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John Calipari: I’m trying to prepare these kids for the rest of their lives

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)

Question: John, you not only coached the team on the court, but it seems like you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time playing psychologist, psychotherapist. Has this been your most challenging team in terms of dealing with that aspect? And how, obviously, important do you think that is to the success of the team?

JOHN CALIPARI: Here’s the thing I can never lose sight of: I’m trying to prepare these kids for the rest of their lives. Some of them will be with me one year. Now, they go to class. They’re getting 30 credits when they leave if they stay one year. Most of them are B students. We’ve graduated 17 players. We have three players in the NBA with college degrees. We have four guys that are coming back that left early. But my job is, again, to teach them to conquer themselves, to teach them to be great teammates.

Pat Riley said to me, you know what, your kids come into this league, and they’re great teammates. Yeah, they all had to share. They couldn’t be the man by themselves. They had to be one of five, six, seven — Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd. How about Karl Townes? Played 21 minutes a game. Devin Booker to this day is still mad that I didn’t start him. He said, yeah, it would have been senior night. I wonder if he would have started me. I texted him, and he didn’t hit me back. He’s mad.

But my job is to prepare them to go have success, and I’m just trying to go win the next basketball game, I’m cheating these kids. And if we had to lose some games and I’ve got to deal with it to get that right, then we’ll lose some games, and I’ll deal with it.

This team, the youngest, most inexperienced team I’ve ever attempted to coach and at times the maturity level is — there’s something to be desired there at times. Basically, I’m saying they’re young, 18s and 19s. They’re very young, and they haven’t been — they’ve never been coached this way. They’ve never been told no.

You know what? I get tired. I don’t get frustrated. I was in bed last night at 8:45, had a great night, woke up. My wife thinks I’m — what’s wrong with you? She says, I’m not getting old. You’re getting old.

I said, Well, do what I’m doing. You’re over here petting the dogs. I have to go with this thing here. You’d be tired too.

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