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John Calipari talks Troy, learning to win, playing Brad and more

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Cal also loves the improvements of Kevin Knox and Wenyen Gabriel.

NCAA Basketball: East Tennessee State at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

After another shaky game from this team, John Calipari went on a bit of a rant during his postgame presser. He made sure to hit on the same points that he’s been pushing all season like the fact that they can’t play a full 40 min yet, or they don’t know how to get out of offensive droughts, etc.

One thing that really stood out of the presser was when he alluded to the fact that these guys are looking for their own shots too much instead of trying to get their teammates involved. This isn’t too much to worry about right now, but if this issue continues into conference play it should be something to worry about. This team will not accomplish anything with one on one basketball.

Another interesting comment from him when he talked about how to win games.

“I’m going to have to teach them how to win,” Calipari said. “They don’t see that every possession still matters.”

Cal’s basically saying that the players are playing too conservative when they have a big lead. Instead of continuing to step on the gas, they take their foot off.

Luckily, all these problems are due to the fact that the Cats are starting five freshmen every night. Still very early so there’s no need to hit the panic button… yet.

Q: Cal, do you have to do an ice bath after these games? It looks you’re moving around, stomping around.

JOHN CALIPARI: I had to battle them too much in the second half and I got to teach them how to win. And if that game were closer we lose the game. You got to figure out who has got the courage to make free throws late in the game. When you're getting fouled and you got to go up there and make free throws.Defensively, you just don't have letdowns when you're up 21 and you're ready to bury somebody and you just start acting like it doesn't matter anymore. That's that old AAU high school stuff. And this thing you get on a run going the wrong way all of a sudden you look forward you can't make a basket, you can't -- I've been in this 30 years. So I've got to get through to them. We had -- I love the fact that Kevin started driving the ball. I thought Shai had a couple threes that he should have taken, that were open. I thought we passed out of the double team way better. I thought the first half for 20 minutes, man, I thought we were good. We had 20 minutes, we were really good. And what I've said is, we probably can play about 25 minutes right now. At some point we're going to have to get to play 40 minutes of basketball. But we just have breakdown after breakdown as soon as we get a little fatigued and the game gets going a little bit and the other team starts grinding. But it's expected when you're coaching young guys.But give Troy credit, they didn't stop. They have been in a bunch of close games already. I mean, they played Hawaii on the road and it went to overtime and they were down and came back in the end and had a chance to beat them on the road. So they're not afraid to make shots. They missed a bunch of shots early and then they started making them late.

Q. You guys didn't shoot many threes. Was the plan to go inside, use your size?

JOHN CALIPARI: No. I thought we passed up some threes, but I need Kevin Knox to drive the ball. I need him to get to the rim and not settle for threes. If the ball's driven in and out, shoot a three. If the ball's posted and it's kicked out, shoot a three. But we want to get -- be aggressive. And we had some others that we could have shot, but we're trying to figure it out.

Q. How big a concern is it at this time, it seemed like just game after game you keep hitting long periods that you go without scoring. 0-7, 1-10, 1-8.

JOHN CALIPARI: And if you look at it I'll tell you what happens, too. So the ball swings out and my center has the ball and our best three-point shooter is standing right there and is yelling to him "one more" and my center shoots it. We go into a pick and roll and my point guard, instead of throwing back to the guy that's wide open, tries to throw a pass because he wants to be the passer for the assist. And then all of a sudden it starts running downhill. Then you miss a shot or two and all of a sudden you're right, your 1-7. But if you go over those stretches, you're saying 1 out of 7, but there's turnovers in there for no reason. Lack of execution. This is a freshman team. It's the kind of stuff they do. And I told them I'm going to have to teach them how to win and they have to listen, when we're in situations, every possession still matters. They don't, they don't see that yet. But they will.

Q. You guys had 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounded Troy 53-30. What did you think of the rebound effort overall?

JOHN CALIPARI: I thought our rebounding, especially in the first half, was outstanding. We have been working on it. There are two things that have been an issue for us, rebounding the ball and turnovers. And again, we -- you're talking about two guys having seven -- really Shai, and you have three guys having 10 turnovers on our team. The other guys aren't turning it over that much. The guys that are, we just got to tell them, you got to make stronger plays. If there are people in the lane you got to stop. You got to make an easier pass. Is that the easiest pass you could have made? How about we just throw to this guy? I think we got better with our spacing. But, yeah, we rebounded the ball and held them. I mean the first half, I'm telling you for 20 minutes, I told them, you played a great half. We're just not ready to play 40 minutes because they will revert. They let go. They go back to their old ways. And that's the fight. Whether it's going to take a loss to a team that we should beat, and then they all get together and say, we got to stop. I don't know. You're saying that we're looking at it like when there's a dry spell, someone has to step up and either make a basket, you ready for this, or get fouled, you can't throw your body in there and act like they're going to bail you out. Or it's got to be a shot we can rebound. Someone took a shot, it might have been Shai, that Nick ended up grabbing and sticking back. That's a good shot. Yeah, you didn't make it, but we rebounded it because you drew the defense, and I can't remember really who shot it, might have been Quade, may have been Shai, may have been Hami. But we -- you can't now like avoid -- shoot a fade away, or you got to be strong with the ball. You got to make sure you stop the bleeding. We don't know how to do that right now. And again, the problem is, like tomorrow, like we can have a real practice tomorrow. We play Wednesday. I mean, so we got to get by this spell of games and get some time on the floor where we can work on stuff, because right now we're trying to do it on the fly. It's hard.

Q. Was Wenyen, tonight, a little closer to what you hope?

JOHN CALIPARI: Better. But there were two or three plays that he reverted again. Like his energy, his rebounding, and making an open three. But then there was a time where he could have just thrown it to this guy and he walked. Like what were you -- it was kicked out to you, you swing it that way, why did you do that? And that's the old, I'm going to make a play myself. We had a bunch of those today. Again, guys trying to get theirs instead of just play the game and let it happen. And if it's one of those games where you're not on, okay, we'll just count on somebody else. You're not going to shoot as many. But they're not ready to be that yet and it's understandable. They're a bunch of freshmen.

Q. You were talking about Quade Green looking for the assist and sometime in the first half he shot two baskets in a row on two straight possessions and you pulled him and you were telling him something on the bench. What were you coaching him up on, and what was the point of emphasis you were making?

JOHN CALIPARI: No, he made three baskets and they were all terrific. It was weak side, it was on a kickback to him, and he made it. And then he shot another ball, somebody got him a three. And then he came down and he could have passed it and he tried to shoot a fourth ball and he missed it. It didn't go in. I didn't take him out on the make. And I just said, are you trying to shoot every ball? These guys are getting you shots, now get them shots. It's the whole process of trying to get these guys to be a basketball team on defense and offense, how you can play to make the game easy for each other. When we go 1-10, how hard does it look for them? Well, you -- make it easy for us and you know what you do on defense? They're not going to drive it from 18 feet and shoot a layup. You make it hard for them. And when we made it hard for them, they struggled to score. When we made it easy, they shot layups or threes. But it's, folks, this is going to be a process, it's going to be a step at a time. I wish I had four or five practice days to say, okay, now we're going to zero in on this, we don't. Tomorrow's probably going to be more of a walk through, get ready for Wednesday.

Q. (No microphone.)

JOHN CALIPARI: No, we did in the first half. But, again, I told them, part of this is trying to, I'm -- my job is to get them to do the impossible, do things they never thought they can do, play in a way they never thought they could play. That's what my job is. Today I was harder on them in the second half than I want to be, but I told them, I said, I had to fight you in the second half so we could win the game. You guys were giving up on the game and you just can't do it. You got to be man enough to know if you're breaking down or someone's got to fight to go get a ball. We got a good group of kids, it's just a lot of growing, a lot of learning. But we're long and when we decide to defend with five guys -- again, just so you understand, on offense, if one guy's a ball stopper, like he gets the ball and he's trying to score, if one guy on defense or two are not really in sync, they're not engaged, you can't be a good defensive team. And they have to understand they owe it to their teammates to be engaged on defense and make it easy for each other on offense by spacing, by hard cutting, by sprinting the floor, creating good shots, setting good screens, get a guy a shot. Hard to set a screen when you're looking at the ball. You're not worried about the screen, you're hoping you get the ball. I mean that's high school stuff. But it's what we're fighting and like I said, it's a good win and any time you win it's good, the first half how we played was really good, give Troy credit, they didn't -- I watched their tapes, they don't give up on any game, that's how they play, and we move on to Wednesday.

Q. You played Tai and Brad in the first half. Was there any particular reason that they got those minutes or earned those minutes?

JOHN CALIPARI: Well we had foul trouble for Tai and I just said, you know what, Brad's playing so well in practice, you know, I thought he had a couple plays he could have taken a shot and I'm like, look, we need your shooting. So, can we put him in games, can he defend, stay on people? He was on Person. He wasn't supposed to be, but he was, and did fine, Person didn't score on him. So, I may start shoving him in in the first half and give him an opportunity and see what he does, especially if teams are, we're struggling to make baskets.