Saturday, December 26, 2015

UK/UofL Player and Coach Comments After Todays Game

John Calipari:

COACH CALIPARI: We spent two days doing all kind of drills to just loosen them up offensively. Let them shoot 3s in transition, getting back to how we play. We did a lot of screening in the last two, three days.

I really believe having Christmas off for these guys was great. Cleared the mind. Let's come back and let's do this. I've done that every year since I've coached. Part of it is for them, the other part is I like spending time with my on family.

But when we came back, we zeroed in on those areas and I thought it helped us today. But Louisville is a good team. They're well coached. Those guards are really, really good. The big kid, they were throwing it in and he scored on us. 10 rebounds, they out-rebounded us by 10 rebounds. We missed some free throws down the stretch and we had a chance to do some things, but it was a good ball game.

Q. Did you see the weakness in the zone for Alex Poythress in the first half? It looked like he really spurred the team from there on out?
COACH CALIPARI: We put Alex in the middle and told him to attack. That's what he did. Then I love the fact that Tyler(Ulis)  just threw him the ball down low and he posted and he was -- Alex is an elite athlete. Be that guy. Just play. Be that guy. Did you see the block he had coming down in front of our bench? It was ridiculous. Only Superman can make that play. And he made it.

So, again, we're still coming along. Skal (Labissiere), I wanted to leave him in the game. That one rebound he could not bring in. We got to win the game. I told him, you're getting better, you're way better, let's just keep this going and see what happens.

Q. Can you talk about putting Alex on Marcus Lee on that last possession for Louisville.
COACH CALIPARI: It was a switch. They switched out. That's what happened. We were just -- we told them to, if he comes off, just someone else take him. We were going to -- as a matter of fact, the goofy coaches, we were thinking about trapping a pick and roll. So thank God they didn't pick-and-roll because someone would have made a three and we would have lost by one. But I just didn't want to sit there and let them dictate what was going to happen. So, if they had gone pick-and-roll, we were trapping.

Q. Talk about the importance of Dominique's (Hawkins) offense other than when he passed up that last shot, but the shots that he made –
COACH CALIPARI: I had a flashback. What was the flashback to? What game? Oh my gosh -- how do you remember all this? And then what happened? The other guy came down and banged a three and we lose by one. Why do you bring that up?

He played good. He played good. We got to get Jamal (Murray).  Jamal's got to try to make easy plays. He's still trying to make the most difficult play. But he's going to be fine. He made 3s that really broke open the game. He's a great free throw shooter who went 3-for-6. So his numbers -- the turnovers, a lot of the stuff he tried to go all the way into the middle of the lane before he passed. He really didn't need to. And it's stuff that just we got to show him on tape and correct and that.

But it's great win for this group. They do know this is who we have to be and how we have to play. That kind of energy, that kind of aggressiveness, that kind of attack, that kind of loose offensive, how we played. And again, that's against a really good team. That team, Louisville's going to do damage and I don't know how we'll finish, but they will be one of those teams left standing. We may have them again.

Q. What did you think of the atmosphere tonight, especially at the end of the first half after the technical foul?
COACH CALIPARI: This is Rupp Arena. This is what Rupp Arena is. I just look up, I think it's 2:22, to make sure there's people in those upper deck seats and there are. They're packed in there. So we're good.

Q. How did you see -- what did you see that was different about Tyler today. It seemed like finally whatever's been bothering him, whether it's elbow or something else, he shook it off and also why was he taking the ball out so much?
COACH CALIPARI: Because I knew he would get it in (the bucket). And then we could get it back to them. The way they play, that guy, you can throw it back to him. So, they didn't -- even when they put a guy on the ball, that guy usually is trying to trap. So, that's why we did it.

I'm giving them two days off. They get the rest of today off. And they get tomorrow, we're going to have dinner and watch the tape at my house. And then we start up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and we're going, two-, three-a-days. We're going every -- just throw your phones out, throw your computers out, because it's on. We have to get better.

And what we're going to do -- I mean, I did two things. I'm mad at myself. The 3-point shooting stuff I should have done all year. It should have been who we were. I should have known we were struggling shooting 3s. You got to free up their minds.

And the second thing was screening and making Skal screen. I'm telling you, Ty (Wynyard) screens. Like he screens. He screens. His man, your man, and your the guy coming off, y'all get screened. And Isaac (Humphries) is the same.

So, now we're doing a better job. Alex (Poythress) did a better job. Alex is in a great frame of mind. You have it to understand, before the Ohio State game he didn't practice for four straight days. I could have told you what was going to happen in that game to him. I could have told you. And I told him. You were injured, you had to take the days off, but that's who you are. When you take days off, you come back, that's what you look like. He's practiced, when we came back and he went hard and he's really proud -- I'm really proud of him.

Q. What have you done or how have you talked to Tyler about his leadership style in terms of what players he might be able to go harder on, who he might need to kind of cajole?
COACH CALIPARI: I let him figure it out because they're in that lodge together. They know who they can get on. And my staff's saying I'm too hard on Skal, and I need to back up. But I said, you know, I talked to the team about it and the reason is, if I'm going to be hard on Derek Willis, and I'm going to be hard on Dom (Dominique Hawkins), if I'm not hard on Skal, they got to know why. Maybe he can't handle it as much. You know what I'm saying? He's growing, the growing pains of this. And that was my staff. So I still kill them today, but.

This is a work in progress. It's funny, we walked in, no Isaiah (Briscoe). What? What happened? He stepped on a foot. What? Where? On the way into the building. What? And then we got to figure it out. But this guy, that may have brought us together, who knows. It may have helped us.

Q. You're saying he got hurt not in the pre-game warmups?
COACH CALIPARI: He did, he stepped on somebody's foot. I wasn't out there.

Q. So is it a twisted ankle?
COACH CALIPARI: I guess. He'll probably go X-ray it.

Q. Tyler played almost 40 minutes. Is he just a superior conditioned athlete or he plays through that fatigue or how is he able to do that?
COACH CALIPARI: He was cramping up. I was just trying to get out of the game. That's all I was trying to do. One of the things that I saw,the players at Louisville were playing 29 minutes a game -- and not the Michigan State game. That game they played 39 and 37 -- and so I said, if they're not subbing theirs, I'm not subbing mine. They're not in better shape than us. So he didn't sub his, I'm not subbing mine. Now, you know, I thought Jamal tired out a little bit. I thought Dom really fought. But Tyler figured it out. With a minute to go, whatever it was, he was cramping, I said, can you get through this? He said, I got this.

Q. I think I remember you saying Isaiah's one of the toughest the grittiest guys you got.
COACH CALIPARI: I was surprised he didn't play. But I walked in, I said, are you going to give it a try? He said, let me go out there. They came back in and said, he doesn't want to start. I looked at him and I said, do you think you're going to play the second half? He said, I don't think so. Then I had no intention of playing him after he said, I don't think so.

Q. I wonder what you think about how much grit you guys showed without him?
COACH CALIPARI: I hope he didn't get Wally Pipped. Decide to take a day off and all of a sudden -- who is the player? Lou Gehrig. Well, he's saying it's Dom. No, I don't think Dom can hit a baseball. But you know -- I'm teasing him. He knows. He's a fighter. Now what he'll do is he'll come back and kill people next week, if his ankle is healthy. Because that's how he is. The other one, I wanted to play Derek more. I think Derek gives us another threat. We can space the court. You must play him. You can't say, like Ohio State, just don't go guard the guy. No, this, you know you have to go play him. But he's got to rebound. And there were two or three big huge rebounds that we could have got the game to 16 or 18 and put it away. And he just didn't get the ball. Like I said, that's what we're working on with him. But I'm proud of him and what he did. That three he hit at the end of the half was huge. It really started shifting the momentum of the game.

Q. Forgetting about the flashbacks of what he passed up, talk about Dominique Hawkins’ game. He hits huge shots, it's a career high, the lift he gave the crowd went crazy.
COACH CALIPARI: Never changed his emotion the whole time. He defended, he'll fight like crazy, he's got a great temperament, a great demeanor. One of the great kids of all time. I mean literally one of the great kids. He's kind of like Alex, you want him to do so well, but they got to do it. You can't do it for them, you could wish it, you could hope it, you could say that's the guy you really want to make it. But they got to go do it. They got to go fight. Telling them -- part of our issue, and I said this, is our -- we needed enthusiasm and I thought we had it today and we had it for two days in practice. I demanded it. But it's kind of like we're saying, we're throwing you a life raft, but you got to swim. Like, you got to swim. And I said, and all you guys on the boat that threw the life raft, you got to say, swim. Come on, baby, you can do it. There's a shark behind you. Swim. Or you could sit on the boat and look around at each other and say, do you see that shark behind him? The shark's going to get his leg. You watch this. Watch this. Watch it. The enthusiasm that we need for each other -- and that's the story I told them -- they think I'm crazy. But enthusiasm matters. Fight matters. Obviously you got to have a skilled team and good players and I think we do, but.

Q. That makes Tyler Ulis Michael Phelps. Take us through that, the deep 3 he hit when the shot clock running down and he's out by the logo.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, courage. Courage. He's not afraid to miss. I've said to all these guys, the guys that make game winners or make big plays that are like just the knife in the back, they're not afraid to miss that shot. The guy that's afraid to miss it will ball fake it and take a tough one. That I was trying to draw a foul. No, you weren't. No, you weren't. You did not want to take that open shot, so you ball faked, you drove and you threw a lefty up and then look like I got fouled. The guy -- I had Sam Cassell. That's when I said, Sam, you, like you like throw daggers, what is it? He said, I'm not afraid to miss. If I miss, I go to the next game and I'll try to throw a dagger next game. If I miss that one, I know eventually I'm going to make it, because I'm not afraid to miss it. And that's Tyler.

Q. Jamal had the big second half against Ohio State and then struggled today. Alex I think you said struggled, then big game today. How much going into each game are you kind of looking to see what am I going to get today how am I going to handle it?
COACH CALIPARI: No, I'm not. I'm trying to get them to play the way I'm asking them to play. If I'm getting that they don't have to make every shot. It's like I told Derek, he missed that three in front of our bench, I don't care about that. It was the rebound you didn't get the play before that cost us a basket and one. I can't leave you in the game. Like if you rebound the ball, you can miss a shot. It's even. Even Steven. But, you don't get the rebound, and you miss the shot, and you get beat on defense, I can't leave you in. Oh, he takes him out. No, I'm trying to win. You won't believe this. We're trying to win the game.

So they understand it. And I told them and he's, he's doing great. He's practicing good. I would like him to be our stretch four. I like him to be Alex's sub. I would like Skal or one of those bigs to be Marcus Lee's sub. I would like Dom, Charles Matthews, to be that guard sub. That's who I would like. But they got to do it. They got to earn it.

Q. Speaking of enthusiasm, your kids did respond, could have been a coincidence after the T, what was going well for you in that stretch when you built that big lead?
COACH CALIPARI: I think he got a T, too, didn't he? Mine was not deserved. His probably was deserved. I don't know. I'll watch the tape. Merry Christmas, everybody.

                                                   Kentucky Players:

#3, Tyler Ulis, G:

On the win …
“It was a great team performance and we came out with a lot of energy from the jump ball. As a team I feel like we played really hard and that’s what got us the win.”
On his made deep 3 in the second half with the shot clock running out …
“The clock was running down. I had no choice but to shoot it. I shot it in rhythm and it went in.”

On Dominique Hawkins’ performance … “Great performance with Zay (Briscoe) being out. He came in and hit two big free throws that probably put the game away for us.”

On UK’s veterans playing well …
“I realized late in the first half and early in the second that Alex had it going and that they could not guard him. Alex knew they couldn’t guard him. We kept going through him.”

#22, Alex Poythress, F:

On the stretch where he had an assist and three straight layups ...
"We just tried to have energy. We ended the first half with energy and so we tried to play that way in the second half."

On playing tougher today ...
"Every time we want to come out and make a statement. This is a big rivalry and we wanted to make a statement. We came out and wanted to compete."

On UK’s veterans stepping up ...
"This is the kind of game that veterans have. We have played Louisville before and the freshmen may not know how big of a game that it is. We had to step up and they will figure out that in big games you have to make plays."

#25, Dominique Hawkins, G
On the game …
“It was a big game, I’m so glad I was able to get the opportunity to play in this game today. I’m blessed. This was a huge rivalry game and I know what it means to Kentucky folks so I think everyone is pretty happy today.”

On what made him play so well today …
“I had a good warmup plus this was a big game. I feel like I play better on bigger stages as well. I was also very confident today. Every shot I threw up I thought it was going to go in.”

On his thoughts after being told Briscoe wasn’t playing today …
“I was thinking that it is my shot and I would probably get a lot of playing time today, which I did. Briscoe would have been great for this game getting in the lane and getting open shots for people as well.”

On the atmosphere in Rupp Arena …
“It was insane. I think it was the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in to be honest. Definitely at Rupp.”

                             Louisville Assistant Coach Ralph Willard:

Opening statement…
“I thought our guys did a great job coming out and competing in the second half.  They made some really, really tough shots, shots that normally you wouldn’t want to take in that kind of situation. But they made them and you’ve got to give them credit.  They did a great job.  We fought 3s that they made in the last 10 minutes of the second half and that really, really hurt us.  And the shot clock, inside the six seconds, they had the fortitude to bang them.  So very difficult for our guys, proud of the fact that they came back and battled.  Now we’ve just to work.  The important thing at this time of the year is, ‘Why?’ Not ‘what.’ So we’ve got to go back and look at the form and dissect it and figure out why that happened.”

On the strategy for the last play of the game…
“Well, we were looking for Damion (Lee) off the high screen. They did a good job; they switched and we had Nanu (Onuaku) posting up inside.  If they did switch, we had to throw inside, unfortunately.  The guy did a great job of switching to Damion and he didn’t and see it and took, unfortunately, a less than perfect shot.”

On the bench’s attitude when down by 16 points…
“It was just a matter of getting stops.  We weren’t getting stops.  The last three minutes of the first half until the first two and half minutes of the second half, we weren’t getting stops.  And we just started to make a few adjustments in the zone and it worked out pretty well.  And our guys just dug in.  I mean, these kids have character.  This team is not going to surrender. They’re never going to surrender. And we had a chance to come back and win the game, which is what you want in a game on the road against a very good basketball team.  But I guess, they made some really tough shots so you have to give them credit for it.  It takes a lot to make those shots.”

On Onuaku’s foul trouble early on…
“It kills us.  But unfortunately it’s been a recurring story.  Not the kind of fouls (you want), both of them were offensive.  I don’t know how we got the second one on a handoff, so I don’t see how that happened.  But the bottom line is we need him in the game.  We can’t pull him out and play three or four minutes in the first half. Unfortunately, that’s what happened.  You’ve got to adjust, and we have adjusted up until the last three minutes of the first half.”

On the team’s maturity…
“Yeah, you know, this team is really together.  A lot of young guys who are trying to feel their way. Damion is hurt obviously, so he’s just getting back into shape.  And those guys provide great leadership to the younger guys.  They really do.  And they’ve been really positive and will continue to be positive as we move forward into the ACC.”

On how the freshmen are playing…
“We believe they’re further along than they were.  The biggest thing with these freshmen is getting them experience.  Unfortunately we have a schedule…when you schedule the teams that you’d like and unfortunately for us the teams didn’t present as big a challenge as we would have liked.  So they got experience, but they didn’t get the experience of fight.  This was an experience of fire.  This was an experience of fire.  Michigan State was an experience of fire. So we fight and we find out that basically, our freshmen have ability but they’ve got to get experience.”

On going into ACC play…
“I think we know we have character.  We know we have fight.  We know that we have guys that play for one another and are very unselfish.  The thing we’ve got to continue to get better at is expanding our offensive game, getting the ball inside a little bit more. Hopefully we will make an attempt to do that as we move into the ACC season.  But we’re looking forward to the season.  We think we’ve grown and we need to continue to grow. And like I said, we need to find out why the Michigan State loss happened and why the UK loss happened.  If we do that, we’re going to continue to get better, which is the name of the game.  It’s all about heart.  Not minimalizing what happens now, but the goal is to continue to get better as March approaches and that’s going to be our goal.”

On if they thought about getting out of zone…
“Well, we did play some man and the zone is a match up. Look, they had four of the deepest 3s and you have to give them credit. But if you had to say would you want UK to be going inside in that situation or would you want to take a 26-foot 3, well they want to take a 26-foot 3.”

On Tyler Ulis’ play
“He’s outstanding. If you looked at everything tonight he was the difference. It was a two-point game but he was the difference. He controlled it, he gave a lot of other people shots, and he made a lot of tough shots. He is a difficult guard to speed up and play against.  Again though, it’s five on five not one on five.”

On the team’s confidence after two road losses…
“No, I don’t at all. You are talking about two teams with RPIs in the top-10, road games two points in one game and we were winning until the last two minutes in one game. So no, I don’t think it’s a matter of taking hits at all.  It’s a matter of those kind of games helping you in your RPI.”

On Quentin Snider…
“Q played well. He backed off a few times of the 3s and that is just a matter of time and score. Q is going to continue to be a guy on our team that makes the team better. And again, he is a sophomore. He is continuing to get better game by game and day by day and week by week. We are very happy where Q is and we think he going to be better when we get into January and February.”

On Donovan Mitchell…
“Donovan is great. He comes off the bench and scores. He is a great athlete and he can get to the rim. He did a good job coming off the bench and giving some energy. Like a lot of freshmen, defensively, he’s got to continue learn to accomplish during a possession and with certain personnel.”

                                             Louisville Student Athletes: 

#0, Damion Lee, G:

On the game as a whole…
“It was a tough game. The first half we gave up a lot of baskets, a lot of offensive rebounds, a lot of 3s. We weren’t really playing our game. We just didn’t execute down the stretch.”

On the last play of the game ...
“In my mind I didn’t want to leave the game in the refs’ hands knowing that we were down two. I am confident in myself and my game and I wanted to go for the kill.”

On what they learned from the game …
“We fight, but we have to end that fight with the end of the game. Our two losses were against two great teams and the games were both pretty balanced, but we came out with losses so for us it is finishing and executing later on down the stretch because in ACC play we are going to go up against some hostile teams.”

On the emotional effects of the game …
“For us we have to have more of a sense of urgency. That would be the emotion that I would give us. And what we do, preparation and execution when we are out there in the game.”

#45, Donovan Mitchell, G:

On the difference in the game …
“We came in the locker room and said this is not Louisville Basketball. We need to come out with more energy. We came in the second half like that. There were a few plays that were pretty good but we made a bunch of mistakes defensively. That’s one thing that we will work on when we get back. Just focusing on time and score and especially on the boards.”

On the 3 point shooting of UK …
“Yeah sometimes you have to live with those shots. Credit to them for knocking those down. Some of those shots were far away but we knew they were going to pull them. Coach even yelled ‘get up, get up.’ We were a little bit late getting there and those shots ended up costing us the game.”

On Chinamu Onuaku getting in early foul trouble …
“It showed today. Definitely having a player as dominant as him out the whole and we get down 10. He came in, he was aggressive in the second half, didn’t show any rust or anything. He just came in and took over and that was what we needed.” 

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