Fresh off the white sandy beaches of Destin, FL (where I want to f$#%ng be right now) are Coach Cal’s comments from the SEC Teleconference earlier this afternoon. He gives us some stuff we’ve never heard before which is good, including his thoughts on the new NBA Block/Charge Arc rule change.
Cal went first but Dave Baker and Tony Barnhart continue the show here. Coach Cal’s comments are below:
On the progress he’s made at Kentucky in his two years as coach… We haven’t won a national title yet. It’s a different kind of job, but I’m enjoying it. The challenge of it is high, but so is the support, the fan involvement and the passion we all want as coaches. The problem that goes along with all that stuff – the sellouts, going on the road for everyone’s Super Bowl – is the high expectation of winning and not only winning, but winning league championships and national championships every year by 20. It can’t be an eight-point game.
On discussions about re-seeding SEC tournament and improving NCAA chances… You always have to look at it and says, ‘How do we make our league better? How do we get more teams in the (NCAA) Tournament? How do we make sure our best teams have high seeds?’ You look at league’s across the country and that’s what people are doing. How do we get our best four teams to get the highest seeds they can possibly get to the win the national title? It’s not about bringing those teams back to the pack, it’s about the SEC winning national titles.
The other side of that is, how do we get six, seven or eight teams into the NCAA Tournament? What’s the best way for us to do that? I don’t know the answer. I’ve been through this a few times now (in other conferences). I’ve lived what Alabama just went through. The whole time I was saying, ‘One division, one division, one division’. The bottom line is I would like to think everyone (in the SEC) wants to play us twice and get us in their building. Well, the only way that happens is if there is something rotating (in the schedule).
On feelings on talks of a possible 18-game SEC league schedule… Again, is it going to help our top teams get high seeds? Is it going to get more teams into the NCAA Tournament. What moves the needle more than anything else is strength of your non-conference schedule and a high RPI non-conference. What happens in leagues where their non-conference winning percentage is (.750 or .780) as a league is when they start playing each other none of it hurts. This is no knock on the Big East but they’ve had 19 teams in the Tournament the last two years and how many have made it by the first round? How is this happening? When they start playing each other they say the 11th team is really good. What? We have to figure out how you play the best schedule you can play and still win. That’s different for all of us. I think that’s more important than 16 or 18 (conference) games.
On his thoughts of how the SEC has been in reality compared to what he thought from outside… It’s a solid, strong league top to bottom. You have great coaches, unbelievable facilities, great support. It’s that next level of what you’re trying to do and what you want to coach in. You have a bunch of schools with very like missions. Even the academics – you get the chance for academic success too.
On the NCAA’s new NBA-like block/charge circle rule… It depends on how wide it is. My thing is make it so that when you’re running the Dribble Drive offense (opponents) can’t just stand in the lane (and take a charge). We drive the ball. It’s a benefit to us. Not to throw shots, but you know how Duke used to do it, they come off the weak-side away from the basket and you run into the guy and he’d fall. You can’t do that. What it does is get guys away from the rim a little bit. This takes the whistle away and makes it an easier call.
On his coaching the Dominican Republic national team…The Dominican thing was they approached me. They wanted me to help build basketball in their country. That appealed to me. I don’t need to coach a national team but if you want me to help build basketball and get involved in grass roots and how they’re teaching it, that’s what appealed to me. Right now it’s exciting but when I’m in the middle of it I’ll probably say, ‘Why in the world did I do this?’