By LARRY VAUGHT
During his press conference Thursday, Lexington Herald-Leader beat writer Jerry Tipton asked John Calipari about his message about “we can control the ending” had a Winston Churchill feel and where he got his source of inspiration.
Calipari had a long, and entertaining, answer:
“Tere’s things that pop in my mind. Most of the stuff is not stolen from anybody. I just wake up and am in the shower and Churchill comes to mind and … but you know, at any point, I’m trying to – look, we have meetings, I talk to them prior to practice and post-practice. Why? I gotta fill their minds more than the other stuff they’re reading or hearing, the phone calls they get or make. They make the call where the person is going to tell them what they want to hear. ‘You should be playing more! He shouldn’t sub you! The other guy needs to be subbed! And you gotta keep …’ Well, I gotta overwhelm all those things,” Calipari said.
“So I’m trying every day to give them a message to get them to think, and that’ll be today’s message, and talk about, ‘What do you want this to become and then what are you willing to do?’ Each guy. And that includes the bench. I had a friend of mine call me today and he says, ‘You know, your benches are usually really into it, jumping up and down and checking guys and all this. Your bench seems dead.’ So we’ve been working on that. But for my friend to call me and say that, obviously he watches and he knows my team. This team will make it when we do great defensive stops and you see them on a great defensive play coming together and chest bumping and hugging each other and going nuts and clapping. Until they get to that point, again their emotion is all tied on how they’re playing, not how we’re playing, how they’re playing. And that’s part of what we do as coaches.
“You know, teams I’ve had – and again, some guys are not playing as well as they will at the end of the year. Well, neither did Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis wasn’t an impact offensively unless we threw him a lob or he blocked a shot, and he defended a little bit if the guy wasn’t real physical. But the offense came later, and that was like February, if you remember. We all have this vision of him when it was the end of the year, and he’s shooting right and left jump hooks. At the beginning of the year we didn’t throw him the ball. Had no strength, had no base, had no game in there. So, we just got to go, and we’re coaching them. And, you know, we’re going to have time here over the next three weeks — give them some time off for Christmas, but other than that.
“And again, let me tell you, Belmont they dropped a couple because a kid, a couple kids got hurt. Beat North Carolina, were up 10 or 11 at halftime. Rick Byrd is one of the great coaches in our country. He’s one of the great ones you don’t know about. What he’s done at Belmont to take that program from where it is, it’s never been done. And then to have success everywhere he’s taken the program, never been done before. And he’s been through the wards. He’s played all the great teams. He’s not coming in here, and his team won’t come in here thinking anything less than ‘Let’s try to beat these guys.’