DIVIDE TO CONQUER
The Kentucky coach has split the minutes among his blue-chip players: None are averaging more than 26 a game. The platoon system is working. Through Sunday the top-ranked Wildcats were 19--0.
DAN PATRICK:How tough is it to divvy up minutes?
JOHN CALIPARI: It's not about keeping guys happy. It's about getting them better. It's about them being accountable enough—that if you play, you must perform. We had dinner the other day, and I asked, "How many of you want to give up your minutes?" None of them raised their hands.
DP:Can you have too much talent?
JC: No, absolutely not. You can have talent with kids who don't have heart, and then it becomes difficult. The only reason this is working is the players allow it to work.
DP:Do you learn more from other basketball coaches or coaches from other sports?
JC: Both. When I was [setting up my platoon] I called [NFL coaches] Mike Tomlin, Marvin Lewis, Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells. I [asked], "How do you have different units and make sure they're still a team?" They all came up with the same kind of stuff: You gotta be prepared to play seven, eight guys and let them know it will be decided on the field.
DP:How does someone like 7-foot Willie Cauley-Stein, who could have gone pro last year, feel on this team?
JC: He's doing fine. He has done some great things defensively and rebounding. These kids all trust each other. They trust our staff. They look at results. The kids that have come through here not only go on to the league, but they also play well in the league. A guy put down the 31 players that I've coached who are in the NBA. Their total salaries came to $820 million. If you threw in John Wall's or Derrick Rose's shoe contract, you're at $1 billion.
DP:Save it for the kids in their living rooms.
JC: I speak the truth. It's not spin.
DP:You've taken the one-and-done system and made it work.
JC: Four kids on this team will graduate. It's just that I'm not going to hold kids back. It's their choice.
DP:You were a player in college. Could you make the Kentucky roster?
JC: No. Neither could you.
DP:You think you could outshoot me?
JC: I got you, and I had both hips replaced.
DP:I'd make you one-and-done with me. I'd shoot in front of your team, like when Larry Bird was lighting up the Hawks.
JC: They'd be laughing because of Dunlap. Your belly done lapped over your belt.
DP:I'm in good shape.
JC: You've got a six-pack, but it's not the one near your waist.
Hawks forward Al Horford explained why GM Danny Ferry's leave of absence over racist remarks hasn't affected the team. "We have a group of veteran guys who didn't want to get caught up in things we couldn't control," Horford said. "We weren't going to let that mess up our season." ... Former Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe shared a story of malformed footballs involving kickers Matt Bahr and Adam Vinatieri: "They put the balls in the dryer, then started playing cards and forgot about them. They ruined an entire batch. They looked like rugby balls." ... NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock weighed in on Oregon QB Marcus Mariota: "Because he plays in that spread system, everybody is scared to death of what's going to happen when you ask him to play from an NFL-style pocket. It's a pure projection because you can't see it on the field."