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Calipari: Looking toward the Future of Kentucky Basketball

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 21:  Head Coach John Calipari of the Memphis Tigers looks on from the sideline during their second round game against the Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 21, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Tigers defeated the Terrapins 89-70.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Alec McAfeeCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

When John Calipari was first brought on as the University of Kentucky men's basketball coach, he said said numerous times that he is "day by day."

"If you want something to happen in a year, do not hire me," he once said.

But for the first time since his hiring on April 1, Calipari talked about next year.

Calipari addressed the media on numerous topics looking forward to the upcoming season. A season that already has Cats fans anxious because of the sudden high expectations.

He would not say what his expectations for this team going into next season are, other than it will be a learning process. "Then by March [we] are playing [our] best basketball."

Calipari expects to be playing great basketball in March, partially because of the announcement that Patrick Patterson will be returning to Kentucky for his junior season.

"I'm excited about [Patrick returning]," Calipari explained, "I wanted him to know that he is coming back for himself and to help the university."

Coach Calipari also detailed how surprised he was with Patterson and some of the things he could do on the basketball floor that he was not aware of.

"One of the things was that I didn't realize how fast [Patrick] was," Calipari smiled, "He also shoots the ball better than I thought, and handles it and passes it better than I thought."

Another crucial topic of discussion was the incoming recruits. Eric Bledsoe will play a very crucial role on a team in desperate need of a point guard and playmaking ability.

"When I recruit players, I want to make sure that they play big and are big," said Calipari. "If a guy is 6'4" and plays 6'2", then he is not big. If a guy is 6'0" and plays 6'5", then he is big...Eric is probably 6'1", maybe, but he plays big. He is fast and very physically strong and tough. He has great vision on the court, and in this offense, you have to be able to react."

Another freshman who has to step up under Calipari is Daniel Orton. Orton, an Oklahoma native, appears ready to make the jump to the college game alongside Patterson and fellow freshman DeMarcus Cousins.

"Daniel Orton is going to be terrific, because he has great size, really long arms and he is skilled. You can play him inside, or outside and he is a terrific passer," Calipari noted. "He also has the skills that if you want to play two big guys you can. There is DeMarcus [Cousins] that you can play with him and together."

There is no question that Kentucky is going to be a very good team under Calipari, but Coach Cal has warned the media numerous times already that this is a step-by-step process that will take time.

"But when we get it right, you notice we're No. 1 in the country, we're No. 1 seeds, we're playing in Final Fours when you get it right."


Extra News and Notes

The schedule situation was brought up today and Calipari explained it to the media that there is still two games to schedule, but the rest is pretty much done. He said they got a call from Texas for a Houston-site game. Also looking at Cincinnati or a Nashville-site game.

He also talked about wanting Midnight Madness in Commonwealth Stadium (Kentucky football stadium). Calipari said it would be great to get 70,000 people to come and have Ashley Judd and Justin Timberlake there. He said the biggest issue would be predicting the weather in the middle of October.




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