Friday, December 19, 2014

Kentucky Pre-UCLA Press Conference QUOTES



Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On how the current team ranks with other teams he has coached ...
“It’ll be interesting to see how we finish, but the best teams I’ve had, like just unbelievable teams – I’m not saying the most talented teams – but I’m telling you the best basketball teams we had were when I was playing five and six guys.”

On Tyler Ulis’ health ...
“He’s got to make sure he takes care of himself. It’s like when you go in an NBA locker room. Every one of them, I think 75 percent of the NBA has tendonitis so you can figure out how to play with it or don’t play. Get another job.”

On if Ulis has tendonitis ...
“No, but it’s the same idea. There are certain things you have that you have to deal with. You have to learn to play with.”

On the common characteristics between players who played for him that are from Chicago ...
“They were all different. I mean Derrick (Rose) played at one of the best high schools as far as the tradition of the program. Anthony (Davis) played at one of the worst high schools traditionally. Tyler played at a private school so it’s all different. What they all had in common is a desire to improve, a comfort-level in their skin, which made them very good teammates, great guys to be around. It’s funny how they won’t ever change. The injury that Derrick has, his team fully supports him because they know what a great guy he is and that he’s there for them. The same with Anthony. I mean, I’ve watched him play where Tyreke Evans – he played for me too – had like 35, and he (Davis) was fine with it. It never bothered him. He’d just keep feeding him the ball, chesting him. He’s one of those guys. This kid (Ulis) is the same way. I mean he’s cheering for Andrew (Harrison) to do well. And he knows how good Andrew is. And even though they run the different teams and they go at each other, he has great respect and he’s a great teammate.”

On how well he knows UCLA head coach Steve Alford ...
“I’ve known him for years and years. We’ve become close, but I knew him when he was at Southwest Missouri State. I did things for him. My wife grew up an hour and a half from there on a dirt farm. You guys didn’t catch that. That’s what I told her. She grew up on a dirt farm. He and I have been close when he went to Iowa. I think we played. They beat us when I was at Memphis one of my first years, but he’s a terrific coach. Just a great guy. Great family. Tanya (Alford) is a great lady. His kids are great kids. And he now has that opportunity to be there in that job, which is one of the premier jobs.”
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On the idea of a grace period in a new coaching job ...
“There are two things. The kids remember the last three years. The families remember the last 30. The kids remember when they were 13 and 14 and before that they don’t have any idea. I think what Steve (Alford) did last year I think they won 30 games or 29 games or whatever it was. Walked right in and developed guys that people did not think would be able to go right to the NBA, and they did. Three of them after one year, one of them the (a high) pick in the draft. He’s also now done it with Kevon Looney. I mean, they’re telling me he’s the fourth or fifth pick in the draft. So he has developed players, but I think in our case we were prepared to lose a bunch of guys. I don’t think they knew that that many guys would leave them. And so that one guy missing has made it so they’re playing five and six guys. They would have played seven and they would have been fine. But I think he’s done a great job. He’s on the West Coast. He’s rebuilding the image of what they want there. We want to tie to programs like that. That’s what we want, both of us. Does that answer it?”

On coaches like Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Larry Brown this team to some of the all-time greats ...
“For a minute there I thought you were going to say all-time coaches. I understand that’s not going to be said. What were we talking about? No, I’m just kidding. What I really like is Willie (Cauley-Stein) has taken on a different persona. I sat him down about a month ago and said, ‘Why don’t you want to be the number one pick in the draft?’ He asked me what I meant. ‘Well it’s obvious you don’t want to be the number one pick. Why wouldn’t you? You have this team around you. All you have to do is perform and improve and improve in a couple areas and you’re on the page.’ He said, ‘I do want to.’ Then do more. Come into practice longer. Come in here at night. Spend more time at this – the sport. He has been. I think when you start talking about the teams that were the great teams, they had hall-of-fame players. We have yet to prove where we are in that regard. I think we’re a terrific team. I think what we’ve been doing to keep reinforcements coming has made us even better and made it easier for each guy to perform at a higher level. Let this season play out before they talk in terms of those teams because again some of them had three hall of famers on their team. In Springfield, their college team had three and to compare us to those teams. Come on. Maybe they’re looking at us compared to the other college teams in the last couple years. I don’t know.”

On lessons taken from North Carolina game ...
“Toughness, rebounding, breakdowns defensively, and not sprinting back. Those are things that will cost you basketball games and we’ve focused on that now this week and for the next three. We’re the 13th best defensive rebounding team out of 14 in our league. Really? The tallest bad defensive rebounding team in the history of the game. There are things that I look at right now and I’m like, ‘Come on.’ We turn it over with just a little bit of pressure like token traps. We threw the ball all over the place. I would say if you watched our game, you have teams licking their chops saying, ‘We’re going to run, press, and trap these dudes. Try to get free baskets early and when we shoot it we’re sending four the glass. Forget about them.’ If you watched that game, then that’s what you’d do. Teams that will push you in the back on shots so they can get and edge and teams that just crash and bang and grab are looking at this and licking their chops.”

On how big the rebounding aspect is with a guy like Kevon Looney on their team ...
“It’s more than just him. I’m talking about my team. Our guards right now, we may have the worst group of rebounding guards in the country, too. So we’re doing stuff to hold them accountable. We started two days ago. Yesterday was an individual work day because we’re in finals, but we’re going to go back at it today. And I told them, ‘From here and through what we call Camp Cal, we’re doing this stuff every day.’ I said, ‘The stuff we’re not doing – the physical play, we get bumped, we hit the ground, we start throwing balls to a guy next to us, we throw it – well, we’re going to be playing in games where they grab, they hold, they kick, they push, they bite. Can you play in that type of game? If you can’t play in that type of game, you can’t win that game.’ ”

On how Alex Poythress is doing ...
“He and I met today. He’s doing good. He has a great frame of mind. He and I talked a little bit about Derrick Rose’s mental approach when it happened to him. He’s going to have the surgery after Christmas, so he has time. We talked about what his options could be and some things that we should think about.”

On how Poythress can still make it to the NBA Draft even though he’s going to miss the season and workouts ... “He has more time than Nerlens (Noel) had, so he’s going to have an extra two months, really a month and a half. I would tell you that there will be an option for him if he chooses to (go). But we only talked (about it) slightly. We talked a little bit. I said, ‘The other side of it is being mentally tougher. Why? Because you’ll never get through the rehab (if you’re not). Pushing through a comfort level, which you struggle with. Well, you’ll have to through the rehab. You have no choice. Coming back with that increased motor. And then we’ll work on some skills.’ I told him about getting his wrist back on every shot. No more of this (hand straight up and down). Now we have time. Wrist is going to be back. You’re going to be up and off instead of that (straight up and down). I said, ‘We have time now.’ ”

On what it would be like to have him back as a senior ...
“A young man that they all respect and a young man that’s a straight-A student and a guy that can do things that normal players can’t do, it would be nice. But, if it’s in his best interest to put his name in the draft, I would support it and help it along and do that. He’s going to do what’s right for him. It’s tough. But he was really good today. I mean, I think he’s coming back to the reality of this happened, it’s not a dream, it’s real, now I’ve got to deal with it. He looked like was at ease with what was going forward.”

On if his hip is still bothering him ...
“I’m fine. The biggest thing is I’m sleeping at night. I’m working out every day. I still need to lose 20 pounds, which I gained – very happily – when I couldn’t do anything last year. But it’s a little harder getting it off. But like I told my team, I’m not supposed to have a six-pack. I’m 55. You’re supposed to have a little belly when you’re 65. Now I don’t want to have a big belly, but a little one.”

On if he was a “root for UCLA” kid when he was growing up a “root against UCLA” kid growing up ...
“I liked North Carolina growing up. I liked UCLA. I watched more basketball that way. I didn’t have a (team). Pitt, because Pitt wasn’t when I was younger the Pitt is now, but we had some guys from our
high-school team play on that team so you followed Pitt and some of that stuff. West Virginia and all that because of where I grew up. UCLA, they were like faraway lands. I mean, I didn’t even go on vacation until I was 19, and that was to Maryland. Maryland. We drove to the Maryland shore. I was not on an airplane until I was 20. So when you start talking UCLA, ‘Where in the world? Is that in our country?’ Yeah. ‘Like, near Youngstown? Where is it?’ It’s just different than it was. So I wasn’t (a huge fan), but I liked them, respected them.”

Freshman forward Trey Lyles

On playing against a historic team like UCLA ...
“It’s going to be a great experience to play against them, and being able to play at a neutral site is going to be fun. Hopefully we go out there and get the win.”

On if he followed UCLA’s title run as a kid ...
“Definitely. All the years with John Wooden as a coach, Bill Walton and all the great players they had.”

On what changes for him with Poythress out ...
“Definitely hurts, but we have to approach practice the same way and try to get better every day.”

On if there’s more pressure on him now ...
“I don’t see it as pressure. I see it as just got to step up and continue to do what I’m doing to help the team.”

On if he’s in a better spot as a starter ...
“I feel comfortable in both ways I was playing. Coach (Cal) believes in me and he’s putting me out there, so I’m definitely comfortable on the first platoon.”

On if it changes anything defensively for him ...
“No, not really. Defensively, coming in, was my main thing I wanted to work on and I believe I’m getting better at it, but I still have a ways to go.”

On if staying on the floor with the second platoon against North Carolina was a reward ...
“I just had to go out there and continue to play hard. Coach (Cal) kept me in there for a reason, and I just had to keep trying to play hard.”

On Cal saying he’s going to keep whoever is playing better between him and the Harrison twins ...
“Yeah, he told us that at halftime during the game last Saturday. He’s doing it, so he’s going to keep it up I guess.”

On if that’s added incentive ...
“I just think we’ve got to continue to go out there and play hard no matter what it’s for, and just go out and play hard. If he keeps us in, he keeps us in.”
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On if he knows any of the guys for UCLA ...
“I played against a couple of them, Kevon Looney, the main one I played against, and then their big center, (Tony) Parker, I played with him. There’s another guy they have, I played with him at the McDonald’s All-American game. A few people.”

On what type of player Looney is ...
“He’s just a very versatile player – rebounder, he can score and stuff like that. He’s very talented.”

On what he’s getting used to with a chunk of the season over with ...
“It goes by fast and you’ve got to take advantage of all of it as much as you can. Don’t take it for granted, and just continue to go out there and play hard.”

On how he’s changed ...
“(I’m) just trying to become a better player, trying to play hard all the time and live up to the expectation coaches want from us.”

On how easy or difficult that is ...
“It’s both. You have to push yourself and be confident in who you are, and just go out there and work hard.”

On his experience playing at the United Center ...
“I played there for the McDonald’s All-American Game, so I’m used to it a little bit. It’ll be fun to go back there and play again. Hopefully we can come out with another win.”

On if he likes the rims there ...
“They’re alright. Hopefully they treat me better than Indiana’s did.”

On going through finals week and preparing for a game ...
“It just comes along with it. You’ve got to take everything head on and you have to neutralize time so you can study, and then neutralize time for practice and individual workouts. Academics comes first for us. Coach (Cal) understands that. So if we tell him we have to study he understands that.”

On if he’s helping out Tyler Ulis with tickets ...
“It’s pretty close to home, so I have my family coming to that one. I wasn’t able to help him out, but I’m pretty sure a lot of the other guys were.”

On if Ulis is excited to play back in his hometown ...
“He definitely is. We’ve talked about it from the beginning of the year. I know him. He’s going to go out there and play hard and play to the best of his ability and do what he always does, which is lead the team as a point guard and really step up into that leadership.”

On if he uses Poythress being out as an opportunity to prove that he should play more minutes ...
“I think everybody just has to go out there and continue doing what they’re doing, which is playing hard and doing what Coach (Cal) asks of them, and whoever he wants to keep in the game he’ll keep in the game.”

On how he processes the praise from other coaches ...
“I think all of us let it go in one ear and out the other, because it really doesn’t matter if we don’t go out there and perform, so we need to go out there and play to the best of our abilities, and play as a team and continue to win. So once the season is said and done, they can say that then.”

On if he sees this team as a potentially historic team ...
“If we continue to play the way that we have been, and guys keep stepping up and stepping into leadership roles, and playing to the best of their abilities, I definitely think so.”

On UCLA lacking depth ...
“That may be true, but they have guys who can make plays and score the ball and do other things. We’re not going to look down on them because of that. We’re going to accept the challenge and go out there and play to the best of our ability and play as a team.”

On if Poythress has said anything to him, since he’s taken the starting spot ...
“He just tells me to continue playing hard. Seeing him go down was really tough for all of us, so we want to continue to play for him.”

On what he’s said to Poythress ...
“Anytime he needs anything from any of us, just we’re going to be there for him. For him to stay strong because he’s going to be all right. God has a plan for him.”

Freshman guard Tyler Ulis

On the wrap around his right leg ...
“Just precautionary. I’m trying to get warm before practice so I put a heat pack on before so I don’t go out there tight.”

On going back to Chicago ...
“I can’t wait to get back home, play in front of the home crowd. Everybody’s there. My family is going to be there watching, lots of my hometown friends and stuff like that. It’s going to be exciting.”

On if there is added pressure playing in his hometown of Chicago ...
“Not really because I’ve been playing around them my whole life. It’s just another game.”

On if he’ll go to the Michael Jordan statue on this trip ...
“I probably won’t go to the statue. I’ve seen it enough.”

On if the McDonald’s All-America game was the only other time he has played in this gym ...
“Yeah, this will be my second time playing there. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and I can’t wait to get there.”
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On if it will be hard to not do too much to try to impress his family and friends ...
“No, it won’t be because I’m just going to come out and play like any other game, try to do what I have to do, and get the win.”

On if he could use some more tickets for this game ...
“Yeah, I could. I think a couple teammates are going to help me out on the tickets and try to make sure I can get people who want to be there in the stands.”

On UCLA’s lack of depth and what that means to them ...
“I don’t know anything about UCLA yet. We haven’t watched anything on them so I can’t comment on that.”

On if they sort of “smell blood in the water” when facing a team that is only five or six deep ...
“That’s the whole idea of the platoon system is to try to bring in fresh bodies and wear the other team down. I feel like every game we’re coming in with the same attitude to try to attack them and get after it.”

On if they can tell if the opposing team is getting tired in the second half ...
“Yeah, most of the teams we play with the platooning coming in and out, they get worn down by the time the second half comes around, or even earlier in the first half, because we’re bringing in fresh bodies every time and everyone is playing as hard as they can.”

On what he sees in an opponent that indicates they are getting tired ...
“I just see as a team that we’re doing our job and we’re coming out playing like how Cal wants us to play. We’re just giving it our all out there.”

On if he enjoys seeing the opposition get tired being a guy who likes to pester opposing offenses ...
“Yeah, when guys get tired that will give me my opportunities to create steals and make defensive plays.”

On if he considers himself a Chicago player ...
“Well, I consider myself a Chicago player, an Ohio player. I’m from both. I just grew up playing with a lot of guys out of Chicago and in Ohio and it made me who I am today. Growing up, playing on the playgrounds, having to play against older guys, just having to be tough.”

On what the reputation of a Chicago player is ...
“Tough, will do anything to get the job done and wants to win.” 

Kentucky vs. UCLA Pre-View



After what seems like a month off, Kentucky is finally back in action tomorrow afternoon when they take on UCLA in the CBS Sports Classic in Chicago, Il. Their opponent in the Sports Classic is arguably the most storied college basketball team of all-time, UCLA.


If you're a college basketball fan whether it be a casual fan or a die hard fan, you need no introduction to UCLA. They have the most championships (11), some of the most famous college basketball players in the history of the game, and probably the most famous coach in John Wooden who was responsible for 10 of the 11 championships. From 1964 to 1970, the Bruins won 7 straight championships, a record that will never be broken. Also, from 1971 to 1974, UCLA won 88 straight game, another feat that will never be matched. So to say that they are the most storied program is an understatement.


Now, it's 2014 and the UCLA that you will see tomorrow is nowhere near what they were throughout the 70's and thank God for that. The Bruins come into the game with an 8-3 record with their three losses coming at the hands of Oklahoma (75-65), North Carolina (78-56) and Gonzaga (87-74). 

Here's a look at what the Cats will be matched up against tomorrow in Chi-Town...



The one stat that stands out is UCLA's 42 rebounds per game. Even though Kentucky is one of if not the tallest team in the country, they struggle to rebound the ball on the defensive end of the floor. They have to keep the Bruins off the offensive glass and limit their second chance points.  Also, as it is in every game, they will have to guard the perimeter because if you have followed Kentucky at all during lifetime you know there is always some random guy who comes in and gets hot from deep and sets a career high in points.


Now that the stats are out of the way, let's take a look at UCLA's roster....




UCLA has some size down low so it will be interesting to watch Kentucky's bigs and see how they battle on the inside. It  also looks as if they have some size at the guard position as well so this could be a pretty decent match-up.


Here's a look at the history between two of college basketballs greatest traditions...

(history facts provided by BigBlueHistory.com it's a GREAT website so, check it out.)


Tomorrow should be a good game, a game Kentucky should win fairly convincingly. So, tune in tomorrow at 3:30 on CBS to watch the Cats battle the Bruins, it should be a good one...






Monday, December 15, 2014

The IMPRESSIVE Transformation of Anthony Davis



I know the picture isn't of the best of quality, but you get the idea.

Dayum, son...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tyler Ulis vs. Andrew Harrison, ESPN Says Who's better



When John Calipari started the season talking about implementing the "platoon system", the first thing he said he wanted to avoid was pitting players against one another. He didn't want people to judge the two "platoons" as two different teams. But, when you watch the games, it's no secret that each unit has a different style of play. The "Blue Platoon" (the starting platoon) has a more methodical approach to the game. They run set plays and try to get the best shot possible. That's not surprising seeing as how they are the older more experienced squad. The "White Platoon" is a different story entirely....

When the second group hits the floor, the intensity one both ends of the floor pick up tremendously. On the defensive end, they play in your face, aggravating defenses that, for lack of a better word, just pisses the opponent off. With that style of defense, it immediately leads to offense. Several times throughout the game when the second squad is on the floor, they will force a turnover that will more times than not lead to an easy bucket on the other end. They are just pure energy the entire time they're on the floor. Calipari can ask fans and media alike NOT to judge the two "platoons" as two different teams but it's going to happen and ESPN did just that... Sort of...


The World Wide Leader in Sports posted this stat on Twitter showing how the offense is more efficient when Tyler Ulis is on the floor...


Now, I'm not saying the Ulis is the better of the two point guards, but it sure does seem like the game is ran a lot smoother with the 5'9" guard at the helm. He is quicker, can stay in front of his man better on defense and find the open man just as good as his counter part. He is leading the team in assists and it's no surprise especially when you look at what he did against UNC, 8 assists, 3 turnovers and three points. That's just impressive when you consider the type of defense Carolina played all night long.

Now, it wouldn't be fair to not give Andrew's stats for the same game for a comparison. Harrison finished the game with 11 points, 5 assists and 3 turnovers. Another good stat line  and one that any team in the country would take from their point guard in a game like yesterdays.

As you can see, both guards are good at what they do and make everyone else around them better as well. The thing is, Harrison and Ulis play two entirely different games at the same position so comparing the two is absurd. Andrew can do things on the floor that Tyler can only dream about and the same with Ulis. Don't you think Tyler would love to muscle his way to the rim with brute strength the way Andrew does? Don't you think that Andrew would love to have Ulis' quickness and ability to stay in a guys face on defense? Sure, they both would love to be able to do everything, but the fact of the matter is, they can't. They each have their own skill set and are damn good using them. We shouldn't compare the two to find out who's better, instead, we should be thankful to have both players on the same team, don't you think?



Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cats vs. Carolina FINAL OFFICIAL Box-Score


Cats Crush Carolina 84-70









For those who were worrying (my self included) about the team having a poor showing after getting the bad news about Alex can rest easy now.  The Cats were just as dominate in this game as they were against Kansas or any other team that they have faced this year. The game was never in doubt as the Cats turned to their defense to set the tone for the rest of the game.

Defensively, Kentucky was Kentucky as usual, but it was on the offensive end were things looked better than it has all season long. Coming into the game, Kentucky was averaging a little more than 28% from three, but that didn't stop the Cats from heating up from the floor. For the game, Kentucky shot the three at a 47% clip going 7-15 from deep thanks to the hot hands of Devin Booker (3-3 from deep) and Aaron Harrison (3-7 from three) that pretty much sealed the deal for the Cats.

Carolina (particularly Marcus Paige who hit 4 threes in the second half) found their outside shot in the second half, but it was to little to late as by that time, Kentucky had built a lead as large as 18 which proved to be too much to overcome for the Tar Heels.

Kentucky moves to 11-0 on the season while sending Carolina home with a 6-2 record after today.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Kentucky vs. North Carolina Pre-View



Now that you've had time to deal with and mourn the loss of Alex Poythress to a freak accident (torn ACL) in yesterdays practice, it's time to talk about tomorrows game.

North Carolina will invade Rupp Arena tomorrow afternoon looking to hand the Cats their first loss of the season. I haven't watched UNC very much this year, but I do understand that they have a pretty good inside game. The thing is, we have an excellent inside game and a pretty good outside game, so this one is tough to call to be honest. Before the loss of Alex, I would've told you that Kentucky would win this game in more than convincing fashion now, I'm not sure how it will turn out. 

Alex didn't bring a whole lot on the offensive end of things averaging just a little over 5 points per game, but what he brought on the defensive end will be hard to replace no matter who fills the void. Let's take a look at the options Cal has at his disposal...

One option is Derek Willis. Yes, it's true he can shoot, feed the post and blend in nicely on offense, but his lack of defensive ability is something that will rear it's ugly head in certain match-ups. There's no question Willis can play, hell, he's probably a starter at any other school, but until now, he wasn't going to see much playing time at Kentucky this season. Now, he can expect his minutes to go up as the season goes along.

Another option is filling Alex's spot with Devin Booker. With Booker you get the best of both worlds, sort of. He can flat out shoot the ball, create his own shot in the lane and find the open man when he can't get open. He plays above average defense, but he lacks the shot blocking ability that Poythress had. On paper, Booker would be the best option out of the two for that particular position. Yes there are other ways Calipari can handle the loss, but my guess is you will see a lot more playing time for these two young men in the coming months.

Let's take a look at what Kentucky will face tomorrow in Rupp...



Now, here's a look at the Tar Heel's Roster...



As you can see, UNC has some size that are putting up some very good numbers. It will be a test for Kentucky to say the least.


Here's some interesting facts about the Heel's when watching tomorrow's game...

Carolina is actually one of the few schools who have a winning record against the Cats. They lead the all-time series with a record of 23-13 which includes seven wins in the last ten meetings.

Roy Williams has piled up seven wins over number one ranked opponents during his career which is tied for the best in college basketball history with former Maryland coach, Gary Williams.

North Carolina has beaten the top ranked team in the AP Poll 13 times which is more than any other team in college basketball history.

Roy Williams has a career record of 8-7 against Kentucky, 7-4 while coaching at UNC and 1-3 when he coached at Kansas.

Carolina will be looking for their third win over a ranked team this season when they play Kentucky tomorrow. They have already beaten then ranked No. 22 UCLA and No. 18 Florida in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in late November.


Now, here's some facts about the Cats you may or may not know heading into tomorrows game...

Calipari is just one of two coaches in history (the other being Frank McGuire) to lead three different programs to a No. 1 ranking.

Cal is 72-9 (.889) as the top-ranked coach in the country.

Calipari is 31-4 when his team is at the top as UK's head coach.

Calipari has coached six of his last eight teams to the No. 1 ranking and this year makes the seventh time he's accomplished that feat.

Kentucky owns an all-time record of 188-27 (.874) as the nations top-ranked team. They have also won 28 of its last 30 contests as the AP's top team.


There, that should be enough information for you to occupy your brain until tomorrows showdown with UNC.