Here’s part of what Kentucky coach John Calipari said after Sunday night’s Blue-White Game:
Q. Do you see yourself using that lineup with the three big guys Reid (Travis), Nick (Richards), and PJ (Washington) this season? J
OHN CALIPARI: Yeah. Yup. PJ looked good at it. Part of it is PJ going against Reid is hard. It’s hard to get a basket, it’s hard to move, it’s hard to — he found the gaps and then he got confident and made a couple shots and all of a sudden he looks different. It’s hard going against him. It’s hard going against each other every day.
Q. Everyone knew Tyler was a shooter, but just the way he moves, his athleticism, has he surprised you with what you’ve seen?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, he’s still trying to figure it out. He took some bad shots and I had to stop him and say you’re not taking that. If that’s what’s there, don’t shoot it, pass it or move it or get a dribble handoff. You’re doing something, you’re not taking that shot. But we’re challenging him to drive the ball, so there were times he’s driving when he should just catch it and shoot it or one dribble or get it behind the handoff and shoot it. But when he goes too far, he may turn it over. There’s stuff we got to work on, but he’s doing pretty good.
Q. So much has been made about this team, lobbying to get in the gym and work on their game. In all your years of coaching how much correlation is there between the way a team practices and success later on in the year?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, the biggest thing I can tell you is the guys that spend the most time at this and they’re in the gym the most, at the end of the year end up doing the best for themselves. And if they’re playing that kind of basketball it’s really good for us too. So demonstrated performance is about how hard they work and then being able to transfer it on to games. So today PJ didn’t look real good the first half. It was like oh my gosh, losing balls, missing shots, no rebounds, didn’t have a rebound. And then in the second half all of a sudden all the work that he’s been putting in, the extra work, shooting the ball, eliminating some movement in the shot, it pays off and all of a sudden now he’s making shots. Jemarl Baker same thing. Jemarl Baker now has been spending extra time with a coach, not himself, with a coach in that gym. Starts off 1-6. Bank, miss, miss. Well, he hasn’t played for a year. Then all of a sudden he gets comfortable and then demonstrated performance kicks in and he builds his own confidence. It’s not what I say or what I do or who you want to blame, it’s — and now all of a sudden you watch him he’s 4-5 in the second half. E.J. (Montgomery), E.J. told on himself. He told on himself. He didn’t practice that way. If you’re that good, you’re practicing that way now. The team laughed like crazy. Like the combine and this game are the best two days that he’s played since he’s been here. Oh, so when there are people in the seats and there are scouts in the seats you just take up a notch. Really? Well, guess what son, you’re going to take it up a notch or you’re going to be on that treadmill. Because if that’s who you are then you’re going to be that guy every day. He was good. Nick was good. Reid was good. How about Reid squaring up at 15 feet? You’ve got to play Reid. Keldon (Johnson) was good. The two guards were good. Immanuel (Quickley) still doesn’t get rid of it quick enough. He and Quade (Green) dribble the ball too much. Held the ball too much. Get rid of it or drive it. Ashton, I made him run downhill fast in the second half. It’s a little bit of what have we had to do with De’Aaron (Fox). If you’re that fast, you’re going to run that fast all the time. And then if it’s not there, flare it out. But from the back court to that NBA line, you’re flying.
Q. At this point do you have any guys who have separated themselves in terms of earning a starting spot or earning more minutes than other guys?
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know. It’s got to start happening and I may start one group of five and then maybe three different guys in the second half. May do that for a couple times just to feel this out and see what it looks like. But it appears as though we got 10 guys that can play, but they’re going to be guys that separate themselves into playing more. I had them ask the question, I went around the room and I said, I said to PJ, do you want to give up any of your minutes? He said, absolutely not. How about one minute? Nope. Reid, do you want to give up? No. Hmm. So Quade, do you like Jemarl? Yes. Will you give him minutes? Nope. Please, someone give my minutes, some minutes to my son. And they all said nope. So you got to take somebody’s minutes here. And if someone’s better, they’re going to play more. Just how it is. It’s not communism. We’re not on the same page. And it challenges everybody to perform. And then here’s what we had — I said at halftime, we had six guys in double figures, they played 20 minutes. Six guys in double figures. Two guys had nine. And the two that didn’t get in double figures, one was 1-6 and the other was 2-6. That ain’t on us. You had the opportunity, you just didn’t take advantage. So this team is a post-up team, it’s got some length, I think we can pressure, looks like we can shoot it pretty good. Now we’re just going to have to figure out and really put some groups of guys out there and get some sort of rotation where everybody’s comfortable playing.