this: As I get older, I start forgetting things. So having John with me and then putting Joel in a position to really attack and establish us with some young kids, at least have our presence known with young kids, I thought was important,” Calipari said.
Justus met with reporters at the end of last week’s UK Media Day. Here some of what he had to say.
On his strengths and weaknesses as a coach … “I think the strength is just being a trustworthy person that cares about the kids and about the relationship. I want to help provide a tremendous experience for a young man and for his family at the University of Kentucky. I think something to grow on is, holy cow, you work for Cal and you see and listen to the things he does on the court and off the court. I’ve learned so much in every role I’ve been in here and I think you are always growing as a basketball coach. That’s the one thing I want to do is always be in a position to grow.”
On the biggest thing he’s learned from Calipari … “The biggest thing I’ve learned basketball wise is the daily preparation for basketball and for basketball practice, and taking a look at how he plans a practice. I was a head high school coach so I spent six years planning my own practices, and to go back and learn a different way other than the way I’ve been doing it and the coaches I played for had done it has been fun. I think off the floor, just the forward-thinking, cutting-edge approach to recruiting but also building the brand is fascinating.
On the perception of Kentucky basketball … “I think what we need to continue to say is that this is a great place to come where you can be your best. Whatever your best is is different than his best or my best. I think that takes the load off of the expectations of being a one-and-done. What we want to do is create the narrative that this is a place where you come to get better, you want to be around other players, you want to be challenged every day, and be around a group of great guys.”