Men's Basketball

University of Kentucky Basketball Media Conference
Tuesday, February 7 2017
John Calipari
Men’s Media Conference
Kentucky – 92, LSU – 85

Q. Are you more encouraged that you were up 25, or bewildered by those last eight minutes?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, first of all, I thought you saw what I wanted and I thought we did some good stuff. Defensively, again, Bam (Abedayo) got his third foul. He just stopped playing down that end. He just, like, ran from layups.
Look, he fouled, not us. You’re the one that fouled 94 feet from the basket. You got to go play now or you can’t play. Just stay out.
Eight minutes to go, what we did, we reverted. I don’t know if we were tired or reverted back. Might have been a combination of both. If I could practice tonight, we would have gone three hours. I would have had them meet me at the gym at 10 o’clock, and I would have gone three hours until one in the morning until people were puking. That’s what I would have done. That’s the old days. I can’t do that.
But we will practice three hours tomorrow. I told them, If anybody says they can’t go, you won’t make the trip to Alabama. So don’t go, or you’ll go.
We’re going to get after this and continue to build what you saw for three quarters of the game.
Q. Was Wenyen Gabriel fully rebooted tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: It wasn’t Wenyen. What happened was Isaiah Briscoe created 12 shots and had three hockey assists at halftime. He created three shots. Now, he only had three assists because a bunch of guys missed shots. But he created 12.
We’re looking for him to create 18, 20 shots a game. That’s what we want from him. And he started now. After he did that those last eight minutes, he didn’t do any of it. He stopped doing it.
We had a lot of guys revert. I liked the fact that what we talked about with Malik (Monk), he was doing. Turnovers came down. We had one late. Throw it to them on an out-of-bounds like it doesn’t matter? Whoa! What happens is as an individual you look bad. It’s not our team, you look bad.
We got some stuff to do. I’m going to say it again. I know now and I feel comfortable we’re on the right path. Disappointed in the last eight minutes.
But let’s say this: How about LSU didn’t stop playing. How about Johnny (Jones) just kept them going. They’re making threes and they weren’t afraid.
We had a couple of guys I had to call in the office. I said, ‘Look, you’re a finisher for us. If you don’t want to shoot open shots, you’re not going to be in the rotation. I’m not going to play you. I don’t need you to do anything else. I don’t need you to drive, and roll baseline, and throw a bounce pass. I don’t need any of that. I need you to shoot open shots.’
Okay, you don’t make them. Then it’s my choice to keep you in the game or let you keep shooting. Malik missed six in a row. Then he made three and we’re up 25. Whatever you’re supposed to do you must do.
I’ve made it very clear individually and made it very clear as a team, not mean, I just said, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’
Yesterday’s practice was one of our best of the season. Not energy-wise, (but) what we look like as a team. Now we got to continue on that path and shore up the problems we’re having defensively.
Some of those problems are personnel. They either got to step on the gas or they got to step back. Not being mean, I’m just being real. It’s that time. Either you step on the gas and get this right or you got to step back.
Don’t want to shorten the rotation to five or six guys, but I will if I have to. I’d like to play eight or nine guys so they all get a chance to play, have fun, morale, all that. But you better deserve to be on that court, or… We’re at that time of the season.
Q. In the second half, teams have shot much better against you guys, LSU included. Is that a fatigue thing?
COACH CALIPARI: Maybe focus, fatigue, not getting back, not talking. I mean, there’s a lot of stuff going on.
But, again, what the major thing I wanted to get out of this game and that practice we got ‘til the last eight minutes, then they got tired and reverted back to: I’m going to pass this. When I’ve exhausted every opportunity to shoot this ball, I will then give it to you, maybe by your ankles, maybe over your shoulder, but I’ll give it to you.
We got away from that. Today the ball moved. It was crisp. It went to the extra pass. Guys found each other. It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to play that way.
Then the last eight minutes, we kind of reverted. But, again, they were scoring. They made probably four threes. Hate to tell you, three of them were on Wenyen. Kid, what are you doing? You’re leaving a guy. Tell me what you’re thinking.
So, we got some work to do. But let me say this: I told them, ‘Enjoy the win. We won. We were up 25. What we’re working on, we’re on the right path. Now we got to go.’
Q. Cal, LSU shot 62 percent in the second half.
COACH CALIPARI: Believe me, I know. I know. I watched it. I’ll tell you that with Bam, when he got a third foul, 94 feet from the basket, reaching for a ball he had no business (reaching for). He couldn’t have got it whether he knocked the guy over, kicked, tripped, whatever. He couldn’t have got the ball, but he fouled.
Now he went back and didn’t want to guard because he didn’t want to get a fourth foul. If you can’t play with three fouls, then you can’t be in the game. They were shooting layups. He literally saw the guy coming and moved the other way, like, four times.
But I felt better with him in there than playing some other guys, so… Let him learn from it.
Q. You’ve been doing this awhile. When your teams finally get it, is it a light bulb-type moment or you look up suddenly and you’ve arrived?
COACH CALIPARI: First they have to accept that what they’re doing is good for them individually and good for our team. Not sure we’re quite there yet.
Then they take great pride in defense, because they know that’s how you’re going to win and that’s how we can get out and run. They haven’t done that yet.
We had more breakdowns. Again, it’s a young team. We have so many breakdowns, we don’t stay connected on out-of-bounds plays. Just stay connected and chase the inbound. We’ll help you. I get hung up on the screen, the guy gets a shot in the corner.
Wait a minute, we work on that every day. Is that focus? Is that effort? Is that I’m just not very tough? I don’t know. But we have those kind of errors.
We’re playing pick-and-roll. Why did you do it? That’s not how we’re playing it. I thought… No, you’re trying to do it the easiest possible way. You can’t.
We got Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to practice. Let’s see if we can just keep stepping up. I mean, I don’t know if Alabama is going to win, but they’re at South Carolina up five.
Q. They’re going into the fourth overtime.
COACH CALIPARI: Three overtimes?
Q. Going to the fourth overtime.
COACH CALIPARI: I just walked out, they were down five. It’s amazing. That’s our next one. Think of that.
Q. Your turnovers were 14, but you gave up 23 points off those turnovers. How did you feel about that?
COACH CALIPARI: That’s the same thing. Look, we were giving up 10 turnovers a game, and maybe one or two led to a basket. Now they’re the type, again, instead of the easiest play, I’m going to make a hard play, which ends up us being out of whack, they throw ahead, it’s a two-on-one break.
That’s why I keep on them. The turnovers, they got to be lower. Eleven or 12 is fine. If they’re good turnovers, aggressive turnovers, not cute passes or the hardest play I can make. Just make easy plays.
The beginning of the game, that’s what we did. We had 10 turnovers in the second half, is that right? Think about it – 10. That’s why in the end, I bet you the last eight minutes we probably had five or six of them, seven.
Q. After the last game, you said rebounding was a big emphasis. Malik said yesterday that the guards had to do more rebounding, yet he got shut out for the second straight game. How would you assess that aspect?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, again, he’s probably got to play less minutes if he’s not going to rebound the ball. You’re going to have to be in there less. It’s not hard in the equation. There were two or three opportunities, again, and I took him out. You didn’t get the ball, you’re out. It’s just making an effort to make them go get balls.
I’d like Bam to be in double-figure rebounding. He had nine today. He’s close.
Q. If you’re on the right path, other than ball movement, what do you see that you like?
COACH CALIPARI: The biggest thing for us is sharing the ball and creating easy opportunities. I think, again, you take away the last eight minutes, there was some good stuff we did. That’s the main thing that I’m focused on.
Then it’s the defense. What hurt us in the first half? What were they doing that hurt us? There was one thing. Pick-and-roll, put our five in a pick-and-roll. Bam is out. Put the five in a pick-and-roll, beat them.
We were going to do some different things in the second half. I think that’s the major thing we’ve got to work on right now.
Q. Were you putting more pressure full court tonight? Was this an LSU thing? Bring more energy?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, but we got tired. It thought De’Aaron Fox got tired. I showed them tape of last year, Tyler Ulis. When you were looking to Tyler from behind him, you saw him going crazy on the ball, it made the rest of us play that way.
If that guy on the ball is playing casual, looks exhausted, that’s the energy we have on our team. Right now he’s just coming back. He’s only been back a couple days. We got to get he and Dom (Hawkins) and those guys on the ball, pick up playing, so it affects the rest of us.
Q. Can you remember a guy as athletic as Malik going two games without a rebound? Can you figure out why?
COACH CALIPARI: Probably should ask him that question. Probably a good one to ask.

Kentucky Student-Athlete Quotes

#32, Wenyen Gabriel, Freshman, F

On what made him play well tonight …
“Cal, last practice, started redefining our roles. He’s talking about a reboot. One of the main things he told Isaiah Briscoe was to create plays for others. We got it going early with some open shots and started going off from there.” 
On Isaiah Briscoe creating plays for Wenyen Gabriel …
“That’s what he was doing. He was looking to find us. Cal told me I’m a finisher, and that’s one of the things I was looking to do offensively. Make the open play, easy play, and finish out.”
On how his confidence right now …
“I’m a lot more confident. Especially once you make a couple and know yourself and know you can shoot and just to get more comfortable, so that boosted confidence.”
On giving up too many threes …
“We really can’t be letting up that many threes. I was in too far in the paint and wasn’t able to cover on too many threes.”
On the three-hour practice ahead of Kentucky tomorrow …
“We’re getting better. We’re looking to get better. We have a big run coming up in March, so if it’s getting us better as a team then I’m down.” 
On Kentucky’s defense …
“We’ve just got to keep our composure, and that’s something that we’ve been struggling with lately. Keep playing the way we started off the game, and that’s one of the things we need to change before March.”  

#3, Bam Adebayo, Freshman, F

On the reboot …
“Yeah it worked, you know, as you can see we’re passing the ball more, we are sharing, we are smiling and we are having fun.”
On the end of the game …
“We reverted a little bit and it cost us some points.”
On progress in the game …
“Yeah, I mean it wasn’t all bad. I mean before we fell apart I felt like we were playing good and we were having fun. You know, everybody was getting to touch the ball, we was just moving.”
On primary focus tonight according to Coach Calipari …
“Defense, until the last eight minutes. But, other than that he was satisfied with defense you know. We played hard and we came out with intensity.”
On Coach Calipari saying you defended differently after picking up third foul …
“It was, but then you know he told me just play you know and just get through it. I didn’t want to get my fourth but anything to help my teammates.”
On Coach Calipari after the game …
“He was just upset about the last eight minutes and how we let them come back, we should have buried them. But you know, we live to see another day, and so tomorrow we will get better at it.”

LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones

Opening statement …
“First of all I’d like to let the people back in Louisiana and the New Orleans area know they’re in our thoughts and prayers from the bad weather – tornados that sit down there today. A lot of people been effected and I just want them to know we’ll be praying for them tonight. I knew it would be an extremely tough game for us. The setback Kentucky was coming off of, there from Florida, we knew they would come in and be focused. That they were. I thought they played a really good first half of basketball. I thought our guys did a good job of remaining focused and continuing to battle to the bitter end there and at least continue to fight and battle, unfortunately we couldn’t overcome the first half deficit there enough to get a victory here in Rupp Arena tonight.”
On the performance of Antonio Blakeney …
“I thought Blakeney did an excellent job tonight of staying aggressive, especially coming off of two what we call subpar games for him. He’s an excellent offensive player and I thought tonight he continued to stay aggressive. I thought they did a great job of trying to get into him and catch him on the perimeter, to not allow him to get comfortable. But I thought because of our spacing, he was able to find some and drive the lanes and get the ball to the basket.”
On what changed in the second half offensively …
“Well we actually ran a couple of other plays and started sticking with it a little bit. We felt we got into a little bit of a rhythm with some screens that were being set. We knew how certain things that were switching were trying to hold on what we wanted to do is just try to find some gaps in their defense and try to attack them. We were fortune enough when we did attack and they rotated right we made some pitch plays and some shots went down for us in the second half that did not fall for us in the first half when we thought we had looks.”
On Wenyen Gabriel producing on the offensive end …
“He’s really good. He’s talented. He can really stretch you on the defensive end of the floor because he can certainly shoot it and I thought he made some big plays for them tonight. I think he, what did he wind up at four? What did he have three 3-point baskets tonight was it? I thought he was certainly a big difference in the ball game finishing with 23 points. A really good solid player for them and thought he played a great role tonight. 
On what weaknesses he saw in Kentucky’s defense …
“Not so much, I don’t think you would call it a weakness. I thought it was a strength of ours because we tried to space the floor against them tonight and they tried to lock down on our shooters, which they did a good job of especially in the first half. We only shot 37 percent in the first half because of the job that they did and didn’t give us easy looks.  I thought we were better in the second half mixing it up, taking advantage of some things and getting to the rim was one of them because they took away our perimeter guys and were able to attack and get down hill. But I don’t think it was so much a weakness for them that were able to execute a little bit on the offensive end.”
On competing when they fell behind …
“Again, I thought the first half one of the big things we wanted to make sure we did coming out of the locker room was make sure we competed and tried to make sure we got the 50-50 balls and that we made the tough plays tonight. I thought Kentucky did that in the first half. They beat us to 50-50 balls, they got second chance opportunities and I think they may have had 10 points of off second chance points and we can’t give up those type plays like that. We did in the first half. I thought that was one of the reasons why we had the deficit. Second half I thought we competed better, I thought we were on the floor, we came up with more of the hustle plays. I think got to some of the 50-50 balls. We were able to execute on the other end of the floor because of it and I think we wound up with 23 points off turnovers and that was good. Really good for us at least to get back from that deficit.” 

LSU Student-Athlete Quotes

#2 Antonio Blakeney, Sophomore, G

On his overall thoughts on Kentucky…
“They are a great team. They’re number one in the SEC right now. They can really score the ball and defend, all while having great players.”
On his high scoring against Kentucky’s defense…
“They are a great defensive team. I was just trying to make aggressive plays and try to get to the rim while they were hard on me all night. I just wanted to make some buckets or some plays for my teammates.”

#0, Brandon Sampson, G

On if the Coach Jones stayed positive with them…
“We were just competing. We just had to come out here and compete. He said if we come up there and play hard we can play with anybody and I think we showed that. Just kind of play hard was his biggest message coming into this game. ”   
On Coach Jones biggest message…
“Just not letting the score dictate it, just going out there and giving it all you’ve got, as long as you leave it all out on the court. That’s the biggest thing, just playing hard.”
On what Coach Jones told the team after the game…
“He felt like we left everything out on the floor. That’s a great team at the end of the day. Preseason picked number one in the country so I think we played them really close and I think that showed a lot that we were capable of. So as long as we come out and play with that amount of energy I think we can play with a lot of people.”

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