Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

Feb. 6, 2013

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Head Coach John Calipari

Q. How do you feel with everything that you've tried to work and all that have and you're only a game out of first place in the league?

COACH CALIPARI: What happened, Florida lost?

Q. Florida lost.

COACH CALIPARI: Wow. Look, we have to just worry about getting better. We don't have to worry about position in the league. You guys know I'm not worried about league stuff. Everything we're doing is to try to improve ourselves and get better.

The first half I thought we played a pretty good first half. We had to make some substitutions. I had to go to a different lineup. Willie Cauley(-Stein) was unbelievable. And you say, what did he do? He just added energy. So why would you not see what he did and do the same? Because it's hard. Don't want to play with that kind of energy.

So then we went to the different lineup with Archie (Goodwin) at point guard, same reason. Wanted to push the ball, wanted us to be more aggressive and tougher, and that's what happened.

You know, we had 17 turnovers and they didn't press. They have 7 turnovers. Again, that's when you're tough on the ball. Everybody who is catching is having a guy on him, is not breaking down. We don't do that. Now, they play us that way, and we turn it over and we don't play the same -- whenever I talk about the competitive spirit, whatever that guy's doing to you. He won't let you catch it, don't let him catch it. Why is he catching it on you every time, but you can't get open? It's a competitive spirit. Get open in the post. If he's open in the post, you get open in the post.

We broke down a little bit in the second half. Again, it's hard when you're up 20 at the half and come out. We're not that kind of team. But we rebounded the ball. I thought we did some good stuff there. I thought in the first half we really passed the ball to each other, but we've got a ways to go.

Q. On Julius Mays injury.

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I haven't talked to him, but he'll be fine.

Q. Any significance at all to being up 20 and maintaining that as opposed to letting the other team back in it?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, they got it to 15 and had to sub a bunch of guys out. No energy, no intensity, just playing. Well, you're out. I told him after the game, I said, if I see a face that looks like you're draining our arena, you're out. I'll play the other guys.

What's happened is if you watch, and you haven't, but Kyle (Wiltjer) has done that in our practice. Had a guy that hadn't been in in two weeks, walked in, watched us practice and said, "I can't believe the energy in the building compared to two weeks ago." It's all Kyle Wiltjer, and the team knows it because they've said it's all Kyle. Kyle is doing everything he can to help Alex Poythress talk, be emotional, smile. The whole practice he's talking to Alex, and they're playing the same position. He's talking to him.

Now my issue is, Alex, why aren't you talking to anybody else? Is this a one-way street? We get you going. How about you get Jarrod (Polson) going, how about you get Ryan (Harrow) going? How about you talk?

So this is all the learning stuff that we're going through right now. But we're making strides.

Q. Could you expand a bit on what you liked, especially about Willie's game tonight?

COACH CALIPARI: Energy. He went after balls. He rebounded the ball. Again, I thought Nerlens (Noel) messed around in the first half. I thought he played better in the second half. But he, you know, 13 points and six rebounds in 22 minutes is not bad. He's active.

Q. It seems like it's a little bit of an adventure with Alex. You took him out early in both halves, and yet there was that play where --

COACH CALIPARI: The first half we're going to do that. He's going to play the first three, and that's about the extent that he can sustain. Second half, you miss two dunks, you're out. What's wrong? You tell me you're tired? Your leg hurts, your toenails what is it? You missed two dunks. You've got to come out.

I'm not being mean about it, it's just what it is. I'm just holding him accountable. We're up 20, play. We're not that kind of team. We've got to ball.

Q. Yet he had that play in transition?

COACH CALIPARI: Unbelievable hustle.

Q. On Alex Poythress' hustle.

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he can do it. It's just that sustaining it. The thing these guys are struggling with, a guy makes a mistake, he can't get over it. He's embarrassed. So now he goes back on defense and he's still thinking about the shot he missed, the turnover. He can't play down on the other end, and it's not just Alex. It's a bunch of the guys.

I keep telling them, if you make a mistake or miss a shot, your thought is I'm getting it back on the other end. You push that right in your mind. I'm going to get it back on this end. I'm going to get it back on this end, I'm going to get it back on this end.

These are 17- and 18-year-old kids. They're like, I can't believe I did that. Oh, I should have rebounded that ball, and that's where we are right now.

Q. Early in the game you were down a point, called timeout, and they came out and looked like they had a little fight. Do you remember what went on in that huddle?

COACH CALIPARI: No. No, like I said, we shoot 60%, hold them to 28, and I'm not totally happy. I must be a jerk. I've been called worse, by the way. I don't know if you know that.

Q. The numbers looked pretty good, but how did you think Ryan played tonight?

COACH CALIPARI: Played okay. We need more emotion, more intensity, more touching. We're talking to him all the time about the best point guards in the NBA and the best point guards in college basketball are always touching their teammates, just touch. I mean, physically, you touch them all the time. You're always near them. You're touching them. You're talking to them. We're trying to get them in that mode. It's just not natural for him.

He's more of a, I want to be laid back when I play, and you all know you can't play that way. We're just trying to convince them that when he does play the right way, I believe he's as good as any point guard in the country. The other guy is not really that good. The one that plays aggressive and is low to the ground, talking to his teammates, he's as good as any point guard in the country.

The other guy shouldn't be on the court as much, so we're just trying to convince him of what he's got to be. He's got to buy into that, surrender to it, and just go do it.

Think about what I'm saying. I'm not saying make more shots. I'm not saying be better with the ball. I'm saying play with more intensity, play lower, play rougher, talk to your teammates more, be more into the game. He can do it. That's all we've been driving him for.

Q. Nerlens is struggling a little bit at the line in recent games. What does that mean a low post guy that might get fouled a lot?

COACH CALIPARI: I was happy Willie made free throws. So I'm not worried about Nerlens. He's the least. He goes a double-double with five blocks, then we don't throw him the ball as much as we should. But part of it is if you go to him late in the game, you got to make sure he's making free throws.

But I'll tell you this: My belief if it's a late game and he has to make them, he'll make them, because he's got that will to win. Whether it looks ugly or he's missed five, if the game's on the line, he'd make them.

Q. I'm only asking this because I've been asked this. You've gone to the no tie look the last few games. Any significance in that? Are you afraid you might hang yourself watching this team?

COACH CALIPARI: No, no. Part of it is -- and again, I got aggressive in the second half and I told them. I got a little mean in the second half, and I don't want to coach this team this way, because if they don't want to bring it, then that's on them. I'm just going to coach basketball. I don't want to coach emotion. I don't want to coach intensity. I don't want to coach toughness. If you have no toughness, I'm not going to get it out of you, and I'm just going to coach strategy.

Part of it is I wanted to kickback a little bit. Plus I was running out of towels, and I was sweating through ties. But my wife said she liked it. Other people said they don't. I don't really care. I care about my wife more than anybody else. She said she liked it, so I said I'll wear it for a while. I'm also going to grow a beard, too.

Q. Do you ever have a moment that you sit back and say: I won the national championship last year?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I do it. I think, we won a national title. Then when those lights went off in New Orleans, I said, what if that happened to us? You know we'd all have said it was a conspiracy. You know that, right?

It would have been a conspiracy. And if we had lost the game, it would have been the world's against us and everything else.

But, no, I do. Look, my concerns are these players. I want them to have the great joy that my other teams have had late in the year. The joy of I'm not about me and how I feel. If I feel sad, it isn't about you and how you feel. It's about how you are to your teammates.

When you think of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd(-Gilchrist), you're talking about kids that only cared about their teammates. Did what they had to do for themselves, but it wasn't. They played for their team. The joy you get from that, the joy you get from coming together and doing something unique and special, I want this team to feel that joy, and that's why I get frustrated at times.

17 turnovers and didn't press? Come on, we work on the same stuff every day. Get tougher. Get stronger with the ball. Do the things you do well.

So, yeah, it will pop in there. But, again, if I thought about that and said, well, I don't care about this year. I just don't have that in me. And the second thing is I'd be cheating these players, and I'm not going to do that. This is about these players feeling the joy that I felt as a coach with the other teams, and we can do that.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#34, Julius Mays, G

On his 3-point shooting confidence …
"I just finally found my groove, being more comfortable. I'm finding my way to get my shots up."

On what helped him gain his 3-point shooting confidence …
"Just in practice, just concentrating on getting my shots up quicker, working on my one jump pull-up and not getting so deep in the paint. I'm not as athletic as the big guys. It's more just me focusing on what I need to do to get it off quicker. Basically, just going back to the basics, what I've done my whole life."

On the difference Willie (Cauley-Stein) makes during the game…
"He makes a big difference. Willie brings a different type of energy than any other player that we have. He changes the game both offensively and defensively."

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F

On how his knee is feeling…
"(Strength and Conditioning Coach) Rock has been doing a good job rehabbing and working on getting me back ready to play again. It happened in the eighth grade football season. It never really hurt, but just swelled up really big. I still played on it and never had to quit playing."

On how did it feel to play again…
"It felt really good to get back out there and pick up where I left off. I just went out there and played hard. My lungs feel rusty. I was winded a little bit, but once I get in basketball shape I will be good."

On what did he do while he was not playing…
"All we did was lift and run in the pool along with the Alter G (treadmill) while I was off. We did a lot of upper body stuff."

#12, Ryan Harrow, G

On if the team is taking off after the last wins on the road and at home …
"I think it is pretty good how we won a lot of games on the road and we beat this team by so many points. We started out the game well and we started out the second half well also and we kept the lead. That is the hardest thing for us, so I think we are making good steps."

On Coach Calipari saying that when he plays right, he is one of the best point guards in America …
"He told you all that? He says that I just have to keep working. I have to pick my energy up as much as I can and do whatever I can to help the team on the defensive end and running the team on the offensive end."

On if he thinks this team is similar to last year's team in terms of energy and finishing out games …
"I think this was one of the first games were we actually played the whole game through, keeping the lead, playing good defense, and helping each other. Last year's team did that a lot and we just have to keep on working and it starts in practice like coach says."

South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin

Opening statement…
"I've been in Rupp Arena a handful of times as a fan, watching former players that played here at Kentucky. I can tell you, I never thought I'd see the day where the opposing team put the crowd to sleep. We did a heck of a job with putting everyone to sleep in there. It is what it is."

On what happened after their early lead…
"What happens every single time we play a game. Kentucky buttoned up and realized they weren't playing well and they had to play better. Our guys completely broke away from the discipline that we try to instill and then got out of the way every position so they could start dunking."

On how Coach Martin began to sit back and ride it out in the second half…
"I don't coach when we aren't doing what we're supposed to do. I'm not going to stand up there and clap so people say look at him up there still coaching. We didn't do a single thing we talked about doing in two days of practice. We got out of the way and let them dunk every single time. What am I supposed to do? I don't know. Maybe some guys are good at standing up and playing the part— I try to be the part. If my guys aren't playing, I don't see any reason I should be losing my mind there."

On Michael Carrera's performance…
"He's awesome. Drives me nuts. He drives me absolutely nuts because he's a freshman. He's got the courage of a lion. He's awesome. I'm just telling you, I'm going to be bald and gray by the time he's a senior but I'm willing to go down that path with him because he has tremendous courage."

On how he thinks Kentucky matches up with Florida…
"It's going to be interesting. Kentucky is playing a lot better offensively. It's not fair for me to comment on how they've been playing in the past weeks because I haven't watched a whole lot of them until two days ago. It just seems they are playing a lot better offensive. It seems they have that size in the frontcourt and depth in the frontcourt. Florida really just relies on three guys. It'll be interesting because (Erik) Murphy is going to stretch your fours and make your bigs come out and guard him. Kentucky has that depth on the front line, though. They can go bigger and stronger at the rim or they can go with (Kyle) Wiltjer and stretch you out. At any time you have (Nerlens) Noel back there that can create easy baskets during the course of the game. Guys get caught up in moment and think they can drive to the basket and score and he's back there and is going to protect the rim as good as anyone in the country. Every blocked shot is a turnover. I don't know. It will be an interesting game. Florida is mature; Kentucky is younger but (Coach Calipari) is going to going to make these guys play their best. Whenever they say from here on in, the next game you play and don't win, you lose, Kentucky is going to play their best game of the year. That's what Cal does. It's going to be interesting."

South Carolina Student-Athletes

#32, Damien Leonard, G

On how he thought he played tonight …
"I just tried to play aggressive and keep fighting. I was trying to do all I needed to do to help my team."

On what their offensive gameplan was coming into the game …
"We knew we had to be aggressive to be able to execute our offense. We weren't able to do that tonight. We fought and we stayed physical, but if we would have been able to execute our offense, I think we could have played better."

On how it was like to play Nerlens Noel
"It was just like playing Kentucky last year. You had to look for the big guy coming out of nowhere to block your shot and you had to be careful with that."

On where his team goes from here …
"We just have to keep fighting each day. We can just move forward. That's all we can do."