UK Basketball: Calipari counting on 'breakfast club' to help team bond
Kentucky coach John Calipari said four players, whom he did not identify, are meeting to lift weights and have breakfast together. (Clay Jackson)
In fact, Calipari said Monday that his team now has a “breakfast club” even though he would not exactly identify who was in that club quite yet.
“A couple of these guys are starting a ‘breakfast club’ where they get up and lift in the morning, four or five of them and they have breakfast together. Then we practice and have dinner together, and then we practice again,” said Calipari, who will send his team against Samford tonight. “It is as much about getting them together all the time.
“Like, you are not on the phone while we are at dinner. Talk to one another. You are not on the phone, you are with these people. If you chose not to be with us, that is OK, now go somewhere else. But if you are going to be with us, we eat dinner and we are at breakfast, then we are with each other.
“This team doesn’t talk enough right now and that is something that we have to get with. You know, bouncing on defense, playing for one another defensively. Not saying, ‘OK, my man doesn’t have it I am stopping.’ That is all stuff that we have to get going with this group.”
Calipari doesn’t have a “no phone” rule as such at team meals, but players certainly learn quickly not to be on their cellphones at basketball functions.
“If I see a guy on the phone, I am like, ‘What are you doing? You want to talk on the phone more than you want to talk to your teammate? Is that person more important than your teammate? Well, then go sit with them. See ya, bye. You don’t need to be here,’” the Kentucky coach said. “It is all those kinds of things and again it is new.
“They have never been taught that way or coached that way, and they don’t understand what’s the importance or what’s the big deal. ‘I want to be on my own.’ Good, go to bowling. Golf is a good game. Singles tennis, wrestling aren’t bad. But this is a team sport.”
Calipari would only say that the breakfast club “is a good group of guys and the guys that you expect to be in it are in it.” He said there are freshmen in the group of four, and he hopes more players will soon be included in the early morning workouts.
“One of the guys was doing it on his own. He was already coming in, and what I talked about was that this was something that Michael Jordan did to bring his team together,” Calipari said. “And what he did was they wanted to win 70-something games and they wanted to win a championship, and we are going to do more than any other team does. They won 72 (games) that year and won a championship.
“But that was Michael saying, ‘We are going to do it.’ It wasn’t the whole team that did it, but it was like six of them. But, it is guys that have totally sold in and bought in. ‘I am in. What do I have to do? Let’s go.’
“Again, spending that extra time for young kids is hard. Getting them off the phone, getting them off a computer and all that social networking and media stuff that they do. Getting them away from the video games. Think about it. They have all that stuff to do that could help them be a better basketball player.”
Calipari told the players, as most coaches do, that between now and Jan. 9, when classes resume, they will be eating, sleeping or playing basketball. Nothing else.
“We may go four times a day (at practice). You may have breakfast, practice, dinner, practice and go for film at my house. What else? I know the video game, you didn’t get to do it today. It is going to help your shooting and your hand and eye quickness. I know. They don’t have anything to do now,” he said.
“I always give them Christmas break. I think they need to be with their families and regroup, and then they come back and have two tough games and then we start right into league (play).
“For a freshmen team to be where they are right now is probably farther than they deserve to be, especially defensively. For freshmen to defend the way we are defending is not normal. Yet, offensively we are just not there.”