Sunday, November 30, 2014

Providence vs. Kentucky OFFICIAL Final Box-Score

Cats Thump Providence 58-38

Kentucky finally had some competition as Providence came in and made it somewhat of a game.... in the first half at least. The Friars led for most of the first half before Kentucky took the lead going into halftime.

After the half, Providence hung around for a bit, but then Kentucky done what Kentucky always does, overwhelm teams. You could tell that the "platoon system" took a lot out of Providence as Kentucky forced them into 18 turnovers 11 of those being steals by the Cats.

The player who caused the most disruption on the defensive end for the Cats was of course, Tyler Ulis. This kid plays the kind of defense that, for lack of a better word, pisses an opponent off. He is always in their face and there's nothing they can do to get rid of him. Of the 18 turnover, Tyler had a hand in what seemed like all of them. Tyler wasn't the only one who played great defense, Willie Cauley-Stein was another one that seemed to be everywhere on the floor. I can't count how many shots he challenged or altered throughout the course of the game.

It was good to see Kentucky finally play against a quality team just to see how the would respond to an opponent who has similar size and athleticism. If this game is any indication to how they will play against quality opponents, then this is going to be an extremely fun year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UT-Arlington Head Coach Post Kentucky Press Conference QUOTES

UT Arlington Head Coach Scott Cross
Opening statement …
Well, obviously that was a tough one for us. First half I’ll take responsibility for that, we went out and played zone. We watched on tape that it looked like Kentucky didn’t attack a zone as good as they did some man-to-man, so that’s why we went zone when we are a man team. They picked us apart in that zone, it was impressive watching them play and seeing them go inside and outside. They played the game the right way, that’s what is really impressive, to be able to get all of those NCAA All-Americans to play together as a team with 10 different guys, that is impressive. I don’t know how Coach Cal gets those guys to do it, but it is really impressive to see what they do.” 

On if playing a team like Kentucky is relevant to the rest of their season…
“It isn’t. I won’t even show our players the video of this game, I mean we have spent two hours on video before, but we won’t even watch this game’s tape. We won’t face another team like this, their size is absolutely unbelievable and you can’t simulate it. We could have guys standing on chairs and not even simulate it, they take up so much space and they close up gaps very impressively. I thought we would be able to get up a couple open looks, but in the first half we got zero open looks, that’s what is really amazing about what they are doing is what they are doing defensively.” 

On Kentucky’s point guard play…
I think it’s good. They have so much depth that the backup point guard climbed up under our guards, and that’s our strength as we are one of the quickest teams around and he gave our point guards fits with his defense. We tried to set a lot of ball screens to get him off our guys so we could have a little bit of space and he kept climbing back up. That combination of point guards is pretty good.”

On if Kentucky can go undefeated and what would it take to beat them…
It is very possible that they could go undefeated, if they play the way they did tonight playing together as a team, going inside and when they keep hitting shots they are not going to lose for sure. I think to beat them it would take a really poor shooting night and somebody would have to have great size. It would have to be one of the powerhouse teams having an unbelievable night to knock them off.”

Coach Cal and Player Post UT-Arlington Press Conference QUOTES


Q. Talk about the way you feel Andrew (Harrison) played tonight and has basically played all season, basically compare back to this time last year. 
JOHN CALIPARI:  It was funny, I told him, he made passes to ‑‑ he had a shot, another guy had a shot, he was a better shooter than who he was passing it to.  I said, you've got to shoot that; you've got to be down and ready and shoot it.  And he looked at me and smiled, and he said, I'm a play maker.  And I laughed back at him.  I said, I understand ‑‑ you've just got to figure this out.  You've got to know when you've got to score and you've got to know how you're creating shots for his teammates.  Alex (Poythress) was sick today.  You knew he was going to struggle.  He hadn't practiced with us.  He did a little bit yesterday.  He struggled.  But I thought everybody ‑‑ Marcus Lee struggled a little bit today.  I don't understand what his deal was.  But he struggled a little bit.  But the other guys I thought really played.  No one played 20 minutes, or Alex played 20 minutes and Tyler (Ulis) played 20 ‑‑ well, now I see Trey (Lyles) and Dakari (Johnson) played 20. But everybody ‑‑ they're sharing.  The story, everybody wants to talk about defense, they all want to talk about the energy, the blocked shots and the length, and the story is you have 10 guys sharing minutes.  That's the whole story in a nutshell. Why is that happening?  Because they're allowing it to happen.  Is anybody being hurt by this?  No.  Will their NCAA stats be as much as some other players?  No.  Their team NCAA stats will be way beyond most, and their efficiency stats, the big data stats, will be some of the best in the country.  And that's how they're evaluated more than anything else. 

Q.  What's the difference in Devin Booker starting the year 1 of 11 from 3?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Because he never defended this way.  You have to understand, in high school he didn't guard.  He was like the biggest guy on the team, so he never guarded the little guards, he never had to go play like this, so now he's playing, and absolutely running up and down, sprinting up the floor, staying in his stance, playing with great energy, and then trying to shoot a ball, and he was stepping in holes.  He was bank missing shots like oh, my gosh, he bank missed that.  Well, that's all he's getting used to it.  Trey is getting used to playing guards out on the floor.  Alex and he got to catch up.  They've got to catch up.  I mean, what I did today, I told the guys if anybody out there was not playing with great energy, you are allowed to sub him if he's at your spot.  So if a guy didn't play, sub him.  There's nobody giving away their minutes.  You must respect that. 

Q.  Dakari shot free throws really well today.  What did you think of that?  Why do you think he ‑‑
JOHN CALIPARI:  I don't know, you'll have to ask him, but I'm happy for him.  He does want to play, and he knows I'm not playing him at the end of a game if he can't make free throws, so he's making them and now Karl(-Anthony Towns) is missing them.

Q.  No player played over 21 minutes.  Is that something that somebody on the bench keeps that stat or makes sure no one is getting too many minutes?
JOHN CALIPARI:  No, I wanted Dom(inique Hawkins) and Derek (Willis) to get in there and gain some confidence.  I left Alex in there because, again, it can't be me.  They've got to build their own confidence, and that's in demonstrated performance.  They've got to be out there doing it.  Karl, I thought Karl played better today.  Willie (Cauley-Stein) played okay, but why not be better?  Why not be the best guy on the floor?  But it's hard, you get up 40 on a team, it's hard. 

Q.  As you're building this team toward March, if push comes to shove, would you rather have your defense ahead of the offense or vice versa?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, the dribble drive, teaching dribble drive as an offense, even if we're running things into it, it gets them to guard the ball, and I think that gets us usually ahead defensively.  But we didn't do any defensive teaching this summer.  We didn't do any in the spring when the kids came back.  We did it on October 3rd.  We started talking defense. This team has a chance of being one of those teams you talk about defensively, like of all time, if they choose to be.  But they're going to have to choose to be that.  My job right now, and it's on me, is offensive execution.  There you can say, well, they're getting a lot in transition.  Well, if you guard, you're going to go get it versus anybody, but either way, you've got to be able to create a good shot and a good rebound opportunity each time down the court.  We are so big, if we take great shots and we have opportunities with two and three guys around the basket, now with that defense, we become really tough.  That's what makes the difference, I mean, when you're offensively really efficient, and we are right now, but still, we're not executing.  We're really not.

Q.  I'm speaking of Karl here.  He had a double‑double in 17 minutes.  How significant is that, and how difficult is that to do, get a double‑double in just 17 minutes regardless of ‑‑
JOHN CALIPARI:  And he had four assists, no turnovers and three blocks and a steal.  Was it the last game he was 1 for 4 from the field?  Now, last game the white unit went nutty.  Today the white unit didn't play as well.  That's how these groups are going to feed off each other.  If I need to take a guy out and he loses his minutes, you're going to lose them, and it's all based on effort or being ‑‑ playing tentative.  You've got to go play.  You're playing 20 minutes, 21 minutes, 22.  You have to play.  You've got to go.  And if you're being tentative ‑‑ even if it's because of me you're being tentative, that doesn't matter, you're still not going to be in.  You've got 20 minutes. See, the greatest thing is a lot of guys, I need some time to get going.  How much?  About seven minutes.  Really?  Yeah, I need about five shots, and then ‑‑ what?  Well, those are players who don't play on winning teams or winning programs.  These guys getting in and being ready, we haven't had great starts right now, but the other teams are pretty hyped up. 

Q.  That sharing you're talking about, how much credit do your point guards get for what's going on there, and also talk about Andrew (Harrison)'s defense a little bit this year. 
JOHN CALIPARI:  It's amazing, isn't it?  I don't know ‑‑ we've got to get Aaron caught up to where Andrew is.  The thing I added to Andrew's plate now that he's really pressuring the ball is I want him to be a defensive playmaker.  Well, what a defensive playmaker does is either blocks shots or steals away from his man, not guarding his guy.  What he does to the guy he's guarding is deflect balls.  But he's never trying to steal from his own man.  He's trying to deflect a pass.  That's a play maker.  It's when you're off the ball.  And now you're seeing him be more alert, be more active, because he's trying to come up with ‑‑ he listens.  He's trying to do what we're asking.  And when I told him about shooting and he came back at me and laughed and said, I'm a playmaker.  He had 11 points in 20 minutes or 18 or whatever he had.  I mean, basically these guys are all scoring 18, 19 a game.  That's their efficiencies. 

Q.  You've got guys, players, actively talking about wanting to be the best defensive team in the country.  The goal was to not allow any points in the second half against a team.  How do you get a whole group bought in that way, taking that sort of pride in their defense?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Just tells a lot about who they are.  I'll come back to this:  In this day and age, every one of these kids has pro aspirations and pro potential, and they're draftable players, and they're doing this for each other.  This is crazy.  That's why I say, for anybody in our society, where everybody talks about the me and mine and narcissism and all that, why wouldn't you root for this to happen and be good?  I don't understand why you wouldn't root for this?  You're not rooting for Kentucky or me, okay.  Short of that, why wouldn't you root for this?  Most of us do care about society. Now Jerry (Tipton) is going to write that I think I'm changing society.  I don't, Jerry, I'm just making a point that people should want to see this work.

Q.  That would go over good on Good Morning America. 
JOHN CALIPARI:  Yes, it would.

Q.  That was where you should have said it, not here. 
JOHN CALIPARI:  No, it went on the Today Show.  Good Morning America cut us off, but Today Show ran with it. 

Q.  How much do you struggle or deal with the idea of trying to be as efficient as possible and really go for the throat with not humiliating the other team?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, the issue becomes, you know, I've got to worry about my team, and I'm sitting on the bench, and you want to say, okay, let's just don't play.  Well, my guys aren't playing enough to do that.  If you're only going to play 19, 20 minutes, do you really want to go in and not play?  And then it's not like you're saying, okay, put your last five in.  Well, those five are pretty good, too, and you throw Dominique in and Derek in and a couple ‑‑ you're still not bad. So I'm not ‑‑ if you've followed my career, I'm not one that tries to run up scores on people.  I don't do it.  But this is a unique situation, and all I'm doing is coaching my team.  We're going to have to play games like we did with Kansas and Providence coming up and Texas, and we've got a Louisville game, we've got a North Carolina game, we've got a UCLA game, we've got hard games that we're going to have to play 40 minutes, so I can't come out in this game and say let's play 30 and let's stop playing.  We've just got to finish it out, and I'm half the time rooting for them to make baskets.

Q.  You guys had a prolonged stretch in the first half where you looked pretty good against the zone.  Have you done anything with it in practice?
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, the way they played, I watched last year's tape, and you had to attack them on the baseline, and that's what we did.  So again, without a whole lot of practice, we show them the video, we talk about it, in the walk‑through I show them and then they come out and perform.  This is a unique group because they're really intelligent kids, and they've got great hearts.  The only reason this is happening is they're allowing it to happen, and this was not done for me to be a genius.  This was done because we're trying to take care of 10 guys. Now, they must respect the minutes they're getting.  If not, they're going to get less because the guy on the bench is just going to go in for him, say I'm not giving you minutes if you're not going to play.  Compete.  Quit being tentative.  Play hard, or I'm going back in.  They're not going to do it in a mean way, but they understand that.  Today the one unit was really on the bench getting on each other because I took them out because we had two guys not playing, and they were like all over them, like come on, man, you're costing me minutes, too. 

Q.  Coach Cross said it was very possible you guys would go undefeated.  How do you put up with the clutter from these opposing coaches? 
JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, you know, all this stuff, I say it again, Coach (Joe B.)Hall told me when I said the 100‑pound jacket, he said, coaches wear that 100‑pound jacket, too, and you've got to deal with all that same stuff.  All I'm doing is focusing on this team.  I'm focusing on individuals.  What can I keep adding to their game.  And then I'm looking at a team, how do we become a better execution team offensively, how do we continue to play with this kind of energy, and what other tweaks can we give the defense?  What can we do, because folks, I'm going to have to keep this team engaged all year, and right now we're ahead defensively, so I need to start adding stuff, and even if it's little things to make them think so that they don't get into that rut of just hearing the buzz, Zzzzzz, like I'm making them think, I'm making them be engaged, those are the kind of things we're going to have to do as the year goes on. 

Kentucky Student-Athletes
#1, Devin Booker, G 

On the difference in his shooting today than at the beginning of the year … 
“I wouldn’t say there was a difference. I didn’t change anything. They’re falling now. I guess there’s just not much to it. I’m shooting it all the same. It’s just going in now.”

On Coach Cal’s comments about him actually having to play defense now unlike high school …
“He told me I wasn’t accustomed to playing defense in the beginning. The defense in high school depended on the game, honestly. In high school you don’t always have to lock in defensively, but I’ve said that before in college you have to or you’ll get exposed out there. The talent level is higher so you have to play defense.”

On buying into the defensive system …
“I wouldn’t say it just Cal getting us into it. It’s us getting us into it as a collective group. We just want to lock teams down and we take pride in it so that’s what we’ve been doing.”

On being up 57-12 at one point …
“You just have to focus. You can’t really focus on the score. We’re playing for us. We want to play the best we can play and not worry what the other team is doing. We want to keep playing hard. The score will pan out how it is. The other team doesn’t really say anything. They just kept playing and I respect that. They keep playing hard and keep going at us, but we take pride in our defense in trying to stop teams.”

On determining whether to shoot the three or drive …
“It’s all a read or how your body is feeling. Towards the beginning of the game you want to get more involved in the paint area or get a free throw just to get your rhythm going. From there on out, if you’re feeling the three, then just keep shooting it.”

On the hype of bigger upcoming games like Providence and Texas …
“Excited. It’ll be good for us playing a team that’s undefeated and we’ll be ready for it.”

#41, Trey Lyles, PF

On UK’s first half performance … 
“First half we came out with a lot of energy on defense. The offensive end responded well to the zone that they played against us and made it work. Most teams are going to play us zone now and try to make us shoot jump shots to get us away from posting the ball. If we go out there and play hard defensively then offense will work itself out.”

On the platoon system continuing to be effective …
“Coach is into it, we’re into it and we’re into it for each other. So we go out there and try to play hard all the time.”

On difficulty guarding smaller guards … 
“It was much more difficult early on in the season, but going through it in practice Coach has been requesting it and wanting it from me. It makes me get down low and lock in with pressure on the ball.”

#12, Karl-Anthony Towns, F 

On the team played as a unit? …
“We did a good job, especially in the first half.  We played great defense, and we executed offensively.  In the second half, we slacked off a little bit defensively.  We gave up too many points that should have been stopped.  However, it was a great team effort.”

On how dangerous UK can be if they play the way they did in the first half? …
“We can be very dangerous.  Our biggest opponent is ourselves.  We have to stay strong mentally, and we need to continue to pray to the man upstairs that we stay healthy physically.  If we can do that, we will look very good all season.”

On getting a double-double in only 17 minutes …
“It is pretty difficult to do.  You have to put in a lot of effort, but that is why we train so hard.  The amount of training we put in makes it a lot easier.  Since we know that we are all limited on minutes, it makes everyone put in full effort for every minute that we are given.  I am mainly glad that I could offer quality minutes to my team today, not necessarily the double-double.  It feels good to give my brothers a helping hand.”

On how difficult is it knowing you have limited minutes with the platoon system? ...
We are all so talented, so it is not about getting started.  It is more about entering the game and playing the whole time with energy.  Today, we played with a lot of energy in the first half.  It all starts with energy, so if we can continue to do that, then everything will fall into place.”

On what Andrew Harrison offers the team? …
“He has made a tremendous improvement from last year to this year, especially as a passing point guard.  He drives the ball up the court so well and makes defenses have to think.  He almost always makes the right decisions, and he has great vision on the court.  He is a dual threat.  He throws us lobs sometimes, but then he can step back and hit the jumper.  Andrew and his brother are a deadly duo.”

UT-Arlington vs. Kentucky Game Notes

UT Arlington at Kentucky, Men’s Basketball 
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 25, 2014

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 92, UT Arlington 44

Kentucky is 6-0 and UT Arlington is 3-2.

Kentucky leads the series 2-0.

Kentucky is 184-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 24 of the last 26 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.

Coach John Calipari has led three teams to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has a 68-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 27-4 at UK.

Kentucky returns to action Sunday at home against Providence. Game time is 2 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPN2.

First-Half Facts

Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Alex Poythress, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the fourth time this season.

Kentucky finished the half with a 42-5 run for a 55-12 advantage at intermission. UK started the 42-5 run with a 10-0 stretch and finished it with a 28-0 spurt.

Kentucky’s 43-point lead tied the second-largest halftime margin in school history. The record was a 44-point advantage vs. LSU (86-42) on Jan. 16, 1996.  The other 43-point halftime margin was Feb. 27, 1956, when UK led Georgia 75-32 at intermission.

With the Mavericks scoring 12 points in the first half, it marked the sixth time in 11 halves this season that the opponent has been held under 20.

Devin Booker paced the opening stanza with four 3-pointers for 12 points, as many as UTA had as a team.

Second-Half Story

Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson.

Booker opened the second half with a dunk, extending the run to 30-0, before UTA tallied again. UK led by as many as 50 points before finishing with a 92-44 victory.

Team Notes

UK won consecutive games by 58 points (vs. Montana State) and 48 points (vs. UT Arlington).  The last time UK won consecutive games by at least 48 came on Feb. 2, 1954, a 51-point win over Georgia Tech (99-48), followed by a 51-point win over Georgia (106-55) on Feb. 4, 1954. Kentucky shot 56.6 percent from the field (30 of 53), second time this season UK has made at least 50 percent of its shots.

UT Arlington was limited to 27 percent from the field.

Kentucky has held all six opponents under 40 percent shooting, including three games under 30 percent. UK had 11 blocked shots tonight. UK has blocked at least seven shots in every game this season, the longest streak since rejecting at least seven in 12 straight games from Dec. 28, 2011 through February 4, 2012.

UK won rebounding 49-29 tonight and has outrebounded all six opponents this season.

UK won bench points 45-23 and has won bench points by at least 22 points in every game this season.

Kentucky is now 43-0 under Coach Calipari when holding the opponent to 55 or fewer points. No Wildcat played more than 21 minutes tonight.

First time this season that six Wildcats scored in double figures.

Player Notes

Devin Booker had a game-high 19 points, including five of six on 3-pointers. He is the first Wildcat to make five 3s in a game since James Young on Jan. 28, 2014, at LSU. He has made at least three 3-pointers in the last three games and has made 12 of 17 from 3-point land during that span. 19 points ties Aaron Harrison for the most points scored by a Wildcat this season.

Karl-Anthony Towns totaled 13 points and 11 rebounds, his first Wildcat double-double. Both of those are his personal bests as a Wildcat. In his first game back after an illness, 
Alex Poythress had four points, nine rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots.

Dakari Johnson scored 12 points, his fourth straight game in double figures and fifth this season. He made his first seven foul shots and finished 10 of 12, a career high for free throws made.

Aaron Harrison had 11 points, his third straight game in double figures.

Andrew Harrison also had 11 points, his third game in double figures this season.

Tyler Ulis had a game-high five assists, second straight game to lead the team in that category.

Trey Lyles had 10 points and a season-high nine rebounds.


Kentucky POUNDS UT-Arlington 92-44

Another day, another big win for the Cats. Kentucky defeats UT-Arlington by a score of 92-44 getting six players in double figures and move to 6-0 on the season. Your leading scorer was Devin Booker with 19pts thanks to a 5-6 shooting night from beyond the arch. This kid is a pure shooter and he has shown that over the last few games. Over the last three games, Devin Booker has shot 71% from the floor and 71% from three ( he as 5-6 from deep tonight) which has led to his 17.3ppg average over the last three games. This kid is going to be impressive to watch this season.

Over all, this game went about like it was supposed to. As the players head home for Thanksgiving, it's time to get ready for some real teams coming up in Providence, UCLA, Texas, North Carolina and Louisville. It will be interesting to see how Kentucky can handle these team as most, particular Texas has the size and athleticism (not the depth however) to match the Wildcats.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the BBN form Big Blue Corner....

Monday, November 24, 2014

TX-Arlington vs. Kentucky Pre-View

Sunday night saw Kentucky hold an opponent to a record (Kentucky record) low points in the shot clock era when they allowed only 28 points from Montana State. It was a hard game to watch as Kentucky just dominated on the defensive end of things. If the Cats had shot the ball even remotely well, they would have won by a hundred with ease.

Now it's on to the next game which will be tomorrow night when UT-Arlington comes to town. The Mavericks come into the game with a 3-1 record with their only loss coming at the hands of University of Buffalo (yes the same Buffalo Kentucky played last week) 74-68. UT-Arlington has played another familiar opponent in Grand Canyon which they beat by a score of 66-64.

Once again, I know absolutely nothing about UT-Arlington, so lets take a look at the vitals of the Mavericks...

                                                       SCHOOL HISTORY:

EST:  1895


LOCATION:  Arlington, Texas

COLORS: Blue/Orange/White

NICKNAME: Mavericks

MASCOT:  Blaze


Now, let's take a look at their roster...

Now, here's a look at their team and individual stats to give you an idea of what they bring to the table...

I'll be honest here, Kentucky should handle this team with ease. I'm not even going to pretend that I believe this game should even be close. Could the Mavericks upset Kentucky? Sure, anything is possible, but let's be honest, if that happens it's because the Cats played so horribly bad that they deserved to beat.

                                                             SERIES HISTORY:

The Cats and Mavericks have met only once in history and that was last season in the Keightley Classic where Kentucky won in convincing fashion 105-76.

Tip time is set for 7pm and will be aired on the SEC Network...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pre-Boston Press Conference Quotes (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Assistant coach John Robic

On what he learned in the Kansas game ...
“That’s probably the biggest thing is how they were going to react to a high-level game against a very good top-ranked opponent. We obviously played really well and I thought everyone responded very, very well in that game. Even towards the end of the first half when Kansas made a little run at us to cut it at halftime, guys just grouped together at halftime and really answered the challenge coming out of halftime and scoring the first six points and bumping that lead back up.”

On freshmen having the returners ...
“Well, it’s nice for those freshmen that they have a bunch of guys that came that are sophomores and juniors that were able to help them get through it, but, again, some of those freshmen are showing everyone else that they deserve to be out there by the defensive intensity. I think it’s helping both groups, and we get that every day in practice, so it’s not abnormal for us to see that in a game situation.”

On the guys cheering on their teammates ...
“This group genuinely likes each other. I think we really, really benefited by our summer trip. For them to get six real games in, even though, you know, they didn’t count, it showed. They really came together. They’ve been that way every day in practice and we have great kids that, you’re right, they’ve given up some of their game but they’re just -- they want to win. I think they’re doing what it takes to win when they’re on the floor and when they’re not on the floor. It takes a special player and a special person when you’re not in the game to be actively involved and they are every time they, you know, go in and out.”

On the good defensive numbers ... “I think it’s a combination of the both. Part of this platoon system, you see as it goes – the numbers, as you go along. And we keep score. We have a scoring breakdown of each segment, if you want to call it that, and you can see where you do start to get in their legs. It’s something that the guys know we chart. It’s important, especially on the defensive end. With our length and our athletic ability, there’s no reason why we can’t be a really good defensive team because of our size. And size with athleticism equals, you know – it can be a problem for an opponent, and that’s what it was, so we can pressure the ball a little bit more. We’re doing a much better job of guarding the dribble. It’s a little bit easier for us with bigger teams. You get into the exhibition games and some of your other nonconference games where you have small lineups (and it can be tougher). It’s pretty tough for a 6-10, 7-footer to keep in front of a 5-11, 6 feet, but we still have a game plan, and the guys are doing really well with it.”

On what is the most entertaining matchup in practice ...
“There’s a lot of them. I’ll answer it, but I think at each position they’re challenging one another. It’s making each of them better in different ways. I like to see the big guys go at each other and different
combinations because you can go from quick to a Willie to a strength force with Dakari. Marcus Lee is active. I mean, and Karl, so we’ve intertwined matchups. Right now we’re sticking with what we have until we think it needs to be changed, but the other thing about it is that each group feels really comfortable with playing one another. And why change it?”

On more defensive pressure on 3-point shooters this season ...
“I mean, we are so big, that if we can keep them off the foul line and keep them off the 3-point line it is going to be tough to score. Teams are going to come in with a theory that we have to beat them from the 3-point line. If we can do a good job of that and make them drive into our bigs, we like what our bigs do defensively. And it is an important stat. We just can’t give away free points away from the 3-point line.”

On if he was surprised Kansas kept driving without having any success ...
“I think probably what their game plan was, was to drive the ball. They didn’t differ from that. You would have to ask Bill (Self) that question. Each game we have gotten better of defending straight line drives and that was the best we have done in three games. So from the first game with Grand Canyon until the Kansas game we have gotten better each and every game.”

On coaching players that have not played that much this year... “Dominique went through it last year and came through in the NCAA Tournament and played really well. And I think any player can look at what Marcus Lee did last year and was patient, patient, patient and really stepped up for us. And that has just carried over into this year for him. His confidence has grown immensely. And foul trouble, they’ve got to be ready. That is one luxury we have with having 12 guys that can really play. And those guys know that whatever group, if we need a guard sub or we need a forward sub, it would be one of those guys.”

On preparing for the next three games ...
“We were off yesterday. We are getting ready to head to practice right now. I think you have to keep building on what we did. I thought our communication was really, really good in the Kansas game. They followed the game plan perfectly and they paid attention to detail in a quick turnaround time. That is like a NCAA Tournament time turnaround so I was pleased with that. And I just think getting better. The score might not be indicative of getting better, but we can see it as coaches. But the first step to that is today’s practice and just carrying on the things we think we need improvement in.”

On the challenge of reaching higher after a 32 point win over the No. 5 team ...
“We’re not expecting to be perfect right now. We don’t expect to be at our peak right now. Obviously we’re happy where we are, but we want to peak in February. We’re striving for that. It’s a thing where these kinds got to understand where we are now and what they have to do individually and what we have to do as a team to keep coming together as a unit to perform.”

On if there is anything he tells them to make that point with them ...
“The score was the score. Very happy with our defense. We made them take a lot of tough shots. We blocked 11 shots. We need to get better offensively for sure. We have to get out in transition a little bit more. The message for these guys is just, each and every day we have to get better at what we need to do as a team, whether it’s defensively or offensively. And if we do that, we know that we’re going to give our best effort when we go out there, and hopefully tomorrow it shows improvement for us. And
that’s why I said earlier the score may not be indicative of did we get better. But in our eyes, did we see it. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Sophomore guard Aaron Harrison

On the opposing teams getting worn down because of the platoons switching ...
“Definitely. It’s definitely to our advantage having 10 guys that can all play. And we take pride in defense and wearing people down, so I think it’s working.”

On what the team reviewed after the game against Kansas ...
“He said he wanted me to be more aggressive on offense. And he said we were just sloppy offensively at the beginning of the game, which we definitely were. I think we were all just catching our breath and things like that. But other than that, I think we played a really good game defensively.”

On how hard it is to be aggressive offensively when there’s so many good scorers on the team ...
“I don’t think they need an individual (to be the lead scorer). I just think Coach wants to keep it going and just for the team’s sake. But other than that, I think we won the game on the defensive end, and I think that’s what’s important.”

On Coach Cal trying to find more plays for him ...
“I don’t know. He just said he wanted me to get more touches and things like that. So I mean, we won pretty handily, so I’m not worried about it that much.”

On if he could tell the Kansas players were getting frustrated not being able to get a shot ...
“I mean, I know how they feel. I practice with these guys every day and it’s really hard to get a shot off in the lane. So I just think you have to hit a lot of 3’s to be able to beat us and they had a rough shooting night. But they’re a good team. I can tell they’ll be OK down the road.”

On what the line of defense allows him to do ...
“It just gives me more confidence just to know that the big guys have my back and I can play aggressively.”

On how much the team has talked about 3-point defense ...
“Oh yeah, it’s been the biggest thing, I think, because we’re so big and so long that we know teams are going to have to hit a lot of 3’s to beat us. So we try to run teams off the 3-point line and make them take tough 2’s.”

On how that’s changed from last year ...
“I don’t know think we emphasized running them off the 3-point line as much last year, so that’s a big factor in our game plan and every game we play.”

On Boston being a good 3-point shooting team ...
“Yeah, they’re a pretty good team, a pretty good shooting team, and I think that’s going to be a big, big factor in the game.”

On Coach Cal trying to diminish the hype around the team after Tuesday’s win ...
“He knows, we all know we have a long way to go. We didn’t play well offensively. We offensive rebounded really well, but I think we can execute on the offensive end a lot better.”

On what would have happened if the team was playing offense the way they want to ...
“I mean, I don’t know. I think we would just be more fluid in our half-court offense. I think we did settle down once the game got going and did get it more efficient, but I think we should start off like that. We just need to start off better on offense.”

On the game against Kansas showing how well the platoon system can work defensively ...
“Yeah, of course. I think the platoon system did help us, ‘cause last year in the same game we were a little worn down. And we weren’t used to that intensity and we needed a couple of breaks that we didn’t get.”

On how good it is to know that they’re going to get a break after three or four minutes ...
“It’s good. We’re all in great condition and put in a lot of work this summer. And I think it helps us because we can wear teams down and there’s a lot of guys coming at you, so it’s hard to handle.”

On the change in Andrew as a leader ...
“He’s just playing more loose and more relaxed. He’s just having more fun, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

On Andrew being more comfortable to take charge on the court ...
“Yeah, I think it’s just all about being more comfortable and having the green light to do, to know that you can do what you need to do while he has to get us involved.”

On the team locking down defensively in the last two second halves ...
“I think we just, once we’ve focused on the defensive end we’re a really tough team to score on and we take pride in our defensive. We’re going to be a defensive team this year.

On how the freshmen handled their first big moment ...
“I mean, it was fun to see them in that atmosphere. I remember my first big game like that and I was real nervous. And I think they handled it really well.”

On how different it is this year with the freshman able to lean on him and the other veterans ...
“It’s really different. I mean, just going out, and not even starting a game, just knowing that the game’s on you and you have to play the whole game, and it’s on you to win or lose. But for them, I think it’s less stressful to be in their situation.”

Sophomore guard Andrew Harrison

On what it says that there’s room for improvement after blowing out Kansas ...
“We just have to keep working. We played really hard. A lot of their shots didn’t fall and stuff like that, so we know we still have a lot to improve on. It’s just the third game of the season. It really doesn’t mean anything.”

On what the Kansas game showed them about the way they are playing ...
“You just have to play D and listen to what Coach is saying and be unselfish, and I think everybody on this team is like that. Everyone wants to win.”

On the reason for UK’s strong second-half defense ... “It’s just determination and practicing, practicing hard. It’s being a leader, making sure everyone is still practicing hard and don’t be satisfied with a win.”

On whether UK’s strong second-half defense is a result of depth ... “Yeah, I think so. Especially when you have so much talent on a team and there’s no drop-off, it’s great.”

On how the offense needs to improve ...
“It’s just better execution in the first half, and that’s on me. I think we were a little tired the first little segment the blue team had or whatever, but it started working out. You get your second wind and I just tried to make sure the freshmen weren’t that nervous and stuff like that.”

On whether they refer to the platoons as blue and white ...
“No, not really. Actually we just get it from seeing what everyone else says, to be honest. We just think of it as one team and we just take turns.”

On who wins in scrimmages ...
“Um, I don’t really want to say. Usually my team though.”

On whether chemistry is even more important with the way UK is playing ...
“Oh, definitely. Coach knows that we’re sacrificing. We might not be getting the numbers that we planned on getting and stuff like that, but when we win and we’re playing like that together as a team and everyone is shining and everyone is seeing what we can do, it’s great.”

On whether playing fewer minutes is as satisfying when you’re winning ...
“When you’re winning like that, definitely. But Coach also (says) anybody can see how good you are in 20 minutes just like they can in 35 minutes. It’s not like you can’t see the talent or you can’t see how good you are.”

On being more comfortable being aggressive ...
“I’m just trying to be a leader and I’m just trying to get better every day. I have a long way to go.”
On what he’s doing to be a leader ...
“Just talking. Make sure everyone’s loose, make sure the pressure’s not on them and just trying to help out any way I can.”

On being more comfortable talking ...
“Yeah, I have the experience and I feel like we’ve been through a lot as a team and as an individual. I feel like I can help.”

On how the freshmen handled their first big game ...
“That was good. Like I said, it’s good because the pressure’s not really on them so they can just go out there relaxed and play. I’m sure they had fun and they played great.”

On whether trusting teammates more quickly is because they have experience playing together ...
“Yeah, I think so. Just because some of us have been through it and we know how hard it is to try to win on individual play. We’re just trying to play as a team.”

On what Willie Cauley-Stein was talking about when he said trust is what makes this work ...
“We just all believe that—you just have to trust in every player on the team that you’re going to stop your team or if you get beat Willie’s going to come help you or Karl’s going to help Willie. Just stuff like that.”