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By LARRY VAUGHT
Question: Who will be this year’s Darius Miller, a versatile, older player who could come off the bench and also be a team leader?
Calipari: “I don’t even know if we will have that role. This team is going be different. Could it be Julius (Mayes) off the bench doing it? Could be guy like a Willie (Cauley-Stein) or somebody coming off the bench. We are going to have six or seven starters again like we did a year ago. So whoever comes off (the bench), you want them to add to what we are doing. I don’t know who that will be yet.”
Question: Will this be the type of team that can have several different players be the leading scorer in a given game?
Calipari: “We have seven, including Willie. Let me tell you what his job will be. Outrun everybody down the floor. Both ends. When we do drills, everything we do someone wins, someone loses. He finishes first in all the runs. He is 7-foot tall and finishes first. He is running hard, not just striding. He is flying. Look for him just to take off. If he can get two-three layups a half just flying, outrunning their big …”
Question: Could Jon Hood or Twany Beckham play a more significant role this year?
Calipari: “We are counting (on them) or Jarod (Polson) right now. Jarod probably has improved as much as anybody in workouts I saw we have done. For us to be what need to be, those two and Jarod have got to give us something on that court. But really in practice, they have got to perform at high level so we are going at each other. If they can do that, think about it. If those two can play against the other guys, you should be able to play against any of these guys.
“Then it is like, what do I do to help the team. Not how do I want to play. It’s not how you want to play. It’s what can I do to help this team win and what is going to be my job. Jon has gotten better. He is coming off that knee (injury). He was with the guards the other day and he did fine.”
Question: Do these freshmen realize the mentality it takes to be a UK basketball player because of all the attention on the program?
Calipari: “We’ll see. They knew coming in. It was explained to them very directly in the recruiting process. (Sports psychologist) Bob Rotello met with the team and I have never done it this early, but I felt to do it with this team was important. His thing to me was where do you find players that are this good that are this nice of kids. How do you find these guys? I said part of it is the recruiting process where you are telling kids if you think you are going to shoot every ball, if you think it is all about you, if you think you are going to be the only guy, if you think I am going to tell you that you are going to start and get all the shots, you don’t need to be here. It’s the wrong place to be. If you want to go out, run around and chase and all that, don’t come here. Wrong place to go. I think it starts in the recruiting process. We are not begging kids. We are recruiting kids and recruiting hard, but we are telling them the truth. It is hard here. This is a unique place. The result is that what has happened for our players not only that but they are prepared for this stuff. Our guys have stepped up and guys people never thought would do X,Y, Z are in that league (NBA).”