Friday, January 8, 2016

Kentucky PRE-Alabama Press Conference (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

John Calipari:

On how practice has been since the LSU game …
“Yesterday was rough. We put them through one of our tougher practices. A lot of body-to-body, physical stuff. They responded fairly well. We came in this morning and shot free throws and walked through some stuff. We’ll practice here for an hour and a half and then get on the plane and go down to ‘Bama.”

On the reasons for a rough and tough practice …
“Well, we just need to rebound better. We need to create space both on offense and we need to create space when we’re trying to rebound. So we worked on all of that. It was good.”

On the improved play of Mychal Mulder vs. LSU …
“I would say right now he’s in that three-guard rotation. I thought he had great energy (against LSU). He rebounded the ball. He mixed it up. He did good stuff. Good stuff.”

On the potential of Skal Labissiere’s demonstrative performance in a game …
“Well, it’s just day-to-day. Every day you’re trying to get him better. You’re using different things. You’re doing different things. There are days he’s better than other days. A lot of it is he just has to swim. We’re here for you, but you’ve just got to swim. I mean, you gotta get lower and understand what’s happening to you and then you gotta change. But he’ll be fine. He wasn’t the issue (against LSU). We had some other guys who are veterans who gave us, you know, nothing. So, now you’re expecting him who is just trying to get his feet underneath him to do more than he’s capable of doing.”

On Tyler Ulis challenging the big guys …
“Well, Tyler even yesterday – I said yesterday, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘I’m just trying to be positive.’ Some of this stuff is, again we’re at home, we play – historically my teams have played better on the road. I’ve had one or two teams not do that. We play better (on the road) because there’s always such an expectation at home, where on the road it is kind of alleviated and you can just go play basketball. We haven’t felt that yet. We’re going into a game – and I’ll tell you watching tape, they (Alabama) play really physical. They’ve got great presence around the basket. They’re tough. They dive on the floor. They’re guards are tough. They apply pressure. This is a really hard game for us.”

On Isaiah Briscoe’s free-throw shooting …
“I would say so (that it’s mental). Well, when you’re playing in high school there’s not – you know, whatever I do is fine. And then you come here and you’re on this stage, it kind of gets you thinking a little bit. He’s gotta work his way through it. A lot of these kids it’s – I talk about mental toughness. Things don’t go right. They don’t go right. You’ve got to be mentally tough enough to bounce through that and change. ‘Ok, what I’m doing is not right, I’ve gotta take this up a notch.’ That’s mental toughness. You miss a shot? It can’t lead to three more misses because you’re still thinking about the first one. There’s no mental toughness there. Another team makes a run on you, then you say, ‘Now, it’s our turn to make a run.’ Not, it stars seeping in your mind, ‘We may lose. We may lose.’ Mental toughness is all new to these guys. It’s a brand-new team.”

On the fouls against LSU …
“I thought there was some bad fouls. Like, ‘Why did you do that?’ There were a couple that when I looked back on the tape were questionable whether they should have been called.  They out-fought us. I’m not going to argue when you’re getting beat every which way and lose.  That’s kind of when the officials do the same to you. But, there were some like, ‘Why did you foul? Why weren’t you there early? And if you weren’t there early, give them the layup. It’s not football. It’s not a touchdown.’ So, we had some of that.”

On making changes after the LSU game …
“I don’t remember talking about going back to the drawing board, but I said get back in the gym. Let’s get back to work. So there are not a whole lot of changes we’ve made.”

On if this team feels unusual to him with no consistent forward play … “Makes it hard. And we have guys that are capable; they’re just not doing it. They’re doing it now and then. When they really do it we look really good. And when they decide they’re not doing it or for whatever reason – they’re not capable of doing it – we’re not as good. The main reason is Skal (Labissiere) isn’t, he’s not ready to step into that vacuum right now. And so now we maybe take a look at Isaac (Humphries), take a look at Tai (Wynyard). Throw them in there. Let them see how they do.”

On what he’s seen from Wynyard in practice … “And again better shape. You know he just joined us. But he’s got a great temperament. He’s got a great mentality about it. If he ran up and down the court three or four times he’d probably be exhausted, but that’s OK. We have some other guys that look the same way who have been here a while.”

On if fitness is what he’s missing … “It’s not that hard. He’s a pretty bright kid, doing some good stuff.”

On how far Wynyard is from being ready …
“I don’t know. May stick him in tomorrow. May not. Just how the game goes. 

On how Alabama is different under head coach Avery Johnson … “They’re playing different. A lot of pick-and-rolls, a lot of spacing. They’re going at that big kid who’s doing well. They’ll mess with pick-and-rolls. They’re playing hard, I’m telling you. They’re diving on floors. They were up nine on Mississippi at Mississippi at half. And the game was in doubt until about two minutes to go. Then Mississippi made a basket, they made a couple errors, but it was anybody’s ballgame. So he’s doing a good job.”

On if Dominique Hawkins has returned to practice … “No.”

On if this team is comparable to the 2010-11 UK team because it struggles on the road … “No, we’re different. This is a different group, and we’ve got to do this (in) a little different way. And I keep coming back to most of this is on me to figure stuff out. I mean, if when things are going good or when a team gets it and all of a sudden you guys will throw it at me that ‘he’s figured this out,’ well, then the same thing has to hold true when we’re not doing it. Or what if Skal’s not playing well? ‘Well, he got Karl (Towns to play) well.’ I’m not getting Skal. And so I think more or less you’ve got to look at me, not these kids. I mean, we’ve done it with all kind of different teams and some of it is still trying to piece this together. Other parts of this is trying to figure out individual players. It takes time.”

On if he can predict Alex Poythress’ performances just by looking at him prior to the game … “No, you just hope that he had a great warmup and he goes in. He’s a kid, he wants to do well, but he’s still trying to figure out who he is. When things go wrong: ‘What do I do?’ It doesn’t matter that he’s been here a while. He’s been hurt. He comes back and there are times you watch him you’re like, ‘Wow.’ Then other times you’re like, ‘Is he in the game?’ That’s based on him just figuring this out and maybe us doing some different things to put him in different positions.”

On how difficult it is for Lee and Poythress to transition into their roles this year … “Hard. It’s a hard deal because it’s not every now and then, but the position they’re in now. They’ve always been in the now-and-then position. Every now and then give us a good game. Now it’s like every day. That’s hard. Everybody wants to be in that position, but the responsibility to be ready, to be prepared for a dogfight every (game is hard). Not fouling out of games, not walking, not hiding. No. Every day. And it’s hard here because this is even worse at this place when you’re on this stage. But they’re doing fine. They’re making strides. This will be interesting to find out where we are especially after what happened there (at LSU). Think about it. We had the ball down four and a guy grabbed it next to the rim and shot it completely over the rim. Just shot it completely over the rim. We had another play that was close and we had a layup and we just like could not get it in the basket on a pass. Then all of the sudden they come down: (made) 3, (made) 3. That’s when you find out, ‘OK, guys, do you understand those plays matter? That play right there. This play right here. And then when they make a 3 you don’t panic and come down and shoot a quick one.’ We’re learning. I expect we’ll play better, but you don’t know if you’re going to win or lose … until you win or lose. We’re going to get them ready and see what happens.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes:

#00, Marcus Lee, Forward

On if he’s ever fouled out of a game in six minutes before as he did at LSU …
“No. That may be a world record for anybody.”

On if that was the most frustrating game he’s ever played in from a personal standpoint …
“Personally, without a doubt. That was probably one of the most frustrating things for me just sitting there the whole time not able to help my team.”

On why he thinks the fouls mounted up …
“I think it was just things that – it was just a mismatch of me being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and also just I don’t even know. It’s been rough trying to figure that out.”

On Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray being frustrated about UK’s play inside at LSU …
“I mean, they should have. We literally had no bigs, pretty much, in the game at all. The whole game. I literally played five minutes. AP (Alex Poythress) got in foul trouble, and then we just couldn’t really get any type of flow in (from) any of our bigs as a whole. They had every right to be frustrated because it was pretty much just our guard play.”

On if Ulis and Murray did speak up …
“Definitely, especially us as leaders – me, Alex and Ty(ler) – we talked about it and tried to figure out how to avoid it next time. That’s what we try to do. We try to avoid it next time.”

On Ulis saying some UK players played scared at LSU …
“I mean, that’s how the game goes. Some people aren’t mentally ready for games like that, and that’s what these games are. If you’re not ready for it you’re able to learn from it and that’s what we did. We took the time to learn from it and try to fix it.”

On if they’ll take it as a challenge going into Saturday’s game at Alabama …
“Without a doubt. Us as bigs still struggle as having the name of weak and not strong. That’s something we’re still learning and trying to figure out.”

On if they’re happy to have another road game so soon …
“Definitely. Away games are definitely a lot tougher. Other teams are definitely more willing to play and give their all on away games. That’s just something you have to learn and figure out.”

On what’s the biggest difference bigs can make when they’re contributing like they should …
“We all have our specific jobs throughout games and throughout practice. With this team especially, when you have one part that’s not doing their job it’s obvious that’s not happening. That’s what happened last game where our bigs weren’t contributing and it was that we weren’t contributing. That’s something that we noticed immediately.”

On Coach Cal looking for a low-post presence to throw into offensively …
“That’s what the season is: It’s a process. That’s just us trying to figure out how do we get there and how do we be successful at that spot. That’s just something we’re still learning.”

On Tai Wynyard …
“I definitely think at one point he’ll be ready to add something like that. Right now we’re just trying to catch him up to the team speed and all the plays and everything. But once he gets ready and situated I think he’ll contribute a lot.”

On how practice has been since the LSU loss …
“We came back fighting more than ever. Our practice was extremely hard. There was a lot of talking and communication because that’s something we’re really struggling on in away games, and in games in general we don’t talk to each other as much. That’s something as us as a team tried to do better at, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do better is talk more and communicate as a team.”

#11, Mychal Mulder, Guard
On feeling good about getting his chance to play at LSU … “You know, I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to show that I can be trusted on the basketball floor. Just went in and worked hard, and that’s what I feel like I should bring in every game. I bring that to practice and I hope that carries over. I want our team to continue to work hard and keep getting better every day and makes sure that we keep taking the right steps to become a great team.”
On if being patient is tough at times … “I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s tough. I play with a lot of great players and the guys that are in front of me are amazing players. It’s just more of waiting for my opportunity to come, and when it does, grab it with two hands.”
On if he ever thought it would be January before he hit his first 3 … “I wouldn’t have assumed that, no. But now that the first one fell, I hope a couple fall after that.”
On what it is about him that gives him success at rebounding … “Coach Cal, he’s really into fight, rebounding, defense, stuff like that. Not strictly offense is what’s going to keep you on the floor. So when I got my opportunity to go in, I made sure I fought hard on the glass, and I felt like that’s something that he noticed.”
On if it was an accident that he said “two hands” earlier since Cal talks about it so much … “No, I meant it. Two hands is ingrained in my brain.” (laughter)
On how often does Coach Cal say “two hands” in practice … “All the time. Every time someone goes with one, we stop the play, we hear about it, we run for it. So two hands is a big deal.”
On if Tyler Ulis or Jamal Murray got after the team after the loss … “They were just disappointed overall. I think we were all disappointed, just know that we could have played so much better and stepped up to that so much stronger. It was just an overall disappointing game. But we’ve moved past it, work on the next day in practice, continue to get better, and now we’re just looking forward.”
On how often do Murray and Ulis talk after games, or was it just that game … “You know, Cal asked him to speak up because I think he thought coming from him might not be enough because when it does come from him. When it comes from someone else in the locker room, it might mean a little bit more, it might resonate with the players a little bit more. So hearing it from them I think was good for us.”
On if Coach Cal asked Ulis to speak or both players to speak …
“He asked Tyler at first. Jamal had some things to say, but he specifically asked Tyler at first. Tyler is a great leader on and off the court, so I feel like we’re getting better at all areas.”
On what the team needs to do differently on the road … “I think on the road, we just need to fight harder. We go into the game at home and we’re hyped up and I feel like we come out with great energy. Sometimes on the road, I don’t feel like we start that way. So I feel like if we jump to that kind of start, we’ll do well.”
On if he wasn’t overwhelmed by the moment of checking into a big game … “Yeah, I wasn’t overwhelmed. I had nothing to lose, right? So if you play that way and you’re not worried about anything like that, you’re just going to play hard and do what’s expected of you. I feel like that’s what I tried to do.”
On if that can be an infectious thing … “Yeah, I feel like energy in basketball, it’s such a team sport. You have such an impact on your team without you even noticing it sometimes. So if you come in and bring great energy, that’s definitely infectious, and other guys will notice that and pick up their energy as well.”
On if he was frustrated at all after not playing long in other games … “I wouldn’t say it’s frustration. If I wasn’t on this team, maybe. But this team is full of great guys and I love my teammates and they’re so talented. So it’s not like I’m playing behind bad players. I was just trying to work hard for my moment and make the most of my opportunity when it came, and that’s what I feel like I was trying to do.”
On if he was chomping at the bit to make a mark at shooting since the team wasn’t shooting well early on … “Yeah, you know, sometimes we didn’t shoot the ball really well. I’m not really sure why that is. We have a lot of great shooters on the team, so sometimes it just doesn’t fall. But I knew when I got my opportunity I would make the most of that, especially in that area because that’s kind of my specialty. I was just waiting for that.”
On if his shot was where it needed to be all season, considering they weren’t falling in practice … “I mean, shooters get hot and cold, I guess. I’ve been shooting the ball pretty well lately. Early in the season, maybe not so much. So I feel like that had a little impact on it. But as I said, I’m more focused on the team getting better. Obliviously personal goals, stuff like that, but it all revolves around how the team is doing and what we’re going to do in the future.” 

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