John Calipari talks first win, growing pains, zone defense and more

The Kentucky Wildcats are 1-0, but it’s about as uneasy of a 1-0 as John Calipari can remember.

in the span of one game, Cal watched his young Cats trailing by double digits in the second half to Utah Valley, only for them to storm back with an 18-0 and take control before holding on for a 73-63 win.

After the game, Cal pointed out the obvious in that his young Cats have some serious growing pains ahead.

Q. What did you think of the way it went for you?

JOHN CALIPARI: Now you just asked me enough that I could end the press conference and just talk, okay? The start was kind of expected. We shot 21 percent in the first half and at halftime I said, this is good for us, let’s see who we are. Let’s see who is willing to fight. We went zone and it kind of got us going. But again, and that’s what we should use the zone for, but we, we had too many guys that were just getting beat on the dribble. Too many guys out of position. But that’s what happens when you have all freshmen and a couple sophomores. That’s exactly what you see. But I was pleased with the guys. The second half you win by what you win by, you out rebound them by whatever, you hold them to 40 percent, we just didn’t shoot the ball well. We didn’t — we missed, I think they told me, 15 shots within two or three feet and some of it is because they had a shot blocker. And let me say this, Mark (Pope) has done a great job with that team. Their point guard kind of surprised us. I didn’t know that he could get by us and get in the lane like he did. But I was happy with how Wenyen (Gabriel) played and competed. 13 rebounds and again he goes 3-13 and believe me, he missed layup, layup, wide open layup, and stuff happens. What I like is he kept playing. He didn’t act like, well I’m going to act like I don’t care right now. He kept playing. And that’s what you have to do. I thought Nick (Richards) did some good stuff. Kevin (Knox) kind of seemed out of it. Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) and Quade (Green), Quade’s a better shooter than he had. Like again he missed three shots that he usually would make two of the three, because they were wide open. But they double-teamed us and we had just worked on double-teaming the post yesterday, folks, and thank goodness we did. We just worked on it. Like guys, okay, if they happen to double-team us, here’s what we’ll do.

Q. I don’t know if concerned is the right word, but what you curious when you went on the 18-0 run it felt like the atmosphere in the building,…

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