John Calipari talked about a lot of things in his pre-Belmont press conference. Some of it is the usual stuff, about how hard it is to play point guard for him and Kentucky, how his players don't respond to adversity very well, particularly in the last 3 minutes, etc. This is all stuff we have heard from him before.
What was interesting about this press conference is that he harped on "habits" and "focus." Those are two words very near and dear to my heart, as I think both of them have had a major impact on Kentucky this season. Calipari particularly talked about the habits of the Wildcats when it comes running the floor — he said they are in the habit of jogging, not running. His quote was, "Why aren't we flying (up the court)? Because it's not their habit."
A lot of what Cal talked about were negative things, but there were some positive ones, particularly about Derek Willis and Alex Poythress. He said Poythress was "off the chain" in practice today, and that he sustained his effort all the way through. That really gives me some encouragement, because Calipari has virtually never praised a Poythress practice that I can remember. He has praised him in games, notably the last one, but he was as effulgent about Poythress today as I have ever heard him at any time.
Another positive development was a question about Willis, and Calipari said he had to get Willis into the game in the stretch four role. He said that Willis had to step it up in practice, and was in fact doing so. He also described Aaron Harrison as "Having an edge" to his game that Kentucky needs more of.
He also talked about Marcus Lee's status, and explained that Lee had been suffering with back problems recently, and that was why he decided not to put him in the game Saturday because he had not practiced in days and had dropped some weight. He said Lee was fine now.
He also said a friend of his called him and wondered why his bench was so sedate during games. Obviously, that's something Calipari wants to see change.
Most significant quote: "We can't change how we started, but we can change how we approach the end." That's right, and those of us who are less than pleased with how Kentucky has started the season have to face the reality of this.
Here are his full comments: