By LARRY VAUGHT
Sometimes you can just sense the shaggy John Calipari and that he’s feeling good about his team.
Consider what he had to say Friday about his team’s Thursday practice after the surprisingly close win over Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
“All we did was condition the guys that needed extra conditioning. The other guys had massages and we had film. Today will be short because we play tomorrow (at Auburn), but the next three or four Thursdays will be good practices.
“But then again, I don’t know what will unfold between then and there but yesterday was more of a cerebral.”
Calipari has been preaching the need for increased physical and mental toughness for his team for months. How does that work with players getting massages rather than conditioning?
“Probably a good point,” Calipari admitted. “I can tell you, I don’t get a massage.”
Yet is might be understandable why some players do since pro athletes do that often to keep their bodies revitalized. Calipari noted that he normally cuts back on practice time in February and March to keep from wearing players out. In 2014 when UK reached the Final Four as a No. 8 seed, he deviated from that philosophy.
“That year they (practice times) went up and we were going three hours. I very rarely would go three hours in my career. We were going three hours every chance I could that year because they needed it,” Calipari said. “So, it’s all dependent on certain kids.
“Yesterday Immanuel (Quickley) didn’t do conditioning because he needed to recover, but we still had some guys that were surrendering from points in the game. They draw back, they stop playing, they grab their knees. Well, it’s an indication of that.”
Calipari shared a story about former Cat Bam Adebayo, who just made his first NBA All-Star roster because of his play with the Miami Heat. The UK coach said he was talking to Adebayo’s mother when a friend of the NBA player got on the phone.
“One of the things he said was that Bam learned to work (at UK). He said he can remember being in the gym at 10 o’clock at night practically throwing up to try to get in better shape,” Calipari said. “You have to fight. And if you think that’s not the reason, it’s because—’Just let me shoot more, play more. Don’t say stuff to me. Just let me go out there and do what I do.’
“Where the adage, which athletes would know – and most of you (media members) here wouldn’t – no pain, no gain. Now, half of you did not respond to that because you’re not athletes. No pain, no gain.”
Calipari said most athletes have “40 percent left in the tank” when they think they are exhausted.
“By the end of the year, we have to have guys, when they’re on that floor, they’re playing as superior athletes. I’m not trying to beat anybody down. I don’t do that. I don’t beat them down in film,” Calipari said.
“I’ve kind of done this long enough where I have an idea, but again, we have great kids that are trying. They’re buying in. I mean, they’re knowing slowly but surely, I’m getting where they need to be. I feel close. When I hear those things, I’m really happy.”