Monday, January 30, 2017

De'Aaron Fox A Finalist For Bob Cousy Award

 Kentucky floor general De’Aaron Fox is among 10 finalists for the 2017 Bob Cousy award, which annually honors the nation’s top point guard, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Monday. 

Fox is one of four freshmen to make the list of 10 finalists, joining NC State’s Dennis Smith, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Washington’s Markelle Fultz.

Faced with the unenviable task of replacing the 2016 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year award winner, Tyler Ulis, Fox has filled his shoes admirably and made his own mark as one of the nation’s fastest and craftiest players. Fox is currently averaging 15.9 points, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals. His 5.7 assists per game ranks 23rd in the country, fourth among all freshmen and first in the SEC, while his 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the conference. His 120 assists are slight behind where Ulis (124) sat through the first 21 games last season when he went on to break the school’s single-season assists record.

Fox already has a team-leading four double-doubles by way of points and assists, which includes his historic triple-double against Arizona State – the second triple-double in school history and first since Chris Mills did it Dec. 27, 1988. The Houston native has 10 games of six assists or more.

The Houston native is also among the players listed for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Oscar Robertson Trophy and Wayman Tisdale Award for the nation’s player and freshman of the year, respectively.

The Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award is named after Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic and Holy Cross guard Bob Cousy. The award is in its 14th year of recognizing the top point guard among Division I players. 

A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates in October and the same committee trimmed the list to the midseason list of 10 finalists. The winner will be announced at the ESPN’s College Basketball Awards show on April 7.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kentucky Player Pre-Kansas Press Conference QUOTES

Kentucky Players

#0, De’Aaron Fox, Freshman, G:

On the guard matchup against Kansas … “You obviously look forward to playing good players and good teams. They got a lot of veterans that know what they’re doing. It’s going to be a fun matchup.”

On if he felt like he didn’t have his top speed against Tennessee coming off his ankle injury … “I feel like it’s always going to be like that coming off of an injury or being hurt. Just getting my rhythm back and just trying to get ready to play.”

On what they took from the Tennessee game … “We just didn’t come out with energy. We didn’t really play well, they hit some tough shots and we lost the game. Right now we’re just getting back to detail. Just focusing on little things.”

On why the energy wasn’t there … “I don’t know. Some days you just don’t bring energy and we just didn’t bring it last game.”

On Coach Cal saying Bam Adebayo is beginning to ask for the ball more … “We know he can pass the ball and he’s not selfish at all. I mean, we know we gotta make an emphasis to get him the ball and sometimes just feel like we can’t make the pass or – I don’t know what goes through the other players’ heads. I try to get him the ball as much as I can, and if they don’t double we know he’s going to score, and if they do double we know he’s going to make the right play.”

On if it’s difficult defensively to not be called for fouls but stay aggressive … “Yeah, it is. Sometimes you just have to have a feel for how they’re calling the game. Most games are called differently. At that point it’s just adjusting.”

On Kentucky’s defense breaking down late in shot clocks … “We know teams aren’t going to try to come down and shoot the ball in 10 to 15 seconds with us just because that’s how we want them to play. But when teams start holding the ball for 20, 25 seconds and then getting a shot, sometimes our defense breaks down. Playing defense that long, it’s hard to play defense that long. Just gotta be extremely disciplined and sometimes we just breakdown. That’s what they did the whole game and they were successful at it.”

On knowing when to attack offensively and when to move the ball … “Even when you’re passing around everyone should always still be in attack mode. When we don’t have it in transition, it’s just pull it out and then run something. But I mean, I feel like you should always stay in attack mode.”

On how close he feels like he is to taking over the team where Coach Cal doesn’t need to make calls from the bench … “It’s still comes down to me just learning how to play, learning how everybody’s playing and just knowing what he wants exactly. As a point guard, you want to be the extension of coach on the court. Sometimes it’s just the relationship with the coach so you can read his mind and he can read yours. He doesn’t really have to say anything for you to know what to tell your teammates.”

On what a game like Saturday’s is like to prepare for as a player … “Of course it’s difficult to prepare for because it’s such a good team and they have such good players at every position, but it’s something that you want out of a competitor if it’s any sport.”

On what concerns him about going against older, veteran guards … “Just someone with the experience, has a savvy that I don’t have. He’s been here for years and he’s been in big games like this. I’ve only played in a few. He has the experience that I don’t, but at the end of the day you gotta go out there and play.”

On how important it is for the guards to not get caught up in the one-on-one battles Saturday … “I mean, it’s extremely important just because our guards aren’t the only players. We still have Bam, Wenyen (Gabriel), Derek (Willis), guys in other spots that can contribute. I mean, I can’t speak for anybody else. It’s a matchup of course, but it’s not a one-on-one game; it’s not a two-on-two game.”

On if he could tell the team was “slipping away” from what made them so good earlier in the year … “Honestly, for me, I saw we weren’t getting the transition buckets that we were getting the past few weeks where the ball wouldn’t even touch the floor. It’d be pass, pass, pass, layup. I could see that we weren’t doing it as well just because our defense, we haven’t been talking as much. In practice, it’s really just the little things. Like, it’s not big things that actually caused us to lose that last game. It was just little things. That’s what we’re just trying to touch up on this weekend and get ready for this game.”

On how Isaiah Briscoe has responded to the past few games … “In practice he’s picked up his energy. In the game he had 14 rebounds, so he’s been doing stuff other than scoring. When you’re not scoring, when you can do something else that’s great just because you don’t have to always score to contribute to your team. I think that’s what he does.”

On if he gets “geeked up” for a game like this because it’s Kentucky and Kansas … “I mean, for me I’m not going to get geeked up. I know what Kansas is; they recruited me. I know about tradition. I know about all that. It’s going to be a big game, but I just feel like you gotta stay level-headed and go through every game the same.”

On both teams coming off losses … “Honestly, it made me feel better when I found out they lost, just so we’re not the only team coming off a loss. … If we both came off losses or if we both came off wins, it’s going to be a big game no matter what.”

#25, Dominique Hawkins, Senior, G:

On what they have focused on since the loss …
“We’re just touching up on some stuff, like communication and being able to be more focused and paying attention to what Coach is teaching us.”

On what is special about Kansas’ backcourt …
“They got a tremendous backcourt. I remember last year playing against them. They did really well against us. We’re going to have to contain them in some sort of way.”

On what they learned from last year’s matchup with Kansas’ backcourt …
“That they’re very aggressive and they can score in many ways. They’re pretty much kind of just like us. They push the ball up the court, try to score in transition.”

On where the team is defensively …
“We’re improving. It’s only January right now, so every day in practice we just want to continue to be better and communicate with each other on defense. Hopefully we get better every day.”

On whether communication is the big thing on defense …
“I feel like it is, definitely. We need to communicate more and be more focused and pay attention to the scouting report.”

On the importance of not getting in a one-on-one battle with Kansas’ guards …
“It’s very important. Coach is going to calm us down. We’re going to be very hyped for the game and once the game starts Coach probably will calm us and we’ll just have to play basketball, as we love to, but you never know what will happen.”

On what happens in players’ minds when they stop listening to the coach …
“I guess it’s having a young team, is what happened. Guys don’t really focus in on what Coach is saying and they just want to play basketball the way they do. We’re going to have to learn how to play basketball together and the way that Coach Cal wants us to.”

On the talk about UK needing to win this game to remain in contention for a No. 1 seed …
“I just think we need to come into the game relaxed and just play the game that we’ve been playing early on during the season. Whatever will happen at the end is what’s going to happen.”

On whether GameDay adds more incentive to play well …
“I just think—it’s probably motivation for a lot of other people, but I just look at it as another game. I feel like a lot of people view our games and are watching on TV as well, but this one’s just going to get a little bit more extra attention.”

On whether that’s the advice he would give to younger players about GameDay …
“Yeah, that’s what I would give to them. It’s just another game. It’s going to be crazy in Rupp, probably the loudest of the season, but just take it one game at a time.”

On how much they hear about getting the ball into the post …
“We hear it a lot, but there’s just some times that we feel that there’s another play that we could make. Bam, as he is, he doesn’t holler for the ball at all times, but sometimes he’s wide open and we need to get him the ball more.”

On whether it can be difficult at times to get the ball to Bam Adebayo …
“It’s difficult at times because they know that Bam, he’s a tremendous player when he gets the ball in the post and it’s hard to get it to him because they’re usually denying him already to trap him.”

On this being an opportunity to bounce back from a loss …
“We’re just going to take it as another game. We know that everybody’s attention is on it. It’s a big game to everybody else, but it’s just another game for us, a regular-season game, and we just want to come out and compete.”

Calipari's Pre-Kansas Press Conference QUOTES

Head Coach John Calipari:

On if it’s a coincidence so many highly ranked teams lost this week …
“First of all, I didn’t know. You know me well enough. I could really care less. I’m only worried about my team and coaching my guys. We all had road games, and tough schedules. I don’t know. I mean, our issues probably aren’t what other guys’ issues are. Everybody has their own thing they’re dealing with.”

On where the team is defensively at this point in the season …
“Are you sure I said February? I may have said March. We’re a ways away, and I’m trying some different things. You know, you demand and then you watch and if there’s certain things that guys can’t do then you can’t ask them to do stuff they can’t do at this point. But you push them and challenge them. You try and then it gets to the point where you have to say, ‘You’re not going to be able to do this,’ and then you figure out how you play. I don’t ever want to short the kids. I want to give them every opportunity to be out there and play the way we play. We’re doing some good stuff.”

On the team’s response to the Tennessee game this week …
“They were good yesterday. They were really good. And again, if you demand a lot, you get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, you’re going to get it every time. By us not passing the ball, they must have thought that’s not what we’re demanding. So yesterday we did some things to make them pass and they did some things just to pass. And this is, for all you Basketball Bennies, just like a simple thing. When the ball comes to you, you either shoot it, drive it right away. You drive it or shoot it, pass it to the post, but don’t hold it. Just don’t hold the ball. You’ve got things you can do. Shoot it, drive it, post it; if not, don’t hold it. That means you’ve got to just get rid of it, and that’s what we did yesterday and we looked better. You know they’ll go into a game and they’re going to revert. Somebody’s going to get it and he’s going to back up and watch this and then the defense sinks in and you get absolutely nothing. Then you shoot a step back jumper with your feet, toes up, fade away, and say, ‘I almost made it! I can make that shot!’ Yeah, one out of six, but we can’t win. Let me just say this is a great group of kids and they’re trying. They’re just really young. They’re a young group.”

On if De’Aaron Fox’s ankle affected him at Tennessee …
“No, it’s just his decision-making was just horrendous. He made some shots, which he hadn’t made, but there were five drives that, ‘Why did you do that?’ Again, if I catch it and they’re all in there, probably don’t want to go that way. Probably want to just throw it to somebody else and let them go. But, wasn’t just him. We had everybody catching the ball and just holding it. Then you’re going down on the other end and what were they doing? [Gestures passing a lot.] And then you’re coming down – I think we took 15 shots in one pass or no passes. You can’t do that. Can’t win a game. You can’t win a game. Unless they’re just so bad that they can’t get back and guard you. And they’re – Tennessee’s good. You know, look this is all – I keep telling you that this is January. Thank God it’s January. And tomorrow’s still in January? Thank God tomorrow’s still in January. And you know, we’re playing a top-ranked team that has veteran guards, that understands their freshmen and is as good as any of our freshmen. They play inside-out. Bill (Self) does a great job. They’re good. They drive the ball like we drive the ball. Difference is they shoot 42 percent from the 3. So if you say, ‘Well, we’re going to get in here,’ well, they make 3s. That’s what they do.”

On if the UK staff charts the number of passes before the shot it taken …
“We haven’t, but they watched film of three weeks ago where the ball moved and what kind of shot we created for each other. Listen, if you want to have fun, play harder than the other guy, dive on the floor, talk like crazy to your teammates, cover your teammates, swarm, and know you’re getting covered for and then create easy shots for each other. You’ll have a ball playing. Now you got to win at the end of the day, but you’ll have a ball playing. You don’t do all those things the other team has a ball playing.”

On guards lacking confidence trying to get the ball into the post…
“I don’t think so. I just think they like having that ball in their hands, ‘Let me show you what I got.’ I think they got a little bit of that, but that’s what happens when you play with a bunch of young kids. It’s stuff that we deal with every year.”

On dealing with media distractions …
“Well, the media. You want me to do this as Donald Trump would do it? I said President Trump, excuse me. I will tell you that there’s clutter, and you all are a part of the clutter. Sometimes you’re writing that they’re the best in the world, they’re the best there’s ever been. That’s poison. You can drink that stuff and die. The other side of it is the negative stuff, and it starts breaking down teams. So you don’t listen to it. How about part of the media is all these draft boards? How about part of the clutter becomes the people around that? And I always say, you know, ‘They love you more than they love this team.’ That’s just how it is. Now, that’s not just in this program; it’s in every program. You’ve got to keep the clutter away, and you’ve got to be about your teammates. You got to know we’ve got to come in in understanding that if we’re starting a race and we’re way behind because we’re not ready, they’re the aggressor, when you catch up, they look around and they run a little faster. You catch up, and they look around and, by the third time you let go of the rope, ‘I can’t catch them.’ All because you weren’t ready coming in saying, ‘I’m playing harder than these dudes. We’re coming after them.’ It’s all that kind of stuff. The clutter? Sometimes you’re worried about six months from now. I’ve always tried to keep teams in the moment. Don’t worry about that. You worry about now. You do your best every day and that stuff plays out fine, but it’s hard. How about if you guys were their age --18 and 19 (years old)? You wouldn’t go to the draft boards? You would not go to the draft boards every day? Every day? You would go four times a day. You look, ‘Where am I drafted?’ And if you started going the wrong way, you would probably think, ‘I got to shoot more. I got to hold the ball a little bit.’ No. Or someone’s trying to tell you how to play. And you say, ‘Well, who was telling you that?’ ‘Well, the guy was cutting my hair and he was trying to tell me’. Oh, so you’re going to listen to the barber now? I mean, it’s all stuff that we deal with, with young kids. That’s why I say you got to have relationships with these kids. It’s a different day in age. They all talk to each other.”

On how Carlton Bragg Jr.’s absence will affect UK …
“I don’t know. I mean, I am just worried about how we are playing and, you know, what they are going to do. We don’t know what they are going to do. They may go zone. They may go triangle and two. They may trap the post. They may go small and make us go. So whether he plays or doesn’t play – and I guess he is not playing, I don’t know, I haven’t read a whole lot on it – but at this stage I am not worried about them. I am worried about us. Let’s have a great practice – even though it is going to be shorter. Let’s really get something out of this and go play as well as we can play. That is it.”

On UK’s guards not trying to go one-on-one with Kansas’ guards… 
“I think both of us. You have two teams that drive the ball and you are having teams that when there is bumping and grinding they are calling fouls and that is bad for both teams. You know, because now you are going to go into your bench.”

On Bam Adebayo’s post play …
“I am just trying to tell them, ‘Do I have to call plays for you to throw him the ball? Do you really want to play that way?’ Just if he is open, throw it to him. Just have in your mind I am looking at him first. If I don’t have something, I am trying to get him the ball. But, you know, he is the greatest kid. He doesn’t say anything. He wants to go against Tai (Wynyard). Why do you think he wants to go against Tai every day? Yes. He wants it. He wants somebody who is not going to make this easy for me. ‘Get Tai. You guard me.’ It is great to see and it is great to see his improvement. Again, we are not a one dimensional, just throwing inside. I mean, we have guards. We can space the court, but we take advantage of stuff. And again, we don’t know how they are going to play. We could be sagging. They could be playing a triangle and two and put a guy on him. Find him in the post. There are all kinds of stuff that they could try to do.”

On two teams that have been good for so long playing …
“I wish it wasn’t now I wish it was earlier. It was kind of like our North Carolina game in Vegas. I mean, at this point I bet if you ask people who won that game, they would say, ‘You know what, I don’t know, but wow what a game it was.’ We went to an overtime game down there last time we played them and that was in their building. We’re a different team and they’re different. I mean, they have the guards back, but they’re different. It’s just two programs trying to get better. I would imagine Bill is trying to figure out his team as I am trying to figure out our team.” 

On the early release of NCAA Tournament seeding in February …
“No, I like transparency. So we don’t – on Selection Day, ‘Bang, you’re an eight seed. What? So now as you go you have an idea of where it is—just be transparent. I think all the things they’re trying to do where the No. 1 seeds get to pick where they’re going to play (is great). So if you’re the No. 1 (overall) seed, which region do you want to be in? Why do they have to pick it? Why can’t you pick it? What’s the difference? Well, it’s power. What? What’s right for the kids? Let them pick. You’re the No. 2 seed, where do you want to play? What region? You’re the No. 3 seed – what region? You’re the fourth seed?  Here’s where you’re going. They’re all gone. I mean, it’s better that way. It’s more transparent, and I think they’re moving in that direction, which I think is good and I think opening up. They do it in women’s basketball, right? They do it in baseball. They do it in football. Why shouldn’t we do it in basketball? ‘Because we don’t.’ What? ‘We don’t because we don’t.’ I mean, everybody else is doing it do it. I like it.”

On Isaiah’s Briscoe’s confidence …    
“He is a confident kid he just has to have a little more energy in these games. I don’t know he’s been zapped a little bit, but it’s a long season, folks. I mean, I’m telling you I walked out and Rick Barnes looks at me and says, ‘Every game you play is like this.’ Well, I’m not playing. How about if you’re them? And you’re all freshmen. And you’re walking into a sellout and the people are going crazy. And guys are jumping this high. And they make all kinds of shots they have never made all year. And then the game is close at the end and you better make good decisions. And you’re an 18-year-old, and then you got the coach yelling and sweating and screaming, and a guy doesn’t wipe up the water.”

On comparing Kentucky and Kansas’ traditions … 
“Well, they both have great tradition. I remember when I was there – Coach (Ted) Owens is going to be at practice today – who got me in this profession. We were in Allen Fieldhouse in the old locker room, and they had literally a shower that was 50 years old and I’m thinking, ‘Phog Allen showered in this shower.’ They had a good shower and that old one. I always went in the old one. And from Wilt Chamberlain, you think of Jo Jo (White), all the guys that played there and all the guys (that played here). It’s two programs so I’m hoping Joe, Coach Hall is here today. I know I was trying to get those guys to come in too. We will see.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

Kenny Payne Pre-Tennessee Press Conference Quotes

Associate Head Coach Kenny Payne

On if De’Aaron Fox will practice today …
“Don’t know yet. I think he’s day-to-day. Waiting to hear. That’s all I’ve got on him.”

On what Fox means to the team …
“A lot. I think you saw a little bit of the adjustment that we had to make. We went through a spell where, without him, we were a little confused and discombobulated, but we got it together, which is a great sign of a good team that – with any missing piece – can win games.”

On what made him recommend playing Dominique Hawkins at the point guard position to Coach Calipari …
“I think the fact that he doesn’t turn the ball over. I think Isaiah (Briscoe) has done a great job, but I also think that he can play both on and off the ball. If turnovers are the issue, which – in spells – has been an issue, we go through a four- or five-minute stretch where we’re turning the ball over and give it to somebody that doesn’t turn it over. It stabilizes us.”

On how Hawkins has always found a way to be ready when he is needed …
“He’s been really, really steady and the most important thing that he does for this team is put pressure on the ball. That’s where we need him the most. He’s been good for us. I’d like to see him get more shots and be a more aggressive offensive player. He’s done a really good job.”

On how Isaiah Briscoe has helped in the absence of Fox …
“I can’t begin to tell you guys – I don’t know how much of this you know – but from last year to this year, Isaiah Briscoe is not the same basketball player. Not mentally, not physically. He’s at peace with his self. He’s playing the best that he has ever played. It’s not talked about a lot, but he should be really commended on what he’s done this year.

On what he means when he says Briscoe is at peace with himself …

“(He’s) playing within his self and being confident and assured of who he is and what he is as a player. Some people will look at him and say, ‘He’s not a point guard.’ I would say to you, ‘Do your homework.’ He is a point guard, but he can guard four positions out there on the court. (He’s) invaluable to this team.”

On Isaac Humphries and how he has been playing lately …
“I think Isaac has been playing with more energy, more toughness. (He’s) rebounding the ball and giving us consistent, steady minutes when Bam (Adebayo) is off the floor. He’s been good.”

On Briscoe not getting the same attention as Monk and Fox … “I think it’s easier to talk about Malik (Monk) and De’Aaron (Fox) because they’re so athletic, they’re so fast, they’re so dynamic -- along with being really young. Again, Isaiah Briscoe stabilizes this basketball team. He’s been great for us. He’s been a leader on and off the floor. He’s done everything that we could ask him to do. I think when the season ended last year, and you look at his free-throw percentage and 3-point percentage, all of that stuff has (gone up).  At times he surprises his self because he’s bragging about what he’s been shooting from three.”

On Wenyen Gabriel improving his game …
“I can’t begin to tell you what Wenyen and Derek (Willis) from that four spot has meant. The way they played the last couple of games, the last three games or so. We’ve been in battles. (I am) proud of both, really proud of Wenyen because when Wenyen was struggling his effort wasn’t struggling, it was just production. Now he’s knocking down shots, now he’s playing more confident, now he feels more reassured in what he is doing and you are seeing the real him. That is who he is.”

On the dramatic change in Gabriel’s game …
“For a high school player to walk into college basketball, there is nothing to equate to what we do. High school kids come in and they think, ‘I can play like I played in high school.’ Not at Kentucky, not here. Wenyen had to come in and the one thing that he has never changed was his effort, his energy and his effort. Now he’s learning to be an offensive player that takes open shots which Coach Cal is on him about and he’s rebounding the ball better. He’s playing excellent defense. He’s helping off the ball. He’s doing everything that we ask him to do.”

On the change from high school play to college play for Gabriel …
“I just think the competition wasn’t the same. What he played against -- I just think that in high school you can get away with being a volume shooter because there is no other player on your team besides yourself. Then when you talk about coming to college, it’s important for young people to know you gotta share. To be on a great team and play with other great players, you have to share and Wenyen has done that and embraced that, but it’s an adjustment. It’s a major adjustment from going from a high school player where I can take 30 shots to I’m going to get five, six, eight shots.”

On demanding Bam Adebayo gets more touches in the post …
“No question. I think that is the finished product of what we are trying to do as a team. If we get Bam to be more aggressive without a play being called -- meaning he sprints the floor, the ball is on the left side of the floor, he sprints the right side, he sprints over to the post, demands the ball. It’s not a play. We don’t have to force feed you, when you can get it within the flow. If he figures that part out, I mean it changes the whole dynamic of what we are.”

On Adebayo being too unselfish in demanding more touches …
“I think so. I think he is too nice and too unselfish. I really do. I think that if he had a little bit of DeMarcus Cousins’ mentality, he changes the dynamics of this team. Every game I’m telling him, ‘Take over the game for us. Dominate the game for us. Don’t sit back and let the game -- and five, six minutes, you don’t touch the ball. Say a word. That’s not who you are. That’s not how good you are. You’re a special basketball player. Go and dominate the game.’ ”

On Adebayo beginning to develop that mentality…
“No question about it. No question about it. But, again it is an adjustment. It’s an adjustment.”

On how often he has seen someone improve like Briscoe …
“Very rare. Very rare. Some people will say you are what you are. I’ll say to you that for a kid to not believe the ball is going in the hole, a year ago, from the free throw line, from the 3-point line. To going from that to, ‘You can leave me if you want to. I’m going to shoot it and I’m shooting it with confidence.’ Whether the ball goes in the hole or not, he believes that it is going in. The reason that he believes is because he put in the work.”

On Isaiah Briscoe’s 3-point shooting … 
“He takes pride in I’m not going to be the weak link from the 3-point line. The pressure is on him to continue to get better shooting it. We know that the scouting report from other teams is going to be. You’ve got to back off of somebody, let it be Briscoe. I encourage it. I think it’s good for him to prove to people that you’re not going to play defense like that against him.”

On Wenyen Gabriel and gaining confidence …
“No question. He is a good offensive player. He’s always been. The problem is between his ears. When you go out and play, you play with confidence and you live with the results. Do it within the concepts of what your coaches and what your team needs and do it with confidence and you’re good.” 

On Mychal Mulder’s possible return … 
“Mychal is still sick. Hopefully we get him back soon. We need him. He’s been playing well and we need him. We need him.” 

On the mindset going into the Tennessee game tomorrow …
“I think a couple of things. I think one, Tennessee can beat us. Regardless of what their record is, we’re playing them at Tennessee and they’re going to be hungry and aggressive against us. We’ve got to go out and play well to beat them. It is what it is. They’re a good team. They’re a tough, scrappy team. We’ve got to defend and rebound and play Kentucky basketball and be efficient.” 

On how this game compares to playing Kansas on Saturday … 
“Not with us. Every time we step out on the floor you can see it. They’re coming with their best game whether it was Mississippi State, whether it is Tennessee. We can’t afford to look ahead to anybody. We know that we can be beat by anybody.” 

On a learning experience for new players …
“I think it’s a little bit a lack of focus making easy plays. It’s more the turnovers that’s disturbing. But, we just gotta continue to be solid – get through those spells and limit them. And go out and play well.”

On there being no such thing as a trap game … 
“No. Not with us. I don’t think so. I mean if you look at everybody that we played, especially on the road – the crowd is there. It’s going to be a dog fight. We’re expecting it.”

On the younger guys dealing with a trap game …
“Coach Cal has talked about how they beat us last year, how scrappy they are, and how physical and hard they’re going to play against us. They’re very well coached and have a great coach in Rick Barnes. They’re going to be ready for us.”

On how you feel about a 9 p.m. start …
“I think as adults we worry about it. I think as kids they could care less. They probably have more energy at 9 p.m. than we will.”

Kentucky Pre-Tennessee Interview Quotes

#15, Isaac Humphries, Sophomore, Forward

On Coach Cal bragging about how well he played against South Carolina …
“Yeah, I didn’t hear anything, but if he is that’s good. I just think that, like I said a couple weeks ago, I was just trying to get out of my little funk. Yeah, I think I have. I’m, honestly, just trying to do better every game.”

On if he’s trying to think less and just play …
“Yeah, for sure. Like I said, I’m trying to not think any further than just the game on the day and that’s what it is. Just what I need to do in that game, how I can get better from last game, and that’s all for me. Not looking ahead at anything else.”

On how much better he feels about his game …
“I just feel a lot more confident, honestly. I trust myself more, I feel more comfortable out there. I just needed a little bit to get me going. I think I’m good now.”

On being more aggressive …
“For a little bit there, as I was trying to find my footing, it disappeared. That was a big issue for me. I had to kind of find it again. Through practicing and trying to get like that in practice, it came back and I’m starting to feel more comfortable with being aggressive and stuff like that.”

On his defensive development …
“I’m trying to just be active and stay in control and active on the ball-screen defense. Just bouncing and trying to be aggressive, again, on defense because you gotta be aggressive on defense as well. Trying to see both, both my man and the ball, and just trying to be aware of everything as opposed to just my guy and helping my teammates. I did have that little stint where I was just worried about my guy and not trusting myself that I can help and get back. Now I’ve gotten into it a bit and I’m comfortable with helping off my man. That’s what I’ve been working on, on defense.”

On what he remembered about last year’s game at Tennessee …
“I remember it being just a crazy atmosphere, obviously. I mean, everywhere we go it’s a crazy atmosphere. It was just a strange series of events that went down. We were up 20 and then – was it an overtime game? [Reporter: You lost in regulation.] Wow. That would kind of make it better if it was overtime. [Laughter.] I just remember it being a good atmosphere and obviously they’re a good team this year. I’m excited to play them and redeem ourselves from last year.”

On if he can see himself being a great player in 2-3 years …
“Yeah, I think so. I can see such development here. It’s crazy how everyone changes in such a short period of time. It’s just crazy to think about three, four years, but like I said, I’m not thinking about three, four years. I’m thinking about every game.”

On how often he goes against Wenyen Gabriel in practice and the development he’s seen from him …
“I go against him not a lot, but enough for him to have that experience with the big guys because, you’re right, he does go against Derek (Willis) most of the time. But we’ll be switched on each other or I’ll be playing the four and I’ll be guarding him in practice. Me being aggressive with him helps him, like you said, and you’re right, he has been playing really well. I think he’s just finding his footing and he’s finally figuring it all out for himself. I mean, he’s a freshman, he’s young – he’s probably older than me, I think he is (laughter), but he’s a freshman and it does take some time, but I think he’s figuring it out now.”

On how it helps him to defend Gabriel …
“Yeah, our different games help each other in practice and all that sort of stuff. But it’s like everyone here. Going against everyone here we get better. So, it’s just what it is.”

On what Bam Adebayo can be when he starts demanding the ball and how often he hears associate head coach Kenny Payne telling him to do that …
“Yeah, all the time, because when the ball is thrown in the post something good happens, so why wouldn’t we continuously do that? It comes from specifically what you’re talking about: Bam calling for the ball more and stuff like that. So, I think just demanding it and wanting it helps all of us because it creates everything for everyone else.”

On how different of a team they are without De’Aaron Fox …
“We’re obviously different because it’s different personnel, but I think it’s like the other day, we handled it fine. I think (Dominique Hawkins) played the point and he’s fine with it. He plays the point in practice. He slows it down a bit. He controls it. It’s just a different sort of style of play, and we have to adjust to it. It’s fine. We adapt on the run, and it’s all good.”

On why he thinks Adebayo doesn’t demand the ball …
“I mean, he obviously wants the ball, and we all want the ball, but we’re taught to be so unselfish and it’s a team thing here. It’s not about what am I doing for myself. That’s what we’ve been instilled with from day one. Honestly, I think it’s just that. I think it’s just the unselfishness of our team, everyone is happy for each other, whether we’re scoring or not.”

On Kenny Payne saying Tennessee is a team that can beat Kentucky …
“Because they have in the past, A, and two, I think they’re a really good team this year. I think anyone can beat us. If we don’t bring it anyone can beat us. They shouldn’t, but they can.”

#32, Wenyen Gabriel, Freshman, Forward

On the difference in his game …
“I think I’ve built some more confidence recently, knocking down some more shots. I feel like I’m playing my game now and everything’s just starting to come to me now.”

On whether he envisioned taking eight 3s in a game when he came to UK …
“I had those type of expectations at first. Obviously things changed at first, going through learning curves, but I’m coming back, building my confidence again as usual and kind of finding my role on the team. I’m just excited right now.”

On whether taking so many 3s is an illustration of his confidence …
“I feel like every single one is going to go in, so that’s why I’m shooting. Trying to make every shot that I’m taking.”

On the difference between high school and college …
“It’s a big change. Everything – the jump from high school to college – is real different. The physicality, the speed. You gotta learn the game real quick. You gotta learn how to play really fast now. Learning to share and play together is something we’re getting used to now as freshmen and I think we’re becoming better as a team.”

On whether college is a whole new way of playing …
“A lot carries over. I feel like we just gotta adjust how we play to the college game. My skill obviously carries over. Just being able to use that during the game and use my energy. You learn how to play harder at this level.”

On throwing his weight around more of late …
“I’m kind of just learning. Learning how I can use my weight to my advantage. It’s not always about your size. I know I’m strong. I use my strength in different ways.”

On Derek Willis’ improvement and whether the two of them face each other in practice …
“It’s funny, we don’t usually go up against each other in practice. We’ll be against different teams, but sometimes he’ll be playing the three on the other team and he’ll be playing the four or I’m three on the other team. So we’ll switch off like that. That might just be a coincidence that we both started playing good at the same time.”

On who he goes against in practice and if anyone has helped him improve …
“I’ve been going against Sacha (Killeya-Jones). I go against Isaac. I’ll be battling against the bigs, too. Sometimes I’ll get switched and I have to guard Tai (Wynyard). I think that’s probably what helped my rebounding lately. I learned how to use my strength against those big guys down low.”

On what he expects at Tennessee …
“I expect every game to be a dogfight. To be playing at Kentucky, I expect everybody’s best. I just go out there and try to play my best every game.”

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Some Notes From Kentucky's 85-69 Win Over South Carolina

Men’s Basketball Postgame Notes
South Carolina at Kentucky, Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
January 21, 2017
Attendance: 24,389

Final Score: No. 5/5 Kentucky 85, No. 24/24 South Carolina 69
Team Records and Series Notes
  • Kentucky is 17-2 overall, 7-0 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina is 15-4 overall, 5-1 in league action.  
  • This is the third time in Coach John Calipari’s eight seasons at UK that the Wildcats have been spotless through their first seven league games. 
  • Kentucky leads the series 51-11, including 27-2 in Lexington.  
  • Next for Kentucky: the Wildcats play at Tennessee on Tuesday at 9 p.m.  The game will be televised on ESPN. 

In the First Half
  • Kentucky started the lineup of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel and Bam Adebayo for the 13th time this season.  UK is 11-2 with this lineup.
  • Kentucky scored the first seven points of the game, including a 3-pointer by Gabriel, extending Kentucky’s streak of 3-pointers to 994 consecutive games.
  • Monk and Gabriel followed with 3-pointers, giving UK a 13-3 lead.
  • At that point, Fox took control with three driving layups to make it 19-6.
  • With a dunk and layup, the score went to 23-6, prompting a South Carolina timeout at 11:26. It was UK’s largest lead of the half.
  • When Derek Willis swished a baseline jumper with 9:48 remaining, it was UK’s first basket that wasn’t a 3-pointer or dunk/layup.
  • Fox left the game with 8:50 on the clock because of a sprained right ankle and did not return. 
  • Trailing 30-15, South Carolina went on a 12-0 run to get the game within 30-27. Ten of the points came after forcing UK turnovers.
  • After UK went scoreless for more than three minutes, Willis steadied the Wildcat ship with a three-pointer with 4:22 on the clock.
  • After UK built the lead back up to 47-33, SC’s Sindarius Thornwell scored five points in the final minute, capping his magnificent 20-point showing in the first half. (Thornwell finished with a game-high 34 points.)

In the Second Half
  • After South Carolina closed within 48-44 early in the second half, Monk and Willis supplied a 7-0 run to put the cushion back to 11 points.
  • South Carolina got no closer than eight points the rest of the way (62-54) as the Wildcats gradually pulled away in the final 10 minutes.
  • Kentucky led by as many as 23 points at 85-62.

Team Notes
  • Kentucky shot 58.3 percent from the field. It is the 14th time this season and seventh game in a row that the Wildcats have hit at least half their shots.
    • It is the longest streak for the Wildcats since the 1983-84 Wildcats had eight straight games of 50 percent or better.
  • Kentucky’s 85 points is the most scored this season against South Carolina. UK was just the third foe to reach 70 vs. the Gamecocks.
  • Calipari has a 679-189 (.782) on-court record, including a 234-49 (.827) mark at UK.
  • Kentucky has an all-time mark of 556-65 (.895) in Rupp Arena.  
    • UK is 129-5 (.963) at Rupp Arena under John Calipari.

Player Notes  
  • Freshman Malik Monk paced the Wildcats with 27 points, including 4 of 7 on 3-point shots.
    • This was his 11th 20-point game of the season.
    • He continued his streak of double-figure scoring in every game this season. 
    • It is his eighth game this season that he has made at least four 3-pointers.
  • Freshman Bam Adebayo notched 18 points, making 5 of 6 from the field.
    • Adebayo has now made 14 of 17 field goal attempts (.824) over the last four games
  • Playing a season-high 29 minutes, senior Derek Willis came off the bench to contribute 12 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
  • Freshman De’Aaron Fox made all three of his field goal attempts before leaving the game with only eight minutes played. He sustained a sprained right ankle.  
  • Freshman Wenyen Gabriel tallied 11 points, making three 3-pointers for the second game in a row.
    • He has averaged 10 points and 9.7 rebounds over the last three games.
  • Playing 10 minutes, sophomore Isaac Humphries contributed six points and four rebounds.  He has scored at least four points in five of the last six games.
  • Senior Dominique Hawkins had five points and a game-high seven assists while playing 28 minutes.
    • The assists and minutes were his second most of the season, only behind the nine assists in 32 minutes vs. UT Martin.
  • Senior Mychal Mulder missed the game because of illness.

College GameDay is Coming Back To Rupp

With the Kentucky-Kansas game as its backdrop, ESPN College GameDay is coming back to Rupp Arena on Jan. 28 for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

The ESPN College GameDay crew of Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg will be in Lexington on Saturday morning to broadcast its popular pregame show. The show will air live at 11 a.m. inside Rupp Arena and will air on ESPN. 

Fans are encouraged to attend the event. Admission is free for students and for the general public. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m. with paid parking available in the High Street and Manchester Street parking lots. Students in line for the eRUPPtion Zone will receive a wristband to keep their place in line. Fans may begin lining up no earlier than five hours prior to doors opening.

Normal game-day policies at Rupp Arena will be in place, including the bag policy that requires that bags do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12”. Rupp Arena will also use walkthrough metal detectors, as it has all season. For more information on the game-day policies, please click here.

The GameDay crew will broadcast live with the UK-Kansas game as the evening’s main event. Bilas, Dan Schulman and Maria Taylor will be on the call for the 6:15 p.m. game on ESPN.

In addition to ESPN College GameDay, The Paul Finebaum Show will also be in town Friday to broadcast live from the Rupp Arena lobby, just off High Street. The Paul Finebaum Show will be from 3-7 p.m. Like GameDay, fans are encouraged to attend and admission is free.

Kentucky and Kansas will meet for a third season in a row but for the first time in Rupp Arena since Jan. 9, 2005. This season’s game is the second straight matchup in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Though UK has been a frequent featured school on ESPN College GameDay – it’s the eighth straight season Kentucky is making a College GameDay appearance – it will mark the show’s first visit to Rupp Arena since Davis, Bilas and the crew attended the UK-Florida game on Feb. 15, 2014.

Next Saturday’s event will mark the sixth visit to Lexington, only behind Kansas and Duke’s seven trips. The most memorable trip was on Feb. 13, 2010, when a record 22,144 fans attended the show in John Calipari’s first season at Kentucky. Another 15,087 attended the morning GameDay show on Feb. 23, 2013.

All told, this will be UK’s 13th ESPN College GameDay appearance, behind only North Carolina (15), Duke (14) and Kansas (14). The show also featured last year’s game in Lawrence, Kansas.