Coach John Calipari leads the press conference today discussing tomorrow's game against Notre Dame, practices, and his player's mental health.
The Kentucky Wildcats are preparing for a mental game with fewer turnovers and better offensive play against Notre Dame tomorrow at 12 pm EST. Both teams are struggling with losing records this season. At a press conference held on Friday, Kentucky Coach John Calipari along with a couple of player's Olivier Sarr and BJ Boston spoke about strategy, mental health, and moving forward.
Turnovers and three point shooting have ruled much of the conversation about the young Kentucky team. Calipari stated, “If it’s important to me, it will be important to them.” Kentucky has been averaging over 19 turnovers per game this season. Coach said, “We’ve been doing some things in practice. After ‘x’ amount of turnovers, we all run after that.” BJ Boston spoke about the turnovers and said, “Coach said don’t try to be the guy to make the easy play. Just slow it down.”
Transfer and forward Olivier Sarr said, “The team has been playing with great energy the last few practices. We’re learning from our mistakes. The last game was disappointing to us all.” Sarr is referring to the game against Texas Tech. According to Calipari, the Yellow Jackets played a smaller bench and Kentucky didn’t know how to handle it. Sarr was asked by one reporter, ‘How are you doing?’ He responded, “I’m doing great. It’s basketball. I’m here to get better. Sometimes things don’t go your way but you have to fight every time.”
There’s been some concern regarding the mental health of all the college players. In fact, Coach K. cancelled all Dukes non-conference games and is sending his team home for Christmas. He said they aren’t going to play the games or try to reschedule. This has caused some controversy about whether or not he’s doing it for the kids or because Duke is losing.
Coach Cal said, “All coaches have to make their own decisions.” Calipari said the safest place for his players is on campus. “It’s the best place to be if they get sick.”
“Fifty parents and their families came to Thanksgiving but couldn’t be with their sons. They couldn’t eat with their sons. They wore masks and saw each other outside. Meals were sent back with the parents.” said Calipari. “It’s my job to keep the kids safe. To keep an eye on their mental health.”
Christmas break will be handled differently for the players this year. “Every year, I give kids four or five days off for Christmas. Why do I do it? Because I need a break and the staff needs a break. I want to be with my family too,” Calipari continued, "The team will do Christmas by themselves with their team this year. I’m their family too," he continued, "I mean, what happens after they return...they have to quarantine for 10 days?" He also said that his children won't be coming home for Christmas either.
Coach Cal said, “My team isn’t playing well and they want to play. I worry about my 12 guys and my staff.” Calipari said that it’s a struggle, doing the best thing for the team. Their mental health is very important. It has to be taken care of. They’re doing things together as a family...the players and Coach Cal. The players get tested every three days. It’s important to look out for the league and stay on top of this.
The game against Detroit was cancelled due to safety and logistics. Calipari said he would like to have a chance to reschedule and be with his son. He said it’s really about the league. “After the 15th, everything changes. If anyone tests positive, we have to wonder why? We have to be diligent about why we can’t play that game.”
Sarr was asked a few additional questions during the press conference. As a transfer and someone that’s been playing ball at the college level, many expect a lot out of Sarr as a leader and a player. He said, “I can’t have a game like I did against Texas Tech.” He said the biggest lesson he’s learned so far is, ‘we’re in this together and we have to compete each and every game.” One reporter asked, “Who’s the junkyard dog?” Sarr said, “BJ, Terrance, Cam, Isaiah...everybody has the potential to do it. We just have to show it.”
BJ Boston took a few questions during Friday’s conference. He was asked about preparation for the Notre Dame game on Saturday. Boston said, “I started a 6 am shoot-out. I lock my mind on how to approach the game. I’m getting up at 5:30 am and have extended invites. I call it the breakfast club. We finish up at 7:30 am. We’re getting better everyday.”
The game tomorrow starts at 12 pm EST on CBS. It will be played at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky.