COACH JOHN ROBIC
Q. Was this similar at all to the Boston game, coming off Kansas and then now you're coming off the Texas game, was it a little bit of a blah?
COACH ROBIC: No, I don't think so at all. As coaches and as players, every game's the next game. Our guys will never go into a game ‑‑ we respect Jeff (Neubauer) and his team, our players just want to get better every day. As long as Coach Cal(ipari) is here, we're never going to have a blah game.
Q. Is it a good sign for you guys to come out of a hard fought game and a tight game and a big sort of marquee game like that and defend that way early and be up 27 at halftime in a game like this?
COACH ROBIC: We have defended well all year long and we expect that. Some of the numbers that we're producing right now are kind of silly. I mean, it's mind‑boggling. Our guys are taking pride in defense right now and really buying into it. They recognize the hard work that they're putting in defensively, and we challenge them to do that. And this was a tough game for us just because of the size differential. You have problems when you have seven‑footers guarding six‑two on the perimeter. And I thought we did that very, very well today.
Q. What did you most like about Karl's performance today?
COACH ROBIC: He was more aggressive. He was much more vocal on the court, defensively. That was probably the best he's been, defensively, as far as talking. He posted up stronger. He wanted the ball a little bit more. He played extremely well. He played with confidence.
Q. Where did you think the press gave you trouble and how valuable do you think that experience is going down the road?
COACH ROBIC: It's something that we knew they were going to do, especially with (Eric) Stutz being out of the game, they had to rat(chet) up the game a little bit and get it going up‑and‑down. I thought their game plan was good. Defensively, that's how they played. We're going to face other teams that will press us. But the good thing is, we can look at this tape now and evaluate it and show our guys, because this is a really, really smart team that we have. We can make adjustments at the morning shoot around and they can come out and do what we ask of them. There was some silly, silly turnovers. I think we had three turnovers when we had our big man up and we threw it away. That's easily correctable. These guys like watching to see how they can correct things.
Q. What sort of talking do you want Karl (-Anthony Towns) to do, specifically, out on the court?
COACH ROBIC: Well defensively, he has to ‑‑ the biggest thing is, your post players or anybody that's guarding a person that's screening you, he has to talk to the guards. So, we teach our players ‑‑ our guards are telling the bigs, talk to me, talk to me. And the bigs are telling them what to do. Whether it's go over the screen, under the screen, he's telling him how he's going to play defensively as the defender of the ball screen. And I think Karl did that well. Willie does it well all the time. I think it's starting to become a little bit contagious, which is nice.
Q. EKU had fewer turnovers and had more steals than Kentucky tonight. You talk about the ridiculous numbers that you guys are putting up. Talk about any glaring deficiencies. As coaches, what are you guys starting to harp on now in practice that you didn't see early?
COACH ROBIC: Well, I think we still have a lot of work to do offensively. The way that Eastern played, by the little, by the press, we're not a steal team, we would rather be a block shot team. So we had 11 tonight. We almost took too many chances today instead of playing solid. But we'll get better over time, offensively. And we're just really, really happy where our defense is right now, because that will win a lot of games for you. Just really paying attention a little bit more to detail and we just want our guys to play. We're more concerned about us than the opponent. We do things the same way every time. And they're pretty much following the game plan to a T.
Q. As you're trying to keep a lot of guys sort of engaged and coming off that last game, how important are nights like this for a guy like Marcus Lee to sort of get him back into the flow of things and just some confidence back?
COACH ROBIC: Yeah, it was good for Marcus. These guys genuinely really like each other. Willie (Cauley-Stein) ‑‑ it was Willie's turn to go in, and Willie told coach, keep Marcus in. So, it was one of those things that if you think back what (Michael Kidd-) Gilchrist did for Darius Miller, that's a sign of maturity, that's a sign of a leader, that's a sign of being a good teammate. They appreciate that.
Q. This is the third straight game you guys struggled somewhat from three. What does that mean and what do you think about the crowd sort of murmuring or calling for make a three?
COACH ROBIC: Well, we would obviously like to make more. I think that the threes that we took, there may have been just a couple that weren't at the right time. Maybe forced a little bit. It's just repetition and we'll knock them down when needed. I don't even know if the players knew, but the place got loud when Aaron hit the three, good thing he was on the left side of the court. Any other questions?
Q. Where is Cal?
COACH ROBIC: He's just not feeling ‑‑ he has no voice right now. He's been a little bit under the weather and doesn't have much of a voice. So you got me instead.
Eastern Kentucky University Coach Jeff Neubauer
“My message to the team after the game, I thought our guys did compete very hard for both halves, [I was] really pleased with forcing 17 turnovers. Our full court pressure did make a difference. It did affect them at certain times. I didn’t think our transition defense was very good, but the feeling that our guys have in the locker room right now after shooting 26%, being held to 49 points is a feeling that’s not good. That’s not something that we’re accustomed to, or ranked teams in the country are accustomed to. However, that is what Kentucky has done to every opponent that they have played so far. We knew coming into this game, as a coaching staff, that they were holding opponents to 28% from the field, and that’s absolutely amazing. Our team, I told them they were just guarded by the best defensive team in the modern era of college basketball, and I’m not exaggerating a little bit when I say that. I like the way our guys stuck with it. A couple of our new guys really did compete well.”
“No, I really thought we would attack them better, so I knew how good they were defensively, but I thought we could take advantage of their taller players off of the dribble more. We weren’t able to beat them cleanly enough off the dribble, so we did go by some guys but not enough to create enough help. We need to be a better shooting team, but a lot of what happened tonight was because of Kentucky’s defense.”
“We do need to do more media training with our young men [laugs]. Denzel’s a young man that has only been in our program for a few months, and I certainly would like to give the Kentucky defenders credit because even their taller players, guys that in most programs would be defending five men, they’re out there in the program guarding three men and doing a pretty good job. I was impressed.”
“Not necessarily from Kentucky calling a timeout, you know, because that was his choice but more so from forcing 17 turnovers. You know, we’ve got to eat steals. We forced 17 turnovers, and our second-half defense was actually good, you know, our half-court defense and our press defense. Transition-wise, we’re going to be a much better team, and that’s our meme, but the other great stat, they got 10 offensive rebounds, so they missed 29 shots and got 10 offensive rebounds for our team, that’s incredibly good. That means we had some grit and toughness around the basket.”