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Coach’s corner: Catching up with John Calipari
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On February 1, 2013 @ 1:00 pm In All,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
Each Friday leading up to the NCAA tournament, USA TODAY Sports reporter Nicole Auerbach will catch up with a college basketball coach and give you a roundup on his thoughts on a variety of pertinent topics.
First up, Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Calipari’s Wildcats are coming off their best win of the season, an 87-74 win at Ole Miss, a game saved by shot-blocker extraordinaire, Nerlens Noel, who swatted away 12 (!!) shots and altered countless others.
Calipari caught up with USA TODAY Sports by phone Friday morning to discuss Noel, physicality in college basketball and his involvement with Coaches vs. Cancer:
Calipari on Noel’s improvement since the start of the season:
“Everybody that has seen him from early on cannot believe his improvement. People that recruited him in high school will talk to me and say, ‘I can’t believe how far he’s come.’ The reason is he’s finally committed to practicing every day at a level that makes a different kind of player. Early on, it was a dog fight to get him every day because in high school, he didn’t have to. … I told Nerlens, ‘I do not want you known as a shot-blocker. I want you known as a basketball player who happens to block shots.’ His will to win is like my other teams. I’m trying to tell him, ‘You need to take players with you,’ which is what I told John Wall, what I told Brandon Knight.”
Calipari on the inevitable comparisons between Noel and last year’s No. 1 draft pick, Anthony Davis:
“They’re totally two different players. I don’t see comparisons because they’re just not the same. They’re not. It’s not fair to either to compare to either one, but especially for Nerlens, to compare him to Anthony. He was on a team of veterans, so Anthony could come at his own pace. That’s not the case here. This kid’s doing everything he can but he’s on an immature team, an inexperienced team. When another team makes a run, they kind of tighten up a little bit. My teams in the past, (runs) didn’t faze anybody. What’s happening … [For more on Coach's corner: Catching up with John Calipari, click here.]
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