Men's Basketball

Jan. 25, 2014

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Head Coach John Calipari

Q. Talk about Willie (Cauley-Stein), how he came back.

COACH CALIPARI: Well, I told you, he was unbelievable in practice, and he was in a totally different frame of mind, and he performed. Now, he was a little shaky at times out there, but he’s just now coming back from that other stuff, so you still had the dregs in there. He had a little bit of it in there. But I thought he played well, blocks, steals, moved his feet, made some baskets, two free throws. That’s who he is for us.

But also, Alex (Poythress). My thing with Alex is I need him to shoot a couple jumpers, like he drove in there a couple times and he didn’t need to. You’re at 15 feet, shoot the ball. That’s a little bit out of his comfort zone right now. He’s more comfortable getting to the rim, dunking it. Well, you’ve got to pull up on some of those, so he was good.

We’ve been on Aaron (Harrison). Aaron played his butt off today, but he shot all 2s. I don’t want him to shoot 3s. If you shoot a couple, that’s fine, but you’re not shooting six or seven 3s. That’s not who we are as a team.

Andrew (Harrison) did a good job, Julius (Randle) did a good job. I don’t think we had very many ball stoppers. Everybody moved the ball. Happy Derek (Willis) got some time. Dakari (Johnson) was good again. Dominique (Hawkins) and Jarrod (Polson) are doing what we need them to do. Jonny Hood got in. I was so happy. Such a great kid. He’s got a young man in there today in a wheelchair and his father, and he had him at the gym last night and he’s taking him around here to see all the guys. It’s good. You see Jarrod Polson last night. As a coach to be around those kind of kids, and every one of these kids is the same. This is a great group, I’m telling you.

We’re still not there. We got better, more energy off the ball, didn’t stop the ball as much, but we’re still a ways away. We still do stuff like most of it’s mental discipline now. That’s the next level of the process. Get the players right, playing hard, thinking right, understanding their role and how they have to play for us to win. Okay, now you’ve got to get your team right. Now we’ve got to be more like a team, and that means don’t hold the ball. That means play with energy off the ball. On the ball, that’s fine, but what about off the ball? That’s what a team does.

And then the next level is the discipline, defensive and offensive discipline. That one is going to be a little longer for us to crack, but we’re getting better.

Q. The stats aren’t necessarily crazy for Andrew, but it seemed like again —

COACH CALIPARI: He missed three like runners that when he got upset about the one, put his head down, I took him out. It’s a great shot; you missed it. But you’re going to have an attitude, head down on that? It was a great shot. You know, that’s the thing he and his brother are getting by, so now you don’t see it as much anymore. They understand, just play for your team, take the shots you’re supposed to take.

Q. I’m certainly no basketball Bennie, but when you look down through your stats sheet, is that more like what you like to see from your team overall? Seemed like a lot of your players are doing what you said you want them to be doing.

COACH CALIPARI: Well, we need, again — you like to have every guy in here have an opportunity to get in that game, but this isn’t CYO, so there are games you can play a lot of people and there are other games guys don’t get minutes and they’ve got to be prepared the next time it happens.

But when you look at this and what we’re doing, it is about players first. You’ve got to get them right. You’ve got to get them in the frame of mind, and then you get your team right.

Now, for us that means — if you in any way are not playing for your team, you’re watching me sub guys out now. You’re out. If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to defensively for us, you’re out. Somebody else is playing. And I’m trying to hold them more accountable.

Like I said, what hurt them, and I told Mark (Fox) after, having that guard (Kenny Gaines) out really put them in a tough spot. Here you go, this shows what a great coach he is. He kept them in the game with that guy not in there. He played a lineup he’s never played at Georgia. He had like four centers on the court at one time. They had a chance. It shows you the job he’s doing with his team.

But the guard being out, that was a big blow. We didn’t learn about it — he hid it until right before the game, and we saw he was starting like this huge team. I said, he must be playing all zone, which is what he did.

Q. Since that Arkansas game, it seems like you’ve had a couple smoothly officiated games. Have you noticed any changes in the this league is calling games now?

COACH CALIPARI: I barely pay attention to it (laughter).

Q. Lately you’ve been talking about how your team needs to play more like a team and less more themselves. You’ve kind of touched on it a little bit. Do you think they took a step forward in guys playing for each other?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, but here’s the thing. My job is to teach them that. Well, they should know it. Let’s just think about it. Every one of these kids was the centerpiece of their high school team. Whenever they got the ball, they tried to shoot it. If they couldn’t shoot it, they tried a little bit more to shoot it, and then one more thing to try to shoot it, and if they couldn’t shoot it they passed it.

Now, where they passed it, knee high, head high, ankle high, and then after they passed it they all stopped to watch him play. If they played a man that was scoring, they played. If they played away from the ball, they didn’t play because it wasn’t their man.

Now all of a sudden you get them here playing against 22, 23 year olds, and they’re 18, 19, who have been through wars, and you’re trying to teach them to be a team, and you can’t start until they learn how to play hard, until they learn how to compete, until they learn how to battle, they learn how to play a full possession. You can’t worry about your team. Your team will stink if individual players don’t learn those things.

Now that they learn it, you move on. The process is the next step. That’s why teams are way ahead of us. They’re three years with the same unit. They’re going to be way ahead. But I’m pleased with our team. I like this team. Just will we be disciplined enough to be special. It’s not about do you have enough bodies. It’s not about well, they’re really that skilled. Well, we’re okay. Will we become the team and have the discipline it takes to really make a run to do something unique and special? We’ll see.

Q. It seems like Dakari’s teammates are more confident in taking the ball into the post. Have you seen that progression, that trust over the last few games?

COACH CALIPARI: The amazing thing about this team, they all are rooting for each other. They all want Derek in there playing. They’re happy for Dakari. They throw him the ball. And the biggest thing is they do want to win, so if he’s helping us win, they’re ecstatic. They were worried about Willie but they helped Willie. They talked to him. Like I said, we can win without Willie. We’re not winning big without Willie. We’re not playing with those big guys without Willie. But you can win games. We need him.

This stuff is a process. This was a good game for us. We’re learning. They’re trying. I’m giving them the day off. They’ve got 24 hours until we practice again, tomorrow after 4:00. I told them you’ve got a day off. You’ve got 24 hours off, and then we’re on our way to play a good LSU team down there.

Again, I’m sure it’s some shirt night: White, purple, it’ll be something.


FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F

On how he felt he played today…

“Active. I just got back to the roots of the game and just flying around contesting shots and running the floor.”

On facing the matchup zone that Georgia presented…

“We knew that they were going to run it. A big emphasis on last week was just moving the ball. We did a really good job of moving it and getting other people shots.”

On heading into today’s game with confidence…

“I had a really good couple of days of practice and I felt like my normal self. Other times at practice I was just kind of out there going through the motions and this time I was actually juiced and ready to get back to producing.”

#1 James Young, G

On how Willie Cauley-Stein affects the way the team plays…

“We are a lot more physical, we put a lot more pressure on teams and we always get defensive stops.  When he steps up, we all step up too.”

On how the players are coming together and improving on defense…
“It comes with playing together.  We also communicate a lot more.  We are getting better than when we first started.  We usually give a lot of baseline drives and let the guy drive right past us, but we are getting better. It’s a process and we are just taking it day by day.  Everyday we are communicating on how we can get better as a team. To be where we want to be, it is going to take time.”

On how Coach Calipari helps them improve…
“You can always get better.  He points out your flaws and I think that’s a good thing.  It makes us good players.”

# 2, Aaron Harrison, G

On Willie Cauley-Stein’s performance…
“He has been really focused in practice because he didn’t play as well as he could have the last couple of games and he came out and really showed it.”

On getting a majority of the team playing time…
“We are going to cheer for them just like they are going to cheer for us. We are really excited for them. It’s a good feeling to see the guys who don’t really get a chance (to play) as much as the other guys.”

On playing more together as a team…
“We definitely moved the ball a lot better today than we have. We were all just ready to play and make plays when we did catch the ball.”

Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox

Opening statement …

“Well that was an SEC battle in which they whooped us. We couldn’t slow them down enough to get back in it and just couldn’t score enough today to hang in there and make it a threat long enough.”

On Kentucky being at its best when they have balance like today …

“I couldn’t have any idea. I don’t know. I think that’s a strength of their team, is that they have a lot of guys who can finish plays and you can’t just say you’re going to shut down one guy and really impact them like you can with some teams. So I’d say that’s a real strength of their team and their balance makes them real difficult to defend.”

On Kenny Gaines being out …

“Well it’s not that we just lost Kenny Gaines, we lost Juwan Parker and we had no two guards. Not one. So that had an impact on how we had to play, quite frankly. We had to, basically play three bigs most of the game. We couldn’t play man defense because we couldn’t matchup there and it made us a little slow in transition in which they outran us. So it impacted the game but it’s part of it, you’ve got to deal with injury.”

On when he found out Kenny Gaines and Juwan Parker wouldn’t be able to play …

“I didn’t know I wasn’t having them until this morning. I was hopeful yesterday, they went through our walkthrough yesterday and I was hopeful that we would have them. But you never know how a guy’s body responds. One of those kids did some running yesterday so we were really optimistic and then he woke up very sore today so I don’t know when I’ll know about Vanderbilt, probably on Wednesday.”

On how different Willie Cauley-Stein looked today …

“I don’t think, I don’t think – I mean, he grew up 48 miles or 50 miles from me, where I did. I don’t think he’s slumping, I mean they’ve got a lot of guys making plays. You’re not going to get as many opportunities when you have a balanced team like they do. I mean, he’s a terrific player and I don’t think he was slumping, I think it just comes with the territory.”

On 23,000 Kentucky fans showing up with the winter weather …

“You want me to comment on the fan base here? They don’t need any more pats on the back than they already get.”

On Kenny Gaines being out impacting the half-court offense …

“Well it’s not the half-court shot; it’s that you have to play, you know, a power forward out there on the perimeter. So it’s just, it’s just everything that you do is disjointed and instead of having three perimeter players, you have two. And you can’t totally adjust your system of play in 36 hours.”

Georgia Student-Athletes

#31, Brandon Morris, F

On Kentucky’s offense…

“We just got to give credit to Kentucky. They’re a great basketball team and they beat us down the floor. They got a lot of easy ones in transition and that’s what really played a toll on us.”

On setting up their offense…

“Well, you had guys out there that are not used to playing certain positions and that kind of played a toll in our execution. At the end of the day, it was kind of on us. We can credit Kentucky’s defense because they have great defense. They played really well and they made it hard for us.”

On missing Juwan Parker and Kenny Gaines…

“Most definitely. They’re our only two guards and we need everyone on this team. We need everybody at every position, everybody pitches in and everybody helps.”

#42, Nemanja Djurisic, F

On the team’s performance…

“I think we just gave up some transition buckets. I think our defense just wasn’t on point. We weren’t able to come back and stop them from running. There was an emphasis before the game to set the defense before the offense and then try to stop them from getting easy points.”

On their offensive strategy…

“We kind of play different lineups and we weren’t able to figure out ways to score without Juwan (Parker) and Kenny (Gaines) outside. It’s not an excuse, but we were fighting some adversity with that and different lineups. We weren’t able to offset them and be stable.”

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