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By MIKE MARSEE
UK basketball coach John Calipari shared his thoughts on how some of the newcomers will contribute, and on other subjects from the expanded Southeastern Conference schedule to the importance of pre-draft workouts for those former Wildcats about to enter the NBA during an interview Monday at Boyle County High School:
Question: Are there concerns given the fact that this year’s team will be even younger than last year’s team?
Calipari: “I would rather everybody came back. That would have been fun. But … they win a national title, they have a 3.2 grade-point average the second term, 10 out of 14 guys have a B average, Darius (Miller) and Eloy (Vargas) walk and get their college degrees, and now six of them are going to be drafted. That’s like a whole day right there. So that happens, and you move on to another group.
“And now my challenge to the other group is, ‘Look, you didn’t win a national title. You’re not defending a national title, because they can’t take it. It’s already there, it’s on the shelf, it’s done. What you’re trying to do is be the best team you can be and not worry about it.”
Question: How easy or difficult is it to get that message across?
Calipari: “The good news is, I don’t have any problem with them. Two years ago, three years ago, all those teams talked about Final Fours and national titles, they all did, and that doesn’t bother me. This team is the same: Let’s go out and win another one.
“It’s very hard (to win a championship), especially at Kentucky where you’re everybody’s Super Bowl. Two years ago we lost six league games, we were 10-6. I kept saying, ‘I like my team.’ We ended up getting to the Four, and probably should have won the national title if we’d have just played a little better in that semifinal. We played awful.
“I’m excited about the team, but it’s not going to be easy.”