Calipari not in favor of reviving Indiana series
Published 10:20 pm Thursday, June 27, 2019
LEXINGTON (KT) — John Calipari isn’t interested in reviving the Kentucky-Indiana series any time soon.
The Kentucky coach said the series remains on hold because his team’s schedule is “so locked in,” with little room for a home-and-home series possibilities on the Wildcats’ non-conference schedule. Kentucky is committed to the State Farm Champions Classic, the CBS Sports Classic and a yearly series with instate rival Louisville in addition to the Southeastern Conference-Big 12 Challenge each January.
Calipari also is looking at the possibility of playing a non-conference game in London, England in the near future.
“I’m not sure, in the next four to five years, even talking about it, does anything,” Calipari said during the SEC coaches summer teleconference Thursday. “Our stuff is pretty well-loaded. I don’t see it happening anytime in the near future.”
The two teams haven’t played since the Hoosiers defeated the Wildcats 73-67 in Des Moines nearly four years ago in the NCAA Tournament. The last regular-season contest between the two border rivals came in 2011 when the Hoosiers defeated the Wildcats 73-72 in Bloomington. Fans stormed the court after defeating then top-ranked Kentucky, prompting Calipari to take another look at the series.
He offered to play a pair of games in Indianapolis, but said the Hoosiers balked at the idea, prompting the Wildcats to take another look at the non-conference schedule.
“They turned that down,” he said. “At that point, it was like, now we’re moving on, because I can’t present anything any better. … I don’t see it happening anytime in the near future. “
Calipari added that a home-and-home series was unlikely, because the Wildcats “have enough home and homes now.”
The Wildcats are taking part in a series of summer workouts, including a session on Thursday. So far, Calipari likes what he sees from his squad, which features four players returning from last year, including point guard Ashton Hagans.
“We’ve got a good group,” Calipari said. “I spent some time with them (Wednesday) and it’s just a great group of young people.”
The Kentucky coach has been preaching the importance of staying disciplined in the summer and focus on getting better.
“What I’ve been trying to do and hitting on with this group is to just remind them that my best teams, the teams that won 38 games (and) won 35 games, those players benefited the most from those teams, that’s why I keep saying, it’s about team during the season and it’s about individuals after (the season),” he said. “This is about this team, make the better me. The better our team is, the better opportunities everybody on the team is going to have. That’s what I’m really tying to get this team to think about because we’ve got a long way to go.”
Instead of a broad range of individual workouts, Calipari wants his squad to play more pick-up games this summer.
“We’re not going to do defense in the summer,” he said. “The one thing I am trying to get these guys (not) to do is too much individual work. We need more pickup basketball. We need more movement, we need more spacing. We need more chemistry and they need to play (pick games). We’re trying to play more pickup basketball games.”
As with every season, Calipari’s focus is getting he players to buy into the team concept and share the ball instead of individual goals.
Newcomer Tyrese Maxey is already among the leaders on the squad and has been taking part in early-morning workouts. Calipari said he “was told” that most of his players were working out during breakfast hours.
“I’m not in the middle of it, but I was told one guy was driving a couple of other guys they are going in the morning. We’ve only had a couple of practices and we (had) another one (Thursday). .. it’s good start.”
DOWN TO TWO
Kentucky guard Brad Calipari has narrowed his collegiate choices down to two schools — Hampton and Detroit.
Calipari opted to enter the transfer portal last month and has been exploiting his options ever since. The Kentucky guard has explored several options, including remaining with the Wildcats. Calipari received his Bachelor of Science degree in May.