Calipari on his youthful squad's #1 ranking

How does John Calipari expect his youthful squad to handle being number one? "How will they respond? I have no idea. But, we are going to find out because we are going on the road against a team who can beat us, in a packed arena. We'll see how they respond," said Calipari.

For Kentucky coach John Calipari taking a team to the top of the polls is nothing new. When the polls came out today with Kentucky ranked number one Calipari became just the second coach to lead three different teams to the top ranking in the polls. Previously Calipari had led UMass and Memphis to number one rankings. The only other coach to accomplish this trifecta was Frank McGuire, who did it with St. John's, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Calipari commented on the ranking.

"I think our kids are excited about it. I think they wanted to be No. 1 which is a good sign, and now we are trying to teach them what it means to be No. 1. We talked at my house last night about it. What will come at them now; the different obstacles, different distractions that will take you away from what you're trying to do. An added level of that comes with being No. 1."

How important will handling the pressures of a number one ranking be for his young squad?

"It will be everything. You'll have people coming out of the woodwork, ticket requests out of the woodwork, media requests and how we deal with those. All of the sudden, the guy who isn't very good looking becomes a beautiful young man. We'll talk some more and I have some other things to give them before we go on the practice court, but this is a pretty level-headed group. You start finding out, if it's a significant game, if they show up. The issue is, if they show up for every game; they are not machines and they are not robots. They are not going to (show up for every game). They are going to have some bad nights. They are going to have some flat nights. Let's just hope it's against an opponent we can beat anyway. But, I do know this, when it is time to show up, put on the uniform, and battle, they have been there.

"As we go farther into it, how are they going to respond to it? Our bench play was outstanding last game. That has to continue. We have to have a bench. It guards against foul trouble, injuries and all the other things that could happen. They responded to this point in a good way. They have been great in practice. They come alive. Again, I'm not a long practice guy. I want them to be fresh mentally and physically. I'm not a long film guy. If they are fresh mentally and physically, they are going to give me everything they have and that's all I want. I look at this team and I just keep telling them, ‘You have to play harder than them, and beat them to 50-50 balls. If you do that, we are good enough defensively and we are talented enough offensively. If we play together on both ends, it makes it hard on the opponent,'" said Calipari.

How does his current squad differ from the teams that achieved the number one ranking under Cal's tutelage at UMass and Memphis?

The Kentucky coach said, "Those teams were junior-senior oriented. The Memphis thing was one freshman, and all juniors and seniors. The Massachusetts thing was all juniors and seniors, and the Player of the Year in the country. This is different. The guys are brand new. New style and new system. Again, I can say seven out of our top eight are Patrick (Patterson), and freshmen or sophomores. One sophomore did not play Division I basketball and the other two who barely played. That is our team. How will they respond? I have no idea. But, we are going to find out because we are going on the road against a team who can beat us, in a packed arena. We'll see how they respond."

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