Men's Basketball


DEC. 19, 2020
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
On Keion Brooks Jr. attending the postgame media opportunity …
“Well, you’re talking about guys that are going through stuff that’s really, really hard for them: to take responsibility, to own their performance, to accept where they are on the team. There’s a lot of stuff and he (Brooks), I guess Eric (Lindsey) said he just said, ‘Look, I’m going to do the media.’ I was kind of proud of him that he would step up and face the music, and he didn’t even play. I’m just so disappointed, especially with the last 10 minutes of the game. I’m just so disappointed. Some of the stuff, I mean, we’ve got guys shooting 25 percent, turnovers and you know? I know they’re better than this. Is it just trying to make tough plays? I’ve got to watch this tape and figure it out. We play a half and really, you know, 30 minutes and we look ok, we’re going to be fine and then all of a sudden it’s you know. A lot of breakdowns again, on the game plan. How we are going to play and all of a sudden they go on that like six, eight-point run and it was us leaving a guy (open) that we weren’t leaving, staying on a guy we were leaving. Fighting for rebounds. We outrebound them and you would think – they’re out rebounding everybody by 18, 16 rebounds – I thought our guards rebounded the crap out of the ball. But again, some immaturity and stuff like that. It just keeps creeping in. We’re going to have to get a whole game in.”
On how to keep demanding more from the team without dismantling the young players’ psyche …
“Well, I think part of it is we’ve just got to stay focused on – again, what are the things we can be great at when it doesn’t take talent or skill? The energy, the fight, the togetherness, the trust, the belief in one another, the game planning, the adjustments in game. I mean, we need to be great at those things to be able to win and we’re not. And a lot of times guys aren’t listening. But I will say this, again, we are capable of doing this. We are showing signs, it’s just that you’re not getting any — you’re not playing anybody – when you make errors, teams like we’re playing, veteran teams, teams that have been through it, they make you pay. North Carolina made us pay.”
On the discussion on the bench at the end of the game …
“Again, you’ve got to accept your position on this team. Whatever minutes you get, and Cam (Fletcher) was made he didn’t play more. I’m like, ‘Guys in front of you are playing.’ Lance (Ware) played out of his mind. I thought Devin (Askew) played better. Cam came in and apologized after. They don’t understand that with four minutes to go in the game we had a chance to win the game and you cop an attitude. It’s the immaturity of that. The other thing as you know, we had a couple of guys not practice this week and you could probably tell who didn’t play the way they’re capable of playing. You can say it was this guy and that guy. Being able to practice, knowing that if you’re not you’ve got to probably be coming off of the bench. You can’t be a starter. You be that other guy. Look, every game is going to be a learning experience. We’re going to fight like crazy. I’m not giving up on this group. I know I’ve been hard on them, trying to drag them, trying to get them to think differently, create different habits. But, it takes time. It’s hard, hard for us as a staff, hard for the players. You want to win. You want them to feel some success. But I thought before the game, ‘We’re going to get this game.’ I thought at halftime, ‘Alright, we’re in good shape.’ We knew what they were going to do coming out of the gate. I thought we were fine and hanging around and all of a sudden we let go of the rope and we had our chances: missed free throws. The one kid came in. Twenty-four (Kerwin Walton) made two big 3s for them. We missed two wide open shots, missed free throws, they make free throws. That stuff adds up too and when you’re scrambling, you can’t. You’re going to have to make a basket.”
On Brooks alluding to mental mistakes stemming from guys pressing too much …
“Defensively is what he (Brooks) was talking about. Guys are playing a lot of minutes so it’s not like you make an error, you come out. It’s: this is a play that helps us win or lose a game. That’s what he’s talking about. The flow of this, the communication, the talking so that we trust each other more, or that we believe in each other more, that’s all hard stuff.”


DEC. 19, 2020
Kentucky Student-Athletes
#12, Keion Brooks Jr., So., F
On what he would tell fans about the 1-5 start …
“Just keep believing in us, we still have a chance to do something special. We’ve got a lot of young guys. This stuff is hard, especially with what’s going on in the world, it’s tough on everybody. I would just say continue to stick with us. Day-by-day, we’re trying to figure it out. We’re doing everything we can to continuously get better. If you’re a real fan and a true Kentucky fan, stick with us, we will eventually turn this around.”

On his health and when he might return …
“I’m still taking it day-by-day. I’m feeling good. Getting closer and closer back to being 100 percent. Just trusting in our medical staff and doctors. I’d like to go out there and contribute. It’s killing me that I can’t go out there and help the team, be on the floor, be a part of what they’re going through as far as playing. But I’m still with them each and every way I can right now. If I can help from the sideline, I will in each area.”

On how tough it is for the team to believe in themselves without winning …
“We’re not winning, so we shouldn’t expect positive reinforcement. That’s basically what it boils down to. It’s that simple. Once we start winning, we’ll get that type of stuff. But we need to worry about continuing to get better every day. Stacking good days together in practice. We need to get our swagger and confidence back. That’s what I’m really worried about. Even if we do win, not everything is going to be positive.”

On why he did the postgame media if he didn’t play …
“Because I’m one of the leaders of our team. My guys didn’t feel like they were up to it, said they didn’t want to do it, so I took that on. Being a leader, a person that had some experience last year, I’m not going to put them out here in a vulnerable situation where emotions are high. You never know what could go wrong. So defending my teammates, that’s what I’m out here to do.”

On mental errors …
“It’s just, I don’t really have an answer for that. It’s just lack of experience, especially when you’ve lost a couple of games in a row like we have. You have a tendency to press a little too much instead of sticking with the game plan, sticking with each other. Right now, we don’t have the maturity and experience to keep a lead and believe that we’re going to pull this out and we’re going to win this game. When you press so hard, and are so focused about not messing up, you actually mess up. I just think that over time, right now coaches are still coaching us up, we’ll do all of that.”

On how frustrating it is to not be on the court …
“It’s extremely frustrating because I know what they’re going through and it’s tough for them and I can’t go out there and just be out there with them. I wish I could go down there and get a couple of rebounds for us. Do the simple stuff, do stuff that brings the team morale up. Also, being the only one playing for coach, I’m out there on the floor to calm us down and let us know that we’re going to be fine. It’s tough to do from the sideline but I’m doing everything I can. We just gotta keep believing in each other and we’ll get it all figured out.”

On what the team needs to fix …
“We’ve got to keep sticking with it. It’s a long season. We’ve got to continue to believe in our coaching staff, believe in one another. But I have to say losses suck, but quite frankly, the way we’re playing right now, we don’t deserve it. Once we start to completely buy in to what coach wants us to do and completely buy into one another, it’s going to be hard for us to win a game. We just continue to believe in each other, believe in the coaching staff, believe in the game plan they put forth, we’re going to get better. But until we fix all of that little stuff up, it’s going to be tough to win games because teams are good just like we are.”

Related Stories

View all