John Calipari’s weekly radio show returned for its second episode of the season on Monday night, and there was plenty for the UK head coach to discuss with Tom Leach.
This week’s show came after a week that featured only one UK men’s basketball game, a comfortable pre-Thanksgiving win over North Florida in Lexington.
UK returns to the hardwood Tuesday night with an in-state matchup against Bellarmine in Rupp Arena, before going abroad to play Michigan on Sunday in London, England.
During Monday’s hourlong show, Calipari touched on a variety of topics, from UK’s Thanksgiving week events to what the future non-conference schedule will look like.
Calipari recaps Thanksgiving week
While Kentucky played only one game since Calipari’s last radio show — a Wednesday night home win over North Florida — it was still an active week for the Wildcats.
On Thursday, the UK team visited The Salvation Army and interacted with people during Thanksgiving meal service.
Calipari said that some of the international backgrounds of members of the UK program were showcased during the trip: Star forward Oscar Tshiebwe spent time with a large family that spoke only French, and assistant coach Orlando Antigua spent time with a family that spoke Spanish.
Once the holiday passed, the Wildcats hit the practice court hard.
UK had two practices on both Friday and Saturday, along with one practice Sunday and a non-contact, nearly two-hour practice Monday.
Some of the main focuses during these practices were late-game execution and weak-side defense.
Calipari added that most of the practice time was spent in five-on-five scrimmage situations, and described the last few days of UK practice as similar to a minicamp.
Offensive improvement must include finishing plays
Among the desired offensive improvements specified by Calipari are better “sequence” actions from UK.
Calipari explained that when Kentucky’s dribble-drive motion is prevented by opponents, he wants his team to do a better job of finishing plays with good scoring opportunities.
To this point, Calipari said his team spent a recent morning running zone defense, in part to help UK run better offense against a zone defense.
Calipari also praised the leadership shown by Kentucky’s guards in recent days, while making several comparisons between standout freshman Cason Wallace and another one-year backcourt player at UK, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Calipari previews UK’s trip to London
Kentucky’s head coach also took time to preview a historic upcoming trip, as the Wildcats will play Michigan on Sunday at the 02 Arena in London, England, as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame London Showcase.
The game was originally scheduled for the 2020-21 season before being pushed back two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sunday will mark the first time a college basketball game is played in the arena, which is considered the busiest in the world (in terms of total ticket sales) for concerts, sports and other events. There have been several NBA games played in the O2 Arena.
Tip time for the game is 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. in London), and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
Another game, Marist College (MAAC) against Maine (America East) will be played before the Cats and Wolverines.
Calipari also took time Monday night to look ahead toward a new future non-conference game for Kentucky.
The SEC announced Monday that the conference will be part of an SEC/ACC Challenge for men’s and women’s college basketball starting next season.
The SEC/ACC Challenge will replace the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and ACC/Big Ten Challenge after this season.
According to the NCAA’s Andy Katz, the SEC/ACC Challenge games will be played the week after Thanksgiving in 2023.
“I’m fine with it,” Calipari said about the schedule addition, while noting UK already has two ACC teams — Duke and North Carolina — as part of its schedule rotation with the Champions Classic and the CBS Sports Classic. The Wildcats also play their annual rivalry game against Louisville of the ACC.
Given these non-conference obligations, along with agreed-to games against Gonzaga and Michigan (both at Rupp Arena), Calipari also said he would give thought to playing the Gonzaga game in January, after SEC league play has begun.
How to access Calipari’s radio show
The show — which airs weekly on the UK Sports Network — will last throughout the basketball season, with Calipari taking questions from fans via phone at 1-800-606-GAME (4263) or (859) 280-2287, as well as via Twitter (@UKSportsNetwork).
Fans can also download the show as a podcast through iTunes, Google Play and Spotify by searching “UK Sports Network Radio.” Additionally, the podcast can be located at UKAthletics.com/audio.
Here are the remaining scheduled show dates and times for the 2022-23 season.
Monday, Dec. 5
Monday, Dec. 12
Monday, Dec. 19
Monday, Dec. 26
Monday, Jan. 2
Monday, Jan. 9
Monday, Jan. 16
Wednesday, Jan. 25
Wednesday, Feb. 1
Monday, Feb. 6
Monday, Feb. 13
Monday, Feb. 20
Monday, Feb. 27
Monday, March 6
Monday, March 13
Monday, March 20
Monday, March 27