Monday, November 30, 2015

Caliper's Thoughts On Tonights Game vs. Illinois State

COACH CALIPARI: This was a great game because they (Illinois State) spread the court and had all five guys that could drive. We had three guys that refused to move their feet, they turned sideways, and think it's high school and they're going to block it at the rim. So they're all layups and and-ones and if they miss it, their weak side rebounder rebounds it. And that's why we needed to play this kind of game.

They also trapped and did some good things. And I'm happy that we got to see Isaiah (Briscoe). The beginning of the game, he just -- three turnovers in three minutes. OK now. It's not an easy position to play.

Jamal (Murray) didn't play in the first half. Skal (Labissiere) really gave us nothing the whole game. But this is a good thing. Because now – Alex (Poythress) gave us nothing in the first half.  The thing about elite athletes and world-class athletes, they can evaluate their performance and say, all right, I got to fix this. They self-evaluate and that's what this team needs to do.

Without Tyler (Ulis), it's obvious we're not the same team. I mean, unless you were watching another game, we're not the same team. But it still doesn't mean that we shouldn't play hard and guys shouldn't battle and fight for balls. We got beat to everything in the first half. 

Now, this team (Illinois State), they're going to win a lot of games. They had San Diego State and Maryland to the wire. They had us on the ropes. Think about that. Those are the kind of games they played and they have lost them, but they played them. I think Dan (Muller) has done a great job playing the way they have to play. It was just tougher than us.

We were lucky to out rebound them because they out-rebounded 20-12 at half. They out-rebounded us by eight and it could have been more. A couple of them, the shot went up and we ran from a guy and they jumped over top of us and not fouling, just we didn't want to block out. Just grabbed a couple.

Q. You were obviously not happy with Marcus (Lee) at South Florida --
COACH CALIPARI: He was great today. Boy was he good. If Marcus Lee doesn't play, we lose. Because I had to get Skal out and I had to get Alex out. I tried to play Derek (Willis) and, again, you see him in that isolation, having to guard the ball, he's struggling.

Again, the guy that changed the game was Dom (Dominique Hawkins). Dom did what he did at the Michigan game a couple years ago. He went in and guarded that player and said I can do it. And then he made some free throws.

See, it is demoralizing when guys go up and miss four front-end one-and-ones in the first half and we miss 10 free throws. Four of them front-end one-and-ones. That's like missing 14 free throws. It is demoralizing. Now you can miss a couple, but you can't miss them all and expect to be on that court. You just can't. So, again, self-evaluate, I'm going to get to that line, I'm going to want to be at that line, I'm not going to shoot air balls from the foul line. It's not going to be who I am.

Q. What did you have to say to Marcus coming out of that last game and going into this one?
COACH CALIPARI: Obviously you know what I said. Alex started.

Q. What were your thoughts when you got guys got off to that slow start?
COACH CALIPARI: It was as much them as it was us. And it was Isaiah, again, the turnovers he had, the reason I was on him, he had the lob the first play. If you've watched this team for the last seven years, that's all we throw. So you can run back and try to get the lob, if you can. Maybe give us a layup, but we're going to lob it. He threw a direct pass. I'm like, what -- the very first play. And that's how we come out of the gate, we're down seven, whatever it was, and we were lucky to be in the game at halftime. I even told them, this is the greatest thing for this team right here to have to deal with.

Look, you don't want to go through a season where every game is easy. This stuff is not easy. So, this was a hard game for us. This was, to be honest, the schedule we played to this point has not been easy for us. We had four freshmen out there today. Come on.

Somebody told me the other day, "Your team, a couple years ago..." we had five freshmen. We're playing five freshmen. "Well, they should execute better." Really? They just got done playing AAU two months ago.

Q. Could you update Tyler? And then also, is it getting to the point you are worried about whether you are going to be a good shooting team from the foul line?
COACH CALIPARI: Tyler wasn't there. And there's a couple guys that they just can't be in much at crunch time. It's just, you're not going to be in there because the other team, with three minutes to go, is just going to start fouling you and you. So as soon as I see it, then you got to come out of the game. You can't be in. It's obvious you're sitting saying, Cal, they're just going to foul these two guys. I know. And they can't be in. And that's their choice, not any of us.

But these guys are not bad shooters. Right now we're 2-of-12, Dom was 0-of-3, Isaiah was 0-of-2. It's about that. Maybe 1-for-5. I would have been happier. But you have Tyler and have you Jamal. You're hoping that Derek can go in and make a three or so. But the reality of it is that you have two. And most teams like us, that's what you have. You have two really good 3-point shooters and the other guys for us are good drivers.

Q. Tyler Ulis’ status:
COACH CALIPARI: I doubt he practices tomorrow. We're going to travel and practice out in L.A. But, I would tell you, he probably needs to practice the next day, Wednesday, before we play on Thursday to see if he can go. If he can't go, we'll go as is. We'll play with what we have.

Q. Coach Muller suggested that you did not go to Skal in the post or mid post as a lesson to, if you want the ball, you got to play tougher and compete harder.
COACH CALIPARI: No, we tried to. He couldn't catch it. We were trying to go to him. As a matter of fact, I told guys, if he's open and you don't throw it to him, you're coming out. Think about that. That's where he is right now and it's OK. I mean, he's not figured some of this stuff out. He's not figured how to play lower than the other guy. He's not figured out that I got to move my feet and quit grabbing people. But that's okay. And he is a really, really good player who is behind.

The good news is we have Alex and Marcus. And if he's not playing well, we can still win. As we just try to make sure he's getting better and better.

Q. What's the difference between Marcus Lee, Friday and Marcus Lee, today? What makes the difference between those two days?
COACH CALIPARI: One of the things I told him is, if you're not playing with energy, I'm not playing you. You got a player like Marcus Lee, who, if he's to make it, it's going to be on one thing. He's an energy guy who can cover a bunch of positions and flies. And you need that kind of player on your team.

But if he's not playing with energy, you get what you have at South Florida. You have a guy that's just out there and it's like, well what did he do? And he's capable, but it's hard. I mean, to play with that kind of energy, to come out and make that who you are, it's hard. You have bags under your eyes, you can't do it. You have sleepies in the corners, you can't do it. You’ve got to prepare all day to come out to play with unbelievable energy. I know who I am. No, I'm not a great shooter. No, I'm not a great free throw shooter, but I can dunk balls, I can rebound, I can block, I can guard four positions and I can play with unbelievable energy. But I would rather not because that's really hard.

I mean that's, you know -- and it's what I was getting on Alex about. I mean, he got beat to balls again. No way. Skal got beat to balls today. They want it more than you. One time he said "I tried." You what? "I tried." Okay. You're not trying hard enough. Next guy. I mean, that's holding them accountable. And you win by 12 in an easy game or easily a game we could have lost.

Q. A lot of tough venues, obviously, in college basketball. Do you feel like you have the best home-court advantage?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I think we're one of them. I'll tell you what makes a home-court advantage, where you have it. Great fan base is important, but there are other teams that have great fan bases. It's having really good players. Then you got a great home court. So, our home-court advantage has been our players. And our fans – they come every game. But it's been we got great players. You have these fans and they're going nuts and have you a bad team? We have had that here, too. It's hard to win.

Q. Jamal Murray – how  do you think he played?
COACH CALIPARI: First half, I thought he was non-existent. Second half, what I'm trying to get him to do is get fouled. He's still flipping balls. He's still trying to avoid and do some spectacular "like, did you see that," but you can't win playing that way.

Winning basketball is you get fouled. And again, I thought in the second half -- I don't know what he had at half. Did he have any points at half? Two? He has 15 or 16, 14 in the second half? He should be a player that's getting 10 points a half. Easy. And I'm going to guess four of those points should be on free throws. But you got to play that way. You got to want to create the contact. The time he went in and bang and hit it, just go make two, stops the game, we can press. But they're all learning. They're all learning.

Q. Is this a good stretch for your team, not only coming off of competitive game like this, but going straight into your first true road game of the season?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, if Tyler is healthy, yeah. If he's not healthy, no, it's bad, bad timing. But we'll see. He was half coaching on bench, telling me who to take out. "Take him out. Who? You know who."

Q. Playing at Pauley Pavilion, have you done that before and is it a, not thrill, I guess, but does it get your attention to play in an iconic place like that?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I've been on that campus a few times. It's unbelievable. UCLA is just, it's one of those schools that has the opportunity to do everything and basketball and football and every -- if I'm not mistaken and somebody can check it out other than Jerry -- but I think they have won more national titles in all sports than any other program. The campus, which is, you know, it's kind of landlocked, because it's in where it is, and in Westwood, but they redid Pauley, I've seen it, really nice building. The Hall of Fame there, they have John Wooden's office, the way it was encased. The history of that program. And I think us, having an opportunity to go there -- and we're going to have a couple days to practice, to see if we get some stuff fixed here -- it's going to be neat. A neat trip.

Q. Did you have any relationship with Wooden?
COACH CALIPARI: You know what, I did. And it's funny, I played in his Classic. We were the first team, I was at UMass and they had the John Wooden classic. And I believe it was '95. And the three other teams were Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA. So who was it again? Who doesn't belong in that bunch? And I got to spend time with him and I later called him in 2010, he had a great thing he said to me, I said, are you watching my team, he said, yes I am, coach. And I said, what do you think. And he said, well, you may not agree, but I think you're playing too many people. He said, they should earn their minutes in practice and you should play six or seven guys and that's who you should play, because that's how you become a good team. And you know what, Jackie Leaman told me the same thing when I was at UMass, who coached Julius Erving. And they are right. My best teams that I've coached have always been playing five and six guys. By the end of the season, they're unbelievable teams. He said, but I understand why you do it, recruiting and transfers and all the other things you got to do. But understand that the way you're going to build your best team is play less people. And that was in 2010. I can still remember it. I was in Florida, getting ready to play Florida when I called him. And he had watched. But I had talked to him a couple different times and after that event and so.

Q. Last year you guys got out to that 24-0 run on UCLA. Can you take anything from that game going into this one?
COACH CALIPARI: No. I tell you what, if they watch this game, they're going to post us up. Tony Parker is, every time they throw it, they're going to go at our bigs. So we better have some ideas what have we're going to do. Steve's terrific at what he does. He's figured it out. I've coached against him a couple times. Last year was an outlier. I had a ridiculous team. And they would go into a game like that to smoke somebody, like they did Kansas. They would go in with that mentality. This team is, we don't have that mentality.

Post Game Notes From Tonights Kentucky vs. Illinois State Game

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Illinois State at Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 30, 2015
Attendance: 21,894

Final Score: Kentucky 75, Illinois State 63
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is 7-0 on the season. Illinois State is now 3-5.
  • This was the first meeting between the schools in men’s basketball. 
  • Kentucky returns to action Thursday, Dec. 3, at UCLA. Game time is 9 p.m. EST and it will be televised on ESPN.

Game Notes
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Charles Matthews, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere for the first time this season.  
  • Illinois State had the strong start, jumping out to a 7-1 advantage.  
  • Kentucky regained the lead, then the teams battled back-and-forth for the remainder of the first half. After six ties and three lead changes, the teams were knotted at intermission, 31 each.
  • Kentucky opened the second half with a steal by Matthews, layup by Briscoe and three-pointer by Murray to take a quick five-point lead.  
  • Ahead 46-40, the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to open a 56-40 lead, their largest of the game.
  • The Redbirds battled back, closing within seven at 63-56 with less than four minutes to play, but ISU got no closer.

Team Notes
  • Kentucky attempted 46 free throws, second-most in the John Calipari era. The most was 48 foul shots vs. UNC Asheville on Nov. 8, 2013.
  • Kentucky blocked nine shots tonight, equaling its season best vs. NJIT.
  • With 2,185 all-time wins, Kentucky is the nation’s leader in that category. 
  • This marks the 25th time in school history that UK has opened a season 7-0, the fourth time under Coach Calipari.
  • Calipari has a 642-178 (.783) all-time record, including a 197-38 (.838) mark at Kentucky.  
    • Calipari is 107-4 (.964) in Rupp Arena.
  • UK extended streaks of 38 consecutive regular-season wins and 25 straight wins in Rupp Arena.
  • Kentucky is now 122-5 (.961) under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 63 or fewer points.
  • Derek Willis made a 3-pointer at the 1:09 mark of the opening half, extending UK’s streak of games with a made 3-pointer to 946, the second-longest streak in the nation. 
  • For the third time in the last 50 seasons, UK has won each of its first seven games of a season by at least 11 points (1982-1983, 2014-2015, 2015-2016).
  • For the second time since 1982-1983 UK has won each of its first seven games of a season while scoring at least 74 points (1987-1988, 2015-2016).
 Notes on the No. 1 Ranking
  • UK owns an all-time record of 218-28 (.886) as the nation’s top-ranked team.
  • UK is 66-5 (.930) under Calipari when ranked No. 1 and the Wildcats have been in the No. 1 slot in five of the seven years of Calipari’s term in Lexington.
  • Calipari is 107-10 (.915) all-time as the head coach of the AP’s No. 1 team.

Player Notes

  • Junior Marcus Lee totaled 13 points and 12 rebounds, the second double-double of his career, along with the Duke game on Nov. 17.
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe had a season-high 18 points, added seven rebounds and led the Cats in assists with three.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray notched 16 points, his fifth-consecutive double-figure game.
  • Junior Dominique Hawkins tied his career high with seven points, making a career-high five foul shots.

Kentucky vs. Illinois St. OFFICIAL Box-Score

Kentucky vs. Illinois State Highlights VIDEO

Monday, November 23, 2015

Coach Cal's Radio Show Returns; Full Schedule

Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari’s weekly radio show, the John Calipari Call-In Show, returns Monday night, live from Lexington.

The Calipari Call-In Show, which will air weekly on the UK Radio Network, begins this week at 7 p.m., following the conclusion of the Mark Stoops Call-In Show at 6 p.m. Calipari’s show will switch to its normal time at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, at the conclusion of the football regular season, and last throughout the basketball season.

Hosted by radio play-by-play man Tom Leach, Calipari will take questions from basketball fans across the country. Fans can call the Kennedy’s Wildcat Den hotline at 1-800-606-GAME (4263) or (859) 280-2287. Calipari will also take questions via Twitter. Fans choosing to go the social media route can send their questions to @UKRadioNetwork for a chance to be featured as the Academy Sports + Outdoors Twitter question of the week. 

The show is broadcast in Lexington on WLAP-630, online at and on UK Radio Network affiliates.

New to the setup this year, the Calipari Call-In Show will also feature a live video stream every week, brought to you by Paul Miller Ford.

The weekly radio show also features the Whayne Supply Cat Profile, an inside scoop on a different player each week.

The following is the complete schedule for the 2015-16 season. All times are tentative and subject to change.

Monday, Nov. 23 – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 1 – 7 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 7 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 14 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 21 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 6 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 11 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 18 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 25 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 3 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 8 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 15 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 22 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, March 2 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 7 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 14 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 21 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 28 – 6 p.m. *

*if the Wildcats are still playing in the postseason

Tyler Ulis Named SEC Co-Player of The Week

 Kentucky sophomore guard Tyler Ulis was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Week on Monday after leading Kentucky to a pair of victories last week, including a 74-63 victory over No. 5/4 Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago. 

Ulis shared the award with Georgia’s Kenny Gaines.

The UK guard was the catalyst behind the Wildcats’ 2-0 week. Ulis averaged team highs in points (19.5), assists (5.5), steals (2.0) and free-throw percentage (.889) to lead Kentucky to a 4-0 start to the season.

Returning home to Chicago in one of biggest games of the nonconference season, Ulis dazzled on the big stage vs. Duke. Against the defending national champions, Ulis scored a game-high and career-high 18 points while dishing out a game-high six assists with no turnovers in 40 minutes of play. In doing so, Ulis became the first Wildcat since Kyle Macy on March 1, 1980 to post at least 18 points and at least six assists in a top-five Associated Press matchup.

Ulis followed that remarkable performance with a game-high and career-high 21 points and a game-high five assists in the victory over Wright State. He became the first UK player to score 18 or more points in consecutive games since Devin Booker had 18 vs. Montana State and 18 vs. UT Arlington in November of 2014.

Ulis was solid from the free-throw line in the two games, hitting 16 of his 18 foul shots. He’s tied for the team lead in scoring for the undefeated Wildcats at 14.0 points per game and leads Kentucky in assists with eight.
It’s the second weekly SEC honor of Ulis’ career but his first SEC Player of the Week award. Ulis won SEC Freshman of the Week honors last season on Dec. 29.

It’s also the second straight week a Wildcat has picked up an SEC honor. Freshman forward Skal Labissiere was tabbed SEC Co-Freshman of the Week last week.

After a three-day break, UK returns to action Tuesday at 9 p.m. vs. Boston University in Rupp Arena. That game is set for an SEC Network telecast. 

Kentucky Ranked Number One in AP/Coaches Poll

The Kentucky men’s basketball team is the top team in the land according to the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Wildcats landed at No. 1 in both major polls released Monday.

The Wildcats picked up 59 of the 65 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 and 28 of the 31 first-place votes in the Coaches’ Poll.

For the fifth time in John Calipari’s seven seasons at Kentucky the Wildcats have appeared at No. 1 at some point during the season in both major polls.

“It’s just a credit to Coach Calipari, the players and everybody that helps this program out,” assistant coach John Robic said at UK’s pre-Boston University media opportunity. “It’s a team effort and it’s what you shoot for. You want to be the last one standing at the end of every year, but again, like I just said, it’s neat for these kids. They have never experienced this ever before and this is basically a whole new group. It’s hard, but it’s rewarding.”

UK is 63-5 as the AP No. 1 team in the country since Calipari’s first year at the helm, the best record in the country by a top-ranked team during that span. Calipari is 104-10 all-time as head coach of the AP’s top-ranked team.

The Wildcats own an all-time record of 215-28 (.885) at No. 1 in the AP Top 25, including victories in 60 of their last 63 contests as the AP’s top team.

“It’s honestly just a number,” junior forward Marcus Lee said at the media opportunity. “Each team is just as equal right now. It’s the beginning of the season. It really doesn’t even matter. It’s not really going to—rankings don’t even really matter until March. And then at that moment it really doesn’t matter until the last four teams.”

Kentucky was ranked No. 1 the entire season in 2014-15. The Wildcats shared the top spot with North Carolina in the Coaches’ Poll to begin this season before falling to No. 2 last week.

Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena on Tuesday vs. Boston at 9 p.m. The game is set to air live on the SEC Network.