Men's Basketball

University of Kentucky Basketball Media Conference
Tuesday, February 5 2019
John Calipari
Men’s Media Conference
Kentucky 76, South Carolina 48

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How big was EJ tonight, specifically on the rebounding?
JOHN CALIPARI: EJ was really good. Double-double, active, playing hard, blocking shots. He’s starting to come around. This was a great game for him to prove it against a really physical team, that they’re going to get body-to-body on you. He was able to still get it done.

Look, just understand (Reid) Travis had 9 and 11, but without Travis, (Chris) Silva probably goes for 25 and 11. The kid’s in there exhausted. We’ve got him on an IV. Him and Silva just went at each other. He was able to withstand it, which tells you it’s good for us to have a guy. If they have a guy like that, we got one, too.

But I thought PJ (Washington) was good. Did some good stuff. Ashton (Hagans) had a good second half. He had six turnovers at half. That’s a hard team to play. South Carolina is disruptive. They collapse. They run people at you. They’ll gap screens. They’re really good.

We played good today, though. I loved our toughness, especially from our young guys.

Q. You talk so much about demonstrative performance. The types of plays that EJ made Saturday at Florida with the offensive rebound, is that what kind of sparks this performance?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah. He deserves the minutes he’s getting. The issue becomes — so does P.J. When Reid plays that way, they have a guy like that, you have to leave Reid in.

This is the greatest thing. I told them after the game, this is hard because it’s ego, high school. The only way I get my name in the paper is I score the most points. That’s high school.

Right now the way we are as a team, numbers don’t matter. Immanuel played really well. Missed three shots, 0-3. But had four assists. Numbers don’t matter.

Reid goes for 9 and 11. He didn’t get 20? Yeah, but it doesn’t matter. You saw how he played. The same with PJ.

We’re at this stage now. I said finally, told Keldon (Johnson), You knew exactly how many points you had, that’s why you missed that little floater.

I said, How many did you have?

Said, I had 7.

He knew. He knew. I knew he knew because that’s the only way he would have missed that. I have to get these two to get to 11. We got to get to where we’re not playing that way.

It’s not just him. You got a bunch of high school kids six months ago that are trying to do something unique and trying to do it together.

Q. Is there anything about playing a Frank Martin team that gets you ready for March?
JOHN CALIPARI: You better be ready to play, be physical. They ran good stuff. They missed a lot of shots today they’ve been making. I would imagine Frank would have said there were some open looks they just made, like the tapes I watched. They shot the ball. The last five games they shot threes at almost 40%. I expected them to make some shots today, and they didn’t.

They play similar to us. They take 18, 19 threes a game. We take 17, 18 threes a game. Today we had 16, they had 17. Rebounding was probably the difference in the game.

I like to press a pressing team. If a team is a disruptive defensive team, let’s disrupt them. If a team likes to run, let’s run them. You take their strength and make it it’s not your strength. You know what I’m saying? That’s kind of how I try to do this.

Q. I’m a little bit confused. Coach Martin spent his whole time up there at the podium talking about how his team lacked physicality. You’re saying their team wasn’t physical. Who do we believe?
JOHN CALIPARI: Maybe it’s their normal physicality, that this was a little down. I’ll tell you what, when there are people hitting the floor or you’re moving into ball screens, you’re getting whacked, the only difference was Reid was out there whacking, too, so was PJ It’s two teams whacking each other.

You know what? Maybe we were a little more aggressive than them. I don’t know. Or the ball bounced our way. I don’t know. Silva only playing 15 minutes affects them. 25 and 12 last five games, 25 and 12.

Q. Your best teams here played defense like they’re having fun, like they enjoyed it. This team looks like it’s starting.
JOHN CALIPARI: It’s getting there.

Q. How do you do that with kids who were in high school six months ago?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, the biggest thing is they have to be engaged with each other. Early in the year, again I’ve done this 30 some years, your team is going to press for their individual performance. People around them talking to them, how they got to play. They press. They’re uptight about their individual performance.

Well, when you are, you cannot be engaged with your team because you’re thinking about your own performance. As it goes on and you realize, If I worry more about my team, the game becomes easier and I play better and score more. How does this work? I don’t know, but that’s how it works.

It just takes some time to trust. I tell them, you’ve got to shut down the clutter. You got people telling you how you need to play or how you’re being evaluated and they’re wrong. So why would you listen? Here is what they’re looking at.

I’ll say it again. PJ went 0-4 against Kansas from the three-point line and everybody was going crazy about his performance. Are you ready? Tyler Herro went 2-9 and everybody went crazy. He missed every jumper. It shows you what you think they’re looking at or how you’re being evaluated, you’re wrong. This isn’t high school. This is big boy basketball.

This team is getting it. I’ll say it again. Thank goodness we have Travis on this team. Reid, he’s a beast. He is a beast.

Q. Was there any kind of common theme in Ashton’s turnovers tonight? Six total.
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, again, this team plays different than any team we will play. What we were telling him is, you got to get to the lane and then make decisions. Well, it’s the first time. It’s like we weren’t running many plays. Just get into the lane and make decisions.

His decisions weren’t good. But in the second half, he got a better feel for it and had a better flow of it and he made better decisions. He had no assists and six turnovers at half. He had four assists and no turnovers in the second half, which is why the score was what it was.

Q. You said recently about being halfway up the mountain. What are you still looking for improvement-wise? Any further up the mountain?
JOHN CALIPARI: We need Nick (Richards). Nick has to give us 15 to 20 minutes a game. He’s got to be playing. It has nothing to do with jump hooks or shots. I like that because it makes him smile, but get in there and fight like crazy and rebound and block shots and fly up and down this court. Let us throw you lobs. There’s no one in the game of college basketball like him, but he’s got to go perform.

The second thing, that jump hook, to be honest, you got to fight before you catch it. Fight, fight, fight. It’s unstoppable. But if you catch it at 12 feet because you let the guy push you away or you weren’t moving your feet, you can’t make that shot.

Your job is, forget about anything else, I’ve got to catch it close. Coaches tell me if I catch it close, shoot it. Don’t bounce it, just shoot. EJ, I’m happy for him. Every day in practice going against Nick, and EJ and PJ 25-12, don’t worry about it, we’ll play a zone, you don’t have to guard anybody. Here you got to get better.

What I’m hoping is by the end of the year when you look at Keldon, you say, wow, how much better is he? Tyler. How about Ashton? How about Jemarl Baker playing today, making shots, how he defends? How about Immanuel (Quickley), EJ, Nick? PJ is not the same player as he was at the beginning of the year or last year. More assists than turnovers. Last year he had one assist every two turnovers. He’s a different player.

That’s what we’re looking to do. Let’s get better. Let’s get more consistent. Let’s play 40 minutes. Let’s use each of those games to learn about our team. Let the results speak for themselves. You all got mad. Seton Hall, act like you won. I needed them in a good frame of mind. I didn’t need them panicked because you guys are saying the season is over. We’re getting better. Cal, we don’t have moral victories. We’re Kentucky. What? It wasn’t about that. It was about getting them in the right frame of mind.

Let me say this. We win a game like Florida, you know what I said to them? You know that ball that Tyler ekes in and rolled around the rim, that layup, then the corner jumper that Keldon made that went bang, bang, bang, bang, went in? We don’t make those, we probably lose the game. Should we feel any different about our performance, that we’re getting better? No.

I’ve got to keep these guys in the right frame of mind, which I told them today: My job now is hungry yet humble. We don’t need anybody arrogant right now. We need to be humble and we need to be hungry in what we’re trying to do.

Q. It seemed like Nick got in foul trouble tonight. One of them looked like it was on a drive. You were talking to him, moving your feet. Did you want him to move his feet more?
JOHN CALIPARI: We work every day on staying in front of dribblers. When they drive, because I know you guys don’t know basketball, but when they drive, if you push up, they’re coming at you. You push that way, you’re going to foul. If they drive, you’re Nick Richards, you retreat, give them space and retreat, at the rim you’re probably going to – I’ll help you – block the shot, unless you push up and foul.

Every single day we work on moving our feet and retreating and blocking at the rim. He chose to push up. Now, the reason you push up is because you’re exhausted, tired, mentally not into it. You do what your old habits were, which were the eighth grade you used to stick your knee out when the guy tried to dribble around you. You can’t, not here, can’t do it.

Let me just say this. He’s close. Just like EJ I’m telling you, Nick is close. But we can’t do it for him. He’s got to do it for himself. He’s got to prove to himself. Demonstrative performance will build his own confidence.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #168 at 2019-02-06 02:33:00 GMT

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Post Game Quotes
Kentucky vs. South Carolina
Rupp Arena – Lexington, KY
Feb. 5, 2019
UK Student-Athletes
#13 Jemarl Baker Jr., R-Fr., G
On the win tonight…
“We just went out. We played hard. We tried to execute the game as well as we could and I think we did it.”
On Calipari saying you’re developing well …
“I think I am just getting comfortable. Every game I am getting more comfortable and just more engaged with the team. I feel like they know how to play with me as well.”
 On the second half defense…
“Just working on it in practice and knowing that in order to win we are going to have to defend. In order to win the championship we are going to have to defend and be great defensively as well. We have been working really hard in practice and execute the game plans as best we can.”
#23 EJ Montgomery, Fr., F
On how his double-double feels…
“It’s a good feeling when you put in all the hard work every day to come out and improve, and you do it.”
On how much playing against Reid (Travis) and PJ (Washington) and Nick (Richards) in practice every day makes you better…
“It definitely gets me ready for physical games like this one. Going against them every day is a challenge and gets me prepared.”
On South Carolina being a physical team and if you planned for that…
“That’s what the game plan was. To go out there and play physical and just hit first before they hit us. That’s what we did.”
#25 PJ Washington, So., F
On a great defensive performance…
“Defense is a big part of why we’re winning. Without our defense, I don’t think we would be on a nine-game winning streak. We’re stopping teams and forcing them to get out of their game plans and it’s just great to stop teams like that.”
On the physicality of the game…
“It was really tough, we felt like they were fouling every time, but we knew they were going to do that coming in so we were prepared for it, so we just tried to play physical as well down low. We did a great job at that. Forcing them to get into foul trouble and then getting to the free throw line and making our free throws”
On holding teams to under 40 percent shooting…
“Our key is just taking them out of their game plan, making their strengths their weaknesses. When we play any team that’s the biggest thing we try to do. Tonight, they were a denying team on the defensive end so we tried to do the same thing to them.”
On seeing EJ Montgomery break out tonight…
“It was great. I’m happy for him. I’m one of his biggest fans and just to see him go out there and put a smile on everyone’s faces, that’s big for us.”
Kentucky Basketball Postgame Quotes
Kentucky vs. South Carolina
Rupp Arena  – Lexington, Ky.
Feb 5, 2018
South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin
Opening Statement…
“It was a tremendous atmosphere. The fans root for the team and they root for basketball, and we played the right way. It’s always a pleasure to come out here. Unfortunately, we continued to struggle with physicality anytime we play a team that plays with physicality. We haven’t answered the bell this year yet to continue to win.”
On South Carolina’s lack of rebounding in the game….
“Physicality. It’s not just rebounding. We can’t run offense because our guys wont screen, or our guards won’t use the screens. We’re not strong enough to hold post ups. Defensively, they screen you. It’s been our problem all year. We can’t get through screens. Chris is going to get into foul trouble. It’s life, it’s four years of it on the road against quality opponents. He’s going to be in foul trouble so I probably need to bring an extra suit on the road so he can just sit on the bench and hold the clip board.  Rebounding is just a stat. He’s screening, boxing out, getting open, setting screens…there’s no stat for that. Rebounding is just the stat that represents physicality. We got beat. Rebounding demonstrates our lack of physicality. We’re not a very physical team. It’s been all year and you guys have covered us anytime we play a team that plays with any kind of physicality.”
On what EJ Montgomery brought to the game…
“EJ wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American because he’s no good. I don’t know Calipari’s team. I’m not at practice every day, but he’s got three guys on the front line, two of which started last year, that are both really good and a fifth-year senior. So, I’m sure EJ keeps getting better because he is competing with those guys in practice. He got an opportunity tonight.  He’s extremely active on the interior, he protected the rim.  He rebounded every ball that came off the rim. That credit to EJ. They called his number today and responded and played with physicality and just created problems with us.”
On Kentucky going right at South Carolina in the paint…
“Yeah, it goes back to the same thing. I’m telling you, they set screens. Our guards didn’t get through the screens. We spent two days preparing on defending the low post. Defending teams are going to pass the ball in the low post. We do on offense. You have to be good on the perimeter…at least the ball can’t get on certain places on the floor. If not, defending McDonald’s All-Americans becomes very difficult on the low post. We weren’t very good getting through screens and we were really bad at defending the low post. Give Kentucky credit. They executed their game plan and they played the way that their team plays regardless of who the opponent is. We hung in there for a while today, but as the game got physical, we didn’t answer to”
On not shooting well in the second half…
“We didn’t run any kind of offense. Kentucky came down and through the ball inside every time. So, we can never get on the open court. They grabbed 23 offensive rebounds. You’re not going to run if you can’t get any offensive rebound. We could never get in the open court, we got to play in the open court on offense, but we never did. So, now we have to execute half-court offense and we couldn’t execute. They defended us. They’re guards who are freshman like our guards. You play without Chris (Silva) and it’s hard to score in the paint if your guards aren’t driving and aren’t using screens. The bigs don’t play with any kind of presence in the paint.”
On the physicality from Georgia to Kentucky…
“I don’t know, I just, like I said earlier, rebounding is just a stat that represents physicality. Physicality has evolved in all aspects of the game. Like when you set a screen, you set it. When someone is setting the screen for you, are you strong enough to hold your ground and use the screen? When they’re screening you, do you run around the screen or do you get caught in the screen? Do you get through the screen? When you, when they drive the ball and you’ve got to help with the big and a smaller player has to rotate down on the big are you smart enough to make sure that that guy doesn’t get the rebound? We didn’t make any of those plays today. Rebounding is just a stat that represented our lack of physicality.”
On your players not answering to the physical game…
“Physicality is just manning up. You know, you’re going to get punched in the face, like if you’re a boxer, you go in the ring, you’re going to get hit in the face. If that bothers you, you’re never going to be good at the sport. You know, when you play in a basketball game, when you play in a physical game, you’re going to get hit. But, if you’re going to run away from it and run around it, then those teams, it’s like everything else, the opposing team smells it and once a physical team smells that the other team doesn’t like it, they just keep coming at you and can you change it? I don’t know, but it’s my job to keep pushing and get it better than it was today.”
On hanging tough…
“I thought we played well. We prepared well. When we went to Oklahoma State we had the two worst practices we’ve had in a long time. We prepared really well the last two days, we really did. I have no complaints whatsoever with how we did things the last two days. I think that’s why we played the game the right way to start, but at the end of the day, when you’re playing a game, it comes down to being able to sustain discipline. You know, you hear people say the word compete. Compete is not who runs fast. Compete is not who dives for a loose ball, that’s a small part of competing. Competing is when they tell you Tyler Herro is going left, don’t get beat left. Well he went left the whole game on us and we got beat left every time. That, all that is part of competing and we, you know, as that game unfolded today, the physicality of the game, it challenged our ability to compete and the harder it got, the less we competed and that’s disappointing. It wasn’t preparation. I thought we played well early because of preparation. And when I say preparation, I’m not talking about my coaching, I’m talking about the players. The way they prepared the last two days, but we’ve still got to play the game.
South Carolina Student-Athletes
#4 Tre Campbell, Gr., G
On not being able to sustain strength through the second half …
“I really don’t know. I guess in the second half they just wanted it more than us. But, the first half we definitely came out prepared, but the second half we just couldn’t hold on.”  
On taking rushed shots, and a change in Kentucky’s defense in the second half…
“We shot the same shots we did in the first half, they just didn’t go in. We should have just kept attacking.  I think they played the same defense, they tried to double the inbound when I was trying to get the outlet passes, but other than that it was the same thing.”
On finishing the first half of conference season in the top half of the SEC …
“We feel good about it. We just have to take it one game at a time. We can’t look forward and we can’t look backward, just go on to the next day and go hard in practice and hopefully can get this win on Saturday.”
#30 Chris Silva, Sr., F
On if Kentucky’s size and length was problematic…
“It was just physical, and they were beating us to the rebound, that’s it. Nothing was wrong.”
On physicality being a big part of your game…
“It’s kind of hard on me because I’ve been on the court trying to be physical, fouls being called on me, you know. When I get two passes, it’s kind of not me, so I feel out of my comfort zone. It’s just a big adjustment in practice and coach always tries to talk to me to find a good balance, so I can stay in the game and try to help my guys.”
On how to help your teammates get as physical and attack like you do…
“It’s not only me. The coaching staff, everybody – we try to keep everyone accounted for. During practice I try to yell, I try to talk, I try to do whatever I can to help the team.”
On how to get better at not forcing turnovers…
“Basically, working out at practice, yelling at each other, trying to rebound under the goal and practicing.”

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