Monday, November 30, 2015

Caliper's Thoughts On Tonights Game vs. Illinois State

COACH CALIPARI: This was a great game because they (Illinois State) spread the court and had all five guys that could drive. We had three guys that refused to move their feet, they turned sideways, and think it's high school and they're going to block it at the rim. So they're all layups and and-ones and if they miss it, their weak side rebounder rebounds it. And that's why we needed to play this kind of game.

They also trapped and did some good things. And I'm happy that we got to see Isaiah (Briscoe). The beginning of the game, he just -- three turnovers in three minutes. OK now. It's not an easy position to play.

Jamal (Murray) didn't play in the first half. Skal (Labissiere) really gave us nothing the whole game. But this is a good thing. Because now – Alex (Poythress) gave us nothing in the first half.  The thing about elite athletes and world-class athletes, they can evaluate their performance and say, all right, I got to fix this. They self-evaluate and that's what this team needs to do.

Without Tyler (Ulis), it's obvious we're not the same team. I mean, unless you were watching another game, we're not the same team. But it still doesn't mean that we shouldn't play hard and guys shouldn't battle and fight for balls. We got beat to everything in the first half. 

Now, this team (Illinois State), they're going to win a lot of games. They had San Diego State and Maryland to the wire. They had us on the ropes. Think about that. Those are the kind of games they played and they have lost them, but they played them. I think Dan (Muller) has done a great job playing the way they have to play. It was just tougher than us.

We were lucky to out rebound them because they out-rebounded 20-12 at half. They out-rebounded us by eight and it could have been more. A couple of them, the shot went up and we ran from a guy and they jumped over top of us and not fouling, just we didn't want to block out. Just grabbed a couple.

Q. You were obviously not happy with Marcus (Lee) at South Florida --
COACH CALIPARI: He was great today. Boy was he good. If Marcus Lee doesn't play, we lose. Because I had to get Skal out and I had to get Alex out. I tried to play Derek (Willis) and, again, you see him in that isolation, having to guard the ball, he's struggling.

Again, the guy that changed the game was Dom (Dominique Hawkins). Dom did what he did at the Michigan game a couple years ago. He went in and guarded that player and said I can do it. And then he made some free throws.

See, it is demoralizing when guys go up and miss four front-end one-and-ones in the first half and we miss 10 free throws. Four of them front-end one-and-ones. That's like missing 14 free throws. It is demoralizing. Now you can miss a couple, but you can't miss them all and expect to be on that court. You just can't. So, again, self-evaluate, I'm going to get to that line, I'm going to want to be at that line, I'm not going to shoot air balls from the foul line. It's not going to be who I am.

Q. What did you have to say to Marcus coming out of that last game and going into this one?
COACH CALIPARI: Obviously you know what I said. Alex started.

Q. What were your thoughts when you got guys got off to that slow start?
COACH CALIPARI: It was as much them as it was us. And it was Isaiah, again, the turnovers he had, the reason I was on him, he had the lob the first play. If you've watched this team for the last seven years, that's all we throw. So you can run back and try to get the lob, if you can. Maybe give us a layup, but we're going to lob it. He threw a direct pass. I'm like, what -- the very first play. And that's how we come out of the gate, we're down seven, whatever it was, and we were lucky to be in the game at halftime. I even told them, this is the greatest thing for this team right here to have to deal with.

Look, you don't want to go through a season where every game is easy. This stuff is not easy. So, this was a hard game for us. This was, to be honest, the schedule we played to this point has not been easy for us. We had four freshmen out there today. Come on.

Somebody told me the other day, "Your team, a couple years ago..." we had five freshmen. We're playing five freshmen. "Well, they should execute better." Really? They just got done playing AAU two months ago.

Q. Could you update Tyler? And then also, is it getting to the point you are worried about whether you are going to be a good shooting team from the foul line?
COACH CALIPARI: Tyler wasn't there. And there's a couple guys that they just can't be in much at crunch time. It's just, you're not going to be in there because the other team, with three minutes to go, is just going to start fouling you and you. So as soon as I see it, then you got to come out of the game. You can't be in. It's obvious you're sitting saying, Cal, they're just going to foul these two guys. I know. And they can't be in. And that's their choice, not any of us.

But these guys are not bad shooters. Right now we're 2-of-12, Dom was 0-of-3, Isaiah was 0-of-2. It's about that. Maybe 1-for-5. I would have been happier. But you have Tyler and have you Jamal. You're hoping that Derek can go in and make a three or so. But the reality of it is that you have two. And most teams like us, that's what you have. You have two really good 3-point shooters and the other guys for us are good drivers.

Q. Tyler Ulis’ status:
COACH CALIPARI: I doubt he practices tomorrow. We're going to travel and practice out in L.A. But, I would tell you, he probably needs to practice the next day, Wednesday, before we play on Thursday to see if he can go. If he can't go, we'll go as is. We'll play with what we have.

Q. Coach Muller suggested that you did not go to Skal in the post or mid post as a lesson to, if you want the ball, you got to play tougher and compete harder.
COACH CALIPARI: No, we tried to. He couldn't catch it. We were trying to go to him. As a matter of fact, I told guys, if he's open and you don't throw it to him, you're coming out. Think about that. That's where he is right now and it's OK. I mean, he's not figured some of this stuff out. He's not figured how to play lower than the other guy. He's not figured out that I got to move my feet and quit grabbing people. But that's okay. And he is a really, really good player who is behind.

The good news is we have Alex and Marcus. And if he's not playing well, we can still win. As we just try to make sure he's getting better and better.

Q. What's the difference between Marcus Lee, Friday and Marcus Lee, today? What makes the difference between those two days?
COACH CALIPARI: One of the things I told him is, if you're not playing with energy, I'm not playing you. You got a player like Marcus Lee, who, if he's to make it, it's going to be on one thing. He's an energy guy who can cover a bunch of positions and flies. And you need that kind of player on your team.

But if he's not playing with energy, you get what you have at South Florida. You have a guy that's just out there and it's like, well what did he do? And he's capable, but it's hard. I mean, to play with that kind of energy, to come out and make that who you are, it's hard. You have bags under your eyes, you can't do it. You have sleepies in the corners, you can't do it. You’ve got to prepare all day to come out to play with unbelievable energy. I know who I am. No, I'm not a great shooter. No, I'm not a great free throw shooter, but I can dunk balls, I can rebound, I can block, I can guard four positions and I can play with unbelievable energy. But I would rather not because that's really hard.

I mean that's, you know -- and it's what I was getting on Alex about. I mean, he got beat to balls again. No way. Skal got beat to balls today. They want it more than you. One time he said "I tried." You what? "I tried." Okay. You're not trying hard enough. Next guy. I mean, that's holding them accountable. And you win by 12 in an easy game or easily a game we could have lost.

Q. A lot of tough venues, obviously, in college basketball. Do you feel like you have the best home-court advantage?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I think we're one of them. I'll tell you what makes a home-court advantage, where you have it. Great fan base is important, but there are other teams that have great fan bases. It's having really good players. Then you got a great home court. So, our home-court advantage has been our players. And our fans – they come every game. But it's been we got great players. You have these fans and they're going nuts and have you a bad team? We have had that here, too. It's hard to win.

Q. Jamal Murray – how  do you think he played?
COACH CALIPARI: First half, I thought he was non-existent. Second half, what I'm trying to get him to do is get fouled. He's still flipping balls. He's still trying to avoid and do some spectacular "like, did you see that," but you can't win playing that way.

Winning basketball is you get fouled. And again, I thought in the second half -- I don't know what he had at half. Did he have any points at half? Two? He has 15 or 16, 14 in the second half? He should be a player that's getting 10 points a half. Easy. And I'm going to guess four of those points should be on free throws. But you got to play that way. You got to want to create the contact. The time he went in and bang and hit it, just go make two, stops the game, we can press. But they're all learning. They're all learning.

Q. Is this a good stretch for your team, not only coming off of competitive game like this, but going straight into your first true road game of the season?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, if Tyler is healthy, yeah. If he's not healthy, no, it's bad, bad timing. But we'll see. He was half coaching on bench, telling me who to take out. "Take him out. Who? You know who."

Q. Playing at Pauley Pavilion, have you done that before and is it a, not thrill, I guess, but does it get your attention to play in an iconic place like that?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I've been on that campus a few times. It's unbelievable. UCLA is just, it's one of those schools that has the opportunity to do everything and basketball and football and every -- if I'm not mistaken and somebody can check it out other than Jerry -- but I think they have won more national titles in all sports than any other program. The campus, which is, you know, it's kind of landlocked, because it's in where it is, and in Westwood, but they redid Pauley, I've seen it, really nice building. The Hall of Fame there, they have John Wooden's office, the way it was encased. The history of that program. And I think us, having an opportunity to go there -- and we're going to have a couple days to practice, to see if we get some stuff fixed here -- it's going to be neat. A neat trip.

Q. Did you have any relationship with Wooden?
COACH CALIPARI: You know what, I did. And it's funny, I played in his Classic. We were the first team, I was at UMass and they had the John Wooden classic. And I believe it was '95. And the three other teams were Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA. So who was it again? Who doesn't belong in that bunch? And I got to spend time with him and I later called him in 2010, he had a great thing he said to me, I said, are you watching my team, he said, yes I am, coach. And I said, what do you think. And he said, well, you may not agree, but I think you're playing too many people. He said, they should earn their minutes in practice and you should play six or seven guys and that's who you should play, because that's how you become a good team. And you know what, Jackie Leaman told me the same thing when I was at UMass, who coached Julius Erving. And they are right. My best teams that I've coached have always been playing five and six guys. By the end of the season, they're unbelievable teams. He said, but I understand why you do it, recruiting and transfers and all the other things you got to do. But understand that the way you're going to build your best team is play less people. And that was in 2010. I can still remember it. I was in Florida, getting ready to play Florida when I called him. And he had watched. But I had talked to him a couple different times and after that event and so.

Q. Last year you guys got out to that 24-0 run on UCLA. Can you take anything from that game going into this one?
COACH CALIPARI: No. I tell you what, if they watch this game, they're going to post us up. Tony Parker is, every time they throw it, they're going to go at our bigs. So we better have some ideas what have we're going to do. Steve's terrific at what he does. He's figured it out. I've coached against him a couple times. Last year was an outlier. I had a ridiculous team. And they would go into a game like that to smoke somebody, like they did Kansas. They would go in with that mentality. This team is, we don't have that mentality.

Post Game Notes From Tonights Kentucky vs. Illinois State Game

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Illinois State at Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 30, 2015
Attendance: 21,894

Final Score: Kentucky 75, Illinois State 63
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is 7-0 on the season. Illinois State is now 3-5.
  • This was the first meeting between the schools in men’s basketball. 
  • Kentucky returns to action Thursday, Dec. 3, at UCLA. Game time is 9 p.m. EST and it will be televised on ESPN.

Game Notes
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray, Charles Matthews, Alex Poythress and Skal Labissiere for the first time this season.  
  • Illinois State had the strong start, jumping out to a 7-1 advantage.  
  • Kentucky regained the lead, then the teams battled back-and-forth for the remainder of the first half. After six ties and three lead changes, the teams were knotted at intermission, 31 each.
  • Kentucky opened the second half with a steal by Matthews, layup by Briscoe and three-pointer by Murray to take a quick five-point lead.  
  • Ahead 46-40, the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run to open a 56-40 lead, their largest of the game.
  • The Redbirds battled back, closing within seven at 63-56 with less than four minutes to play, but ISU got no closer.

Team Notes
  • Kentucky attempted 46 free throws, second-most in the John Calipari era. The most was 48 foul shots vs. UNC Asheville on Nov. 8, 2013.
  • Kentucky blocked nine shots tonight, equaling its season best vs. NJIT.
  • With 2,185 all-time wins, Kentucky is the nation’s leader in that category. 
  • This marks the 25th time in school history that UK has opened a season 7-0, the fourth time under Coach Calipari.
  • Calipari has a 642-178 (.783) all-time record, including a 197-38 (.838) mark at Kentucky.  
    • Calipari is 107-4 (.964) in Rupp Arena.
  • UK extended streaks of 38 consecutive regular-season wins and 25 straight wins in Rupp Arena.
  • Kentucky is now 122-5 (.961) under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 63 or fewer points.
  • Derek Willis made a 3-pointer at the 1:09 mark of the opening half, extending UK’s streak of games with a made 3-pointer to 946, the second-longest streak in the nation. 
  • For the third time in the last 50 seasons, UK has won each of its first seven games of a season by at least 11 points (1982-1983, 2014-2015, 2015-2016).
  • For the second time since 1982-1983 UK has won each of its first seven games of a season while scoring at least 74 points (1987-1988, 2015-2016).
 Notes on the No. 1 Ranking
  • UK owns an all-time record of 218-28 (.886) as the nation’s top-ranked team.
  • UK is 66-5 (.930) under Calipari when ranked No. 1 and the Wildcats have been in the No. 1 slot in five of the seven years of Calipari’s term in Lexington.
  • Calipari is 107-10 (.915) all-time as the head coach of the AP’s No. 1 team.

Player Notes

  • Junior Marcus Lee totaled 13 points and 12 rebounds, the second double-double of his career, along with the Duke game on Nov. 17.
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe had a season-high 18 points, added seven rebounds and led the Cats in assists with three.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray notched 16 points, his fifth-consecutive double-figure game.
  • Junior Dominique Hawkins tied his career high with seven points, making a career-high five foul shots.

Kentucky vs. Illinois St. OFFICIAL Box-Score

Kentucky vs. Illinois State Highlights VIDEO

Monday, November 23, 2015

Coach Cal's Radio Show Returns; Full Schedule

Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari’s weekly radio show, the John Calipari Call-In Show, returns Monday night, live from Lexington.

The Calipari Call-In Show, which will air weekly on the UK Radio Network, begins this week at 7 p.m., following the conclusion of the Mark Stoops Call-In Show at 6 p.m. Calipari’s show will switch to its normal time at 6 p.m. on Dec. 7, at the conclusion of the football regular season, and last throughout the basketball season.

Hosted by radio play-by-play man Tom Leach, Calipari will take questions from basketball fans across the country. Fans can call the Kennedy’s Wildcat Den hotline at 1-800-606-GAME (4263) or (859) 280-2287. Calipari will also take questions via Twitter. Fans choosing to go the social media route can send their questions to @UKRadioNetwork for a chance to be featured as the Academy Sports + Outdoors Twitter question of the week. 

The show is broadcast in Lexington on WLAP-630, online at and on UK Radio Network affiliates.

New to the setup this year, the Calipari Call-In Show will also feature a live video stream every week, brought to you by Paul Miller Ford.

The weekly radio show also features the Whayne Supply Cat Profile, an inside scoop on a different player each week.

The following is the complete schedule for the 2015-16 season. All times are tentative and subject to change.

Monday, Nov. 23 – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 1 – 7 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 7 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 14 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 21 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 28 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 6 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 11 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 18 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 25 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb. 3 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 8 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 15 – 6 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 22 – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, March 2 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 7 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 14 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 21 – 6 p.m.
Monday, March 28 – 6 p.m. *

*if the Wildcats are still playing in the postseason

Tyler Ulis Named SEC Co-Player of The Week

 Kentucky sophomore guard Tyler Ulis was named the Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Week on Monday after leading Kentucky to a pair of victories last week, including a 74-63 victory over No. 5/4 Duke in the Champions Classic in Chicago. 

Ulis shared the award with Georgia’s Kenny Gaines.

The UK guard was the catalyst behind the Wildcats’ 2-0 week. Ulis averaged team highs in points (19.5), assists (5.5), steals (2.0) and free-throw percentage (.889) to lead Kentucky to a 4-0 start to the season.

Returning home to Chicago in one of biggest games of the nonconference season, Ulis dazzled on the big stage vs. Duke. Against the defending national champions, Ulis scored a game-high and career-high 18 points while dishing out a game-high six assists with no turnovers in 40 minutes of play. In doing so, Ulis became the first Wildcat since Kyle Macy on March 1, 1980 to post at least 18 points and at least six assists in a top-five Associated Press matchup.

Ulis followed that remarkable performance with a game-high and career-high 21 points and a game-high five assists in the victory over Wright State. He became the first UK player to score 18 or more points in consecutive games since Devin Booker had 18 vs. Montana State and 18 vs. UT Arlington in November of 2014.

Ulis was solid from the free-throw line in the two games, hitting 16 of his 18 foul shots. He’s tied for the team lead in scoring for the undefeated Wildcats at 14.0 points per game and leads Kentucky in assists with eight.
It’s the second weekly SEC honor of Ulis’ career but his first SEC Player of the Week award. Ulis won SEC Freshman of the Week honors last season on Dec. 29.

It’s also the second straight week a Wildcat has picked up an SEC honor. Freshman forward Skal Labissiere was tabbed SEC Co-Freshman of the Week last week.

After a three-day break, UK returns to action Tuesday at 9 p.m. vs. Boston University in Rupp Arena. That game is set for an SEC Network telecast. 

Kentucky Ranked Number One in AP/Coaches Poll

The Kentucky men’s basketball team is the top team in the land according to the Associated Press Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Wildcats landed at No. 1 in both major polls released Monday.

The Wildcats picked up 59 of the 65 first-place votes in the AP Top 25 and 28 of the 31 first-place votes in the Coaches’ Poll.

For the fifth time in John Calipari’s seven seasons at Kentucky the Wildcats have appeared at No. 1 at some point during the season in both major polls.

“It’s just a credit to Coach Calipari, the players and everybody that helps this program out,” assistant coach John Robic said at UK’s pre-Boston University media opportunity. “It’s a team effort and it’s what you shoot for. You want to be the last one standing at the end of every year, but again, like I just said, it’s neat for these kids. They have never experienced this ever before and this is basically a whole new group. It’s hard, but it’s rewarding.”

UK is 63-5 as the AP No. 1 team in the country since Calipari’s first year at the helm, the best record in the country by a top-ranked team during that span. Calipari is 104-10 all-time as head coach of the AP’s top-ranked team.

The Wildcats own an all-time record of 215-28 (.885) at No. 1 in the AP Top 25, including victories in 60 of their last 63 contests as the AP’s top team.

“It’s honestly just a number,” junior forward Marcus Lee said at the media opportunity. “Each team is just as equal right now. It’s the beginning of the season. It really doesn’t even matter. It’s not really going to—rankings don’t even really matter until March. And then at that moment it really doesn’t matter until the last four teams.”

Kentucky was ranked No. 1 the entire season in 2014-15. The Wildcats shared the top spot with North Carolina in the Coaches’ Poll to begin this season before falling to No. 2 last week.

Kentucky returns to Rupp Arena on Tuesday vs. Boston at 9 p.m. The game is set to air live on the SEC Network.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Few Notes From Last Nights Kentucky vs. Wright State Game

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
Wright State at Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 20, 2015
Attendance: 22,563

Final Score: Kentucky 78, Wright State 63

Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky moved to 4-0 on the season. Wright State is now 1-3.
  • This was the first meeting between the schools in men’s basketball. 
  • Kentucky returns to action against Boston University on Tuesday, Nov. 24, in Rupp Arena. Game time is 9 p.m. ET and it will be televised on the SEC Network.

Team Notes
  • With 2,182 all-time wins, Kentucky is the nation’s leader in that category. 
  • Coach John Calipari has a 639-178 all-time record, including a 194-38 mark at Kentucky.  
    • Calipari is 105-4 in Rupp Arena.
  • Kentucky extended a streak of 35 consecutive regular-season wins and 23 straight wins in Rupp Arena.
  • Kentucky is now 119-5 under Calipari when limiting the opponent to 63 or fewer points.
  • Jamal Murray made a 3-pointer at the 18-minute mark of the opening half, extending UK’s steak of games with a made 3-pointer to 943, the second-longest streak in the nation. 
  • Kentucky made 26 of 37 foul shots, season highs in both categories.
  • UK shot 53.2 percent from the field, the second time this season the Wildcats have hit at least half their shots.

Game Notes
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis for the second game in a row.
  • Kentucky held Wright State scoreless for the first three minutes of the game while building a 5-0 lead it never relinquished.
  • UK went to halftime ahead 39-26, with Ulis’ 10 points leading the way in the opening stanza.
  • Wright State got no closer than 10 points in the second half as the Wildcats worked their way to a 78-63 win.

Player Notes  
  • Sophomore Tyler Ulis led all scorers with 21 points, a career high.
    • It was his second consecutive game to set his personal scoring best after notching 18 points against Duke. 
    • Ulis also had a game-high five assists.
  • Senior Alex Poythress posted 10 points and 10 rebounds, his third career double-double.
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe followed Ulis with 15 points and has scored in double figures in all three games he’s played this year.
  • Freshmen Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere each had 13 points. Murray hit a perfect 10-of-10 at the foul line.
  • Junior Marcus Lee claimed seven rebounds and has at least seven boards in every game this season. Lee is averaging one rebound for every 2.8 minutes played this season.

Kentucky vs. Wright State Box-Score

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Kentucky Pre Wright State Press Conference QUOTES (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Head Coach John Calipari

On the last 36-hour stretch with the  win over Duke and new commits … 
“I haven’t thought about it in those terms, but we have a lot of good news on a lot of fronts. I’ve learned a lot about my team in a crazy environment, a lot of clutter around us. That was good, and a couple of kids decide they want to come and make it nicer.”

On big things he’s learned about his team … 
 “Guard play is good. Now we just have to learn how to fight. We didn’t crack down on some of the rebounding, but because we’re a shot-blocking team you’re going to have teams come in and just throw it over the shot blocker who don’t even worry about making it. You have to have weak-side crackdowns. The guards have to get in there and mix it up. We worked on it for three weeks because I knew this game coming up and I knew how they were going to play. The first part of the game they got four of them, right? That’s what young kids do, so we’ll continue to work on that. I thought Marcus Lee fought in the second half. There are some different wrinkles I want to do in transition that I saw in this (Duke) game. What I saw, teams aren’t going to stretch the court out on us. They’re not going to come out and play us; they’re going to play a lot of zone. That’s what I learned when I watched this (Duke) game. How you’re going to keep those three (Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe) out of the lane, I don’t know. Also, we have to get somebody that’s going to be consistent off that bench. Derek (Willis), Charles (Matthews), Dom(inique Hawkins) or Mychal (Mulder), somebody consistent that we know what we’re getting.  And it’s not shots. It’s someone that can go in, defend and rebound; (someone that can) make an open shot. But you don’t have to create; just finish. We have to find that guy. I thought Isaac (Humphries) was fine. Isaac was not at all intimidated by the situation. I thought he was fine. 

On Isaac being better than originally thought this early … 
“I have had more calls about him like, ‘Man, I didn’t realize he was that good. He held his own’. He’s lost weight. He had some pie the other day and he said, ‘All the weight I’ve lost, I’m going to have a piece of pie.’ Some of this stuff is for the first time in their lives. Isaiah went so hard (he) cramped up. So my point to him today is you’ve got to go harder in practice if you expect to play that hard in a game. If you don’t go harder you’re going to cramp up every game. You’re body has to get use to that kind of pace. I thought we played fast. I thought we attacked the basket. We’re going to have to have opportunities to catch and shoot because a normal team will not spread the court like Duke did where they came out and tried to guard us all over the place.”

On Isaac being an eager learner …
“I think there’s going to be all kinds of opportunities (for him).  Here’s what happens when you come to school here: It’s hard to get better just playing. If you never play, it’s hard to get better too. But if you play 15-20 minutes a game, you can show what you need for you personally. You can help your team win in just 15-20 minutes. You get better because you’re going against somebody in practice every day. So let’s say we play 30 regular-season games. How many of those teams will have NBA players on it? (Media member says eight.) So you’re going against an NBA player eight times a year and you think that’s going to get it done? You’ll play more here. In this practice for 200 days you’re going to go against really good players and eight other times a year you’ll go here (against eight other potential NBA players). And Skal’s walking behind me, Skal (Labissiere) did fine. I’m going to say this in the locker room, but last night my wife and I were watching TV. We don’t know how to work TVs. We don’t know how to work computers. Somehow we got on the hopper and then she pressed another button and it went to college basketball. I said, ‘Well, press that and see what that is.’ It had a 17-minute clip of our game against Arkansas in the championship game of the tournament last year. So now I’m watching our game against Arkansas, 17 minutes. In the second half I put in Karl Towns. He had four points and four rebounds in the second half. Going into the second half, eight minutes to go in the game, four points and four rebounds. The No. 1 pick in the (2015) draft and he’s a double-double in the NBA every time. You get better in practice. That’s the point to all of these guys. Worry about getting better. Don’t compare yourself to anybody. I sent them a message today (that said), ‘What you can control is you becoming the best version of you.’ Don’t worry what you are compared to somebody else. It has no bearing on you. You can’t control that.”

On what advantage having six early signees already gives them …
“Well, I can really focus on this basketball team and can touch some ‘17s. I may go – we have a pretty good beat on the 17s that we are on and probably six of them, maybe seven. I can touch those guys, but my focus now will shift to lets get this team right and we aren’t right yet.”

On if he is done recruiting for the 2016 class …
“I don’t know.”

On how far Isaiah has come defensively this season …
“He’s been tremendous. He’s confident and he’s comfortable in his own skin, so he really doesn’t worry about anyone else because he knows who he is. We are just trying to define him in a way where everyone will watch and say, ‘Wow, I love that kid,’ and it’s beginning to happen. The way he can defend, the way he can rebound, he’s so fast and strong physically and he’s so good with the ball. His shooting is good. Now there may be some people who say, ‘Well, we’re not going to play him.’ Good luck. He did average 25 a game in high school. He did shoot like 38 percent from the 3 in high school. Is it 3-point line in college and high school the same? There you go, a bunch of really good writers and none of you know. It’s the same – I think (laughter). But I will tell you that you’re all laughing because you really have no idea, someone Google it for God sakes. But I’m proud of him and I’m happy with what he’s doing. I’m really pleased with Tyler’s leadership off the court. See, you can’t really lead on the court unless guys know that you care enough about them to spend time with them, to talk to them, to have a relationship with them. Then you can lead on the court. Now you can move people around on the court, but you can’t really lead. And I think he’s doing a great job, and he’s doing it off the court now. I was so pleased with what everybody saw, and I’ve had calls from all kinds of people about him and Jamal. Former players called me and said, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t take him out on that lefty, behind-the-back pass in transition.’ And I said, ‘I’m getting soft. I can’t believe I left Jamal in on that either.’ The biggest thing is that we have to fight. Alex (Poythress) showed second half that he’s fighting, that he’s trying, and this is really hard. He has to break through the mental part – and he is. Just being an elite athlete, don’t try to be a bully. Bullies don’t make it in the next level. You’re done, you’re finished, you don’t play at that level. You have to be an elite athlete. He has it in him; he just has to start playing that way, and he did at times.”

On Kenny Payne’s request that Isaiah keep Grayson Allen to 10 points or less points and what that says about his defense …
“He guarded. And again, Allen was driving into some length that he didn’t like. That was the first game. They played two games and they played against each other. And then he was playing against guys that could block shots, and when he put that shoulder down and went in there it became tough. Then, you have to settle for all 15- and 18-footers. The problem was that he was throwing balls over people and they were sticking them in. It’s an issue that we have to work on.”

On if he is considering Isaiah the “stopper” of this team …
“No, he’s totally different. He gives you so much offense with the ball and he’s so creative. But what I’m saying is really that we need Jamal to guard better. Jamal has to step on the gas defensively. Then our bigs – look, the new rules are so simple. If you turn sideways on a drive, you’re going to foul them because he’s going to ride into you. And if you’re sideways, they’re going to call that a foul on you. If you square off – for all you guys that don’t know the distance to the 3-point line in high school basketball – if you square him off wherever he goes, if you just keep retreating, he comes into you and I’m in a legal guarding position, they may not call it. Now, they may make a bad call and call it, but they aren’t supposed to call it. If a guy is driving – not even attempting to make a basketball play, he’s just trying to get a foul – you aren’t supposed to call that a foul unless I’m not in a legal guarding position and I go sideways. So we are working on our bigs, making them score through the chest, square off, and we didn’t do that the whole game. We are trying to get our guards crack down because we block shots. It’s what we do; it’s what we’ve always done. You have to get down there if that big goes after that block. It’s stuff we’re learning. Offensively, a couple times Tyler said to me, ‘What do you want?’ And I looked at him and said, ‘No, what do you want? Run it.’ He was good.”

On seeing how the team reacts after a big win …
“Now that you mention it, I probably will think about it, but I wasn’t. We’re just going to have a great practice today. I’m not worried about who we play. Let’s just make incremental improvement. Today, the practice is based on what I saw that we have to improve on in the last game. Wright State will take 70 shots and 25 or 30 of them will be 3s. They have three really good 3-point shooters and are shooting 40 percent from behind the 3-point line. You have an idea of how they’re going to play. They have a pack-line defense. They’re not stretching out and they play a 2-3 zone, which is exactly what we have to go against. It’s a great game for us. That’s how teams, I believe, will play us. I have three guys that can get in the lane. You’re not just stopping him. We did what wanted last game, which was drive the ball.”

On Bam Adebayo …
“I don’t have any comparisons. He’s way better offensively than anyone realizes. Someone said he was 6-8 and 230 pounds. He was in eighth grade. Now he’s 6-10 and 260 pounds. If you watch the video that I did today, I said that we’d have to buy a couple more backboards down at Rupp because we only have three, and if he breaks one or two (we will need another). He’s a beast. He’s better offensively. My thing for him is to lead the nation in rebounding. Go get every ball. Then, let’s really get you to play the way you’re capable of. He can shoot. I’ve seen him make 3s. He can drive the ball. He’s always been overshadowed a little bit, but it’s his time. Go play, man. This is your chance to go do your thing and do something. There are a couple great things about the class. No. 1, they all have plans for academic success. They know they have a lifetime scholarship. Every one of these kids have committed and said, ‘I’m going to get my degree.’ Every one of them is totally different from the other. Sacha (Killeya-Jones) is nothing like Wenyen (Gabriel) even though they’re both 6-10. Those two are nothing like Bam. Nobody is like Tai (Wynyard). The two guards (De’Aaron Fo and Malik Monk) are totally different, and that’s the way I like it. Now, just be your best. You be your best and that’s going to be good enough.”

On the rule change that coaches can’t call live-ball timeouts …
“It was fine. Our kids were looking. I called timeout a couple times. We haven’t really talked about. We have so much to do. I just wanted to have enough so we didn’t embarrass ourselves in Chicago. Now, I have to go put a couple out of bounds plays in. ‘OK, we have to throw it deep.’ I was hoping none of that happened. If that was a close game and we had to get a 3, then we would’ve looked like, ‘Oh my God did you see that?’ A lot of the stuff we just haven’t gotten to yet. We’re the most inexperienced team in the country. Jerry (Tipton) will correct me and say that St. John’s is, but we’re the inexperienced team. We’re just trying to get them to play together and really figure out how we’re going to play. Are we pressing as much? I think so. The press that we use, why was it just man-to-man? I didn’t think they could beat us one-on-one so I didn’t want to trap and do anything crazy to give them opportunities. We have that press in. Will we play zone? I believe so. I like a zone with Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, a big and two guards. I like that zone. That’s a huge zone. With Derek in the game, you still have another shooter. That may be a zone team we throw in. I don’t know. Guys have stuff to prove and we have stuff to work on.” 

Kentucky Student-Athletes:

13, Isaiah Briscoe, G:

On whether the team feels different after playing Duke …
“Yeah, I think we came together more as a team. I think our team chemistry increased during that game, and I’m just getting more comfortable with playing college basketball.”

On why chemistry improved …
“Because it was a big game for us and we were thrown into the fire early and we had to come together quickly.”

On his cramping in the Duke game …
“I just started cramping. I was playing hard, playing as hard as I can and I just started cramping.”

On cramping all the way up to his waist …
“Yeah. It was a problem.”

On whether he is eating bananas now …
“Yes. And on game day, I’m not used to eating a lot and drinking a lot, so it’s just making sure I get the right amount of fluids in my body.”

On that not being fun …

On what the plan on Grayson Allen was …
“Fight over screens, chase over screens and just nothing easy. Hard two’s.”

On whether he is UK’s stopper …
“Is that what it looked like? (Reporter says, ‘That is what it looked like.’) I’m the stopper then.”

On if people would have thought he’d be the stopper growing up …
“No, not at all. No chance.”

On why they wouldn’t have thought that …
“Growing up I just wasn’t forced to play defense. But coming here, Cal, he’s holding everybody accountable for what they know how to do and he thinks I can be the best defender in the country. So he’s going to push me to be that.”

On the defense he played prior to UK …
“I played honest defense.”

On what that means …
“Take a couple trips off. Might play defense three trips in a row, then take another couple trips off.”

On what Cal would do if he did that now …
“Bench. Yell and then bench.”

On whether he rested on defense …

On how he likes playing tough defense …
“I like it. It gets me in the game early and my adrenaline is always rushing and just knowing that I’m playing the best offensive player on the other team, no room for error.”

On how Calipari has gotten him to play defense that way …
“I guess he’s seen the potential in me and just knows what I’m capable of. He said he’s going to get the best out of me.”

On getting easy baskets off defense and his layup before the half …
“That was an easy shot, but with good defense and great pressure from all five of our guys I think it causes a lot of turnovers and allows us to play our game - that’s run up and down and just have fun and play.”

On what his friends were saying to him back home after the Duke game …
“‘Since when?’ That’s all they said. ‘Since when did you start playing defense?’ Ever since I got here Coach Cal has been making me.”

On how becoming a great defender will help him down the line in his career …
“That’s just becoming a complete player, competing on both sides of the court.”

On if he’s battled cramping before …
“I have, but not in a college game.”

On how big of a problem his cramping is …
“Oh, not that big of a problem.”

On him shutting someone down being appropriate with his competitive nature …
“Yeah, and I knew that Grayson was averaging a lot of points so before the game I went over to KP (Kenny Payne) and said, ‘How many is he allowed to get?’ And he said, ‘10.’ I don’t know how much he ended with, but I was just trying my best not to let him get over 10.”

On Allen not getting to 10 points …
“I mean, like I said, I’m such a competitor, I’m always looking for something to keep me going. In practice, every day I’m counting my steals and I’m trying to beat the record that I had yesterday. Just trying to get better and better day by day. Like I said, just before the game I’m just looking for ways to keep myself motivated. So when I went over to KP, I spoke to him and he gave me the number and I was just trying to keep it under that number.”

On if he pays attention to who UK signs in recruiting …
“Not really. I don’t pay attention to that. Coach Cal is a great coach. I’m sure he’s going to have another great recruiting class coming in next year. I’m happy for them and I’m happy for the people who committed.”

On Allen entering the game averaging 27 points per game, and what that number said to him …
“That he can put the ball in the basket. I’ve known him from the AAU circuit and I know he’s a great player. But, you know, our defensive schemes worked. I paid a lot of attention to the scouting report and it worked. I would just like to say Grayson, he is a great player and Duke is a great team. It was a great game.”

On what their scheme was against Allen …
“We didn’t want him to catch and shoot and we didn’t want him to get straight line drives. I was just trying to stay in front, keep him in front of me. I wasn’t necessarily trying to stop him, I was just trying to contain him, and force him to take tough twos.”

On what kind of statement he thinks they may have made with their win over Duke …
“I mean, we still have a lot of room for improvement. We’re getting better day by day. It was a game, we won the game, and we just have to come here and practice today and just get better.”

On how much fun it was to play on that stage …
“It was fun. I love the environment. That’s the kind of thing I live for.”

15, Isaac Humphries, F:

On what he learned the most from Chicago … “I think that just personally I learned that I can compete against bigger bodies. I personally know that I do better against a bigger body as opposed to like smaller people. I just got a bit more confidence back and stuff like that.”

On how he feels he’s coming along with his goal of competing at the collegiate level … “Yeah, I’m definitely getting better here every day as a basketball player, and it just helps that I can go up against good competition like Duke. I mean, credit to their bigs. They pushed us and it was just fun to compete with them.” 

On how Coach Calipari giving him praise after every game affects his confidence … “I think he just sees me improving every game and just doing something different every game. Just playing hard and that it just gets better and better every game. I think coming in he wasn’t really sure what I would bring, but now he’s kind of seeing a lot of the stuff that I can do. So I think he’s happy with me and that’s a good thing to know.”

On where he sees the team’s toughness level after the Duke game … “I’m really pleased with it. I think we fought a lot and we didn’t let them get back in it and kind of just pushed the win out. So, I mean, that’s always a good sign, right?”

On if he had an ‘awe’ moment when he checked in against Duke … “For sure. I wasn’t even expecting to hit the court at all. I was just expecting to be a team player that game and just contributing on the bench. When he came up to me and said I’m in, I said, ‘Me? Really? I’m going in right now?’ And I played a fair amount of minutes, so I was just determined to make sure that he was happy with putting me in and I just wanted to play hard and prove to him that I could do it.”

On what was the command on stopping Duke in the paint when he went in … “I mean I knew that when I was put in, I would have to stop Marshall (Plumlee) from getting those offensive rebounds that he was getting. It’s Marshall right? Mason (Plumlee) is the one that – they all look the same to me, I’m just not sure. I just knew that I would have to stop him from rebounding, and I missed one rebound and I was taken out, and that’s fair enough. I mean my job was to go in and rebound. That was the command, if you like.”

On where he thought he would fit in in the rotation after three games early on … “I thought I would honestly be a little lower and not really play as much as I did against Duke. I think that every game I go in and I get the chance to get in, I just play as hard as I can and show him that I can be in and just earn my minutes. I know that we have such good players on our team, and I know that my role is just to come in and play hard. Again, for me, it’s just going to be game by game.” 

On if he got any phone calls from friends and family back home about the Duke game … “Yeah a lot of people watched the game back home. It must have been on TV because a lot of my friends and family were calling me afterwards.”

On what that felt like … “It was cool. They just don’t understand what it is yet because we have nothing like it in Australia. They just think its a little basketball game, but little do they know that it was very big game.” 

On how he tries to describe it to them and if they understand basketball ... “I mean, they understand basketball, but they don’t understand the severity of how important a game like that is. I just explained to them that it’s pretty big. It’s a pretty big arena, nothing like you’ve ever seen me play in before. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain to them. But Google is their friend. They can look it up.”

On if he was nervous … “No my mentality was a little different this game because I was just expecting to be support, to be honest, from the bench, and I wasn’t really nervous because again, I wasn’t really expecting to play that much. So having that mentality really helped me because I went in and I was calm and I was like, 'Alright, I just have to get this done.’ ”

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Some Notes From Last Nights Duke/Kentucky Game

FINAL SCORE: No. 2/1 Kentucky 74, No. 5/4 Duke 63

Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky moved to 3-0 on the season. Duke dropped to 2-1.
  • This was the 21st meeting between UK and Duke. UK leads the all-time series 12-9. Kentucky broke Duke’s three-game winning streak in the series, winning for the first time since the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Duke had wins in 1998 (Dec.), 2001 and in the 2012 Champions Classic (Atlanta, Ga.).
  • This was Kentucky's largest win over Duke (11 points) since Dec. 20, 1969 (22 points)
  • This was the fewest points allowed by Kentucky against Duke (63) since March 13, 1980 (55)
  • Kentucky will return to action in Rupp Arena on Friday, Nov. 20 against Wright State. The game will tip at  8 p.m., and be broadcast on SEC Network.

Team Notes
  • With 2,181 all-time wins, Kentucky is the nation’s leader in that category. 
  • Calipari has a 638-178 all-time record, including a 193-38 mark at Kentucky. 
  • Jamal Murray made a 3-pointer at the 15:24 mark of the opening half, extending UK’s steak of games with a made 3-pointer to 943, the second-longest streak in the nation. 
  • Kentucky started with the lineup of Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee, Isaiah Briscoe, Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis for the first time this year.
    • Briscoe made his first-career start. 
  • Kentucky outscored Duke 17-5 in points off turnovers.

Game Notes
  • Guards (Briscoe, Murray and Ulis) accounted for 62 percent of UK’s points, scoring 46 of UK’s 74.
  • Kentucky had a 37-31 halftime lead.Guards (Briscoe, Murray and Ulis) scored 26 of UK’s 37 first-half points.
  • Duke scored the first basket of the game, but over a 2:54 stretch from 18:50-15:37 to play in the second half UK went on a 10-3 run to open a 47-33 lead. 
  • Kentucky did not trail in the second half.

Player Notes  
  • Sophomore Tyler Ulis led all scorers with 18 points, a career high.
    • He had a game-high six assists. 
    • He did not commit a turnover.
  • Junior Marcus Lee posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
    • He blocked two shots.
    • He has scored in double-figures in all three games this season.
    • He had five offensive and five defensive boards
  • Freshman Isaiah Briscoe scored 12 points. 
    • He has scored in double figures in both of the games he’s played in this year.
  • Freshman Jamal Murray scored 16 points and added five assists and three steals.