COACH JOHN CALIPARI
COACH CALIPARI: Questions.
Q. What were your initial thoughts on the game?
COACH CALIPARI: I'm going to have to watch the tape. A lot of one‑handed catches, which drove me nuts, which means they were playing sloppy. We've got a lot of things we've got to get done. Turned it over too many times which is typical of trying to make hard plays. The one team had nine turnovers, four or five of them unforced. But I think we'll be fine. Needed some guys to play with a little more confidence. As the thing got going, they did. But that's going to be important.
Q. On if the team is where they thought they would be?
COACH CALIPARI: No, just sloppy. They're not into that mode yet. I mean, we fumbled balls to start the game. I thought Dakari (Johnson) played great, he just didn't make any free throws. I mean, you can't get in there and we're throwing you the ball and you miss free throws. I thought he played great. He played hard.
Q. On Karl Anthony-Towns play …
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, and he's just not coming up with balls, he'll try to make some hero plays offensively. But he's learning. I thought he, Devin (Booker), Tyler (Ulis) and Trey (Lyles) for freshmen all did pretty well. I thought the vets did well. Alex (Poythress) started poorly, then started playing better. He has been making shots. He's just got to create his own swagger. It can't come from me. I'm begging him to shoot those balls. Again, we got some stuff out of it, but we got a long way to go.
Q. What did you think of the platoons?
COACH CALIPARI: You know what, we'll go watch tape. I'll probably try some different combos. I kind of like two freshmen on a team, three vets on a team. It gives it some balance. We're just going to see what happens. I mean, I'm committed to it. It's the best thing for these players. Now we got to make it the best thing for our team.
Q. On the play of junior Alex Poythress …
COACH CALIPARI: Maybe. Maybe that was it. I mean, I thought he missed three one‑footers. I don't think that had to do with the twins or anything else. Then he missed a couple jumpers. Then he didn't want to make plays, so...
Q. When he didn’t want to make any plays …
COACH CALIPARI: First half.
Q. On what he saw in the game from Alex Poythress …
COACH CALIPARI: No, he had too many turnovers in the first half. The pressure came. He put his head down and just went. He can't do that. Again, you got to understand there's two things that are happening. In a normal situation, I can get by a man and get one to the basket. The problem is in this gym there's two seven‑footers. There's actually not. There's three, and another 6'10" guy that's jumping out of the building. So all those plays end up being turnovers. The same I was saying with Trey and Alex rebounding. Well, get in there and rebound. It's them and two seven‑footers. Everyone is battling. It's unusually big and long. Affected Tyler (Ulis) a little bit in the second half. I mean, what happened early is we didn't pressure him. He had his way. Then Andrew (Harrison) went up and played him, made it a little different. Well, why? He can go by you, but eventually he's running into big people, like seven foot.
Q. When you're making these platoons, are you primarily concerned with evening out the scoring between the two groups or other things you're looking at first?
COACH CALIPARI: You want to have a point guard on each group. You want to have some size on each group. And how do they fit together? What I don't want to have is four freshmen on one team. It's just not fair to those kids. Would I ever go with three on one team? Well, the other two would have to be veterans that are playing well for me to do that.
Q. John, what did you like best about Dakari (Johnson) tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: He's playing with great energy. I mean, he's going after every ball. He has a fight and a fire in him. Got a little tired tonight. But, again, you see he hasn't totally cracked it. Like he's been shooting in practice great. He's been shooting free throws. He's been shooting 15‑footers. But now he went in front of all these people, the popcorn is cracking, it's on TV, and the dregs of last year came back a little bit. Well, that's the same with Alex (Poythress). You've got to work through that. And it can't come from me. It's got to be you working your way through it, knowing you worked hard, you deserve to play well. I deserve to play well, I worked hard. I missed a play, so what. That inner voice has to start changing on those guys as we go forward.
Q. On the play of Dakari Johnson …
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he missed every free throw, though. He's another one, shot four for eight from the free‑throw line. He and Dakari together shot a whopping 12 percent. I mean, they were down at halftime for one reason. They missed every free throw, 2‑for‑12, and Alex (Poythress) missed three one‑footers, or it's a close one‑bucket game. Again, I liked the competitiveness. I wanted Aaron to do more competitive‑wise. I wanted him to get up and do some things. Like I said, we got a lot of work to do. We pressed a little bit. Again, they played a whole game running up and down, pressing. That's not easy.
Q. With Derek (Willis) and Dominique (Hawkins) coming off the bench, how are they progressing right now?
COACH CALIPARI: I think they both played well. Derek is still trying to make hard plays instead of just making an easy pass or an easy play. But he shoots the ball. He's long. He can go get balls. Dominique (Hawkins) is just way better than he was a year ago. A year ago they did not guard him. Literally just said, Let him shoot. Now if you leave him open, he's making those shots.
Q. On the major advantages of the platoon system to this point …
COACH CALIPARI: Well, the good news is that other guy we start playing against is going to have to figure out what these 10 guys or 12 are, and how one unit plays versus how another unit plays, what are they doing in pick'n rolls, what are they doing on post‑ups, this group plays one way, this group plays the other way. The issues I'm going to have, the other coach is going to have, too.
Q. On his thinking of the platoons and how he went about making the teams …
COACH CALIPARI: If we were going to go to the young team against the veterans, I was going to do that, yes. In practice, when I went vets against the rookies, it's been competitive. That's why I wiped the score out. I didn't want one team to think, We're down 15, 18, whatever it was. I said, Wipe it out at 0‑0, let's see them compete.
Q. How the platoon system is working
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. We're going to find out. We haven't done it yet. Today we just played a bunch of guys.
Q. On how he plans on using the system of platoons when he is in in-game situations …
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know yet. I got to get in games and do it.
There are going to be issues that we'll have that I'm going to have to deal with, and there are going to be issues that other coaches are going to have that he's going to have to deal with. How we finish games, we haven't gone over that yet. We're just now getting to how we're going to grind it out, how we're going to play. We just started that yesterday. So, yeah, I'm pleased with them. Like I said, it is so early. We're ahead based on the fact that we did go to The Bahamas. We're ahead by the simple fact I've got guys coming back for the first time. Now all of a sudden there's a little less anxiety that bleeds down to the freshmen and makes me less anxious because I see that these guys are comfortable. Then it becomes, okay, you got to compete at a higher level.
Q. You said last week you wanted to see Karl (Anthony-Towns) fight more.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah.
Q. Have you seen that?
COACH CALIPARI: Still has a ways to go, he really does. But he is so skilled. He fumbled balls today. There were some one‑handed catches, some rebounds he didn't bring in. Plays like that, you know, those are plays that are easily made. Go make those. I thought Willie (Cauley-Stein) did some good things today. Willie just is a different soul now. He's out there. You saw we were switching pick 'n rolls with him. I may even switch pick 'n rolls with Karl, make him guard, make him move his feet.
Q. On people overreacting to the Blue/White scrimmage:
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I don't know if you remember some of our blue‑white games, like Terrence Jones had 50. Do you remember some of the Blue/White games? This is one where we tried to guard each other. Got a few breakouts. Reality of it is in the halfcourt we're hard to score against. You know why? You're not getting anything near the basket so now you have to take jumpers, got to figure out where you can get drives, try to get fouled. Like I told Tony (Barbee), I don't know if we're that bad offensively or if we're hard to score against. I think early on in the season we're going to have to rely on our defense. We can really make it hard on the other guy to score. Let's get some breakouts.
Q. On the NCAA redshirt policy:
COACH CALIPARI: That's a player's decision. I would never. Young man wanted to do that, they'd have to explain why, if that were what they wanted to do. You know what's great about playing here? You only have to have one good year. You only have to have one good year. You don't have to have five good years. No one playing under me has four good years. You only have to have one. Some guys are ahead mentally and physically. It doesn't matter if you didn't play for a year or two. How about this? Or three. That one year you have your breakout. See ya. Kids are on different timetables. It's just the normal thing. Everywhere else, freshmen and sophomores don't play much. Here we got spoiled. They're all playing. So now you get a couple that maybe aren't playing as much, yet they're still very talented and they're going to make it, both of 'em. I think Dominique (Hawkins) and Derek (Willis), at the end of the day, if something happens, there's an injury, somebody has to step back, I have all the confidence putting them in. You understand that without Dominique, we probably don't beat Michigan. He took Stauskas out of the game. Much better player, and so is Derek.
Kentucky Student-Athlete Quotes#5 Andrew Harrison, PG
On what he thought of the team …
“We are far ahead of last year, I feel. I feel like I have gotten a lot better. I had six turnovers in the first half, and that is unacceptable. I just have to play better.”
“We worked so hard in the offseason that I feel like we have confidence. I feel like I am the best guard on the court and can make my team better.”
“Yes, with Willie (Cauley-Stein) on my team you can really pressure the ball. It is hard for the guards to get it over him. It is the same thing for Dakari (Johnson). He has gotten so much better from last year. It is tough, but it makes you better as a guard. ”
On how it felt playing in the game …
“It felt really good. Starting out I had some nerves, but I shook them off really quick and I felt that we had a great showing as the UK Basketball team. The whole squad came out and played well together; we showed some great spots and we just have to build on those.”
“It’s a big focal point to make sure the game is as versatile as possible for everyone and we’re getting everyone involved and I think that’s a great thing we’re utilizing this year.”
“We were a little more juiced; having a lot of people in the stands and just competing shows that we really were competing really hard and acting like we were playing against U of L. We really went hard against each other and I had a lot of fun. I really enjoyed today and I just can’t wait to play the other teams.”
“We have to get better everyday and this was one of those days to use. There are no days to waste and we had to use the scrimmage to get better and we did that. I feel like we grew as a team a lot now.”
On overall competitiveness…
“You know we have a lot of competitive guys on this team and when you put us out on the court we are going to compete against each other.”
“It’s a different atmosphere compared to playing in practice, and coming out here in front of the fans and just showing the fans what we can do,”
“When you play with Tyler you always have to make sure you are ready because he is going to get the ball to you. He is a crafty point guard. You always have to keep your head up when he comes off of the pick and roll just get into a position where you can score and he will get it to you.”