Cal dismisses talk of leaving UK for Lakers

During an appearance Monday on the Dan Patrick’s radio show, Kentucky Coach John Calipari made light of the talk that he would coach the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

When Patrick brought up the subject, Calipari said, “Where did this come from?”

Patrick mentioned Rex Chapman’s Twitter post before last Monday night’s championship game. Chapman said it was a “done deal” that Calipari would move to the Lakers next season, no matter whether Kentucky won or lost.

“Who is he?” Calipari said.

Patrick answered that Chapman was an All-American player for Kentucky.

“Oh, he is,” Calipari said.

With a hint of sarcasm in his voice, Patrick noted that Chapman was plugged in, the deal was done and Calipari would be coaching Kobe Bryant next season.

“Obviously, it’s not true,” Calipari said.

Calipari denied that there had been any contact between himself or his representative with the Lakers.

“There has been nothing,” he said. “I’m not mad at Rex. It is what it is. We moved on.”

Cal on what makes a good coach: All of the above

During his four-minute appearance Monday on CBS This Morning, Kentucky Coach John Calipari was asked whether a good coach needed to be a good recruiter or a good game tactician.

“You better be both because the only way you can be a great recruiter is you have results,” Calipari said. “Players are getting better.”

The first question of the interview involved why UK lost to UConn in NCAA Tournament championship game.

“Connecticut’s guard play was so good and they were so active that it affected us,” Calipari said. “But I had all freshmen. I tried to minimize the game for them. It wasn’t that big a game.

“Well, it was.”

Cal: ‘Tweak’ was instructing Andrew to pass first

Kentucky Coach John Calipari’s less-is-more philosophy applies to the much-discussed “tweak” he often spoke about as a difference-maker this season.

Calipari credited a “tweak,” which he declined to identify, as a reason Kentucky’s team played better in the Southeastern Conference and NCAA tournaments.

During an appearance Monday on CBS This Morning, Calipari explained the tweak. He said it involved point guard Andrew Harrison.

Calipari said he and Harrison watched video of how Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets played point guard. Calipari said he wanted Harrison to follow Williams’ example as a pass-first point guard.

Harrison had hinted that the tweak involved Calipari turning down the intensity of his coaching demands. Instead, Harrison was free to make plays rather than run plays.

Calipari appeared on CBS This Morning as part of a tour promoting his new book, Players First.

UConn’s Niels Giffey touts benefit of 4-and-done

UConn senior Niels Giffey suggested the Huskies’ national championship can serve as an example of how four-year players can do something special.

“I hope that’s one of the things that our story, that we wrote, really tells,” he said, “and that people can see and hopefully they can learn a lesson from that.

“That it can really work out if you stay with one program for four years. And you stay with a core group of people and you really get to know each other on and off the court so well. You just create bonds that you will never forget, and you will always have throughout your life.”

Cal explains few fouls at end

Kentucky trailed 58-54 when James Young drove to a layup with 1:08 left. To that point, the Cats had committed five fouls in the second half.

UK waited until 54.1 seconds remained to commit the sixth foul.  The seventh foul, which sent UConn to the line for a one-and-one came with 25 seconds left.

“You could say, why not foul?” UK Coach John Calipari said. “Because they didn’t miss any free throws.”

Connecticut made 10 of 10 free throws in the game. The Huskies ranked No. 5 nationally in free-throw accuracy (77.4 percent). Lasan Kromah made both free throws with 25 seconds left to clinch the game.

“They weren’t going to miss a free throw,” Calipari said. “We had three possessions left. We were OK. But we were going to have to score on every possession.

“Those were the dice I rolled. I said, that’s what we’re going to try.”

David Stern salutes Cal’s reliance on one-and-done

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern does not support the so-called one-and-done rule nor critics of coaches, like UK’s John Calipari, who recruit such players.
“I have no problem with schools that sign up players with the almost certain knowledge that they’ll leave after one season,” Stern said. “I’m an admirer of Coach Cal.
“But the college presidents shouldn’t complain.”
If a college president objects to one-and-done players, he or she can bar a coach from recruiting such players, Stern said.
Calipari has had 11 players enter the NBA draft after their freshmen season since becoming UK coach in 2009. No one would be surprised if several freshmen on this season’s team enter the 2014 NBA Draft.
But Stern objected to the conclusion that one-and-done players serve as a foundation of UK’s program.
“I don’t think he bases the program on it,” he said of Calipari. “He bases it on getting the best players. It’s not the foundation. it’s the result of getting the best players.”
Stern, one of the inductees in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2014 announced Monday at a Dallas hotel, said the one-and-done rule is a product of labor negotiations between the league and its players’ association. The league wanted a minimum age limit of 20. The players wanted no limit. The compromise was 19.
“There’s a lot of sense in making it 20,” he said. “There’s more support than I’ve seen in a while.”

WCS makes return-to-UK argument compelling

After Kentucky’s loss in the NCAA Tournament finals Monday night, Willie Cauley-Stein candidly detailed the conflicting factors that he and several teammates will face in deciding whether to return to college next season or enter this year’s NBA Draft.
Cauley-Stein made his ledger seem heavily weighted toward returning.
“I still have something to prove and I still have so much to work on in my game,” he said. “I went up from last year. Now, I want to take another step.”
Cauley-Stein professed his love for all things UK.
“You know, I love the school,” he said. “I love being at Kentucky. I love the fan base. I love the community. I love the people there.
“Why not stay until they make you leave.”
Because a NBA career means millions of dollars and the opportunity to improving in basketball while free of schoolwork.
“I really don’t know,” Cauley-Stein said. He added that he would meet with his family and UK coaches before deciding on future plans.
Several other UK players recoiled from the inevitable questions about whether to return next season or leave.
“No clue,” Aaron Harrison said.
When asked what thoughts he had about the subject, James Young said, “None at all.”
Julius Randle, widely considered the most likely of UK’s freshmen to enter this year’s NBA Draft, said, “It’s hard to think of that right now. I’m hurting from this loss.”

UK: Final Four tickets on sale

Kentucky season ticket holders could begin placing a request for Final Four tickets through the UK ticket office at 9 a.m. Monday.

Ticket holders may request up to two tickets at $300 per ticket. Tickets include the semifinal games on Saturday and the championship game on Monday. UK is sold out of its NCAA required hotel allotment, the school said in a news release. Ticket holders will receive an email confirmation on Monday evening regarding the status of their ticket request.  Please note that placing a request does not guarantee tickets.  All tickets must be picked up in Dallas and will require a photo ID.

All ticket requests must be received by 4 p.m. EDT on Monday.  Seat locations will be assigned based on the K Fund priority point system.

Season ticket holders may request tickets one of the following methods:

  • Call the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287.  The ticket office is open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm ET.
  • Fax your request form to (859) 323-1269.  Request forms have been emailed to all men’s basketball ticket holders.
  • Walk up and place your request in person at the UK Ticket Office, located in the Joe Craft Center, from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm ET.

UK students who signed up for the online Final Four lottery last week will receive an email from the ticket office on Monday afternoon, March 31 with ordering instructions for the NCAA’s Veritix ticket system.  Student tickets must be purchased by Tuesday at 12:00 noon ET.  If not all tickets are purchased by the deadline, the ticket office will send another email to all eligible students, and the remaining tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis until Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. ET.  Student ticket information can be found online at www.ukathletics.com/tickets.

Andrew Harrison: Elbow getting better

Andrew Harrison gave an update on his injured right elbow Thursday.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “Still a little sore. Still ice it and stuff. But it’s definitely getting better.”
Harrison acknowledged that the elbow as not 100 percent against Wichita State last weekend. Wearing a padded sleeve on the elbow, he scored 20 points in UK’s victory.
“I had some pain during the game,” he said. “A game like that, it’s so exciting. The adrenalin is flowing.”

Harrison said he planned to wear the padded sleeve again Friday night.

Cauley-Stein: UK, U of L fans not so different

Kentucky big man Willie Cauley-Stein suggested that UK and U of L fans might be more similar than they think.
“If you ask Kentucky fan about the rivalry and then ask a Louisville fan about the rivalry, they say the same kind of trash talk about each other,” he said. “. . . It’s the same thing, just on the different side of it. It’s funny because it’s so similar.
“That’s why it’s funny. You all are really the same. You’re saying the same thing.”