Saturday, January 31, 2015

Kentucky Player Post-Alabama Press Conference QUOTES

Kentucky Student-Athlete Quotes

#12 Karl-Anthony Towns, F, Fr.
On playing better in the second half ...
"You have to keep playing through a lot of things that happen in the second half, no excuses and just keep going. I have to make sure I play the same game I played in the first half."

On other teams losing in the season and this team possibly winning out ...
"Everyone loses. We're just happy that we're continuing to win, undefeated or not we still have to keep winning games, but for us most importantly is what happens later in the year."

On the first few possessions ....
"For us it's just about moving the basketball. I just made some shots happen and sometimes your teammates realize how hot you are they just keep throwing you the ball. I just wanted to keep it going and execute."

On the team’s post game ...
" Everything clicked today and we just need to make sure we keep that process going. We just have to become better players every day."

#00 Marcus Lee, F, So.
On his performance …
“I think I did pretty well trying to help my team and that’s all I ever try to do. Sometimes it’s a big impact, sometimes it’s a small impact.” 

On playing without Trey Lyles …
“He brings so much to the table, so much to the team but as a team, he knows that we’re all here for him knowing he’s not here today.” 

On staying motivated to play despite scoring margin …
“When you’re getting yelled at by Cal, you don’t really remember the score. You’re just trying not to get yelled at as much. You kind of forget that you’re up. You actually feel like you’re down the amount he yells.”  

On if he was aware that Kentucky is the only undefeated team left in college basketball  …
“Now I am. Thanks for telling me. Being undefeated really means nothing.”

Anthony Grant Post-Kentucky vs. Alabama Press Conference QUOTES

Alabama Head Coach Anthony Grant 

Opening Statement…
“Well, give Kentucky credit. I thought they played really well today. You look at the way they shot the ball today, you know, almost 60% from the field. Defensively, I think we’ve been a pretty good defensive team. Seemed like today, any open shots, they were able to get. They rebound…a lot of success on it. I thought, really, the first ten minutes of the game probably proved to be the difference in the game. You know, we had nine turnovers. They were shooting almost 76% from the field in those first ten minutes. After that we were able to get some stops and get ourselves going a little, offensively. I think when you look at…after that it was pretty evenly played game. Thought our guys competed for forty minutes. I think there were some things we can build off as a team. You know, we’re eight games in, a lot of basketball left to be played over the course of the season. We’ll take this game, and try to learn from it. We look forward to getting back on the court here on the next one.”

On Kentucky’s team…
“I don’t rate them. They’re really good. You know, this is a very good team Cal has…obviously number one team in the country.”

On starting Obasohan and Hale…
“I thought they did a really good job for us, today. You know, Retin did a good job at being able to handle the pressure today. I thought Justin Coleman did a really good job coming in and doing it as well. You know, it was good to see Shannon get back to making some shots and playing with the confidence that we know he’s capable of, and if we can get him going for our team, I think it can add another dimension to our team. I think there’s some things we looked at today in terms of what we wanted to be able to do and what we’re going to build on that.”

On Karl Anthony-Town’s offensive game…
“Yeah, I think when you look at Town’s, you got to look at Dakari Johnson. I think you’ve got to look at both of them because anytime you can have those two guys going at you together. You know, we have one guy in Jimmie Taylor trying to go against those two guys with the size and physicality that they’re able to play with, so it kind of wears on you a little bit. I think he’s obviously a very good player, as is Johnson.”

On missing Ricky…
“Ricky’s a very important part of our team.”

On forcing only 5 turnovers…
“I think Kentucky did a good job, you know, taking care of the basketball. As I mentioned, we had nine turnovers the first ten minutes. We turned the ball over after that four times, ourselves. We had three turnovers in the second half. You know, I think, defensively tonight, you know, Kentucky, like I said, they were able to capitalize on the…really, opportunities they got it was in the zone, in the man, in the press. They had an answer for what we threw at them today, defensively. They shot the ball really well. You know, when a team’s shooting it like that and scoring inside and out, like that, they’re always going to be tough to beat.”

Calipari Post Alabama QUOTES


Q: On Willie Cauley-Stein:

COACH CALIPARI:  I told them, I don't know what you're saying to yourself at halftime, but you better change.  He was so good, he looked like the best big man in the country in the first half.  That's what I think he could do.  The only issue is he had no rebounds.  So, if he had clipped off three or four five rebounds with that kind of half, it would have been like, wow. Comes out the second half, the very first play, he gets screened, he falls asleep, fouls on a rebound. But he's a young kid.  That's the stuff he does.  That shows you how good he could be.  I like the fact that we went at Willie and went at him a little bit and made him do some things offensively.  I thought he did good. 

Q.  After struggling at his dad's alma mater and missing his first couple tonight, were you glad to see (Devin) Booker sort of get back in the groove and is that what you've come to expect from him the way he shot the ball?
COACH CALIPARI:  I thought he played good.  I got upset that we threw a ball to him in the corner and he didn't have a shot, instead of driving it, he just passed it. 
I said if you're going to play that way, I'll take you out.  With Trey Lyles being out, this was a good win.  I look at it, you look at the stats, we shoot 50-some percent, had five turnovers, and there was, we were just a little bit off.  Now think about what I'm saying.  Like I wasn't ‑‑ there was things that happened out there that ‑‑ I may be wanting these guys to be perfect on every possession, but you know what?  I just think we have to keep that standard high of what we'll accept and what we're not accepting. 
Dakari (Johnson) early in the game.  Sorry.  Then in the second half I thought Dakari played. I thought Marcus Lee was good the whole game.  Couple one-handed rebounds. We’re reverting, doing some things that are just absolute sins in this program.  One-handed rebounds, for us, is a sin.  That is a sin.  There's no reason for it.  They know that.  And it's something I don't accept.  But again, it was a good league win and now we have two days to get ready for Georgia.  We'll have a film day tomorrow and practice on Monday and get ready for them on Tuesday. 

Q.  Obviously with Trey (Lyles) out there were some minutes available, didn't see Derek (Willis), is he still sort of not gotten back to where you want him to be?
COACH CALIPARI:  He's going to have his opportunities and when he has them ‑‑ I just, I look at it and I tell you that Aaron (Harrison) and Andrew (Harrison) and even Devin (Booker) and these guys they deserve ‑‑ now Aaron played 32 minutes, I didn't know I played him that many minutes, I was hoping those guys got around 28 and the others did.  Andrew got 28.  He probably got a couple of Devin's minutes.  But again I haven't subbed this way this year, so it's hard to keep track of who is in and who is out.  But I liked Tyler (Ulis) and Andrew together.  I thought that was good.  But we're now a different team without Trey.  So we change again. 

Q.  You only trailed by 20 seconds in the entire game today, your team was just seemed highly proficient in the first five minutes.  What did you see out of them in the first five?
COACH CALIPARI:  We're an efficient team.  That's how we play.  We're ‑‑ we're not ‑‑ the issue has been for us is our post play.  Today our post play was good, which is why we shot over 50 percent.  Because now it opens up everything else. 
You either got to double team or you got to dig, you got to do something or the guy's going to score.  That's what Karl (-Anthony Towns) and Dakari and Willie should be able to do.  Even in a physical game they should be able to do that.  We're trying to get them to be confident and we did some stuff with Karl that I think helped him, but that second half is just like, come on now.  No way.  This should have been a 25 and eight night for him, it really should have.  He had 12 in the first half, that's what he ended with. 

Q.  Do you expect Trey to play on Tuesday and what in particular?
COACH CALIPARI:  Don't know.

Q.  What did you like about Willie (Cauley-Stein)?
COACH CALIPARI:  Don't know if he'll play on Tuesday or not.  He's pretty sick.  So, but Willie, we're telling Willie, don't settle for just being a defensive player.  4‑of-6 from the line, I wish he was 5-of‑6, but 4-of‑6 is pretty good for him.  But he scored around the goal.  He's got that jump hook, he's long, he's active, he's big, just jump over people and score.  Even when they're pushing on you, want it.  Relish that.  That's what I want.  Push me.  But again, good win without Trey, I thought our defense in the first half was really good, then we fouled and gave up a layup late.  Instead of being 17, 18, it's 13, and they got a chance and that's the one thing this team's not doing, putting people away when they get that opportunity. 

Q.  Apologies to everybody for a non‑game question, but rule changes.  I know Seth (Greenburg) asked you about it and you said you wanted more practices August, is there anything else, shot clock, anything else that you would do?
COACH CALIPARI:  Shot clock would be fine if they put it at 30.  It would have no affect on me.  But I think that college basketball should own August and do things in August.  There's nothing going on.  So let's own it.  Let's, let us do it.  Whether it be play exhibition games, whether it be practice, whether ‑‑ you want to go on a foreign trip and they want to televise it, so what?  Do what they did with us last year.  It was pretty good our games out‑rated the USA basketball games most of the time.  As least the first couple.  So people want to watch college basketball.  Do it in August.

Q.  What about refs?  Would you do anything different with the way the refs are set up right now?
COACH CALIPARI:  When you have a good team you don't have to worry about refs.  When your team's not good, you really worry about refs.  Say put a fourth out there.  Somebody said four times zero is zero.  Six times zero is zero. 

Q.  Is it surprising to you when you say post play has been our issue?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah.  Because it's been rough.  We have to get Dakari, you got to make some and ones, you can't miss all those and expect to go to the foul line and then miss free throws.  You just can't.  We can't throw you the ball. 
He's gotten better.  He's got to figure out ways, am I not shooting it quick enough, do I need to make a quicker play, am I trying to bully and I can't even bully a guy that's my size or smaller, I'm not getting it to the rim.
But we're getting better at it, but today was great because Willie and Karl, we threw them the ball, they went 8-of-8.  Well if you are bigs go 8-of‑8 you're going to shoot over 50 percent.

Q.  John, Karl lost Kessens on a cut in the second half, did he turn his head or what happened?
COACH CALIPARI:  He stood straight up and down.  You're standing straight up and down you're just standing there and all of a sudden you get screened you're like, oh my, it's ‑‑ by that time the guy's shooting a layup.  And by that time, Dakari was back in the game. 

Q.  The last undefeated team now in the NCAA, I know you said that doesn't matter to you. 
COACH CALIPARI:  I think South Carolina (Women’s Team) is undefeated and Princeton (Women’s Team) is undefeated, so there's some other teams.  I think our rifle team is undefeated.  Did they? 
Like I said, this team, the question is, how good can we be.  And I don't know yet.  I'm trying to get guys to go to that next level.  I'm prodding and pushing and screaming and yelling, go, because I really do want to see how good can we really be.  You're not going to be great every night out, if you play 30 games in a season, 31, four or five of them are going to be really high level.  Four or five of them are going to be so bad you just hope the other team stinks too.  And then the rest of them are all going to be within a range of four or five percent.  That's the season. 
I'm trying to get us to just come out one time ‑‑ and we have had a couple now, we had the Kansas game, that was a romp, I mean that was from start ‑‑ UCLA ‑‑ start to finish, we have had a few of them.  But we have also had the Columbia's down 11, we have had Buffalo down five.  We have had ‑‑ and I would imagine there's going to be a league game or two before we finish we'll be down at half and have to see if we can fight to come back and we're not at our best, it's just how the season goes. So when you say about undefeated, we're playing every game to win, but if you do ‑‑ I told them last night, we lose today, we're 20-1.  So? I said, you lose in March, your season's over. 
Right now, you should just try to find out how good you can be.  And that's all we're doing.  I'm not ‑‑ I've had a team at Massachusetts (UMass) that was started the season like this, I had a team at Memphis that started the season like this, both of those teams took an L and by the end of the year were the best version of themselves.  By the end of the year.  So, and whether that happens to this team or not, one way or another, I would rather them win it all or win them all, but if they don't, this doesn't.  Just as long as we're getting better.

Kentucky vs. Alabama Post Game Notes

Alabama at Kentucky, Men’s Basketball 
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Jan. 31, 2015

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 70, Alabama 55
Kentucky is 21-0, 8-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama is 13-8, 3-5 in league play.
Kentucky leads the series 105-37, including 55-10 at home.
With 21 consecutive victories to begin the season, UK is off to the third-best start in program history.
Kentucky is now the lone undefeated team in the nation following Virginia’s setback tonight to Duke.
Kentucky is 198-27 all-time when ranked No. 1 and has won 43 of the last 45 games as The Associated Press top-ranked team.
Calipari has led three schools to a No. 1 ranking (Massachusetts, Memphis, Kentucky) and has an 87-9 record as the top-ranked coach, including 46-4 at UK. 
Calipari is now 173-37 (.824) as head coach at Kentucky, the best winning percentage of any coach in UK history.
Kentucky was behind for only 20 seconds tonight.  UK has trailed for only 103:43 of a possible 855 minutes this season.
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday at home against Georgia. Game time is 7 p.m. EST and it will be televised on ESPNU.
Team Notes
Sparked by inside players, Kentucky shot a season-best 58.5 percent from the field. UK’s bigs (Towns, Cauley-Stein, Lee, Johnson) combined to make 13-of-16 for 81.3 percent.
UK made 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) on 3-point shots tonight. Over the last 11 games, Kentucky has shot 44 percent on 3-pointers, 77-of-175.
Kentucky had only five turnovers tonight, just one away from the season low of four miscues.
Kentucky had balanced scoring tonight with four players in double figures and eight players scoring at least five points.
UK is 105-5 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 63 or fewer points, including 17-0 this season.
UK is 54-0 in the John Calipari Era when holding opponents to 55 or fewer points, including 16 times this season.
Kentucky’s streak of 921 consecutive games with a 3-pointer was extended early in the contest when Aaron Harrison hit a long ball from the left corner at the 17:47 mark of the first half.
First-Half Facts
Kentucky’s opening lineup featured Dominique Hawkins, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein for the sixth time this season.
Alabama scored on the game’s opening possession but Kentucky responded with the next seven points and the Wildcats never trailed again.
UK led by as many as 17 points at 37-20 and took a 37-24 lead into halftime. 
Second-Half Story
Kentucky started the second half with Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and Dakari Johnson.
The lead stayed between 12 and 21 points during the second half.
Player Notes
Karl-Anthony Towns had a perfect shooting night, making all four field goal attempts and all four foul shots for a total of 12 points. All of his points came in the first half.
Willie Cauley-Stein tallied 12 points, making all four of his field-goal attempts.
Devin Booker had 11 points, including three of four 3-pointers. He’s now made 25 of his last 38 long shots, 65.8 percent.
Aaron Harrison chipped in 10 points, the 10th time in the last 12 games he has tallied in double figures.
Marcus Lee led the Wildcats in rebounding with five boards and also scored eight points, most for him since scoring eight vs. North Carolina on Dec. 13.
Tyler Ulis contributed a game-high four assists and scored six points.

Final OFFICIAL Kentucky vs. Alabama Box-Score

Cats Beat Tide 70-55, Now The Only UNBEATEN Team In College Basketball

With Virginia losing to Duke tonight, Kentucky is now the only remaining unbeaten team in college basketball with a record of 21-0 with tonight's win over Alabama.

Tonight, Kentucky had their best game of the season, at least offensively shooting 59% from the floor which is their best percentage of the year.

Kentucky's bigs was the story of tonight's game. Finally, the Cats got the production out of the post that you would expect. Just look at the points from the post players Karl Towns Jr. 12 pts, Cauley-Stein 12 pts, Lee 8 pts and Johnson 6 pts. That's the type of production that any team in the country will have a hard time overcoming. 

Devin Booker... What can you say about Devin Booker that everyone doesn't already know.  This kid is one of the best shooters Kentucky has had in a very long time and to be honest, it's a breath of fresh air to have a guy who when the ball leaves their hand's, you just know it's going in. As happy as I am Booker is shooting the way he is, it saddens me at the same time because you know his time in Lexington is getting more and more limited with every three he drains.

Also, tonight was the return of Willie Cauley-Stein. It was great to see the big man performing the way everyone knows he can. Just watching him guard all five positions and being seven-feet tall is beyond impressive. Once again, I'm more than happy to see Willie performing at this level, but it makes me sad as well because you just know that this is more than likely his last year in Lexington.

At the end of the night, the Cats looked as good if not better than they have all year long offensively. Now that Kentucky is the last unbeaten team in college basketball, the pressure is on. I just hope the players don't feel it as well.

More to come throughout the night...

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 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

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.”