University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari is happy with his 2nd ranked Wildcats after coming off an impressive 69-48 victory Tuesday night over No. 13 Michigan State in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. Even though they held the Spartans to 32.6 percent shooting combined, Calipari told The Jim Rome Show on Thursday there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“We have a chance of really being good defensively, we’re not there yet,” Calipari said. “I have to get a couple of the other big kids fighting. Isaac (Humphries) and Sacha (Killeya-Jones) got to fight a little bit and they weren’t ready for that level of physical play. We also got to shore up a couple guys, how exactly they got to play. We shot the ball ok, we can shoot it better, but you know typical of my teams they share the ball. So offensively, I’ll be honest, I’m not worried about it. It’s how good can we get defensively.
Calipari added that when De’Aaron Fox on the ball, he’s “a beast,” and Isaiah Briscoe is “probably the best defensive guard in the country.” Calipari also said, “Malik Monk has the ability, but he doesn’t have the discipline yet to be that kind of defender. Wenyen Gabriel, and the 6’10 wing was like everywhere in the game. So there was a lot of good.”
Calipari is known for bringing in star-studded freshman classes. This year, the University of Kentucky head coach says this class has the chance to be his best yet, but unlike any of the previous classes the coach has had, the 2016 class has a Calipari in it, John’s son Brad, and Brad’s already had an unexpected surprise.
“He got a tattoo without telling his mother or I, and he got it on his chest, and then you know my wife gave me an earful on that one,” Calipari said.
Overall, however, the experience of having his son with him has been special for the 3-time Naismith College Coach of The Year.
“Being with him every day, I can’t tell you how fun it is to watch and watch him grow,” Calipari said. “Know that at times he’s overwhelmed with these guys, but he’s not afraid. Know that he’s in the gym at night, he sends me texts and shows me what he’s doing and know that he wants to play, but he wants to earn it and wants to prove himself. And there’s no one working harder than him.
“As a father, you want them to build their own self-esteem, their own self-worth, that you want them to understand what the grind is, the ups and downs of life. It’s never the way you want it to be, it’s how you respond to things. It’s about getting him to understand what it is to be a teammate; even though you’re not playing, you’re happy for other people. Creating joy, where you doing stuff for other people, all that stuff. I’ve done it for other people’s sons and now I’m able to do it for my own son, and I’m just telling you, I couldn’t be happier.”
Calipari said Brad’s tattoo means something to him, but says it won’t happen again. “The tattoo says ‘Earned not given.’ So he’s sensitive about his name and being on this team. And my thing was, no more or you won’t be on this team.”
The 2012 National Champion head coach was also sure to share some tattoo advice for all young kids.
“You can have a tattoo, but you can’t have it under your cheek. You can’t have it on your neck, where you can’t cover it, because at some point, you’re going to be in a position to interview for a job, and that thing on your nose, that tattoo, you’re not getting that job,” Calipari said. “Hell, when you have what you need and more and its doesn’t matter. Tattoo your eye lid, it doesn’t matter then. But until then, you get a tattoo, you better be able to cover it until you get to where you want to be. May not be fair, may not be right. That’s society, and I told him that. So now when you see him in uniform, he’s got a t-shirt on over his tattoo.”