You can find video of Monday’s press conference here
I know most of you have seen the video, and want to take a few minutes to address it. I’ll give you some context first and then give you my thoughts after that. I would tell you that most of you know it was after the Kentucky game. I was having the Mack family Christmas, we had a three day break immediately following the game. It was having Christmas at the house, few neighbors walked over to my house, and they happen to be really, really good friends with Kenny Payne – golfing buddies, they go way back, hang out together, they know him. I don’t know Kenny that well, but Eric and his buddy – really, really good friends with Kenny. They thought it’d be funny to FaceTime him, text him and give him grief for the game, and that’s what they did. Obviously, it led to the video that was then sent to Kenny. That was the context. It was a private video, obviously it’s not private today, it’s why I’m talking to you guys. But it was a joke amongst buddies to Kenny. How it got out, I have no idea, and it’s really irrelevant. Although Kenny didn’t get it out. But, I recognize that the position I’m in at Louisville, I got to do right by my players. Two things I think really stick out about the video to me, if you don’t have much context, and that is number one: COVID. Like we all have for the last year, I have great respect for it. We’ve had to do everything under the sun from eating in our own rooms at hotels, to wearing masks, conducting film sessions on the basketball court rather than the film room, just like everybody else has had to sacrifice. Now, I’ll say this, when people come over to my house, which hasn’t been very often since last March, I’m probably a violator, and obviously was that night. Neighbors or friends stopped by, not putting on my mask around the house. Not a good look, and so for that I gotta do better. The second thing is, the first thing I really thought of was (John) Calipari. I didn’t want him to think it was some shot that was directed out to the world wide web, and that I was trying to send a message to him. That was the first person I called when I was aware of the video yesterday morning. I just want to be able to clear the air and tell him the great respect that I have for him, and his program, and the job that he’s done. That’s how I feel, and so I wanted him to know as a joke to Kenny Payne, and obviously went sideways. As I tell my players, when you do things that happen in the spotlight, you got to own it. Fortunately about me, I own things. So I live in learn by them, and we’ll move forward, but that’s sort of the context of the video. If I offended anybody, I feel bad for doing that, but that wasn’t what the intention was by any means, but that’s neither here nor there. I talked to Vince (Tyra) about it, and I just don’t want it to be a distraction for our team any more than it’s been. I want to talk about Notre Dame and move forward.
(On if he thinks he is deserving of any kind of discipline)
That’s not really my judgment call. As I said, I made an error. It’s not like I invited everybody over to a big party at the house. But, I’ll be a big boy, and whatever comes my way, comes my way. But no.
(On how his players responded over the next couple days in practice)
Well we’ve only had one practice. Obviously, we had yesterday’s practice. I really liked our guys response. It’s been it’s been a wild deal. On again, off again, I can’t imagine the players sitting in their dorm, wondering, ‘do we have practice today? Are we going to play again this Saturday?’ Just the way the schedule’s unfolded. I thought our response yesterday was a really good one. As I told our team after the game, we needed to have the best two practices the year. We’re waiting to hear on practice number two that I’m about to walk into, and if it’s anything like yesterday, then we’re gonna get a whole lot better. Now if that’s good enough to beat Notre Dame, I don’t know, but we we didn’t perform well. We didn’t do a lot of things well at Carolina. They had a lot to do with it, but I think we’ll be better tomorrow, and I really liked our team’s response yesterday.
(On Dre Davis’ availability following a thigh bruise vs. UNC)
He looks fine. Fred Hina) gave him treatment that night, he had full range of motion the next day. He went through yesterday’s practice, surprisingly, without any interruption. Without having to sit down any drills. Dre’s a very tough kid, as you know. He’s bounced back, and I didn’t see any ill effects yesterday in practice.
(On if he expects Josh Nickelberry to be back vs Notre Dame)
I don’t. Josh has tested negative a few days in a row now – three, four days in a row, and just he just sick. I think they’re trying to get strep tests, flu tests, figure out what’s going on. It’s not COVID, he just doesn’t feel well.
(On John Calipari’s reaction to the video)
Gracious, as always. He was understanding. I think he understood the context, and anytime I’ve ever dealt with Coach Calipari, he’s been great. He offered a few words of advice, which I’ll just keep between he and I, but I was appreciative of his of his response.
(On the opportunity to still win the Atlantic Coast Conference)
Yeah, I mean, knock on wood, this is the last pause that we have to deal with. I think our guys are hypersensitive walking around on pins and needles with the pauses we’ve had to take. Let’s hope that we can stay continuous in terms of practice days and games, and make the most of those opportunities that, as you said, aren’t as many as they were a month ago. It’s been a strange and wild ride, and we’re starting to, as crazy as it sounds, we’re starting to get almost everybody back. Now we just need some continuity, and hopefully we can make the most of our opportunities.
(On if he was surprised by Malik Williams’ availability vs Notre Dame)
Well, I think that’s the time that he was really shooting for, as long as we didn’t have any setbacks. How he was going to perform was a different question. I thought that we would get him on the floor, it could have been the Syracuse game, could have been North Carolina, just somewhere around the middle of February is what we were shooting for, and he never really had any setbacks. His conditioning still has to get all the way back. It’s just different riding a bike, or doing an elliptical, and then playing. His timing certainly has to get back, but the voice that he has on the floor on both ends, is a really good one. Strong leadership, he has great court awareness, but he also hasn’t played with a few of the guys that are on the team, and so that’s that’s that’s a challenge as well. But the more we can put him out there, hopefully, the more normal it gets for him, and he can be a big part of this team down the stretch.
(On if he just threw the game tape vs. UNC away)
Well I think you have to learn from it, and I think we had to show our guys some things that regardless of what our conditioning level was, or some of the things that maybe you need more practice time – I thought there were just some things that we did on the floor that, whether you have no practice time at all, you can’t give up free throw blockout offensive rebounds like we did. Carolina was, I don’t know 2-11 from the free throw line at one point, but they kept on getting every miss back. That can’t happen. So we had to show our guys some of that film, so that we can learn from it, they can see the mistakes that were made, so that we can improve in those areas.
(On if he thinks Malik Williams will come back for next year)
I do think it’s a realistic option. He’s been robbed of a whole year of basketball, and his development has been disrupted because he’s concentrating on trying to get healthy. We would love to have Malik back, he and I have talked about that. I know that the decision is down the road, and not one that he’s going to make right now, so he and I will work through that when that time comes. There’s there’s no doubt we would love to have Malik back, he represents everything we want in our program. I want him to earn his degree as well, and leave here a better basketball player than when he got here.