Cal cites the way to beat UK: Out-hustle UK

After Kentucky beat Tennessee Tuesday night, John Calipari (facetiously?) said he’d been watching all the analysts on various TV shows talk about how to beat Kentucky.
The UK coach jokingly said he was looking for the ways to beat the Cats so he could thwart those plans.
“Most of the stuff is not working,” Calipari said.
Then Calipari mentioned what could work: out-hustling the Cats.
“That’s why I keep saying we’ve got to come out and play,” he said. “If you’re not attacking, I’m taking you out. You can say I’m messing with you. I don’t care what you say. But you’re not going to play.
“Because that’s the way they’re going to get us.”
Calipari was responding to a reporter’s question about Tennessee’s two-for-17 three-point shooting, and how perimeter shooting is the way to beat Kentucky.
“I don’t care about these threes,” Calipari said. “They’ve just got to say, ‘We’ve got to be the aggressor. We’re going to attack them. … I don’t ‘think it’s post, pick-and-roll defense, transition, shoot threes.”

Cauley-Stein: ‘Whole country wants us to lose’

Kentucky’s 66-48 victory at Tennessee Tuesday validated what assistant coach Kenny Payne said on Sunday night: Even though the Vols played poorly in losing to LSU on Saturday, UK would expect a big test in Big Orange Country.
“As players, we’ve got to know it’s going to be tough everywhere we go,” Willie Cauley-Stein said. “Especially now we have this huge target on our back. The whole country wants us to lose. They want to see us lose. We have to come in like they’re trying to kill us type stuff.”
When asked what gave him the impression that the whole country wanted Kentucky to lose, Cauley-Stein said, “C’mon.”
UK Coach John Calipari regularly stresses the need to match opponents’ zeal, Cauley-Stein said.
“Every day,” he said. “Like after every game or in a film session or in practice. That’s one of the things he’s always going to put in your head. So you just remember that.”
Cauley-Stein noted the danger of letting opponents take the initiative early.
“You have to be ready to play with them,” he said. “If not, they get ‘beer muscles.’ They think they can play with you. You have to come out ready to swing or otherwise, you’re going to get hit in the mouth a couple times. And it’s going to look like you’re bad or it’s going to look like maybe they have a chance to win.”

Cauley-Stein: This is a wolf pack

Kentucky’s 66-48 victory at Tennessee Tuesday followed a familiar script. Like air rushing into a vacuum, UK continued to reach into its deep bag of talented players and find what was needed to win.
At Tennessee, three-point shooters Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker combined to make only six of 23 shot. Thanks, in part, to its zone defense, Tennessee outscored UK 34-2 in the paint.
Yet, Kentucky won with defense (UT made only 25 percent of its second-half shots), rebounding and perseverance.
To explain the victory, Willie Cauley-Stein reminded reporters of something UK Coach John Calipari said on Monday.
“When coach really says this is a wolf pack, this is a wolf pack,” Cauley-Stein said. “We’re trying to be, like, something special. So every day we’re trying to make each other better.
“That’s powerful.”
Booker, who made five of 16 shots, played both roles: the UK needed help from his teammates and the teammate that provided the help. His career-high seven rebounds helped make up for the Cats’ 22.7-percent three-point shooting (sixth-worst accuracy of the season).
“This is the most talented team I’ve ever played on in my life,” Booker said. “Even though I’m not doing good . . . , I don’t worry about it. We have so many other players on the team. I’m more into them than I am in myself. They make the game easier for me.
“As you see, they’re all open shots. If I miss them, they rebound them. So I feel it’s a win-win situation.”
Cauley-Stein echoed the sentiment of UK’s many players compensating for whatever might be lacking in a particular game.
Of the many perimeter misses, he said, “That’s a pass to us ‘bigs.’ If they go down, awesome. If they don’t, we get to pad our stats a little bit. We have to get an offensive rebound, maybe a put-back. Next thing you know, you look like an all-star.”

Cal laments snow, but Tyndall wants Mother Nature to pour it on

With heavy snowfall blanketing central Kentucky Monday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari fretted about a disruption of his team’s routine on road trips. Meanwhile, Tennessee Coach Donnie Tyndall practically sung “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
Calipari called himself a “creature of habit.” Because of the snow, Kentucky moved its travel to Tennessee from the customary day-before-the-game to Sunday night. The Cats are scheduled to play at Tennessee Tuesday night.
The UK coach said he wanted to keep the players busy. So he scheduled two practices, plus individual workouts for Monday. The afternoon workout was delayed because of a wintry mix that put a quarter-inch coating of ice on Knoxville Monday.
“If I let them go all day (and sleep), we will be sleep-walking in that game,” Calipari said.
Knoxville had a much less threatening forecast (up to three inches of a wintry mix of snow, sleet and ice).
“I certainly hope our fans will come out,” Tyndall said. “I understand concerns with weather. This game is probably as important to our fans as any game we play all year. I’m pretty sure they’ll find a way to make it.
“And,” Tyndall added with a smile, “hopefully it’ll keep a few Kentucky fans back in Lexington.”

Weather disrupts Mississippi State trip

After the ice storms of last season, it had been an uneventful 2014-15 in terms of weather.
Until this weekend.
Mississippi State had a scary experience after winning at Missouri Saturday. The team plane had to make an emergency landing in St. Louis. Then, the Bulldogs improvised and decided to bus back to Starkville, Miss., Sunday.
“25 minutes after takeoff, the right engine blew and we were forced to land in STL,” spokesman Gregg Ellis wrote in an email. “We were on a holding room off the tarmac waiting for a replacement plane from Lexington, of all places.”
That plane never arrived.
“Pilots there said they couldn’t take off due to strong winds,” Ellis wrote. “So we decided to spend the night and got a hotel in Festus, Missouri.
“We are busing home cause the plane couldn’t get here until later today.”
Ellis said he was aware of what happened Saturday on a plane that was supposed to take the Oregon State team home after a game in Los Angeles. Takeoff was delayed because a passenger was bit by a scorpion.
Incidentally, Festus, Mo., mentioned in the John Prine song, “We’re not the Jet Set.”
George Jones and Tammy Wynette, who had a hit with the song, were the old Chevro-let set.

Cauley-Stein a hero despite wearing the black hat

For post-game interviews Saturday, Willie Cauley-Stein wore a black hat that suggested a cross between cowboy and Pharrell Williams. It begged a question: Shouldn’t a UK basketball hero be wearing a white hat?
“This is a new age of hero,” Cauley-Stein playfully said. “I like to say vigilante. You’re not going to wear white (hat) in the dark. They’re going to be blacked out. They will be sneaking around. That’s how I’m going to get you.”

Cal: As Lyles ascends, Hawkins must recede

With Trey Lyles returning to the starting lineup and playing 21 minutes Saturday, Dominique Hawkins’ role diminished. He played four minutes, one more than he played at LSU, which was the game that saw the return of Lyles after missing three games because of strep throat.
“Dom’s good,” Calipari said. “He’s just not as good as some of the other guys, and they deserve their minutes.”
Calipari noted how Hawkins might play a decisive role again this season.
“He was in the same position a year ago,” the UK coach said. “We played Michigan, and he went in and guarded (Nik) Stauskas, and did a great job. So I know we can count on him if we need him.”

Cauley-Stein to critics: Dunk you very much

Thinking less. Dunking more.
That’s the formula for success Willie Cauley-Stein spoke of after Kentucky beat South Carolina 77-43 Saturday.
When asked about being perceived as not comfortable with aggressive opponents, Cauley-Stein said, “I feel the whole criticism is I’m soft. Or something like that.
“I’m just going to dunk over poeple. I don’t see how you can start calling me soft if I’m dunking on people. That’s my whole mentality going into games now.”
Cauley-Stein dunked three times against South Carolina en route to a team-high 14 points. That continued a recent resurgence that saw him score double-digit points in three of the previous four most recent games.
“Just playing more aggressive,” he said. “Instead of looking to be passive. . . . Where I used to catch it and analyze everybody. Where’s Aaron (Harrison)? Where’s ‘Drew (Harrison)? Where is whoever’s on the floor.
“Instead, let me catch the ball and just score on the dude. Or try to score on the dude. Or dunk on the dude.”
On Friday, UK Coach John Calipari said Cauley-Stein needed to be more assertive, take risks and put more effort into improving.
“Why wouldn’t you be the best player in the country?” Calipari said as if speaking to Cauley-Stein. “Does that scare you?”
The suggestion of being scared puzzled Cauley-Stein. A reporter fumbled to try to explain what Calipari meant, finally settling on being fearful of being on center stage.
“I think this is as center stage as it gets,” Cauley-Stein said. “I’ve been on center stage. So I wouldn’t say I’m scared. Kentucky is center stage. I can’t walk outside the dorm without seven pictures taken. So I think that’s pretty center stage.”

Cal as Hall of Fame finalist no surprise to Cauley-Stein

Kentucky Coach John Calipari is among the finalists for election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year, the Hall announced Saturday. To which, Willie Cauley-Stein reacted by saying of course Kentucky Coach John Calipari is among the finalists for election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this year.
“You kind of expect it,” Cauley-Stein said after UK beat South Carolina 77-43 Saturday. “It’s not like it’s a surprise or anything.”
Calipari, who said he was “honored and humbled,” reminded reporters that being a finalist is a preliminary step. “They still have other votes,” he said. A finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election.
Whether or not Calipari is voted into the Hall, Kentucky basketball will be represented at the enshrinement Sept. 10-11 in Springfield, Mass. One of the Rupp’s Runts, Louie Dampier,
was elected by the American Basketball Association Committee as what’s known as one of the “Direct-Elects.” Before playing in the ABA, he scored 1,575 points (12th on UK’s career scoring list) for the Wildcats.
“It’s deserving,” fellow Runt Larry Conley said. “It’s well-deserved for him,”
Of Dampier’s shooting ability, Conley said, “I sat there in amazement. He was perfection.”
Dampier becomes the ninth Hall of Famer with ties to UK. He follows Adolph Rupp, Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey, Dan Issel, C.M. Newton, Pat Riley, Adrian Smith and Rick Pitino.
Whether Calipari becomes the 10th will be known when the class of 2015 is announced on the morning of the national championship game on April 6.
In a tweet, Calipari thanked Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky for entrusting their basketball programs to him. “Most importantly, I want to thank all the players who have let us coach them, and all the parents who entrusted us with their sons,” Calipari tweeted. “Thank you.”
After Kentucky beat South Carolina, Calipari said he did not want the Hall of Fame story to distract from the team and season.
“So I’m not going to address it,” he said. “This is it. . . . When the season ends, if you want to ask me about it, I’ll talk about it.”
Calipari’s accomplishments include putting UMass on the basketball map in the 1990s, including a Final Four appearance in 1996. Of course, he also guided Kentucky to the 2012 national championship. UK has been ranked No. 1 all season and figures to be the overall No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Calipari was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2009, and has been named a conference Coach of the Year eight times (1993, 1994, 1996, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012).
Of course, Calipari’s Final Four appearances of 2008 and 1996 were vacated by the NCAA because of rules violations. The NCAA vacated the Memphis 2008 appearance because of questions about Derrick Rose’s entrance exam score and the UMass 1996 appearance because Marcus Camby admitted receiving improper benefits. Calipari was not directly implicated in either case.
Cauley-Stein saluted Calipari as a fearless innovator who has not let criticism stand in the way of achievement on an unprecedented level.
“He would take young kids and bring them together and be really (successful),” the UK player said. “There’s nobody that’s done that. There’s nobody who’s ever done it.”
Of course, Calipari has used the so-called one-and-done rule to revolutionize college basketball. He and Kentucky showed that freshman-oriented teams can achieve anything.
“He’s got a sense of this is what I want to do and these are the steps we’re going to take to get there,” Cauley-Stein said. “Whether it’s against the norm or for the norm, he’s going to do what he wants any way he can do it.”

Cal among finalists for election to Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

Kentucky Coach John Calipari is among the finalists for election this year to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Hall announced Saturday.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Calipari was quoted as saying on his website. “I want to thank the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame committee for even considering me. The process is by no means over – I’m just a finalist at this point – but to even be mentioned as a finalist among these worthy candidates is an unbelievable honor. I am absolutely humbled by this.
“I want to thank the people at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky for giving Ellen and I an opportunity to coach at three great institutions. I want to thank all the assistants and staff who have worked for us over the years, as well as the people in the community who have added value to our lives. Most importantly, I want to thank all of the players who have let us coach them and all of the parents who entrusted us with their son. Thank you.”
Among what’s known as “Direct-Elects” to the Hall of Fame this year are former Rupp Runt Louie Dampier. he was elected by the American Basketball Association Committee. Dampier ranks 12th on UK’s career scoring list with 1,575 points. He led UK in scoring as a sophomore (17.0 ppg) and senior (20.6 ppg).
Dampier becomes the ninth Hall of Famer with ties to UK. He follows Adolph Rupp, Cliff Hagan, Frank Ramsey, Dan Issel, C.M. Newton, Pat Riley, Adrian Smith and Rick Pitino.
Besides Calipari, the finalists for election to the Hall include NBA referee Dick Bavetta, two-time NBA Coach of the Year Bill Fitch, all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes, eight-time NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutumbo, Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan, seven-time NBA All-Star Jo Jo White, all-time winningest high school coach Leta Andrews and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie.7.0
Finalists announced earlier this year are five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, four-time NBA All-Star Spencer Haywood and three-time NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson.
“The finalists for the Class of 2015 are a group of very distinguished individuals who have each made a unique impact on the game of basketball,” Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a release. “To be recognized as a Finalist is a great achievement in and of itself and each of the Finalists recognized today should be very proud. Although the process of selecting the final class members of 2015 will be a difficult task, we look forward to making the announcement at the Final Four in April.”
The Class of 2015 will be announced on April 6, the morning of the national championship game. A finalizst needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election. The class of 2015 will be enshrined in Springfield, Mass., on Sept. 10-11.
Calipari’s accomplishments include putting the Massachusetts basketball program on the map in the 1990s, including a Final Four appearance in 1996. Of course, he also guided Kentucky to the 2012 national championship. UK has been ranked No. 1 all season and figures to be the overall No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Calipari was named the Naismith College Coach of the Year in 1996 and 2009) and has been named a conference Coach of the Year eight times (1993, 1994, 1996, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012). He won five Atlantic 10 regular season championships and five Tournament championships at UMass.
Calipari guided Memphis to four Conference USA regular-season championships and three C-USA Tournament titles. The Tigers also won the NIT in 2002.
At UK, Calipari has won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championships in 2010 and 2012), SEC Tournament championships in 2010 and 2011).
Overall, Calipari has led teams to six Elite Eight Appearances and Final Four appearances in 1996, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014).
Of course, Calipari’s Final Four appearances of 2008 and 1996 were vacated by the NCAA because of rules violations. The NCAA vacated the Memphis 2008 appearance because of questions about Derrick Rose’s entrance exam score and the UMass 1996 appearance because Marcus Camby admitted receiving improper benefits.
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale, an ardent supporter, noted Saturday that Calipari had not been directly implicated in either case.
Calipari has the best record of any UK coach through the first 213 games of their tenure. His .825 winning percentage exceeds Rupp’s .822.
Besides Dampier, the other Direct-Elects in the Class of 2015 are John Isaacs from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Lindsay Gaze from the International Committee, Tom Heinsohn from the Veterans Committee and George Raveling from the Contributor Direct Election Committee.