Men's Basketball

JAN. 14, 2019

Head Coach John Calipari
Opening statement …
“Tough week for us. Going on the road. I’m anxious to see how we respond because we’ve got two tough opponents.”
On Georgia being a hard place to play …
“First of all, I thought there were years where all we did was go to Georgia. I was like, ‘Do we ever get them at home?’ It’s always sold out. Somebody told me it’s been sold out since June. It’s a date marked on the calendar for the whole town. And you’re going in and they’re going to be ready to play – and you have to be ready. With that being said, all the games are close, tough, hard-fought games. I would expect this to be the same.”
On how big it was to get Ashton Hagans to “flip” from Georgia to Kentucky in the recruitment process …
“Well, we didn’t get him to flip. They made a coaching change and then they (his family) reached out to us about, ‘What about Kentucky?’ You know it’s funny how this stuff goes. Early in the season he’s struggling. Struggling to find his way, struggling to be consistent, struggling to play winning basketball. And then there’s a panic, and all of a sudden over the month he starts to get it, he starts to realize. We have a better feel for what he is as a player and now he just plays to his strengths. And like I said, he’s playing as well as anybody we have on our team.”
On Hagans winning SEC Freshman of the Week for a second time …
“It’s a great thing for my team to understand: The two weeks he was Freshman of the Week, he had five turnovers in both games. Anthony Davis was the MVP of the national championship game and was 1 for 10. All the players or whoever is around these kids that think, ‘Let them be the center of attention, let them shoot all the balls, let them be …’ you’re wrong. You are absolutely wrong. That’s not how they are being evaluated. And so it’s a big deal for me when this kind of stuff happens. And again, trying to get these guys as a group to play winning basketball. I’m talking a lot about it now. How you play winning basketball? The plays you make in the last five minutes that win you ball games. Any time – we did a simple little adjustment in a zone offense thinking they would know because they had to be taught this. They don’t know. And when you think they know, they really don’t know. Then you have to train them. You have to do it over and over. We looked so bad against the zone and then I looked at it, it was just we were tentative because we were unsure. So, happy for him. I’m happy that our players can see what he is doing and that everybody is talking about, ‘He’s this, he’s that,’ and it’s because of his strengths. Forget your weaknesses. Play to your strengths. Don’t let somebody tell you, ‘You’ve got to do this, this and this – things that you don’t do well – to really be that guy.’ Stop. Just play to your strengths. We’ll work on the weaknesses, but don’t. Game time, winning time, we’re not going to that. We’re playing everything to people’s strengths, or at least trying to.”

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