COACH JOHN CALIPARI
COACH CALIPARI: Questions.
Q. I was just thinking of your guys' energy, just the way it...
COACH CALIPARI: First half was good; second half was not good. We never got in rhythm. We never made extra passes. We kind of reverted a little bit. But I expect some of that early.
Q. (No microphone. )
COACH CALIPARI: No, that's not what I want. The other thing that happened is they beat us on drives. In the second half, they just said, Drive the ball. The other thing that happened is it got physical and it became a little bit of a fight.We had guys not be able to make plays. They walked; missed one‑footers when things got physical. That's going to be an issue for us.
Q. I think you took the second platoon out a little bit early to start the second half. You took Karl(-Anthony Towns) out at one time. We're you struggling a little bit? Can we expect to see more of it when...
COACH CALIPARI: Some of it. I hope not, but I'll do whatever I have to do. Again, I told them when we're playing this way you really have to do your and remember job. You can't break it off and do what you're choosing to do. If we're having a scheme on defense, you got to do the scheme. If you're supposed to do something offensively, then you have to do it. We never posted up close to the basket. We were posting up seven feet because it got physical. So we ran from the physicality. That's why we missed the shots we did. If you catch it tight and they try to trap, you're getting and-ones or wide open shots. We were catching it; they fought us, battled us, and pushed us out.
Q. John did it surprise you that the physicality, that you either backed off or didn't handle it better?
COACH CALIPARI: No. No. It's good that it happened because we were able to talk about it and we'll show it on tape tomorrow.
Q. (Question regarding Willie Cauley‑Stein.)
COACH CALIPARI: Willie was good. Willie played well. Willie defended and he was almost a rover. He was guarding like three guys. He did some good things offensively. We just were never ‑‑ we never got in rhythm and never made an extra pass offensively. First half defensively we were pretty good. That's why we had the gap we had. Second half we didn't guard.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH CALIPARI: I have to watch the tape.
Q. When you put Tyler (Ulis) in with the first four at the end, was that your finishing team?
COACH CALIPARI: No, not necessarily, but I wanted to throw 'em in there and see what would happen.
Q. (Question regarding if that is what he expected from the season opener.)
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I guess. I mean, like I said, I wish ‑‑ you expect when you're doing it this way that they just keep it on. But it's hard when you're up 25 or 30 to just keep doing it. And you're playing against a team that is good.I think early in this game they missed some shots they'll normally make, which is why they're picked high in their league. Then in the second half when they settled down it was a one‑point game and ended up 13 in the second half. You could tell they were not afraid. We were bigger than them and we made some plays, but we didn't shoot the ball particularly well. Devin (Booker) didn't shoot the ball particularly well.You know, but, again, this is ‑‑ we need to really focus on the schemes defensively, what our jobs are, sharing the ball, you know, playing with unbelievable energy, and bringing it.We've got six games now. This is five games and six games in 11 days. We got to practice, if you want to call it tomorrow, and then we play Sunday afternoon before we head to Indianapolis. So it's going to be a grueling few games.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH CALIPARI: It is, but it comes back to you must do your job. We can't scheme defensively if you're going to do what you want to do.We had those kind of breakdowns. We had a couple guys that did not play ‑‑ and this happens ‑‑ a guy doesn't play to the level that he is capable of playing energy‑wise and his focus.Well, it screws up that whole group. It wasn't that whole group that screwed up when I took them out, but you had one guy wasn't playing. So, Okay, you guys now talk to him. Get this thing right.
Q. (Question regarding adversity.)
COACH CALIPARI: You look at what we did today. Think about the second half. It's a great lesson. Reason we're doing this is just to keep it on them the whole time. Let's see how we do. Keep focused. When you get in there with your time, do it. The other side of this, again, what I'll do, if a team gets it going and they can continue ‑‑ like that second group, they didn't score against that second group in the whole first half.If that happens and they're shutting somebody out, well maybe you leave them in there longer. You just let them stay in.Look, I'm figuring this out; they're figuring it out. I told our point guard, You have to get us to really gel offensively. You got to be out there getting people where they're supposed to be, moving the ball, huddling you team, talking to you team, keeping them running. Which means you got to it throw it ahead quick. You can't bounce it. Throw it ahead. Make those guys run.
Alex missed a layup and he ran a guy over. Well, you can't do that if we're going to throw it ahead to you. I mean, those got to be baskets.Or if it's not there, just bounce it, swing it to the other side, and we'll play. Didn't post like we could have. Mainly we didn't post because they fought us. They just were not going to let us go to a position. The games we're going to play going forward, that's what we're going to be facing. I just told them, if you think this season is going to easy, you're out of your mind. We're going to be in a fight every night. If you want to come in like you're not going to play that way, you're not going to be on that floor.
Q. Can you talk about the three guys you signed and what you like about them.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you know, Isaiah is a guy that is one of those Eric Bledsoe, Anthony Davis, whatever I got to do for us to win I'm doing. I'm not afraid of who is on your team; I'm not afraid who is coming in. I always wanted to play for you.Very skilled. Has some bulldog to him. Can play both positions and can be a terrific point guard, can guard. You talk about Charles Matthews, when you saw him playing with Tyler Ulis, he was one of the best young players I saw in the country. Again, you're talking about a long athletic kid that's just grown into his game. Can really guard. Should be a great defender. A slicing kind of player who shoots it pretty good, but a slicing kind of player. And then Skal (Labissiere) is one of those unique, another kid that went from 6'3" to 6'9". First time I saw him I said, you were small. He's 6'9", 6'10". You were small.Yep, then I grew six inches in one year. I've had pretty good success with those kind of guys. He's a 3.5 student who lived through the earthquake in Haiti. He lived through it and was there when it happened and was lucky enough to get to the United States. Like I said, his dream was to play here and play for me. He said, I did what I was supposed to academically to make sure that happens. He's like a 3.5 student. He's a good kid.So all three of them, I'm excited about all three.
Q. (Regarding signing a letter of intent.)
COACH CALIPARI: If he didn't, we wouldn't be able to speak about him.
Q. Was there something you saw that told you the team needs adversity?
COACH CALIPARI: No. You know, I went on TV after and said, Didn't quite look like the two No. 1 teams to me out there today. So, I mean, again, the biggest thing is the fist fight, the battle. I'm not giving you an inch. If you want it, you're going to have to take it.That's what this team needs. We need it from every team that we play so that we understand that's how those games are going to be. I thought Grand Canyon came out in the second half with that like, Look, we can play with these guys. Drive 'em. Get to the rim. Play hard. Be physical. They don't want to bang. All of a sudden they came out and they drove the ball and they were more physical than us. We started fouling because they were getting by us.So this is going to be a process just like last year was a process. It's not any different. We got a long way to go, you know, but we will see.
Q. In an odd way are you happy you got pushed around so you can show your kids and they can realize...
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, we'll watch it. We'll watch some of the tape tomorrow. You know, where we're playing guys 21, 22 minutes, I could practice tomorrow, because really in the next six games they're going to play three and a half games in 11 days.So I could. But I want this to be us focusing on what we need to do and coming out with high energy every time with play in what we're doing.
Grand Canyon Head Coach Dan Majerle
“Yeah I am not worried about Royce, he is a guy that it is his fifth year and has played some great competition. Won a state title at Phoenix and then he played at Kansas for a year and then was at Washington State so obviously he has played some really important games against some really good players. So that is why I was so excited to get him and have him come home to Phoenix and be the leader of our team at the point guard position. So I think Royce will have a really good year for us and it didn’t surprise me that he went out there and competed because he has been through it.”
“It poses a lot of problems. I mean you really have to stay with their bigs. It is hard to help off their bigs because if you do they lob up there and get offensive rebounds. And then they have guards and wing players that can really play so they don’t really have a lot of weaknesses. You really have got to concentrate and stay connected on those bigs and their length because they destroyed us today on the offensive rebounds, they had 24 offensive rebounds. So you kind of have to pick your poison and that is why they are going to be so good. Not only the depth of their team, but the size not only with their 4s or 5s, but with their wing players also.”
Kentucky Student-Athletes#5, Andrew Harrison, G
On the team’s effort in the second half…
“As a leader, I definitely tried to pick it up and get guys going. I definitely think we picked it up when we needed to. It’s on me to keep those guys energized no matter how much we’re up by and keep them playing hard. You have to make sure (as a leader) that you’re energy is high as well.”
“Playing here you have adversity every day. Every practice we face adversity, but yeah adversity is good but we have to take it one game at a time. At the same time people need to remember it’s the season opener for everyone, not just us. A lot of teams are still figuring out what they want to do as well.”
“We can’t really worry about that. Last year we had great expectations, but it’s my job as a leader to make sure everybody stays humble and works hard every day at practice. It’s not going to be easy, we have so much talent on our team but we have a long way to go and we’re still a young team.”
On still playing hard while having a large margin lead…
“I mean that’s part of it. It’s tough, but you better. If you’re young, then it makes it worse because you’re not used to playing like that how coach wants you to play hard all the time. It just comes with experience of playing the college game. As you get older, you realize what coach is saying.”
“I think that’s what’s going to be so tough about our team. You’re not preparing for one team. You’re preparing for two and almost three when you put Derek Willis and Dominique (Hawkins) in the mix. If you sub and put a different guy on a different platoon, then you’re going to play different. You’re not going to play the same regardless of who’s on the floor. It’s just going to be one of the tough things that people have to try to match up with us with.”
“(Yeah), especially on the defensive side. It’s going to be hard for teams to get into an offensive rhythm because every five minutes we’re changing out a defense. One group does pick and roll different than the other. The other group doesn’t do pick and roll. You wall up or you stay behind or the other group is switching all the time. You can never settle into a good offense, but you might hit a shot here and there. Maybe a three or a layup off a mistake or something. It’s going to be tough.”
“Definitely, especially for the older guys that’s been here before. You know the role you have and you know what you have to do to make coach happy and make yourself happy, then balance it together. Then for the young guys, it’s just coming into a role and that happens by playing the game. The more and more you play, you know what baskets you can score and what you can get away with on defense and what you can’t. It just comes with playing the game.”
On starting the season out right…
“We are happy to have a win, but we feel like we have a long way to go. Grand Canyon came out and played strong tonight. In the second half, I feel like we let up defensively, and we just have a lot to improve on.”
“The first group did a great job of wearing them down at the start of the game. We got in there and tried to put more pressure on them and tried to force turnovers. When we are subbing five in and five out, it definitely wears the opposition down.”
“Grand Canyon came out in the second half, and they scored too many points on us. Considering we held them scoreless in the first half, I feel like we came out a little lazy in the second half. We got stuck on defense, and they hit a couple of 3s, so coach wanted that to be an example that we will sit, if we cannot make some defensive stops.”