Saturday, February 18, 2017

Some Notes From Kentucky's Close Win Over Georgia

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Kentucky at Georgia, Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Ga.
Feb. 18, 2017

Final Score: No. 13/11 Kentucky 82, Georgia 77
Team Records and Series Notes:
·         Kentucky won its fourth game in a row and is 22-5 overall, 12-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia is 15-12, 6-8 in the SEC.
o    Kentucky swept the season series.
·         Kentucky leads the series 123-26.
o    UK leads 42-17 in Athens.
o    UK has won eight in a row in the series.
·         Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats continue their two-game road swing at Missouri on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET. SEC Network will air the game.

In the First Half:
·         Kentucky started the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo for the 19th time this season. UK is 15-4 with this lineup.
·         Malik Monk’s 3-pointer with 16:15 on the clock extended UK’s streak of 1,002 consecutive games with a triple.
·         Kentucky went on an 8-0 run over 2:15 to take a 13-8 lead at the 13:07 mark.
·         Kentucky led by as many as five in the first half, Georgia’s largest first-half lead was by four with 19:03.
·         Georgia guard J.J. Frazier hit a 3-pointer as time expired to cut Kentucky’s halftime lead to two, 33-31.

In the Second Half:
·         Neither team was able to pull away throughout the second half.
·         From 73-73 with 1:12 to play, Kentucky closed the game on a 9-4 run.
·         Kentucky made 17 free throws in a row during the final 6:17 of the game, including nine straight in the final minute, before Adebayo’s inconsequential miss with five seconds left.

Team Notes:
·         Kentucky shot a season-high 82.1 percent (23 of 28) at the line. 
o    UK made 17 of its last 18 free throws.
·         Kentucky shot 46.6 percent from the field. UK is 22-1 this season when shooting at least 42 percent.
·         Kentucky won the rebounding for the fourth straight game, 41-26. UK is 18-3 this season when outrebounding the opponent.
o    Since losing the battle of the boards in the loss at Florida, UK has had an average rebounding margin of +10 during the current four-game win streak.
o    Georgia’s 26 rebounds tied UT-Martin and LSU for the fewest by a UK opponent this season.
·         Calipari has a 684-192 (.781) on-court record, including a 239-52 (.821) mark at UK.
·         Georgia guard J.J. Frazier scored a game-high 36 points, the most an opposing player has scored against UK this year.UK has allowed four players to score more than 30 this year. The Wildcats had allowed an opposing player to score more than 30 in a game five times in the four years prior to this.
o    Frazier scored the most points against UK since Elston Turner scored 40 to lead Texas A&M to a 83-71 win in Rupp Arena Jan. 12, 2013.
·         Kentucky held Georgia to three made 3-pointers, trying the season-low by a UK opponent this year. UK has held its opponent to just three made 3s in three straight games.

Player Notes:  
·         Freshman De’Aaron Fox had 16 points, and added five rebounds and five assists.
·         He scored 14 of them in the final 4:36 of the game – eight of them on free throws.
·         His 10 free-throw attempts tied his career-high.
·         Freshman Malik Monk tallied 16 points, continuing his streak of double-figure scoring in every game this season.
·         His five first-half assists were his most in any half this season. He finished with five dimes.
·         After being held scoreless through the first 13:26 of the second half, he scored eight points in the final 6:44 of the game.
·         Senior Derek Willis grabbed a career-high-tying 12 rebounds.
·         He scored seven points on a perfect 3 of 3 shooting, including one made 3.
·         Freshman Bam Adebayo had 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
·         Senior Dominique Hawkins followed up his season-high 10-point performance last Tuesday with nine tonight.
·         Senior Mychal Mulder scored nine points – his most since scoring 12 vs. Auburn on Jan. 14.
·         All his made baskets were 3-pointers (three).

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Some Notes From Kentucky's Win Over Tennessee

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Tennessee at Kentucky, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
February 14, 2017
Attendance: 24,391

Final Score: #13/11 Kentucky 83, Tennessee 58
Team Records and Series Notes:
  • Kentucky won its third game in a row and is 21-5 overall, 11-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Tennessee is 14-12, 6-7 in the SEC.
  • Kentucky leads the series 153-69, including 92-16 in Lexington.  
  • Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats begin a two-game road swing Saturday at Georgia. Game time is 6 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPN. 

In the First Half:
  • Kentucky started the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo for the 18th time this season. UK is 14-4 with this lineup.
  • Kentucky took its first lead, 7-6, when Derek Willis’ 3-pointer with 16:03 on the clock extended UK’s streak of 1,001 consecutive games with a triple. The Wildcats never trailed again.
  • Willis added two more 3-pointers to make it 20-12, prompting a Tennessee timeout at 10:50.
  • UK stretched the run to 18-3, making the score 31-15, prompting another UT timeout at 8:09.
  • The teams played evenly the rest of the way and Kentucky went to halftime ahead 47-32. It was the most points for UK in a first half since the South Carolina game on Jan. 21.
  • UK made 10 3-pointers in the first half, most in a half this season. The previous best was eight long balls in a half on two occasions.

In the Second Half:
  • Tennessee pulled within 53-40 – the closest the Volunteers got in the second half – when Fox made two magnificent plays
    • A steal that led to a fast-break alley-oop pass for a Willis dunk
    • Another steal that he took the length of the court for a layup
  • Kentucky led by as many as 28 points en route to the final score of 83-58.

Team Notes:
  • Kentucky held Tennessee to 58 points, the Volunteers’ fewest of the season.
    • UK is 13-0 this season when limiting the opponent to 72 or fewer points.
    • Kentucky is 141-5 (.966) under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 63 points or fewer.
  • Tennessee shot 34.6 percent from the field. UK is 12-0 this season when limiting the opponent to less than 43 percent.
  • Kentucky shot 46.4 percent from the field. UK is 20-1 this season when shooting at least 42 percent.
  • Kentucky had 17 assists against only seven turnovers. UK is 20-2 this season when having more assists than turnovers.
  • Kentucky won the rebounding for the third straight game, 43-35. UK is 17-3 this season when outrebounding the opponent. 
  • UK is now 207-4 (.981) under Calipari in games leading by at least 10 points. 
  • Calipari has a 683-192 (.781) on-court record, including a 238-52 (.821) mark at UK.
  • Kentucky has an all-time mark of 559-66 (.894) in Rupp Arena.  
    • UK has won 46 consecutive games in Rupp Arena vs. unranked opponents.
    • UK is 132-6 (.957) at Rupp Arena under John Calipari.

Player Notes : 
  • Freshman Malik Monk tallied a game-high 20 points, continuing his streak of double-figure scoring in every game this season. It’s also his 15th 20-point game of the season.
    • Monk grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
  • Senior Derek Willis made 16 points, with 12 coming in the first half on four 3-pointers.
    • Willis also had a big game last season vs. Tennessee in Rupp Arena, setting career bests with seven 3-pointers and 25 total points.
  • Freshman De’Aaron Fox had 13 points and tied Isaiah Briscoe with a game-high six assists.
  • Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe had 12 points and tied Fox with a game-high six assists.
  • Freshman Bam Adebayo had seven points and led all rebounders with 12 boards. It is his fourth double-figure rebounding game of the season and first since the UCLA game on Dec. 3.
  • Senior Dominique Hawkins canned a pair of 3-pointers, leading to a season-high 10 points. It is the second double-figure game of his career, tallying 13 in the win over Louisville last season.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Coach Calipari's Pre-Tennessee Press Conference QUOTES

Head Coach John Calipari:

On how the “reboot” is affecting the team …
“They’ve been good. There’s still things that we have to work on, and I’m spending time right now watching tape when we’re up 18, 20, 25, 16 that we get back those points. So I spent yesterday breaking all that down and coming up with ideas because they’re not going to fix stuff on their own. It’s just not what they do. And so we’re going to work on some of that today and continue on the defense and continue on the ball movement, and the, I told you, it took us three weeks to get where we were. It’s not happened overnight. I don’t want them to get away. Let me put it this way: They went from one shot, no shot to probably a little too much grind out against Alabama. We have to be somewhere in the middle, but they proved that they could play that way if they had to, which is good.”

On what he sees big leads getting smaller …
“A bunch of stuff that we’re going to work on. I feel comfortable that, and it’s not just defense, it’s both sides of the ball and we’ll get better.”

On if it’s a mental problem or physical problem with the team …
“No, I think it’s as much technical as it is mental. Like, they’ve got to have a plan. OK, you’re up 18, here’s how we gotta play. They don’t know. Today we met in the morning with some film stuff and I asked the guy, ‘Why didn’t you do this?’ He said, ‘I didn’t know I was supposed to.’ Not his fault. If he doesn’t know then we’ve got to teach him. They’re starting to take more responsibility. At some point someone is going to say, ‘I’m not playing well and this is on me.’ I’m not sure they’re ready for that yet, but they’ll start moving in that direction. The more they take on responsibility, the more it’s what they have to do together to better for all of us.” 

How he feels about playing the team again that started the downward slide … 
“Well, they’re good. I mean, I watched the Georgia game and they should’ve won that game, too. I mean, they’re running they’re stuff. They’re a matchup problem for everybody. Rick (Barnes) is doing an unbelievable job, which he always does, getting his teams ready to battle and play. Whether you play man or zone, he’s got a good answer.”

On Isaiah Briscoe’s decision making …
“He’s been better. We still – the energy and some of the other things that we need are just – you know, and it’s you can’t try to cure everything. You’re going one thing, let’s get this right. Let’s get this right. What I’m encouraged about is down the line where this team should be, here in a couple more weeks. And that’s, you know – they want to do it. They’re trying. Good group of kids that, you know, do some things that I shake my head at.”

On if he’s identified things they’re doing down the stretch to give up big leads …
“Yeah, I did. I came up with some ideas. I don’t like – I don’t walk into a room and have people tell me, ‘This is what I think it is.’ Why don’t we just watch the six games, or the five games? Watch it and go away. They’ll leave and think, what, ‘OK, now tell me what you think it is.’ You don’t throw things out that were working and you don’t make up the reasons, you just – so I watched those on an airplane and came back with a pretty good idea of how I want to attack it. And we’ll do some of it today and then we’ll go Wednesday and Thursday and Friday before we go to Georgia.” 

On if they were pretty consistent …
“Yeah. Yeah.”

On if you’re a Basketball Benny, will you notice the changes …
“If you watched it, you’d probably have a good idea. You’d have to watch it though. You can’t just write about it and give your opinion. Which is sometimes your hope, not your opinion. Did you get that? Some of you just don’t get that.”

On if he gets frustrated again rewatching the game tape of the previous game vs. Tennessee …
“No, because I’m trying to fix things. I’m not – I’m not blaming. I’m not throwing kids under, ‘They should this. What are? You know.’ They are what they are.”

On what he believes is the major issue facing his team right now …
“Just learning how to play in situational basketball. You know, you think about it, the fast team that we had in 2012, we were fast. This team could be faster. But, how did we play in the championship game? What was the final score? (It was) 67-59. And it was only because we were shooting fouls at the end. That game was in the low 60s because we had to be in the low 60s to win the game. I mean, I saw where it was going. I didn’t like it. I slowed it – slow down. Let’s just play and grind these dudes a little bit. You gotta be able to do both. But, our speed is a weapon. And you gotta use your weapons. You gotta use open court, driving to get to the rim. You know, we’re a good 3-point shooting team. Use your weapons, yet you’re going to play somebody that makes you play half court. You gotta be able to do it. So a lot of our issues are situational. There’s no in – anything within that’s an issue. I mean, it’s just that they don’t know. I’m trying to put a lot of this on, ‘Alright, let me spread this thing out a little bit between staff. Let me tell these guys my job is in practice, your job is in the game.’ As they went through it, I don’t know – look, you can sit there and go crazy when they give up a lead or you can figure out, ‘Why are they doing this?’  Because we’ve done it five times. Top 25 and all of the sudden you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, we could lose this.’ If we haven’t talked about it, we haven’t really worked on it and shown them – you can’t blame them. Dudes are in high school six months ago. Trying to play what we’re doing against veteran teams?”

On difference in De’Aaron Fox in the past few games … 
“Well, you know, he was sick and that zapped him a little bit and I think he will be fine. The biggest issue if you look is the way he played the ball and bothered the ball and defended. He looked like Tyler Ulis. He backed up a little bit off that. That’s the No. 1 weapon he has. And then the second weapon is his speed. Those are effort things. Those aren’t, you know. You gotta do that first.”

On if that’s a case of trying to save energy …
“No. I think it is easier just trying to do something crazy and if you make that day you can go one out of five plays. I have had guys that way. First he is grinding and pushing, do it and go. I am going to make one really fabulous play and that will keep everybody off my neck for three, four minutes vs. the day to day. I am not shock and awe. That is not how I coach. I am not show time. Our thing is every day we are doing the same drills. Every day we are trying to get better. It’s the grind of this. Those plays happen just in the flow of the game that you do something crazy because you’re that good. You don’t have to play to do something crazy. Just play. But again, I am happy with what these guys are trying to do and I am getting a better mental picture of where this team needs to be. and unless we had gone through some of the stuff we went through, I probably would’ve been fooled. So, I think we are moving in the right direction. ”

On NCAA looking to reset fouls after the 10-minute mark on experimental basis … 
“Never heard of it. Don’t, don’t know enough about it to even respond.”

On Fox and Bam Adebayo’s status after yesterday’s car accident …
“I was on an airplane and landed and then before I get back on, ‘Are your guys OK?’ What? They were in a fender bender that some – they were passengers in a car that were in a fender bender. I was meeting with De’Aaron before I left and he came in and I didn’t even ask him because everybody said yeah, they’re fine. Nothing happened. I mean, like, but you’re Kentucky. It’s on the ticker. What is on the ticker? You know what was on the ticker two nights ago? What Ellen and I had for dinner. It’s crazy. I mean, what in the world?”

On if he celebrates Valentine’s Day …
“Do I celebrate Valentine’s Day? You reminded me so I will probably get her flowers. I didn’t know it was Valentine’s Day tomorrow but I usually get her flowers or a card or something – or sometimes I have someone else get it because I forgot. You helped me.”

On how many players he’s comfortable drawing up a play for a shot late in the game like he did with Derek Willis at Alabama …
“I’m pretty comfortable. We’ve done it with different players on here, on the team. Gotta be able to make foul (shots) in case you get fouled. We’re still a work in progress. I know Malik (Monk), we rank something for him. I put De’Aaron Fox in pick-and-rolls against Mississippi State because I was comfortable with him making those plays. He did it. He’s gotta figure out the rebounding at the defensive end: How are we going to do this to survive? And Wenyen (Gabriel) the same: How are you going to do this to survive? We’re still, again – we’re still experimenting. I don’t know if you watched. Most of you don’t. But we played pick-and-roll defense with Isaac (Humphries) a little different. You have no idea what I’m talking about, which I like. But we played it different, and we’re trying different things so the kids, we can see what they’re able to do. You can’t ask a kid to do something he’s not capable of doing. You just can’t do it. You just gotta keep figuring it out – or you don’t play them. That’s your option. Figure it out with them or don’t play them. Don’t put them in there where they’re not capable of doing what you’re asking. I put Derek Willis in that play to get him that shot because I know he’s capable of making that. There are other guys that I would not put them in that play because they’re capable but I’m not sure they’re very confident that they can make that play. I love what Kenny (Payne) is doing right now. Kenny is watching. If a player is not playing with confidence either on defense or offense, he’s out. Kenny’s just taking him out. So you either play with confidence or you’re coming out. So what do that mean? You play with confidence. You can miss a shot confidently. Miss a shot, confidently play defense. But if you’re out there and you don’t breathe – you don’t breathe for four minutes at a time – well, you shouldn’t be out there. Be confident. Get yourself in practice. Work on it. Walk in that game knowing I want to play and I’m going to play confident. So there are some things we’re working on and doing. We’ll see.”

On if Payne just takes them out or he tells Cal … “Either. He’ll say something to me or he’ll say, ‘Get them out.’ So we’re trying a little bit of everything.”  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Notes From Kentucky's Win Today Over Alabama

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Kentucky at Alabama, Coleman Coliseum, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Feb. 11, 2017
Final Score: #15/12 Kentucky 67, Alabama 58
Team Records and Series Notes
·        Kentucky is 20-5 overall, 10-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 14-10, 7-5 in the league
o   Kentucky has won at least 20 games for nine-straight seasons, eight of which came under John Calipari’s direction
o   Calipari secured a 23rd consecutive on-court 20-win season – more than any other current active coach
·        Kentucky leads the series 109-37, 31-23 in Tuscaloosa
o   Kentucky has won seven in a row in the series
·        Kentucky has won two in a row for the first time since winning seven straight to begin the SEC slate
·        Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats have their first rematch of the season Tuesday against Tennessee in Rupp Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

In the First Half
·        Kentucky started the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo for the 17th time this season. UK is 13-4 with this lineup
·        Monk scored eight of Kentucky’s first 12 points
·        Trailing 7-4, Kentucky scored 10 straight to open up a 14-7 lead at the 12:49 mark
·        Monk’s 3-pointer from the right wing at the 15:26 mark, extended UK’s streak of consecutive games with a triple to 1,000
o   Kentucky is the first school to make a 3 in 1,000 straight games
o   The streak began Nov. 28, 1988, in a 89-71 win vs. California
o   Kentucky currently has a 771-229 record during its streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer
·        Kentucky closed the first half on a 7-1 run over the last 2:35
·        UK held Bama without a field goal over the last 4:10 of the first half
·        UK held Alabama to 20 points in the first half, the fewest in the first half by a UK opponent this year. The previous low was 23 by Duquesne
o   Bama's 20 first-half points were the fewest in any half by a UK opponent this year. Michigan State scored 22 in the second half - the previous low

In the Second Half
·        UK led by 18 at the 15:18 mark
·        Alabama cut UK’s lead to 50-43 with 4:42 to play
·        Alabama trimmed the UK lead to six at 55-49 with 2:39 to play, and again at 57-51 with 1:42 to play, but got no closer with a Briscoe layup at the 2:08 mark and a Derek Willis 3-pointer with 1:18 remaining as key moments in stemming the bleeding

Team Notes
·        UK is now 206-4 (.981) under Calipari in games leading by at least 10 points
·        The Wildcats are 140-5 when limiting the opponent to 63 points or less under Coach Cal
·        After losing the rebounding battle at Florida, the Wildcats have bounced back by winning the rebounding margin in each of the last two, +3 at 41-38 tonight, after a +14 Tuesday vs. LSU
·        Calipari has a 682-192 (.780) on-court record, including a 237-52 (.820) mark at UK
·        Kentucky’s 67 points were its second fewest of the season (66 at Florida)
·        UK made three of 15 3-point attempts, a 20 percent output that was its second worst of the season (1 of 9 – 11 percent at Vanderbilt)
·        UK made 10 of 18 free throws – both season lows
·        Kentucky held Alabama to 58 points, tying Texas A&M for second fewest by a UK opponent this season
o   Michigan State scored 48
·        Alabama’s three made 3-pointers were the fewest by a UK opponent this season
·        Alabama’s four assists were the fewest by a UK opponent this season
o   The last time UK limited an opponent to four assists was against Bama on March 11, 2016 in the SEC Tournament
·        Alabama is the only UK opponent not to block a shot this year
·        Kentucky committed 27 fouls tying the season high (vs. Hofstra)

Player Notes  
·        Freshman Malik Monk tallied 17 points, continuing his streak of double-figure scoring in every game this season
·        Sophomore Isaiah Briscoe produced his fourth double-double of the season, and the sixth of his career
·        He scored 11 and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds
·        Tied De’Aaron Fox for the team lead with four double-doubles this season
·        Freshman Bam Adebayo had 14 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes
·        He fouled out at the 6:02 mark
·        He fouled out for the second time this season
·        Freshman Wenyen Gabriel tied his career-high with three rejections
·        He blocked three shots for the third time this season
·        Gabriel added six rebounds
·        Sophomore Isaac Humphries had four points
·        UK is 19-0 this season when Humphries scores
·        Senior Dominique Hawkins finished with five points on 2 of 3 shooting
·        He had three assists, no turnovers and added two steals, tying Fox and Monk for the team high
·        His two steals tied his season high, having done that three times now

Friday, February 10, 2017

Calipari's Pre-Alabama Press Conference QUOTES

Head Coach John Calipari:

On the three-hour practice …
“The kids were great. They know we gotta create some habits that we’ve gotten away from and they know that. We did what we have to do. I feel much better with the direction. When it takes you three weeks to get to a point, it’s going to take you time to get out of it’s because you’re trying to create different habits, both offensively and defensively. Some of it was just plain energy, effort and enthusiasm. And others it was some little technical stuff, both on offense and defense, that we had to do different things. It’s not always just play hard. Some of it is. I thought it was – we’re on a good path.”

On how Hamidou Diallo is progressing …
“He’s doing better. He’s doing better. He’s still, you know, it’s hard. He’s been here a month. You’re trying to get other guys ready for games so there are times he’s off the court. When he’s on the court, he has a spirit about him – a competitiveness about him – to go get balls. To make plays. He doesn’t play timid at all. And so, he’ll stand out in practice that way. He’s just, he doesn’t know -- to play with our guys and how we’re trying to play, that’s the hard thing right now. He’s only been here a month.”

On if he thinks about substituting Diallo into the game if he sees a lack of effort from any of the guards …
“No because I haven’t – no, that’s not been in my mind. It’s trying to get the guys that we have right now to do what they’re capable of doing. There’s a responsibility each guy has to you know, sit down. Here are the things that you have to do better. You know. Some of this is that guys have to take this stuff personal. When you take it personal, you play a little different. If you think, ‘I’m ok. It’s everybody else,’ that’s when you have issues. So, we gotta have every guy take this stuff personal and know where they’re breaking down and what they’ve gotta do.”

On if it’s hard for the guys to take it personal when they can look up where they are on mock drafts and draft boards …
“Yeah, but here’s what happens: they can project all they want. It’s what do you want. I told them a story of Derrick Rose. We get ready for an NCAA Tournament game and he’s playing against another point guard that they’re talking about, and he says to me before the game, ‘Watch this.’ And I watched it. I watched him just go and absolutely dominate the guy. You gotta take it personal. If you don’t, you’re not what you think you are. At the end of the day, everybody gets hurt. We’ve had it other years where we’ve slipped some and it hurts everybody within. It’s not just one guy. Sometimes you think, ‘Well, I’m going to be fine,’ then you look back and say, ‘Wow. What was I thinking?’ I think they get it.”

On defensive improvement … 
“There’s, first of all, you know, the technical stuff of what we need to do and how we need to play, how we need to press, what we need to do – making a few adjustments there. The other part of it is, if you’re playing with a teammate that you know can get beat on the dribble then play tighter. It’s what -- you’ve just got to play tighter. Other guys, you’re just taking great pride in I’m not letting the guy just go by me. It’s not happening. We pick-and-roll defense. You know, one of the things you do is just say if you really want to get better defensively, you play your best six defenders and that’s it. Don’t play anybody else. Now, you’re seeing teams across the country start doing that right now. Syracuse went to playing six guys. That’s it. I’m playing six, and I’ll play five if no one gets in foul trouble and you can all play 40 minutes and they’ve won seven in a row. So there’s all kind of ways -- you’ve got other teams doing it. You just, I’m not going to play as many guys. You’ve got to deal with it. So, we’re not at that point yet, but again if you’re going in and you’re breaking down or you can’t fight or rebound, you just can’t be in there. I’ve made it clear to the guys. We’ve got to get back to having a defensive presence and making it about defense. Our offense is fine. We’re moving the ball now, doing stuff. You can’t be on defense 70 percent of the time, which means you can’t just come down and shoot a quick-contested shots because now you’re on defense 70 percent of the time and you can’t win that way. You’re going to break down, and you’re going to give up baskets, and you’re going to have some of the issues that we’re having. So, it’s a little combination of both. And I’ll say this, and I said it to the team, the best thing to happen to us is LSU. We were on track. We were going to beat them by 30 and then they make that run in the last seven, eight minutes. And if we had won by 30, possibly me would have looked at it and said, ‘OK now we’re right’. We’ve got this right. And by them coming back on us, it showed me, we’ve got to, this ain’t no – this is not going to work this way. And I was able to do and change and get these guys to doing it. And I’m going to say it again, it takes you three weeks to go one way. It doesn’t just (become) OK in two days. So for 75 percent of that game, I liked what I saw. Seventy-five percent of that game. And then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ If this is in us, we’re going to have issues. So that’s what we’re working on. Thank goodness we gotta month to get this right.” 

On Sacha Killeya-Jones being an option for stepping up …
“He’s got to do it first in practice. You’ve got to do it in practice first. Not you just saying, ‘Well, I’ll give you a chance.’ You can’t. If the other two deserve to play before him then they’re going to play first.”

On Bama coming off a big win and what he sees from them on tape …
“They’ll probably go at us like Florida did. Let’s go right at them. Let’s punch them in the mouth. Let’s shoot balls and forget about missing them; just shoot them and we’ll go rebound them. Let’s move the ball a little bit; make them stay in a stance long, see what they do. Throw them into some pick-and-rolls. They’ll probably go off that game plan. Hopefully we are little different team from that game down there.”

On what he see from Alabama against South Carolina …
“It’s unusual for me to tell you that South Carolina got beat to all the 50-50 balls. They had one player that just took the team on the back, and that’s how they even survived. They got beat to a lot of balls, and it shows me that Alabama is going to fight. They’re going to battle. They play. They do a lot of isolation post-ups because they’re big. Their guards are 6-7 and 6-8. And their point guard is big, too. They’re a big team.”

On what’s going on with the help defense …
“It depends. There’s all kinds of reasons that could be happening. When Bam got his third foul, he stopped playing defense. And I told him. He has not been there before trying to play with three (fouls). That just doesn’t mean you stop guarding anybody. You just let him go by. What are you doing? And then you get a fourth foul 94 feet from the goal. Again, I mean, it’s like, wait a minute. Some of those things have been frustrating, but again, you’re looking at teams all across the country trying to figure stuff out, and we’re one of them. I love that I’m coaching this team. Where we are defensively I’m not happy with, but the last two days and even Monday’s practice, where we were zeroed in on moving that ball on offense, they’re responding. They respond. And again, I think that this has got to be a personal thing, and that doesn’t mean go foul people. Just go compete and play. Dive on the floor. Take charges. Extra-effort plays. A rotation. And then, again, you gotta understand, you’ve got high school kids who have played on some bad high school teams. When things went wrong: ‘I’m fine. It’s them.’ Well, you can’t do that here. You just can’t do that here. That’s no longer that defense mechanism. I’ll act like it doesn’t matter because that’s what I did in high school because I’m blaming it on (the other kids). You can’t do that here. This thing is, you’ve gotta compete, and then I’ve gotta figure out who the five are that we play. Who are they? And maybe we stick with them. Play them as long as we can, give them a little sub, let them play as long as they can, give them a little sub, play them as long as they can, and let’s start building a team. It’s hard. The best teams I’ve coached, other than the platoon team that is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, was the teams that I played less guys – not more. Be ready for your opportunity.”

On threatening a player like Malik Monk with the bench …
“Well I said to him, you’re not rebounding, you’re not defending the way you should. How are we dealing with this? He said, ‘Coach, tell me, and if I don’t do it, sit me.’ He said it to me. I didn’t say it to him, and I told the team what he said. ‘Anybody else want to have that comment?’ You have other guys that were like, ‘No’. You know, but that’s how they should feel. If I’m not doing my job, sit me out. We can afford to sit anybody.” 

On addressing rebounding to the team …
“Well, I want Bam (Adebayo) to go get double-digit rebounds every game. Wenyen (Gabriel) will fight like heck. It’s our guards that got to stick their noses in there and go rebound. This team is going to shoot it and send four guys to the rim. That’s what they do. And if your guards don’t rebound, it’s going to be ugly. If your guards do rebound, we can fly because you’re giving up something by sending them to the rim. And if we do what we’re supposed to, then we fly. Like I said, this is – it’s all a process. It’s, you know – stuff’s not easy. If they walked in and thought it was going to be easy, they’re finding out now it’s not. If you thought you could shift what’s happening to somebody else and say, ‘I’m going to be OK’ – you’re not going to be OK. You’re going to be hurt just like everybody else is hurt by this. And so I think they get it. We got great kids who are learning. I had a friend of mine call me last night and just say, ‘Man, what’s wrong with (Kentucky)?‘ You know, you’ve got a bunch of young guys trying to figure this out for the first time, thought it would be easy, no it’s hard. Alright, now let’s find out what you really are so you really can be evaluated, because those lists don’t mean anything. They don’t. It doesn’t mean who (they’re going to draft). I’ve seen guys where you’re the fifth and you go second round. What happened? Or you go 28. That stuff doesn’t matter. That has no effect on how this stuff goes. We got a month to get this right. These guys are in a great frame of mind right now. It’s going to be a really hard game for us to win down there the way they’re playing and how hard they rebound the ball. It’s exactly the medicine we need to say ‘Where are we right now rebounding the ball?’ Because you’re going to find out, similar to what Florida did, shoot it and go get it.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Makayla Epps on Naismith Trophy Top 30 List

 For the second time today, University of Kentucky senior guard Makayla Epps has been tabbed a top candidate for a player of the year award as the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced her as a member of the 2017 Naismith Trophy Top 30.  

The 30-player list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances so far during the 2016-17 college basketball season. The list will be cut to 10 semifinalists on March 2 with the women’s college player of the year announced during the Final Four. A complete list can be found here.

Epps is having a great season for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats in scoring by averaging 17.2 points per game. The senior also leads Kentucky with 89 assists and is third on the team with 22 steals. Epps has started all 24 games and ranks high in several national categories, including 38th nationally and third in the league in field-goals made and 49th nationally and second in the league in points scored with 413.

For her career, Epps is moving into elite company sitting fifth all-time with 1,620 career points and eighth all-time with 379 career assists. Epps is the only player in program history to rank top eight on both lists. Currently, Epps is on a career-high tying streak of scoring 20 or more points in four straight games. The native of Lebanon, Ky., has scored in double figures 21 times this season and 82 times in her career.

Epps is one of six players on the list from the Southeastern Conference.  Joining her are Alaina Coates (South Carolina), Diamond DeShields (Tennessee),  Mercedes Russell (Tennessee), Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State) and A’ja Wilson (South Carolina).

De'Aaron Fox/Malik Monk on Wooden Award Late Season List

 Kentucky freshman guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are among the 20 players on the John R. Wooden Award Late Season List, announced Wednesday by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Wooden Award is presented annually to the top player in college basketball.

Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 List is comprised of student-athletes who are the frontrunners for one of college basketball’s most prestigious individual honors. The finalists for the award will be announced on March 4. 

UK is one of three schools (UK, Kansas and North Carolina) with two players on the late season 20 and the only school with two freshmen. Six total freshmen total were among the late season top 20 list with UK comprising a third of the freshmen on the list.

Monk, a freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, is one of the most prolific scorers in the country. Averaging 21.9 points per game, he is ranked 10th nationally in scoring, second among all freshmen and first in the Southeastern Conference. No John Calipari-coached player has ever averaged more than 21.2 points for an entire season (Dajuan Wagner at Memphis in 2001-02). He’s scored in double figures in every game this season and has 14 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December, a 34-point outburst at Ole Miss and 35 points in an overtime win over Georgia at home.

He's the only freshman in program history and just the third player overall to post games of 34 or more points at a neutral-site game, an away game and a home game in the same season.

Monk has proven to be one of Calipari’s most dynamic scorers ever. Routinely a feature on SportsCenter’s Top 10 for his jaw-dropping dunks, he’s also proven to be one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters. He’s made 77 3-pointers through 19 games, ahead of Jamal Murray (72) at this point in the season when he went on to break the freshman record with 113 3-pointers a season ago.

Fox is a speedy, yet dynamic playmaker who has the ability to create for his teammates and score at a high rate at the same time. He is currently averaging 16.0 points, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals. His 5.5 assists per game ranks 33rd in the country, fourth among all freshmen and first in the SEC, while his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the conference. His 126 assists are already the sixth most by a John Calipari freshman in a single year. 

Fox already has a team-leading four double-doubles by way of points and assists, which includes his historic triple-double against Arizona State – the second triple-double in school history and first since Chris Mills did it Dec. 27, 1988. The Houston native has 11 games of six assists or more.

The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2017 John R. Wooden Award. The top 15 players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 grade-point average will be submitted to voters on the final ballot prior to the NCAA Tournament. Every year, players have made the final ballot that were not on the preseason or midseason lists.

Voting will open prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performances during early round games. The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2017 John R. Wooden Award will be announced during the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show on April 7.

Previous winners of the Wooden Award include such notables as Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (‘84), Tim Duncan (‘97), Kevin Durant (‘07), Trey Burke (’13), Doug McDermott (‘14), Frank Kaminsky (’15) and Buddy Hield  (’16). UK’s Anthony Davis won it in 2012.