Friday, January 30, 2015

DeMarcus Cousins WILL Play in The 2015 NBA All-Star Game



Well it's official, former Cat, DeMarcus Cousins has been selected to the 2015 NBA All-Star Game.

Sure, DeMarcus was left off the first initial ballot, but filling in for an injured Kobe Bryant will have to do. It's no secret that Big Cuz' got snubbed this time around considering he was top five in just about every major statical category the NBA keeps track of. Here's an example of what the Big Man has accomplished this season... 

"Cousins ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring (23.8 ppg) and third in rebounding (12.3 rpg). Over the last 20 years, only five players -- David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin GarnettTim Duncan and Kevin Love -- have averaged at least 23.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in a season."

That my friends is a snippet of an article on NBA.com announcing Cousins' selection to the All-Star team, a selection that should've taken place the first time.

Also, for those of you keeping track, that's three former Cats (John Wall, Anthony Davis and now DeMarcus Cousins with possibly another to be named later) participating in this years All-Star Game. That is more than impressive. 

Congratulations, DeMarcus. It's BEYOND time and well deserved.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cats Outlast's Missouri 69-53 in a Foul Fest


This was not one of the most impressive wins, but a win is a win. In the first half, Kentucky's largest lead was nine, but it felt like 20. It seemed like the Cats dominated the game from start to finish, even though they actually didn't, at least until the second half.

Which brings me to the second half...


The above picture pretty much sums up the second half. A million fouls was called and made the game pretty much a bore fest to say the least. What seemed like thirty seconds into the second half, there was a double technical foul called and then it was down hill from there as far as foul calls was concerned. Instead of complaining about the officiating on both ends, I'm going to do a quick hits of what I liked and didn't like about the Cats' performance.

First, Willie Cauley-Stein had probably his worst game as a Wildcat.

Devin Booker, it was clear he was trying too hard in-front of the school where his dad played and recruited him pretty heavily.

Our bigs didn't give us anything that we needed on a consistent basis; that's gotta change in hurry if Kentucky expects to make a deep post-season run. Our post play is going to judge how far we go in the "Big Dance" come march.

Kentucky's guard play was actually pretty good this game, especially in the second half and especially Andrew Harrison who had his best game of the season, in my opinion.

Karl Anthony-Towns Jr. is going to half to toughen up in the paint. Time and time again, Karl gets a rebound only to have it taken away by a much smaller/weaker opponent. His weakness in the post will end up hurting his draft stock and Kentucky's post season aspirations if he don't change his way in a hurry. NO ONE should take a rebound away from someone of Karl's size.

Other than all of that, this was a good road win as Kentucky moves to 20-0 on the season. Next game will be Saturday against, Alabama.


SEC Now To Broadcast LIVE From Rupp Saturday



For the first time in the show’s history, “SEC Now” will broadcast its popular news and information studio show at a college basketball arena when it comes to Rupp Arena on Saturday for Kentucky’s matchup with Alabama.

The SEC Network show, hosted by Dari Nowkhah and analysts Dane Bradshaw and Darrin Horn, will be on the baseline of Rupp Arena beginning at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

SEC Now will report live throughout the day with highlights and analysis throughout the day’s games, concluding with live coverage following the UK-Alabama game at 7 p.m., which is also scheduled for an SEC Network broadcast.

Doors at Rupp Arena will open 90 minutes prior to tip.





Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Kentucky Pre-Missiouri Press Conference QUOTES



Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
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On Devin Booker’s recruitment and if he empathizes with recruiting at a place like Missouri ...
“I’ve been on that side. I’ve been at Memphis and Massachusetts and I hate to tell you no one felt sorry for me when Duke and North Carolina came. There were kids I recruited, I would always ask them, ‘Are you recruiting the kid or not? Do you really want them?’ ‘Yeah.’ Staff: ‘Go get somebody else. We’re not beating that.’ I think, again, when you look at how much guys have gotten better, that’s why they come here. There were 25 guys better than him (Devin Booker) in that class? I mean, phew, there are 25 good ones out there. And again, you know, ‘Well, only one-and-dones come here. He was a one-and-done before he came here.’ I’m proud of him and happy for what he’s doing. I would say his dad is extremely happy, but Missouri wasn’t the only one that recruited him for five years. There were some other people that recruited him for a long time.”

On if he has spoken to Booker ahead of the game at Missouri and if he plans to ...
“I haven’t said anything to him right now. Meh, the kid will look at me like I’m crazy. They have great attitudes, all these freshmen. But they also have the veterans there that give them an opportunity to just go do their thing don’t worry about it. They don’t have that hanging on them like every shot you miss or make is life and death for us to win or lose. They don’t have that. They’re all performing. I mean, every one of them has done well.”

On if winning gets fatiguing and the challenge of keeping the players engaged ...
“Well, here’s what I would tell you. There’s a reason you play the games. The last score does not matter. Whether you won or lost has no bearing on the game you’re about to play, especially in college. The second point of it is, with a team like Missouri, one of their best players did not play in that (first) game. Now he’s playing. I think the last game helps them a lot more than it helps us. Probably stung them a little bit. We probably played better offensively than we had in a long, long time. And then when I watched the game it was 14-10 with 12 minutes to go in the half. It was 14-10 and then we kind of got it to 12 and then it kind of got away from them. But that’s without one of their best players. I would say for us I’m just focused on us getting better. That’s all it is. Trying some new stuff and messing around and getting these guys to continue to compete against one another.”

On the theme of the season being the team competing against itself ...
“Just energy. Our whole thing is if we play with energy, then we have a chance. It doesn’t mean we win every game. Again, the thought of, ‘You have to win,’ or go undefeated – we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about how do we come to every game with energy so we know that we have a chance to win? How do we do that? How do we sustain that energy throughout a game? How do we have fun when teams still come after us? How do we limit our errors so that our errors are forced errors and not
unforced? It’s all of those things where we’re worrying about our team. That’s what I’ll do today. I’m not going to talk much about Missouri. I’m talking about us.”

On if the team will ever embrace goals like going undefeated this season ...
“It’s not about what I want. It’s what they want. I have no idea. You would have to talk to them. We don’t ever talk about it. It hasn’t entered my mind. I’ll give you an example: People will say, ‘What does this look like?’ It all depends. When I was at Memphis, I believe we won our first 26 games. We’re playing Tennessee in our building and there are 5,000 people outside of a 20,000-seat building watching it on screens. It is ridiculous. We’re going to win the game, and then we fumble the ball. They make a 3 at the buzzer to beat us by one. Was that lucky for us or unlucky for us? It all depends on how you deal with it. For us, from that game, my team went whoop – bing (gestures pointing upward). We beat Michigan in the NCAA Tournament by 30 at halftime, Texas in Houston, and UCLA. Do you want to name some of those guys (on UCLA): Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, and there’s like nine of them. They went down by 20. And we have a nine-point lead with two minutes to go, miss free throws and lose the national title. Tennessee, on the other hand, it was not good for them. It was unlucky because they beat us and went like (that) from there on in and finished the season with a dud.”

On if he prefers to lose a game going into postseason ...
“It doesn’t matter. It all depends. It depends. It depends on how you would deal with it. I know what we did with Memphis. We took that game, cut it up, and our kids took it on and went to another level. The Indiana game (2011-12) – was that lucky for us or lucky for them? Was that good for good or good for them? From that point, my team went (gestures pointing upward), but it was pretty good for them. The problem was they had to play us again and it wasn’t so lucky that they had beaten us early because there was no way that my team wasn’t going to win that game. It was a great game and they lost by 10. We’re just trying to get better. We’ll deal with things as they come. We have a great group of kids.”

On focusing on quality of play as opposed to the outcomes of games ...Well, if the other team really gives us – they punch us, they go and they play, and they just play out of their minds, and now we have to fight to win a game – the outcome would matter. But if two teams are going at each other and you’re playing great and they’re playing great and all the sudden they throw a half-court bank and beat you by one, the outcome doesn’t matter then. It’s how you respond to the outcome. That’s how I’ve always coached. It’s not life or death. You move on to the next. Now, I’m going to coach to win during a game. I’m going to be aggressive with the guys.”

On how Willie Couley-Stein is playing ...He’s playing well. I mean, he still needs to do some stuff for us offensively, but I think he’s doing fine. He’s like having a sixth defender out there, and our pick-and-roll defense is really good (with him on the floor) based on the fact that we can switch with him. Our bigs are getting better: Karl(-Anthony Towns) and Dakari (Johnson). Dakari’s even better than Karl. Trying to get Marcus Lee up to where Willie is, which is hard because he’s unusual.”

On what Cauley-Stein can improve ...
“More offensive rebounding, catching it three or four feet from the goal (and) get fouled. Right now he’s made 85 percent of his free throws the last five or six games, whatever that is, so get fouled. Go in there and ball fake and get fouled. He’s working on a better base, being stronger.”

On trying to keep the freshmen feeling fresh physically ...Well, we’re doing stuff now. I’m not ready to talk about what we’re doing. It’s a little different than I’ve ever done and I’ll probably want to wait a week before I talk about that. You know my things are fresh minds and fresh legs, but there’s all kinds of ways of doing this. You got coaches at the end of the year that will practice three hours, three and a half hours. They don’t care. That’s what they’re doing and their teams win, too. Last year we did practice long at the end of the year – longer than I’ve ever practiced – because we had to. This team is different. I told you at the shoot around I gave them a choice, I said, ‘Spend four or five minutes together and figure out if you want to shoot around. We have to get up at 6:30 (a.m.) or you can have a walkthrough at 8 a.m. and we’ll go over to the game.’ It took them 14 or 15 seconds to say, ‘We’re good, we don’t need a shoot around.’ And they played well. So I trust them. They’re making decisions (on) what’s best for them and their bodies, and we ask and try to get their opinion on it, but at the end of the day—like today’s practice is that one practice that we’re going to be after each other.”

On having a physically fresh team at this point in the season because of depth ...No, they should be, but I don’t (know). The thing that stunned me was I watched the South Carolina tape (from) a year ago, and it was March 3 and 10 days later we’re like a different team. How did that happen? Because I’m in the middle of it, I don’t look back, but what happened? Oh my gosh. That team that I saw against South Carolina was in the championship game without Willie Cauley, who we probably win the whole thing if he’s playing. Without Willie Cauley. I have no answer when I watch that tape. Like, that’s crazy. I guess it was a story. I don’t know if it was or not but when I saw March 3—because I’m thinking we played them in the middle of February, and the tape said March 3, I’m like, what?! So what it tells you is just keep coaching and keep trying to get them better. They’ll catch on. If I want to try new things, try it, they’ll be fine. Our thing is we want to be at our best at the end of the year. I still think we have a long way to go both defensively, offensively, trying to figure out what will be our rotation later in the year. We stick with what we do and do we go to seven or eight? How do we do this? My druthers (is) I’d rather play nine or 10 guys – that’s what I’d rather do – but I’m going to do what puts us in the best position we need to be in.”
On how much he talked to Montaque Gill-Caesar in the recruiting process and what he liked about him ... “He was a great kid. Hard worker, very competitive, tough. He will mix it up. This will change the complexion of the game. They needed one more guy to mix it up and that’s what he’ll do. Plus, he can score. He can score baskets for them, which they struggled (with). “ 


Kentucky Players

#1, Devin Booker, Fr., G

On what his dad is feeling this week ...
“I’m not sure. I’ve talked to him a few times, but he still has a lot of love for Missouri and he has a lot of love for Kentucky now, so I’m sure it’ll be good for him.”

On if his dad will be wearing blue ...
“I don’t know. I guess we’ll see. I have the same question for him.”

On if his dad will root for him and Missouri at the same time ...
“I don’t know. I’m sure he will. Missouri has a special place in his heart since he’s been there. They really show him a lot of love. They’ve showed me a lot of love, so I don’t really know. I guess we’ll see.”

On how hard it was for him to not go to Missouri ...
“I feel like this was the best decision for me. That’s what it came down to and we talked about it together for days on days, and I came up with the best decision for me.”

On Missouri fans sharing their unhappiness with his decision ...
“They did. But I still have love for Missouri. They showed me a lot of love when they were recruiting me. They recruited me since seventh or eighth grade and they still have a special place in my heart also.”

On playing pick-up games with his dad and his dad’s friends ...
“I think that’s what made me the man I am today. You know, when you play against older people it teaches you—they’re not fast, they’re not athletic, they just teach you their tricks to the game and just being around them helped me out a lot.”

On what sort of tricks they taught him ...
“Just like, I guess playing angles more than using you athleticism and you know, (those) little tricks just help you out.”

On Cal saying he couldn’t guard 45-year-old’s back then ...
“(Laughter) I guess not, they’re some pretty good players.”

On how far he thinks his defensive game has come ...
“I feel like it’s come a long way. Me and my dad talked about it a lot in high school that, you know, when I get to the next level I’m going to have to defend, so it’s something I’ve focused on. I’ve figured out it’s more of any effort thing than a skill, so if you put your effort towards it, it’ll become easier.”

On if 45-year-old’s try to overpower him and not out-quick him ...
“Exactly (laughter). It’s more of a post-up, you know I was like 12 or 13 then, so they were a lot bigger than me. I think it’d be different now.”

On what other part of his game he’s taken pride in ...
“I’d have to say just being more comfortable with the ball. A lot of teams pick us up full-court and that’s just one thing I’ve focused on. Trying to relieve some pressure from Tyler (Ulis) and Andrew (Harrison), like be another ball-handler out there, get it across half-court before I give it to them. I guess that’s it.”

On if his defense was underrated in the past ...
“I don’t know. In high school I didn’t really focus on defense that was probably my problem, ‘cause you didn’t really have to. You could take plays off. But in college, obviously, you can’t do that or you’ll get exposed, so really you just have to focus on defense and you know, like I said, it’s more of an effort thing.”

On not taking a team lightly the second time after beating them by 49 points the first time ...
“Well we’re playing at their house. It’s totally different. It’s a road game. So our fans back at Rupp, they helped us a lot during that game, so I feel like their fans are going to try to do the same for them, so we just have to play against ourselves again. That’s been like the topic of the season is playing against ourselves and not worrying about who our opponent is.”

On what his emotions are playing in Mizzou Arena after being there so many times ...
“I guess I can’t answer that right now. I’m just going to have to wait till it actually happens. I can’t really tell.”

On if he’ll be really nervous ...
“I don’t know about nervous. I guess you could say nervous, maybe a good nervous.”

On if getting bored of winning could happen to this team ...
“Get bored of winning? I’ve never heard of that. I don’t think we get bored of winning. I don’t think any of us want to lose. Every game we go out there and try to win.”

On if the team has started talking about the possibility of going undefeated ...
“I mean, we know that’d be unbelievable to do from the start, but, like I said, every time we go out on the court we try to win. It’s not really in out mindset, ‘We have to go undefeated.’ If anything, we feel like we have to win a championship more than we have to go undefeated, so if we lose a game here or there, I just hope we finish out in March.”

On not forcing anything the last time UK played Missouri ...
“You know, it’s not a big deal to me. I’ve based my game off, my whole life, playing the right way and doing what I have to do to win. So if that was shooting the ball only, what, two times, then that’s what I had to do. So just make the most out of it scoring, but if scoring isn’t what I have to do then I’m fine with it. We won by 49, so I’m totally OK with it.”

On if he’s got an impulse to heat check ...
“I used to take more heat checks in high school then I do now. I feel like it’s not a good shot so I don’t know why I’d take it, and on the college level I feel like you don’t have to, especially with a team like mine. I don’t think Cal’d like a heat check either (laughter).”

On if there was a time he assumed he’d end up at Missouri ...
“I don’t know about that. I mean, they recruited me for a long time, but my hometown was Michigan also, so they were recruiting me for a long time. Obviously I did, I did think about it a lot, and it crossed my mind plenty of times.”

On if he knows Coach Anderson at all ...
“Coach Anderson recruited me there, Coach Frank Haith—wait are you talking about, I was talking about Mike Anderson. You’re talking about Kim Henderson? My dad told me that Kim coached him when he was in college, so I don’t really know him that well but my dad said he’s a really good guy.”

On when UK came in the picture for him ...
“It was right at the beginning of my senior year.”

On if it was hard for Missouri and Michigan State to lose him to UK ...
“Not only was it hard for them but it was hard for me also, because, like I said, I did have those connections with those schools. But at the end of the day, I felt like the best decision for me was the University of Kentucky, so that’s the decision I made.”

On when Michigan State first started recruiting him and then Missouri ...
“I think eighth grade. And then Missouri right around the same time.”

On the number of games he’s been to in Mizzou Arena over the years ...
“I’d say probably four or five. I’ve actually seen some pretty big games there—when they beat Kansas at their place, so it’s a crazy environment. The student section showed me a lot of love. I’m sure it’ll be different now, but I understand, so it’s all good.”

On if he expects some big boos ...
“If I do, it’s not a big deal to me. I understand why they’re doing it, so I mean it’s just part of the game. That’s what road games are.”

On if his dad is like royalty there ...
“Yeah he is. They love him. Everywhere we go—I mean I went to a few football games also. We
went to all the homecoming games. They love him there. We used to walk around at the tailgates and he’d get stopped everywhere we went. It was like how Big Blue Nation treats us, and I was really surprised about that. They’re a great fan base also.”

On people telling him they hoped he would come to Missouri ...
“That’s exactly how it went. They used to always take pictures with both of us at the same time and tell me to continue the legacy—it’s in my blood. But at the end of the day I made the best decision for myself.”

On him having so much fun ...
“I feel like, why not? We’re out there having a good time. I’m on a great team and I’ve really been blessed with the opportunity. I couldn’t wish for anything else like this. I really do, I just have a great time out there.”

#00, Marcus Lee, So., F

On getting back motivated to play Missouri again after handling them last time ...
“I think it’s just another game so we have to get up just like we do for every other game. So, we have to prepare ourselves like we do for just about every other day and every other game.”

On the game being played Thursday as opposed to a Tuesday ...
“Yeah, I do think it’s a little bit different. It’s a different schedule for us. We all just have to wake up and be ready for whatever happens.”

On if he expects to face more physical styles of basketball, similar to what South Carolina showed ... “Of course, especially since we’re in the SEC. It’s a real physical conference. That’s kind of how you have to expect each game.”

On if he expects to get a better game from Missouri this time ...
“That’s what you expect from every team. You expect them to give you their all because if you’re not going to see their all, what’s the point of playing? So, I know they’re going to come out and give us the best they have, and we need to go out and do the same.”

On their biggest concern as a team ...
“Like always, we’re in our day to day just trying to get better each day. We’re not really concerned about the next week or the big things we’re trying to get. We’re trying to get better each day and come together as a team.”

On his improving play ...
“I think it’s just being comfortable with what I’m able to do and knowing that the team trusts me to do it. There are some days that I need to do a whole lot more, and there are some days
my team needs me to do something different. So, I’m just trying to figure out what my team needs me to do for that day and I’ll end up doing it.”

On if he’s been concentrating on blocking shots lately ...
“It’s just the way I’m supposed to play. That’s how I’m supposed to be in games and that’s just something I’ve been trying to focus on. It’s some of the things I need to do for my team and that’s something I had to change.”

On if any of the shot blockers on the team have wagers on who will get the most blocks ...
“No, not at all. We’re just trying to get the job done. That’s something we always get yelled at for and we always challenge each other in practice to get that blocked shot because we know we’re really big. It’s just something we’ve always worked on.”

On listening to what Coach Cal said about being UK’s ‘energy’ guy ...
“When a coach kind of tells you and explains what needs to be done to play, you have to figure out a way to do it, no matter what it is. You have to find a way to get it done if you want to play. That’s something I’ve tried to focus on and try to harness as we go.”

On if Coach Cal has recognized him doing what he’s been asked ...
“Yeah, I’m definitely understanding that he’s seeing it because we definitely talk about it a lot. It’s just something that both of us have tried to step up on.”

On some of the things that used to get him pulled from games ...
“I know there’s one thing about being more physical and holding on to rebounds, and that’s something I’ve really tried to keep on and totally focus on. That’s kind of something that has changed throughout the year.”

On two-handed rebounds and why it has been a tough habit to break going up with one hand ...
“I don’t know. I’ve always been taught to go one handed and then two. It was just a big change for me and it’s just something I’ve had to overly exaggerate until it’s just one nature.”

On how many free throws he’s been shooting ...
“Yeah, that’s just something I’ve always been working on and getting comfortable at the line. The more you shoot, the more you get better at it so I’ve been going at it on a daily basis.”

On not taking Missouri lightly after beating them by 49 points last time ...
“I mean, we don’t really remember how much we beat teams by. We’re not, like, rejoicing and looking back at the games that have already happened. We’re looking forward and looking for what’s new and what else do we need to do to get to our final goal.”

On ways they can look and play within themselves ...
“Yeah, we’re always trying to better ourselves as a team, so we see how we do that game or the game before and then we try to improve on it, no matter what we did. Whether it’s defensively or keeping order offensively, we’re just always trying to improve and get better.”


On specific things they’ve done that’s sparked an internal goal ...
“Not number wise, we don’t really set a goal. But we’ve always set a goal to stop somebody defensively or be more crisp offensively. That’s kind of something we’ve focused on more in the past couple weeks is being more crisp offensively.”

On what the goal is against Missouri ...
“Just be more crisp offensively and never really slack off on defense because if we slack off on defense then what are we actually doing?”

On the play of freshman guard Devin Booker ...
“I think the freshmen, as a whole, have been doing really great. They’ve come in and they’ve fit in like they’ve been here since we’ve been here. The way they’re playing is great and I’m ecstatic about it.”

On what kind of history they keep mentally on teams they’ve played before and have to face a second time ... “We just go game to game. We don’t even see what happened the last game or the game before. We’re focused on the game that’s ahead and if it happens to be the same team then it’s just another time where we have to prepare and be ready.”

On how much they think about what they did right against the previous opponent ...
“You always have to reflect on the things you did right so you can, like, remember it and give the same energy and do the same thing. I think it’s just real important to reflect on the good and the bad.”

On their motivation facing a team they beat by 49 points previously ...
“I think our motivation is just to play just as hard as we played last time and show everybody else how much better we’re getting and not so much beat them by 49 or beat them by 50 because that doesn’t really matter.”

On their motivation if they were the team that had been beaten by 49 points ...
“They’re just going to try to go twice as hard and just go at us like there’s nothing else to lose. That’s how everybody has to go throughout each game no matter who you’re playing.” 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Booker Earns Third Consecutive SEC Freshman of The Week Honors


It seems only fitting that Kentucky’s freshman sharpshooter from long range has hauled in his third consecutive Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week honor announced on Monday. Booker has now been honored by the league office a team-high four times this season.

Booker logged 12.0 points, 1.5 rebounds and a pair of assists per game in wins over Vanderbilt and on the road at South Carolina to help the Cats remain perfect for the season. 

The Grand Rapids, Mich., native opened the week by scoring six points against the Commodores, but found other ways to contribute with an SEC career-high four assists in the game. 

On the road at South Carolina, Booker led the team in scoring with 18 points on 6 of 9 shooting. He’s now led the squad in scoring on seven occasions this season.

In four true road games during his freshman campaign, Booker leads the team with an average of 14.5 points per game and is shooting 56.3 percent from the floor. Booker has knocked down a squad-best 10 of 19 3-point field goals in road contests.

The Wildcats have won eight SEC Freshman of the Week honors this season. Booker has won the award four times while Karl-Anthony Towns has been honored twice. Trey Lyles and Tyler Ulis have each been awarded the accolade once.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cats Beat South Carolina 58-43; Improve to 19-0



Kentucky improves it's record to 19-0 winning 58-43 against South Carolina.

It wasn't the best offensive game Kentucky has had this season, but it ranks right up there for one of their best defensive performances so far. The Cats held the Gamecocks to just 12-53 from the floor or just 23% field goal shooting. USC couldn't find an open shot anywhere on the floor; inside or out, it didn't matter as Kentucky's defense swarmed on every single possession. Just look at the stats (9 blocks, 8 steals) and you can see how good of a defensive game Kentucky played.

The one thing that sticks out on the stat sheet is the way Kentucky was out-rebounded today. They got beat on the boards 40-28 and gave up 18 offensive rebounds which in turn led to 13 second chance points which is what kept USC in the game. Other than that, you can't really complain about today's performance.

More to come through out the day....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kentucky Pre-South Carolina Press Conference QUOTES



Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

On what he remembers about last year’s game at South Carolina ...
“Well, I was watching the game, and we didn’t bow our necks until I got tossed, and then we bowed our necks and played. But they’re going to be physical. They come right at you. If you drive, you’ve got three guys running. As you run at them, they run at you. Frank (Martin), the one thing I’ve got to tell you as I watch his team – it’s a great concept – they’ll pressure you all over the place and deny wings. And if you drive, they all race to the lane. Like everybody. Just run to the lane on drives. So they have a combination of pack line, which is we’re just going to have our heels on the 3-point line, let you do what you want and give you one tough shot. And then when you drive you got three on you because everybody’s in there. Well, he’s done it where they’ll top you, they’ll face guard, they’ll deny, and if you drive from that way, we’re all running in the lane. I got to give credit, I think it’s a great concept. But I’ll say this: really hard to play that way. Like, you have to play. If you don’t play, you’re getting beat. And they play. They take on Frank’s personality. They’re balling.

On how they can counter that ...
“Got to be strong with the ball. Got to play through bumps. You got to know that they’re coming and find open men. I don’t think they’ll leave the baseline like they’ve been because we’ll throw lobs, so I think they’ll leave from everywhere else and leave one guy back, which means maybe you can get to the rim. Maybe you can’t. We’ll work on stuff today. But they also play the 2-3 zone against us. They also play a 3-2 zone. I mean, they really explore the lane on offense every time down. They always have someone in that lane area. If you switch, they try to post that guy. Things that we normally do, they’re playing against that. And it’s always a hard game. I can remember 2010 going down there, having our team – you know what, we got outmuscled that game. They roughed us up and we weren’t able to finish and make plays. Had a chance to try to beat them then. Had a chance last year. That’s the first time (this week) I’ve watched the end of the game. Now, the good news with it is if I get thrown I’m not doing a press conference after. Might do it (get tossed) again.”

On if he’s asked the president of the United State not to call his team before this trip to South Carolina since they lost in 2010 when he did ... “President? Oh, he did? No, he can call. That’d be fine. For some reason, I don’t think he was a part of that (loss).”

On Aaron Harrison saying last year after the South Carolina loss that the season would be a great story ...
“Well, he didn't say there'd be a great story. What he said is, 'We can do what we want. We can write our own story. And I think we will.' That's kind of what he said. You know, that game was in March. I look back on last year and I'm amazed that we were able to pull it together. I mean, it's not a real big
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deal, 'cause it's here and me, but the reality of it -- when I think about what went on -- how in the world did we swing it that fast? Because there was another game I watched that we played bad and it was March. Maybe it was Alabama at home? I mean, we stunk. Like, stunk. And then by two weeks later we're playing out of our minds? That means you have a good group that was just not sure of themselves. And these kids are so different. I don't care what anybody says, these kids that are 18, 19, 20 years old, their confidence half the time is shot to shot, week to week, play to play. All of the sudden they're playing good, they got great confidence. 'I can shoot it in the ocean.' Yeah? Next game you're shooting air balls. How about that? I mean, that's how the stuff is for these kids. It kind of flips on you real quick. You got to keep track of that and make sure you got a kind of handle on that, too.”

On if he’s surprised Aaron Harrison would say that and then back it up ...
“No, I wasn't in that (press conference). I had left the arena already, so I didn't hear what was said. But again, the story should be look at where we were and look where we went to and how we finished. But that's a unique group. Now we have them back. And last game, our freshmen went 0 for 4 when we were up 12 . It's, 'OK, let's end this thing.' They go 0 for 4, our freshmen, from the foul line. They break down defensively twice and give them threes. And it takes Aaron and Andrew and Willie to save the day. I'm glad we've got young guys that aren't afraid, but they're not gonna be great every night out. They've never been through this stuff. The other guys have. The greatest play that was made was, my man (Booker) shoots an air ball by about, mmm, a foot and a half, and we save it. The ball goes back to (Booker). He's smart enough to throw it quickly to Aaron, who knows he's making it. His mindset is, 'I'm making it.' And he did.”

On the amount of scrutiny on Andrew Harrison helping Tyler Ulis to play freely ...
“It’s every team we play. They’re not coming out like, ‘We’re supposed to beat this team. We’re not supposed to win; we’re not even supposed to be in this. Just go play.’ Now all of the sudden guys that don’t shoot well shoot well. Guys that play tight don’t play tight, and so you’re playing against their best. I think with Tyler right now it’s nice to know. Really for both of them they should feel that way, that if I’m not great I’ve got him and if he’s not great he has got me. The difference is what you said. When it rains in Lexington, whose fault is it? Andrew’s fault. There was a car accident on 75, whose fault is it? Andrew’s fault. So that’s just how it is right now and he has accepted it. But at the end of the day he’s the same guy that led us to a championship game and gave us a chance to do something unique and special. Tyler is playing well too. Now he doesn’t play great every night out. Neither does Andrew. It’s nice to be able to have two of them, and it’s nice to be able to put them in together.

On the team has benefited from lessons learned last year in games like at South Carolina ...
“The thing that they’ve benefitted most of is that you don’t have to play well because we have enough guys. Now you can just worry about really playing hard and doing your best. There’s no, like, ‘If I don’t play well we’re going to lose this game.’ No, unless nine of you don’t play well then we have no chance. If five or six of you play well we will figure out who they are and we will run with them. If nine of you play well, we play you all. That’s what these guys should be feeling, but we have a great group of kids. Great group.”

On if he changed after last season’s South Carolina game the way James Young described ...
“I got him (James Young) to unchill is what I got him to do. So as soon as he unchilled, we got really good.”

On why he seemed to change his outlook late in the 2013-14 season ...
“I had less of an edge for this reason: I hadn’t been able to figure out what was the issue. When I figured out what the issue was, and the two or three things I had to do as a coach, then I was comfortable. I’m still not sure, offensively, how we need to play at times with this group. We’re going to try some new stuff today.”

On if the SEC is better than its reputation ...
“Oh yeah. It’s No. 2 (strength of schedule) RPI in the country, the fourth strongest league in the country. Every road game is hard. I mean, Mississippi State went down and beat Auburn. Auburn at home hadn’t lost a game, and literally they were up 12, 13, 14 down there and the place was packed. You saw Vanderbilt. You’re telling me they’re not going to win games in this league? I mean, if that game against us didn’t help them understand that, ‘we’re legit, we’re big, we can shoot, we can handle with great pressure, we run our stuff, we’re disciplined,’ I mean, shoot, they guarded us. They’re good. You look at Texas A&M, they’re good. You look at LSU, well, they lost to--you can lose games and still be good. Unless you’re in this league. Then if you lose you’re awful, which is crazy. We have to get by that. I don’t know. I mean, you have three teams in the Sweet 16, you have a team in the final game, two in the Final Four and it’s, ‘Yeah, but I don’t care.’ I don’t know what else you do. Unless you have two of us in the final game and one of us win – in overtime. Maybe then you’ll say, ‘Maybe the league is OK.’ “

On if other teams in the conference should have played better non-conference games ...
“We did. They did. We all did. We’re No. 2 RPI (strength of schedule). RPI is used when it’s convenient. Since we’re high in the RPI this year we probably won’t evaluate by RPI. There will be other reasons. Maybe ‘what are your bad losses.’ It’s like that moving target. They look, ‘OK where is the SEC strong? Don’t consider those areas. There are seven others that we consider.’ I’m not sure they do that, but (it seems that way).”

On where he wants to see offensive improvement ...
“There are things that we have to be able to do to put people away, which is score three or four straight baskets bam, bam, bam and not be concerned shooting 3s unless it’s inside and out. You can’t rely on 3s to stay in games, and we have this year. I mean, we made 11 one game to stay in a game. Can’t do that. And so even if they’re packing it, how do we have to play? What do we have to do? How do we do different things? I’m just going to mess around with some stuff and tell them what we’re doing and why. Very intelligent basketball team. Like, when I tell them why we’re doing it and what we’re doing, they’ll go out and do it. That’s the one thing we can do, and we have today and tomorrow to mess around with some stuff. The biggest thing for us is it’s just energy. Will we battle? Will we go in and fight? When this game gets physically rough, when they’re up under you on shots, when there’s a rebound and everything is just a body-to-body slam, can you hold your ground? When you get it close to the basket, they’re not going to surrender. They’re just not going to give you a basket. They’re going to fight you just
like every team we play. Can you make that two-footer? Can you make it against another college player? He’s another college player. It’s not Wilt the Stilt. Can you make it against another college player? If we can’t, we’ve got to figure out some other things.”

On Karl-Anthony Towns’ offensive development ...
“He’s getting better. He’s physically not as mature as some of these guys so he can’t hold his position like these other guys, like Dakari (Johnson) can. Even like Trey should be able to. He’s not quite doing it because we haven’t posted him a whole lot, but he’s getting better. All I want him (Towns) to be is conscience of look, this is where we see you, Right now here is where you are and be real about it. We’re truthful with the guys.”

Freshman guard Tyler Ulis

On icing his legs ...
“Yeah I iced every day after practice (in high school).”

On if the older guys on the team have said anything about the environment at South Carolina ...
“No, I haven’t heard anything really about them.”

On if it’s been easy adjusting to playing in places where people don’t like UK ...
“It’s been pretty easy for us. We just try to go there and play, not really pay attention to the crowd much, and just do what we have to do on the court to win.”

On why they’re so good at not letting the crowds get to them ...
“I feel like it’s been that way like in high school when we went places, the crowds were like that for us, but there’s a lot more people here. But, it’s just easy to adjust.”

On if he likes getting booed ...
“Oh yeah, it’s pretty funny. I like it, but I don’t really pay much attention to it.”

On what they learned from the Vanderbilt game ...
“We just learned that we have to fight all the time. Every game’s not going to be a blowout. They came ready to play. They shot some 3s. We just have to be able to stick with the game plan.”

On Marcus Lee’s energy ...
“Yeah, Marcus Lee played really well that game. With our platooning, he played very well defensively and rebounding the ball and he did that last game and it helped us out a lot.”

On how much easier it is playing college basketball overall for him today than it was a couple months ago ... “I wouldn’t say it’s easier. The competition is getting better. They’re coming after us even more with the SEC play. It’s just a different style of ball.”
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On if he’s always put his body into the guy he was guarding ...
“I’ve always done it because being a smaller guard I have to pick them up full court to make them uncomfortable.”

On if he has to work harder to make up for his size ...
“Definitely.”

On what the trick is to guarding the way he does without picking up fouls ...
“Just move your feet and you try to guess where they’re going and stuff like that. You just try to play without your hands, just be quicker than them.”

On how the coaching staff is working with him to improve his style ...
“You know I’m just trying to work on my body and get in shape and stuff like that, and lifting weights, getting stronger. “

On how he feels about his shot even though Devin Booker’s had the hot hand lately ...
“I’m a better shooter than Devin (Booker). He’s the second best shooter on the team. But he’s been really hot. What, he’s like 70-something percent in the last six, seven games. I’m happy for him. He’s hitting shots. He struggled early and I’m just happy that he’s (shooting well).”

On his reaction to Aaron Harrison’s shot in the clutch ...
“Well, that’s what he does. Last year he hit three big shots and we expect him to do that. He hit a big shot last game and it’s not really anything new to us. We expect it from him.”

On his reaction to Willie Cauley-Stein’s jumper ... “Willie’s shot (laughter). I’m happy Willie made those shots because it shows that he’s working on his game, shows that he’s taking it to another level. He’s not just a great defensive player, he’s working on his offensive game and he’s getting better. If he develops that shot, which he has, then it’s going to be hard to stop.”

On if he was one of the people who didn’t want Cauley-Stein to take the shot at first, but was happy when it went in ... “(Laughter) I don’t know what to think when he shoots 15-footers. But if I see it come off where I feel like it’s going in, every time he hits that shot we get really excited because he doesn’t really do that. He’s used to dunking on people and stuff like that, and it’s just great to see a guy developing more skills as he gets older.”

On if the veterans have talked about really wanting to get a W at South Carolina after the game there last season ... “No, we haven’t really talked about it.”

Sophomore guard Andrew Harrison
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On what he remembers of last year’s South Carolina game ...
“I remember we lost. It was tough. They were a very good team last year, but we didn’t play as well as we should have. If we go down there and play like we did last year we’ll lose again.”

On if he thought his brother, Aaron, was crazy for saying he still thought it would be a “great story” after the game last year ... “No, because I know he has ultimate belief in himself. That’s how you have to be. You can’t listen to what people say about you or it will really mess you up, so you just have to keep playing and have confidence in yourself.”

On if Aaron told Andrew about that ...
“I think we all thought it. I think we all knew we had enough talent and stuff like that. You just have to play.”

On if last year’s game at South Carolina is still in people’s minds ...
“We have a lot of new guys on the team, but in my mind I know that they’re a rough team, tough team and we have to come and play 100 percent or it’s going to be a long game.”

On if that was a “we have to put our foot down” moment for them last year ...
“I really couldn’t tell you because I really don’t remember to be honest, but I knew it was a horrible feeling and I just remember just having that bad feeling when they rushed the court and stuff like that.”

On if they looked past South Carolina last year ...
“They’re a good team. Like I said, we just didn’t play as well as we should have and if we do that again this year we’re going to lose again.”

On if he’s expecting a tough, physical matchup against South Carolina ...
“Definitely. Every game we play in the SEC is going to be a tough game, and other teams are going to come at us so we have to be ready every time we step on the court.”

On the SEC ...
“Definitely. There are a lot of good athletes. It’s very, very tough. Very tough and rough. You have to be ready to play physically and mentally every game.”

On James Young saying Coach Cal chilled after the South Carolina loss last year ...
“I can’t really tell you. I don’t necessarily remember the exact moment, but I can understand what James is saying.”

On Coach Cal not being “chill” during the South Carolina game last year ...
“I know he got kicked out. I’m not really sure of what he did or anything like that. It was a heated situation.”

On UK going on a run after Coach Cal was ejected ...
“No, we just decided we have to play harder. It didn’t have to do with the coaching change or anything like that.”

On if it was embarrassing the way they lost at South Carolina last year ...
“It wasn’t embarrassing. It was just another game that we didn’t want to lose, so that’s what we did. We just lost the game.”

On how shocking was it that Coach Cal got tossed from that game ...
“I mean, I would have tossed him too. He was frustrated just like the rest of us.”

On the feeling of fans rushing the court whenever they beat Kentucky ...
“You can’t even think about it. We just have to go out there and play as hard as we can. If we lose a game or something like that we want it to be because of them, because they played great and better than us. Not because of us.”

On if the idea of not letting another fan base rush the court against them motivates them ...
“As a basketball player you have to try to motivate yourself to play every game, no matter if you’re at home or away.”

On the play of UK’s freshmen in road games ...
“They’re good basketball players.”

On if they will talk to the freshmen about last year’s game at South Carolina ...
“You just have to play your game. You can’t really worry about last year. Last year was last year. Now we have to go in there for another tough game against South Carolina.”

On how much having the two backcourts (Harrison twins, Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker) have helped each other in practice ... “It’s fun. Lot of people try to put us against each other, but it’s not like that. We realize we’re all on the same team.”

On if it’s been good for the freshmen to have experienced guys around ...
“Yeah, because there’s no pressure on them at all.”

On how the competition amongst the guards in practice has impacted team defense ...
“It’s not really a competition between guards in practice. It’s a competition between two teams. That’s how we look at it.”

On if he thinks them having to guard each other every day has helped them ...
“Yeah, in the beginning, yeah.”

On how difficult it is to guard Tyler Ulis, with his smaller size and quickness ...
“I mean, you have to really just worry about pick-and-rolls and stuff, and getting over the picks.”

On if he deflects some pressure from UK’s freshman guards ...
“Yeah, I can take whatever anything throws at me now. I know whatever is said doesn’t really matter. I’ve heard it all. I’m just starting to get my confidence back, and just knowing I’m the starting point guard or whatever and I can play just as well as anybody.”

On if he lost his confidence for a while ...
“Kind of. Not really. You just have to realize that this is basketball and you have to play like you have been playing your whole life.”

On if he likes the pressure of if it wears on him ...
“I mean, now I’m so used to it or so immune to it. So, pretty much nothing people can say that bothers me anymore, I’m just trying to play basketball and have fun.”

On if got to the point where he laughs at what opposing fans say to him ...
“Kind of. I’m used to it, like I said.”