Men's Basketball

Kentucky at Louisville
Dec. 29, 2018 | KFC Yum! Center

Kentucky Coach John Calipari
(About UK’s length and height) “Well, let me just say this: the job Chris (Mack) has done with this team, the tapes that I’ve watched, the way they create fouls. They’re one or two in the country in fouls created. The way they rebound the ball, now you’re saying ‘they don’t have the size that you do’. They rebound the ball. It’s one of the best things they do. They’re top in that. Their offense is rated in the top 15. Think about what I’m saying. And now you could say ‘well, who’d they play?’ Seton Hall beat us. They beat Seton Hall. They beat Michigan State. I mean they’re playing, when you’re talking about teams even like Kent State. They were 8-1. I mean they’ve played quality teams and they’ve performed. Now, I think you’re right, our length kind of bothered them. And our length should bother a lot of people. But here’s the other thing, we’re getting better and better. And it just takes time, and it’s a process, and we win or we learn. So if everybody could get mad that I said that again. We win or we learn. When it’s a process with these young guys, that’s what it is. And the biggest thing is me trying to figure them out. I thought EJ Montgomery was great today. Jemarl Baker came in and helped us. Obviously, Tyler (Herro) played well, but he also rebounded. PJ (Washington) and Reid (Travis) were strong and Nick (Richards) didn’t get as many minutes today because EJ played well.”

(On Tyler Herro being the  difference maker) “Well, I did some stuff today because we drove a couple times. I was like ‘holy jeez, maybe we can drive these guys’. I didn’t think we could. My issue was that they were going to drive us. And then we started playing and he got by a guy, Keldon ((Johnson) got by a guy, and then we opened up the offense a little bit and played a little different than we’ve been playing. But he played well. And he also rebounded the ball. He ends up with five rebounds. But again, it was a low turnover game for us in a game like this in this environment against a team like that. There was a lot of good stuff that came out. PJ (Washington) and Reid (Travis) played good. I mean, they both played well.”

(About Ashton Hagans)”Better. Better. He called his own play. You watched him. He came over, looked at me, and said ‘coach, fist down’ I said ‘run it’, and he went and scored a layup. This is becoming a player-driven team. They’re not quite empowered yet because they don’t hold each other accountable enough yet to be empowered totally. But it is a player-driven team. Practices have been player-driven. It’s not me now. It’s not me having to get them going or make them play. There were some things today, and I told them after, our issue right now is we have lapses. So we’ll go through a two or three minute lapse like ‘what were you doing? Why weren’t you playing?’ Some of it’s letting up, and acting like you’ve won, others are like decision-making. We leave a corner, and shoot a quick three to end the half, we’re up 13. And all of a sudden, you turn around, and you walk in up eight and they have the ball. That’s anybody’s ball game. So, and I told him, I said ‘that’s a high school move, man’. I got a good team. I mean, I’ve had a good team. I know our fans have loved this. All season, our fans have bragged about these kids and talked up about how good. There’s no room on the bandwagon.”

(About the learning experiences, Tyler, the shot he took at the end of the first half) “He doesn’t do it again. But the other one was Ashton talking to one of their guys in a game that you’re going to win. So what, you’re going to get a technical something’s going to happen, you’re going to hit somebody, you’re out the next game? What? ‘Well, he came up on me’ I don’t care who came up on who! You just have to know! You can’t do that! Well, they don’t know. They think they’re playing a pickup game and you said something to me. Yeah? Well, wait a minute. I hate to tell you, I go through this every year. It just ages me more the last couple years.”

(About Herro’s swagger)”Well, there’s been some games that he didn’t thrive. In Seton Hall, and there’s some other games where he wasn’t thriving. But I’m trying to say to him and Kelvin, ‘what do you do to help us win when you’re not making shots?’. So, you don’t make shots. Don’t worry about it. Do all the other stuff to help us win ball games.”
[About playing in a hostile environment] “It was a good effort. It was a good fight. It was a game that you knew you were going to have to come in and battle. For us, it’s nice to be in games where the other team has as much to lose as we do. Ninety percent of our games the other team has nothing to lose and they’re jacking up balls, falling into seats, double clutching, hitting lights, the ball goes in. He’s made three threes and that’s the first three threes he’s made all year. He’s not made any except he just made three. This is a game, including the last game we played, both teams had something to lose. For us to be in that environment, we’ve been there now almost every game we’ve played.”
(Did you go back and try to find what you had in the Bahamas) “Yeah, I was trying to schedule those teams. I wanted them to come back and the guy from … Lithuania … I tried to get them back on the schedule. If we play them we’re going to be confident and happy and everybody is going to do their thing. There were things that happened and I said I’m not intoxicated by what happened down there but I probably was. The beginning of this year we were a bad defensive team. We had a bunch of unwilling passers. In other words, I’m only passing if I don’t have a shot. We had guys that were so focused on themselves that they couldn’t play for us. I missed it as a coach. But after I saw it I was like alright we’re going back to these things and we’re going to get better at this stuff. There are times I make mistakes. I think it was 1978? 77 or 78? Something like that. If you screw up you’ve got to start all over. But these kids are doing exactly what I’m asking them to do so if it’s not working don’t be mad at them. No one should get mad at these kids. They’re 18 and 19-year-olds. They’re just out of high school. I’ve got one grad student (Reid Travis). He and I sit on the bus together and talk politics and stuff and the other guys look at us like we’re both crazy. But this is the process you go through. But I never lost any confidence in the kids. I told them that. But you’re going to have to play different. My latest message, and it’s just as much a holiday message to them, if you create opportunities for others you’re going to create more opportunities for yourself. It’s a little bit spiritual but it pertains to basketball too. So, PJ (Washington) had eight assists. Do you see him playing right now? He had eight assists last week. He created for his teammates and everybody talked about PJ. Ashton, all he’s doing is trying to run the team and get people involved and they’re talking about him. So, I’m telling the rest of the guys, if you’re willing passers, if you create for each other, you’re going to create more for yourself. That is not only in basketball, that’s in life.
(About second chance points today. What does it mean that your team can go out there and play that well from the perimeter) “Well, again, we outrebounded these guys and both of us are great rebounding teams. And you had their guys, Nwora, coming from the perimeter just flying in. We weren’t blocking him out. Great lesson for us. Ours is more like playing mushmouth. We can play fast and win. We can play and grind it out and win. We’ve got to learn how to play late in games. We’ve got to learn how to play down eight, seven. How do we play now? There’s so many situations that we’re trying to work on right now because we have the time and we’re still in camp. We’re still going two and three times a day. They have two days off. They have their rest of today off and they have tomorrow off. Then we start up Monday. And we’re going twice on Tuesday, twice, three times on Wednesday, and we’re just, we don’t have anything else to do except video games. So, we’re practicing. We’re together, we’re watching film, we’re going over situations. This is the best time of the year for my team.”

(On EJ Montgomery’s importance) “If we’re going to do something special, it will be with Nick (Richards). We must figure out how we are going to play those two. EJ was really good again today. He’s really good. He is a really good player who, is he as good as PJ and Reid, in some areas, but he’s not as physically tough as those guys yet. But Nick gives us that seven-footer blocking shots; but today he couldn’t get a rebound, so I went with EJ and said EJ you’ll play. I told him after the game I’m not mad at you, but your minutes were based on your performance. We need you to win.”
(On the number of fouls) “At one point I did not want to look up and see the foul differential. But I do know late in the game we only had a couple. You know what we’re playing basketball, were an aggressive team, if there’s body contact and they’re going against us then they’re going against us. I’ve done this long enough that if I need to get a technical I will. If I don’t need to I won’t, today I didn’t think I needed to. There were a couple calls that I questioned, and I told them. My only thing is, whatever you call on one end you have to call on the other end. And then I’m good. If you’re going to call walks on us, call walks on them. If you are calling this (over the back motion) like he didn’t go straight up, then call it on that end too and then I am fine. But if I am seeing this and they do the other then I am saying something.”
(On bandwagon fans) “The fans that have really followed how I’ve done this for ten years, never mind. The fans that are mad at our kids being in the NBA making 1.5 billion dollars, they’re not changing. The reality of it is that the fans that really follow us they know this is a process. We’ve had teams that went to late February before they got it. Our fans stuck with them. I don’t pay attention to any of the chirping. I don’t watch it, I don’t read it. If it gets crazy, I will say to Eric, is there anything I need to deal with? I don’t watch it, I don’t read it. So if you are on the internet, or sending me emails, I don’t have email so you can’t send me one. If I need to talk to someone, I go into the bathroom and turn the water on. I don’t read Twitter or Facebook. I don’t read it.  Let me say this though, we have the greatest fans. Kentucky is what you want. You never have to sell a ticket, you never have to worry about people being excited about games. You could play in a storm and there’s 20,000 people in that building. You know the hardcore people adopt these players and they become their sons and grandsons. There’s also a small percentage out there that are just crazy. I don’t pay any attention to them. Now here is the good thing. They will never steal my joy. They never will. I don’t listen. You just make yourself angry and go crazy you just go ahead and yourself crazy. And I will be smiling. Why is that guy always smiling.”
(On looking forward to the SEC schedule) “The whole league is ridiculous. And you won’t believe this but were playing the top five teams in the conference twice. So, everybody that is really good we have twice. It is what it is. I told the team before the game, guys we have nine more of these just like this. They’re packed, they were in line waiting for tickets, they had the date marked on their calendars and they canceled weddings. That is what they do when we come to town so get used to it. Let’s have fun with it.”
Louisville coach Chris Mack
(Opening statement)
“I’ll start off by giving Kentucky credit. I thought their team played well. I thought they’ve turned the corner a little bit from the beginning of the year to now. They’ve improved dramatically. I thought our kids played hard. I thought we played hard. If you told me before the game we’d be about even with them on the glass, we’d keep our turnovers to around 12 and the inside game wouldn’t necessarily cause a ton of concern in terms of getting ducked in and their fours and fives had monster night around the rim, I thought it’d give us a chance to come down to a one or two possession game. So you give those guys credit. I just don’t think we played very well – especially offensively. Again, I thought we played hard. I thought our kids competed. I think those statistics we harped on a lot before leading up — 50/50 balls, not getting ducked in, being able to take care of the ball, but offensively we were out of sorts. A lot of that has to do with their length, their athleticism and not just from the point guard position. Obviously he’s (Ashton Hagans) a hell of a disrupter. I thought even in the beginning, PJ Washington a couple of times, he switched on the our two-guard and he causes turnovers, he blocked a shot from the perimeter. Hopefully this becomes a lesson we can learn from. We have to be a little bit more patient, probably more my fault than anything. I haven’t done a good enough job for us to figure out how to play deeper in the shot clock. And you have to do that against what I consider an elite defensive team. Hats off to those guys. We were playing down 10 the whole game. The whole game. Can you get a couple of stops? Can you generate a couple of open looks that you knock down where the game goes from 10 or nine to four? Now maybe there’s a little game pressure, but we could never do that. A big part of that is us and probably a larger part of that is our opponent.”
(On the game plan of guarding Kentucky’s Tyler Herro)
“Well, they’re very, very set-play driven. They try to put him in positions in they’ve put him in all year where he’s dealing with a pin down. He made some floaters in the lane and he hit some shots that we knew he was more than capable. I don’t think his percentage relays the fact that he’s a good shooter, but we knew he was. You could see that in their foreign trip. And obviously coach (John Calipari) has the confidence to continue to go to him. We have a little bit smaller guards. I thought he rose up a couple of times and knocked shots over us. Give him credit.  I don’t think I’ve seen a game where he’s made two 3s in a row all year and he did tonight. He’s a good player.”
(On the lack of offensive execution)
“Not making shots, you’d like to make some. I thought, again, a few of them got blocked. We’ve got to test your IQ on that. If you’re taking a shot that’s getting blocked… they’ve got incredible makeup ability with their athleticism. Execution was very poor. Kentucky had a lot to do with that. Even our entry passes… we’re catching the ball 37, 38 feet from the basket and a point-to-wing pass and that needs to be on the wing, not at 37 feet. It just totally puts you out of sorts. Whether it’s a ball screen, or screening action it’s so far away from the basket, it’s irrelevant at that point. And that happened like four or five times. On the plays that we did execute, give their guys credit. They called out screening actions, they did a really good job of taking away some of the set plays that we were able to execute. When that breaks down, you have 15, 18 seconds on the shot clock, we have to be better at getting in the lane and creating for one another. There were times we did a really good job, but not enough times over the course of the game.”

(On the 1-3-1, did you practice that?)
“Yeah, we practiced it. It’s a curveball for our team. Our problem wasn’t defense today, it really wasn’t, it was offense. We were trying to get maybe something that led us defense-to-offense, maybe we get a deflection, maybe we get a couple of open court layups. I’ll be honest, they got some wide open 3s against our 1-3-1, they just didn’t make them. Now if we go down to the other end and that nine-point lead goes to five, maybe that’s funny feeling and, again, that’s the game pressure we couldn’t put on them tonight.”
(Twenty 3-pointers taken, is that a number you’re comfortable with?)
“I don’t care. I just want to get a good shot every time down the floor.”
(Did you feel like a lot of those were good looks from a 3-point range?)
“I would say that the majority of them  – I don’t want to say majority – it’s really hard to tell when it’s live. I thought a few of them, obviously when you get your shot blocked, you’re not talking about two or three seconds on the shot clock where you really don’t have a whole lot of options. That’s a wrong decision. It’s not a good look, no matter how good of a shooter you are, you have to know that. Their length and athleticism, their ability to challenge a shot is a little bit different from other teams that you play. Those weren’t good looks. I thought we got some good ones… not as good as Kentucky got, especially against our zone defense. I’ve really got to watch the tape, but my overall impression was I just felt like we were a little bit impatient, because it’s hard to crack that nut to get in the lane against a team that’s got great athleticism and great length. The times that we did, we made the right play, and we shot-faked, we generated some decent looks. But you’ve got to be able to do that for an entire game with our team.”
(It was a big emphasis that Kentucky was a big-time offensive rebounding team. You only gave up five second chance points. It seemed like Steven Enoch really dominated the interior…)
“I wouldn’t say dominated. You lose by 13, you didn’t dominate anything. I don’t want to say that we lost the game, but the momentum went to Kentucky, when we didn’t offensive rebound, in the third four-minute segment of the game. Their kid [Jemarl] Baker, off the bench, who is a good shooter. The third shot in that possession that Kentucky got, he drilled a three from the top of the key. Again, I tell our team all the time, if a team can’t get second or third shots, after a while, that puts a lot of pressure on that first shot. They tested us in that third four-minute war, as we like to call it, and we failed that test. I think for the entirety of the game we did a really good job on the glass. But the game swung because the lead was three, four, or five, somewhere around there. You eliminate that second shot, maybe we score, I don’t know. Maybe get our shot blocked, who knows. They punked us in that three- or four-minute span, now it’s a 10-point game. And that’s what it was the whole game. Nine points, 11 points, 12 points, nine points, we could never get over the hump. That was the separator, giving up those offensive rebounds during that time.
(Were you surprised at the intensity of the game?)
“No, I just feel like we didn’t do our part to give our fans some juice in the stands. They were great. I’ve been in those games before where you don’t ever cut it to four or three and now the fans can get behind you. We cut it from 11 to nine, they were on their feet. So, rivalry game, regular game. We didn’t do enough to put pressure on our opponent, today, to make them feel a little differently, then they felt all game.”
(With the non-conference schedule over, how would you rate your team so far?)
“I don’t know. We’ve got to bet better. We’ve got a heck of a week coming up.”
(You thought Kentucky had turned the corner. Where do you see their ceiling, at this point?)
“It’s hard for me to say, because I haven’t seen all the teams that are going to battle for it all. When you play that many freshmen, they are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of their potential and getting better. You could see, they got punched in the mouth early in the Duke game. They didn’t respond very well. They took ill-advised shots; a little bit like us. That sort of, at least what I’ve seen over the last three, four, five games, sort of been a thing of the past. They’ve done in two environments that aren’t their own. I think they are going to have the defensive presence to be in every single game they play. If they have guys that do what they did today, in terms of, [Tyler]Herro shooting the ball like that. The only thing that they are going to be missing is a little experience. You know how that is down the stretch.”

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