The UK boss alluded to one of the most recognizable figures in the sport's history, former UCLA coach John Wooden, who once advised Calipari that he was trying to blend in too many players during his 2005 Memphis team's NCAA Tournament run.
"He's right. You can't try to play 10 guys," Calipari said on Thursday, suggesting that trying to get minutes for too many players on such a young team keeps the squad from getting the cohesion it needs. "Let's get those seven, get a rotation going and get them playing."
But is it possible that this year's UK team is too talented to hold to that standard?
"You think about the experience of Jon Hood and Jarrod (Polson), what they went through last year," Calipari said after his team's 89-57 win over UNC Asheville on Friday night at Rupp Arena. "How about Dominique (Hawkins), his toughness. Derek (Willis) is thinking a little bit too much. I think we can go to him, and obviously Marcus (Lee)."
Lee brought a high level of energy to the season-opening win, scoring 17 points on seven-of-eight shooting in just 15 minutes of play.
"I had 17 points? I don't even keep track of that stuff," Lee said. "I try to make sure I give my team as much energy as possible so we can go from one level to the next."
After Lee logged fewer minutes in the two exhibition games than his highly-regarded freshman teammates, some fans may have been tempted to write the Antioch, Calif., native off as the forgotten man on this 2013-14 UK team. Even Lee was taken aback by his coach's proclamation of a smaller rotation leading up to the game.
"At first it kind of got in my head, and then I just realized that I just had to work and make sure our whole team just kind of bonded more," Lee said. "It kind of reminded me that I should never really stop giving up and even in practice we should push each other as hard as possible."
Kentucky may have the most talented roster from top to bottom in all of college basketball heading into the season, but if Calipari chooses to allow just a select group of players to see the floor – as he has done in the past dating back to 2005 – it will up to the guys on the bench to embrace their roles in order for this team to reach its full potential.
Sophomore forward Alex Poythress also shined off the UK bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in 21 minutes of action. Surprisingly, it was just his second career double-double, and after the game Poythress presented his personal key to success in the Cats' season debut.
"You've just got to be ready when you get your opportunity. You never know when it is going be," Poythress said. "It may be quick or it may be late, but you've got to come off ready, give off great energy and really compete out there."