COACH JOHN CALIPARI
Q. On providing spring tuition for two students.
COACH CALIPARI: I did something like this when I was at UMass and a guy reminded me of it when I was in town, and I thought, yeah, we ought to do something like that here. So I had done that in 1994‑'95, and just popped in my head, and I told DeWayne (Peevy), like typical thing, let's do it tomorrow. He said, what? I said, figure it out; let's go. But it was fun. This is great. I mean, it's a good thing, and I'm happy for them. I'm hearing Josh (Lawson) is all over the place, traveled, did his thing. Amanda (Dowell), now she'll come to every game, and it's good. We've got a good student body. They're into this, and so I'm glad we could do it.
Q. Who was the guy?
COACH CALIPARI: A friend of mine who came to town that was in town for two days that was from my UMass days. Marty Jacobson was the guy that said, do you remember doing that? And I asked my wife, do you remember us doing that? She said, now that you reminded me, I do. But no, it was a long time ago.
This was fun. Like I said, it's something we can do, and it's something we can do at some games, so it'll be fun.
Q. Once a year?
COACH CALIPARI: If you help me we can do it more than that if you want. (Laughter).
Q. Did you like how they ran and just your overall first thoughts?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, it's a scrimmage. We haven't done pick‑and‑roll defense you could tell. We're still figuring out transition defense. But what you found out is you saw Dominique (Hawkins) ‑‑ now you understood I had to trap him so he wouldn't go for 50 today, so I had the one team trap Dakari (Johnson) because he was going to kill them. He had 10 and 8 I think at half.
You had Dominique. How did Dominique play? He belongs.
There's that other kid, that big long kid, Derek Willis, who has no conscience whatsoever, just lets you go. Played well.
I thought our big guys did well, our guards did well. Andrew (Harrison), whose knee has been bothered him, probably shouldn't have played today, but I told him that and he wanted to play. Hopefully he'll be okay for tomorrow.
James Young is what he is. That's what you saw today. What James Young could be is ‑‑ forget about just scoring the ball and getting to the rim. He can really defend. He comes up with balls and steals.
I like the fact that we defended without fouling. The officials came up, and especially the SEC official, and told me that this is the best I've seen. You've got your hands up, your body in. We don't try to foul anyway. That's not how we play. I thought it was good. And we're a shot‑blocking team, so these rules kind of play to what we do.
Q. You talked on media day about Julius Randle and adjusting to that role on the perimeter. Is tonight indicative of the progress he's made?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, and what was really good is he wasn't getting the ball early, and he didn't ‑‑ he just played, and eventually he started getting it, and he walks the guy down, makes the foul‑line jumper, makes his free throws, gets to the basket, and he even missed about three lay‑ups or he'd have had six, eight more points. No, he's really good. He can really pass. That's the biggest thing. I look at him and say, man, he can pass.
Again, they want to talk about Aaron (Harrison); you can see Aaron is really good. Whoever has made this thing that one of them is way better than the other is crazy. I'm coaching them now. You know, Alex (Poythress) is better, Willie (Cauley-Stein) is better.
Jarrod did not play as well as he's been playing, but he played well, and he made shots down the stretch, and Jonny Hood had played better. The intensity seemed to be kind of high in there, and again, it might be because there were that many people for this kind of game.
Q. That starting blue lineup tonight, is that the lineup we might see game 1?
COACH CALIPARI: Here's what I would say to you: When you looked at what we did, you kind of got a picture of while you've got this guy, this guy, that guy, but what about Derek Willis? Where does he fit in here? I mean, and then you look at, well, what about Marcus Lee; he's pretty good too, now. And then you look at Dominique and say, wow, I'm not going to play 11 guys. So there's a little bit of a dogfight. We've got to figure out how we're going to do this. We've got to have a little plan about it, and then everybody has got to buy into what we're doing and their roles on the team.
I'm trying to get Alex, and I think Alex is playing better. Be a finisher; you're not a play starter. That's not what you are. Don't put him in a position to start plays; put him in a position where he can finish and get to the basket or he can make a jump shot. Let him be a play finisher. And he's buying into that, and I think he played more comfortable today than he has in a while.
Q. So are a lot of those blue starters college starters?
COACH CALIPARI: Don't know yet. They were pretty good today, though. But Andrew has to ‑‑ he's going to have to be able to practice and stuff. He's been hurt.
Q. When you're marking it up, which was more impressive, Julius's dunks in the first half or EJ Floreal's dunk on him in the second half?
COACH CALIPARI: EJ put a helmet on him, so that will be a picture in the hallway. I was happy for EJ. EJ has done well in practice and he's not getting a whole lot of time on the floor. But the time he was out there, you watch and say, you know what, he can do this. So I was happy for him even though he didn't let Tod (Lanter) get a basket. Shut him out there at the end.
Q. Along those lines, after he got dunked on, it seemed like the teammates were having a lot of fun with Julius, sort of ribbing him, giving him a hard time.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, they did after, too. They were laughing.
Q. How has the chemistry evolved? You talked about last year's team didn't know each other.
COACH CALIPARI: They really like each other, but we've got a whole season. We've got to get dinged up a little bit. Like I said, you can't compare how you're playing to somebody else. Just be the best version of yourself. If somebody goes for 30, don't have that affect how you think or play or ‑‑ you just can't on this team because you're going to drive yourself crazy because there could be ‑‑ now that you saw, was my statement an exaggeration? We could have as many as seven, eight guys do that. And so if someone is doing it you can't let it affect you. Just play basketball, defend, rebound. If we're going to be what we want to be, we've got to be a better defensive team, and I'm starting to zero in on defense. I'm telling you, from the 18th until this date, we've just started defense. I did no defense prior to.
Q. There was a play in the second half where Marcus Lee blocks a shot, then he throws the outlet away, and Aaron and Julius went right to him and really gave him an earful about it.
COACH CALIPARI: No, it wasn't an earful. What happened was he thought he was still in the white. He thought he was on the white team so he outlet it to the white team. He did it twice. That's why I said, don't worry about it, just play. But he's fine. He did some good things. I mean, we're not helping helpers right now, so when we leave to block we're not pinning down enough. We're not ‑‑ obviously pick‑and‑roll defense, even our post defense until we trapped. I like picking up the ball, Dominique picking up the ball, Aaron and Andrew picking up the ball and then playing off that. I like the fact that we did not foul, and we're driving on every possession, folks. It's not like we're running patterns. We're driving. So in that game, if that was a 40‑minute game there were about 60, 80 drive attempts, and to have 20 fouls between your teams is pretty incredible.
Q. What kind of things are you working on with Dakari's game, any specific areas?
COACH CALIPARI: Running, getting to the weak side, rebounds, pick‑and‑rolls where we're looking lobs, post‑ups from there, flying down the floor, beat everybody down the floor, and he does it. He has improved probably as much as anybody on our team if not more. But Dominique has done that, Derek has done that. They're playing with confidence. That's what I want. You know, they're all playing with confidence. Now we've got to lock down defensively, make it a little bit harder.
Q. With regard to the officiating and what you've been saying, you had officials in practice, as well. How much did that help you tonight, and is that something you can do periodically throughout the year?
COACH CALIPARI: We do that when we scrimmage. We'll come in and we'll bring officials. We try to get college officials to do our scrimmages, and then the whole time they're calling ‑‑ every time a hand goes down they call it. They call a foul. If you stop a guy from cutting where he wants to go, they call a foul.
Again, what I'm hoping is the entire season this is how the game is called. You see a little more free‑flowing instead of checking a guy or hip‑checking a guy or grabbing a guy, hands up in the air and I ride you out of bounds, you're done now. You can't play that way. And we all get ‑‑ it's what the rules are. I hate to tell you, that's what the rules have been. They just haven't enforced them. Now they're saying they are, and it's good to see.
Q. Do you like this team more than say at this point last season or two years ago?
COACH CALIPARI: This is so early, and yeah, these are a great bunch of kids. They're all doing what we're asking them to do. Got to be more focused, a little more concentration. I'm going to do some things the next two weeks that every time we scrimmage, and we've done more scrimmaging than I've ever done in my life as a coach, in any time in my career. We're scrimmaging probably half the practice if not more, three quarters of the practice they're scrimmaging.
We're going to now have winners and losers so someone runs. We're keeping score but we're not doing things. So I may give one unit a 12‑point lead, and we're playing for real. Now, you're down 12, do you want to win or lose. You're up 12, do you want to win or lose. What are you doing? Whoever loses runs. We're going to do ihat from here on in. I need that competitive spirit. They showed it today. I saw the competitive spirit. It's in there. Now they've got to play that way every moment or someone else is going to be on the court.
Q. Obviously you guys like to get out and run and those things, but what dimension does it add to you when you can do what you did at the end of that first half and go four straight possessions, dump it to Dakari down low and just have him sort of bulldoze people?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, that's when we got up 20. The reason I said we trapped him, I said, Dakari, you've got to understand if you're playing like this they're trapping you. You've got to learn to play through traps, which we have not taught him yet. We haven't done anything with it because we haven't played that kind of defense. I think he was terrific today. But he's been like this ‑‑ you've got people walking in our gym bragging about him, like holy cow, so I'm proud of him, too.
Q. The guys that played the most minutes seem to be giving up an equal number of shots. How impressed are you with how unselfish these young guys have been so far?
COACH CALIPARI: For this time of the year it's been good. The guy ‑‑ who would you think in our scrimmages has been shooting the most balls? Dakari Johnson. And he says they never throw it to me. You're getting the most shots. And so every scrimmage that we've had since ‑‑ and what we do is we take the stats of the scrimmage every day, and it goes to their iPads so they can see the stats. They see theirs and they see their teammates' stats. The reason is you've got to be held accountable. The stats indict you. Now, the film convicts you but the stats indict you. Now you're looking and all of a sudden Dakari gets 26 and 18 and you're playing the same position as him. You start thinking, I've got a little problem here. Yeah, you do.
So we're trying to chart and make sure we keep these guys hungry and competitive. But like I said, I'm really pleased with this part. This is a scrimmage against ourselves. We didn't even play anybody.
But you're right, we share the ball, we appeared to defend half decent without fouling. The one thing you may not have noticed, you'd have to have a really good eye to notice this, we're really big. Like really big. Like 7'0", 7'0", 6'10", 6'9", 6'9", 6'8", 6'7", and then your guards are 6'6". What? I mean, we're really long and big.
Anything else? Thank you.