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Takeaways from Calipari’s pre-Stephen F. Austin press conference

Cal talked about preparation for Stephen F. Austin, scheduling, how long players stay and more.

NCAA Basketball: Asbury at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach John Calipari held his pregame media event for the Stephen F. Austin game today, and he talked about multiple issues, from scheduling, to team growth to even Nick Saban.

Cal started off talking about how difficult the team’s schedule is at times. Stephen F. Austin isn’t exactly a cakewalk of a season-opener, and Cal is aware of that.

“The players that are going to play in that game all were in the NCAA Tournament the last couple years,” Calipari said.

Cal said that pretty much every time he turns around his team has a tough game coming up, whether it be the Big 12 challenge, the conference tournament, a preseason tournament or whatever else. This is certainly going to be more than a tune-up in schedule full of several difficult non-conference games.

Cal also spoke about his team’s pace and how it compares to his teams of past.

“We’re going to play fast, but my teams have always played fast,” Calipari said.

Cal said that this team will indeed be a fast-paced team, even by the standards of his teams.

What Cal isn’t happy with is the defense, as he said that the defense still needs improvement. However, he mentioned that he’s happy with the improvement of every player, specifically the group of forwards. Cal said he’s told all the big guys that they’ve improved since they arrived at Kentucky.

As far as depth goes, Cal said he’s got a pretty set number of players he’ll play, but will go deeper into the bench if need be.

“I probably am going to play nine guys, and then go deeper if I need to,” Cal said.

Cal said he’s got plenty of guys down the bench that deserve minutes, so he’ll have to see how it plays out.

What helps with the growth of players, as well as handling depth, is having Isaiah Briscoe on the floor, who Cal said is like another coach on the court.

Cal also talked about how he plans out his roster with so many one-and-done players.

“However this plays out for the kids is how we roll with it,” Calipari said.

Cal said that he doesn’t want players to stay for two or three years for him, and he doesn’t want players to leave after a year for him. What they do is for them, and what’s in their best interest.

After a lot of serious discussion, Cal finished his presser off with some comic relief. He was asked about Nick Saban and responded with, “Who is Nick Saban.”

He was also asked about if he likes to stay out of politics, and responded with, “in this state, yes.”