Men's Basketball


JAN. 5, 2021

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

Q. Some of the guys on the offense are making easier plays. How is that helping build towards some of your other guys getting to that point?
JOHN CALIPARI: We only had two turnovers, which is crazy. We had none at halftime. You’re talking about a team that led the nation in unforced turnovers. So, you could tell what the last two weeks, three weeks all I’ve been working on, making the easiest play, not trying to be a hero. If a guy’s right in front of you, you throw it to him. How about this? If you drive and your man or someone else’s man is in front of you, for all you Basketball Benny’s, what does that mean? You drive and there’s a man in front of you and it’s not your man?
There’s somebody open because you got a guy that’s not your man. We’re getting better. The other thing is the execution and I’m demanding it. I mean, coming out of a timeout the Olivier Sarr play, the last play, for Davion Mintz, execution. You know why? They’re worried about their team instead of themselves. Everybody’s got a role. Jacob Toppin was ridiculous. And, again, I told them, whoever fights, I’m leaving in the game. I need fighters. Just like we did at Mississippi State. I need fighters. And if I play five guys the rest of the way, that’s what we’re going to do. Dontaie Allen broke down a ton today defensively. He made baskets and free throws when we needed it, but he may have given up as many as he scored. And I told him, I said, look, if that’s the case and it’s even-steven, I’m probably good with you. But you got to get to where — and they were game planning stuff. Like, he went under a screen, and he did, just did some stuff. But I’m telling you, he deserves to be on that court and you know what he does to the defense? He spreads out the defense. I ran a play for him, banged a three. Right to the top. Boom. That may have been out of a timeout.

Q. Obviously you found a group that kind of works at the end of the game the last two games, but what’s your message to Brandon Boston Jr. right now? How is his confidence? There were some boos at one point in the first half. I don’t know if you heard that or not.
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, look, I don’t give up on any player and I believe in. B.J. (Brandon Boston Jr.), we have been working on B.J. to play a certain way, but he’ll revert back to what he knows best, those flips, don’t get fouled. I have — you know, I mean, we — and I told him, all the stuff we have been working on, you did none of it today. And I expected him to have a big game today because he’s been so good in practice, so good in individuals, all the stuff the, coming to a stop in the lane and just to one, two stop, like a little floater, and he had two or three opportunities and he’s trying to flip balls. So, but he’ll get it, and I believe in him. But, again, he didn’t come out because of his offense. He came out because defensively they were going right at him. They went right to him. And he’s got to take pride. Say you’re not doing that to me, not at my length. I’m 6′ 7″ and got long arms, seven-foot wing span. You’re not shooting layups. I’m not getting on your side. I’m not going to foul you. I’m going to give ground and be tough and bend over and defend. Capable of doing it, but it was, you know, I thought, again, I said to Devin (Askew) and Davion (Mintz), they had 22 points, five assists, no turns between them. Wow. I grabbed them after the game. I told Isaiah (Jackson) how proud I was. How about Isaiah? Struggled early, had a little emotional thing on the bench, kissed him on the forehead, said, look, I love you, kid, just come, back you’ll be fine. And then he gets the biggest rebound of the game, the last one, above the rim, jerked it in, screamed for — a will to win.

Q. You made 26 out of 32 free throws. What, if anything, does that say to you?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well they’re a three-point shooting team. So, when you shoot — how many threes did they shoot? 27? 28? So, you’re not, they’re not going to have as many opportunities. We were posting the ball and trying to drive the ball. I’m trying to really define how we’re going to have to play and we’re getting closer to it. So, and some of the stuff was out on the floor late, so I would say six of them. But Davion (Mintz) and Devin (Askew) and then Dontaie (Allen), now Dontaie missed one and there was a lane violation, so he had another opportunity, which became a big play because that last three could have been for a winner. But like I said, I’m getting a better feel, but we’re going to have to fight now. We got the top of the league coming up, the best teams in the league, here they come, and, but in January we’re 2-0.

Q. Along those lines, you’ve made this progress essentially without getting anything out of B.J. (Brandon Boston Jr. ) or Terrence Clarke because Terrence has been hurt and B.J.’s been struggling. Is there, in some measure, some encouragement there that these other guys have sort of dragged you guys along while you wait on those two to click?
JOHN CALIPARI: You know, what you do, well, Terrence (Clarke) is or — he’s out because he’s hurt. Keion (Brooks Jr.) is out because he’s hurt. B.J.’s (Brandon Boston Jr.) just not playing well, but I’ve been, look, we can lie to kids or we can keep it real. If someone’s playing better and tougher than you, they’re going to be in there, especially the last five, eight minutes of the game. Just how it is. And he knows that. And I told him when I took him out, I said, look, man, take pride in your defense. They’re just coming right at you. And he will. I mean, he’s a terrific player.

Do you know how hard this has been? How about they don’t get a chance to play in front of 24,000? Do you know how much this team would need that? Do you understand that all this stuff, we didn’t have team building and all the things that happened, and then emotionally and — and our fans have been great, they haven’t been burying the kids. They have been pretty positive with them. But you could tell that this stuff adds up. So, now I don’t want him putting too much pressure. Devin (Askew) did that early, and I had to say, come on, man, step back. I believe in you, but you can’t be in the mindset you’re in like every basket is life and death. You can’t play ball.

Q. I was going to ask you about Jacob (Toppin). Six points, six rebounds. Have all of your best teams had that energy guy that can come in? And are you surprised he’s able to do that for you?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, because I’ve seen it. Now, I did tell him that fadeaway with the leg kick wasn’t needed when he got a post-up and he just turned and threw an airball. I said, ‘Why would you do that? Like, because you hadn’t shot it in a while? Come on, man, don’t.’ And he has gotten so much better offensively. His decision making, his ability to run downhill and get layups. How about his rebounding on free throws? I mean, you understand now he’s gotten two of those in the last two games. So I’m really proud of him, and I told the team the reason we won the game is Jacob guarded (Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr.), and the only time Pippen got going is when Olivier (Sarr) stood straight up and down and backed away, versus what we were trying to do, which is get up there and square it off. You know, that’s when he scored. But Pippen’s—look, how many (points) did he end up with? Twenty-some? Eighteen? I mean, he’s a good player. (Vanderbilt is) going to win games because they make shots. They made eight (three-pointers) in the first half. I told the guys, every year we play them, guys, it’s exactly the same way. They make all these shots, and then we got to fight like heck and try to win a close game. Every time we played them last year, this year, the year before, every coach, not just this coach, the last coach and the one before that. So I’m happy for the kids. It’s a ‘W.’ And now let’s evaluate the tape. We’ll grade the tape possession-by-possession to be able to tell the players, ‘Here’s the breakdowns. Here are the “F’s.” Here are the “A’s.” Here’s the execution on defense. Here’s the “F” in execution. What did we talk about? Why did you do this? Didn’t we talk about it for two days? You chose to do what you wanted to do, not what the team needed you to do.’ And we’re still in that mode. I mean, they probably had four of the eight threes because of our miscommunication or us being in the wrong spots, not where we were supposed to be. And kind of like (Dec. 12 versus) Notre Dame. When you give that team open threes, what? They make them. Just like Notre Dame did to us. That was on us. We broke down.

Q. When you talk about Dontaie (Allen’s) defense, are his breakdowns something that will be hard to fix? And what did you think of his poise on offense?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, no, no. And he rebounded the ball. He got a couple rebounds. I’ll give you an example: If your man was getting screened, he didn’t have the ball, we’re chasing that. He went inside and his man made a three. If your man was getting a dribble handoff—Do you know what that is, Larry (Vaught)? Like, the guy dribbles to you and he goes to hand it off.

Q. I do.
JOHN CALIPARI: We were not going over that. We were going under that. He went over that. If your man was going through the lane to the weak side, you were to stop with both feet in the lane on the other side of the basket to where you left. Not, well he went out there twice, outside the lane, and wasn’t ready to switch to a guy that he needed to switch to because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. And again, we spent two days on it. But he wasn’t the only one. Isaiah (Jackson) did it, Davion (Mintz) did it a couple times. But he had some breakdowns. But you know what, like I told him after, ‘You had seven or eight breakdowns, nine, eight. Let’s just get it to four. And then keep making shots. Just keep making shots, kid.’ And the team laughed. I mean, look, you got to give up something sometimes and he’s trying, and he’s got a lot of courage, but like I said, our breakdowns (weren’t) just him, but I want everybody out there to know, look, what he’s doing for us, we can’t replace it. So I got to figure out how I get him better on defense or more comfortable.

Q. It seems like with every passing game you are really starting to trust Devin (Askew) and Davion (Mintz) in the backcourt to be able to make plays for you guys. That final play, to be able to trust those two guys to make that shot and Davion to be able to hit it…
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, here’s what I’m doing: I’m giving them stuff to run, because I want to do less and I need them to do more. That, here’s the stuff we’re running, you run what you want. But here are the two or three things we’re going with. And then there may be a timeout and I say, ‘Okay, let’s do these couple things now. So if we have it in transition, you know what it is. If not, at a dead ball, here it is.’ And I let them make those choices. We did miss a bunch of layups now today, we probably missed four or five. And maybe those should be runners versus layups because of our size. But like I said, I’m happy for the kids, (Brandon Boston Jr.) is going to be fine. We need our fans to absolutely support (Boston). I don’t know why anybody would just want to be nasty to anybody. If you want to be nasty, be nasty to me. It’s my fault. Don’t be nasty to him. I’m the one that put him in the game. So if you’re mad, just be mad at me. Be positive. Everybody left Devin alone. When Devin struggled early, no one really got on Devin, our fans left him alone, they let him do his thing. And look where Devin is now. And now I’m saying the same thing. Our fans haven’t been bad on (Boston), they’ve been pretty good. Because they’re good people. They’re not nasty, they’re not trolls, it’s not who they are. So now you’ll see him begin to come—and you know what, you feel like you played a part in it. It’s like you’re in this building and 24,000 (fans) with us here, with us not here, it’s a different game for us. But I say it again, it’s a good win, we got tough games coming up, all I’m trying to do every day: How do I get these guys better, how do I get them to understand I believe in them, how do I get them to understand they must execute on both sides of the ball for us to have that chance that we want to do something unique and special? Thanks.

JAN. 5, 2021

Kentucky Student-Athletes
#30 Olivier Sarr, F, Sr.
On being an impact player in recent games …
“For me, I think I needed to focus on fighting and competing and just playing my game out there. No pressure, just being locked in and having fun at the same time.”
On how the team supports Brandon Boston Jr. …
“We just tell him to stay the course. It is coming. I mean he is working, working harder than everyone else. He is in the gym. It is just a matter of time, and I know it is coming. We put confidence in him because we see it every day in practice. It is a matter of time, honestly.”
On how Jacob Toppin assists in creating plays …
“JT (Jacob Toppin) is at the right spot at the right time in every game. On defense, he takes pride in guarding the best player. He did an unbelievable job. He is doing the dirty work and it has been enough for us.”
On Dontaie Allen’s floor spacing …
“He’s a knockdown shooter. He showed us last game, and this game again. His offense is self-explanatory. He opens the court for everybody. Whether it is driving lanes or in the post with the bigs, it changes the game. It makes winning easier. He wants to do what is best for the team, which is shooting 3s. He still must find a way to get his 3s off.”
On his thoughts on Vanderbilt’s potential game tying shot …
“Let us win. Please do not go in. Davion (Mintz) hit an incredible shot with great execution.”
#10 Davion Mintz, G, Gr.
On his feelings about the last offensive play of the game …
“It felt amazing, Coach is drawing it up and I knew where he had placed me. I knew that it would be open. Devin (Askew) put it right on the money and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this feels amazing,’ especially right after I vividly remember missing one of my game-winning 3s at Creighton, just to hit one in that exact same spot, years later of course, that just felt amazing.”
On rumors about Kentucky being the “unluckiest” team in the country and Vanderbilt’s last-second shot …
“My heart was dropping, they kind of experienced what we have been going through for a while. Coach calls it buzzard’s luck, and that’s what they had. They had a good look with the ball-fake and they got the rebound and kicked it back out. Just the fact that it hit every part of the rim, me and Dev (Devin Askew) will look at the film again and we were just staring in shock. Thank God it went our way.”
On Jacob Toppin’s meaning to this team and his important screen late in the game …
“Yeah, without that screen there wasn’t a shot. The execution on that play was just perfect, like everyone executed from the speed, the timing, everything, but besides that Jacob was just one of the reasons we were in that game. Especially when Devin (Askew) and I got those fouls, he wasn’t prepared at all to guard Scotty Pippen Jr. and it just shows his resilience and his focus that he had this week to look and see. We didn’t have to tell him many times what we were doing on these ball screens and how to be aggressive and how to guard, he just fought and that’s what we need out of Jacob and what he’s really good at. He was huge today in the win for us.”
On the emphasis of getting Olivier Sarr the ball in the post …
“Yeah, I mean certain schemes, we try to do certain things with the bigs a little bit differently each game. We understand that in order for us to win, we have to let Olivier get touches in the paint, high post areas. For him, it’s like you said, he had a very huge game and picked up a lot of free throws for us. He is a big guy so sometimes he can get the defender on his back, he’s able to do a lot of things and be crafty. It really opens up our offense when he gets It in those areas.”


JAN. 5, 2021
Vanderbilt Head Coach Jerry Stackhouse
Opening statement …
“I thought our guys fought and competed. Just things we worked on this week and really brought it to the game. I thought the ball was really popping there in the first half, got us some really good looks, some good opportunities. Second half, sticking maybe just a little bit, but I still thought that we were moving it side to side and creating some good opportunities. Just at the end they made one more shot than we did, so no problem with the fight tonight. Just got to get a little bit smarter in certain situations and I think we will.”
On Scotty Pippen Jr’s confidence from freshman to sophomore year …
“Yeah, I think Scotty is growing. He’s still a young player. He’s still learning too. All of our guys are learning, but I think last year gave him a lot of confidence that he was voted on the (SEC) All-Freshman team and now he’s coming in playing with a lot of confidence early on in the season. I mean he still has to get better with some time-and-score situations and even there at the end, when he got in the paint. We’d been telling him all game that these guy’s length was going to be there and then they got two on him and I thought Myles Stute was open on the wing, where it could have been a play to try to possibly tie the game there, but he got his shot tipped. But we came down and he kept his poise on that next play. Nobody fouled, we just got played into solid defense and had an opportunity to tie the game there at the end without having put them at the line. You see a lot of times teams panic, and guys get a quick foul when they don’t make that shot, but I thought we handled that pretty well and we got a couple looks at the end that could have forced overtime. We won the rebounding game, that was something that we’d been concerned about with the type of length that team had, for us to do that I thought they did a great job. We’re getting there, man. We’re building. We look at this as a positive, take the positive away from it and try to get better from some of the mistakes that we made.”
On Dylan Disu’s play …
“Yeah, he was good man. He’s had a few days off to kind of recover. His knee was giving him some issues that last game and I think that was a lot of the lack of urgency that he was having because he was having some knee issues, but he was just battling through it. We gave him a couple days off to rest. He had the time confused for the bus times today, so he didn’t make the bus. So, he ended up riding to the game with me, so I might take him to every game from now on if he’s going to play like that. He did a good job, man, battling down there, making shots for us and got into a nice rhythm. Those guys are growing. I mean, the minutes that they played last year, him along with Scotty and Jordan (Wright), it’s starting to come into fruition. We just got to get DJ (Harvey) going a little bit and I think that could have been the difference in the game. Again, we understand that this is going to take a little bit of time, but we got to get him going.”
On shots made late in second half …
“I think Myles had. I take that shot out from him 100 times. That shot he had on the right wing that possibly could’ve gotten us a three-point lead, that was a wide-open shot. We will take that every time from one of our better 3-point shooters, besides a 3 from Trey (Thomas). Those are good shots, maybe one or two were a little rusty. I thought Jordan’s (Jordan Wright) drive wasn’t the best drive as far as the time and the score. He was trying to make something happen, he was being aggressive for us and made some positive plays for us, driving and getting into the lane like that. I don’t want to turn guys down from getting aggressive, but those are things that we will look at as a team and try to be smart in those situations. In hindsight, if we would have had a traditional five or so guys that would’ve had a little bit more rhythm in the game. A lot of our late games include a No. 5 man because they don’t really switch out with the No. 5 man, kind of a mixed bag group there in the end, it was good to try to push it in a get something to flow. We got two great looks out at it, but you know it’s disappointing. I thought we were getting our feet in the paint just as well as they were, but you look at the free-throw total and they shot 32 free throws and we hadn’t fouled that much, probably since I’ve been here. The only other game that I can think of that we fouled that much was the Davidson game when we were all out of sorts, but we’ll get better at trying to show our hands and hopefully we get the benefit of the doubt, but you got to expect that on the road. I know we’re going into these places and coming into Rupp Arena, you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully as we continue to get better, we will get the benefit of the doubt when we’re at home. We’ve got to expect that when we go on the road and all of these places.”
On Scotty Pippen Jr. having a chip on his shoulder …
“I knew Scotty from his dad, watching him out there in Sierra Canyon. All of a sudden, it just kind of worked out. I came here and he had already committed, so I think it was a situation for him where he had the smarts to be able to get into Vanderbilt and hopefully stick it to Kentucky, a team that didn’t recruit him. It was the way he probably felt. That he could’ve been recruited. Scotty played in a lot of big games in high school. It’s like the stage isn’t that frightening at all. I know he’s going to get them back, like I said, I thought we had a good chance to get them tonight, but we will see them again at our place and hopefully that chip on his shoulder will be even bigger.”

JAN. 5, 2021
Vanderbilt Student-Athletes
#2, Scotty Pippen Jr., So., G
On this being another tough loss and what they can take away from the last few minutes …
“Just execution down the line, just a couple of defensive things that we were lacking on. Some plays we called out late or just missed and it ended up hurting us. The stack action, last year it hurt us and this year it hurt us late in the game. But also, just staying out of foul trouble. They kind of got away from us when it came down to free throws. I mean one player on their team shot more free throws then our entire team did.”
On his confidence …
“I’m very confident and last year I was confident as well, but I just had to play my role last year with the team we had at the time. This year, being the man this year, I have to take over in those moments and just be aggressive when my team needs me and know when to make the right plays.”
On the play of Myles Stute and Trey Thomas …
“Myles and Trey are our shooters. When they are open, they hit shots late down in the game. They didn’t hit the two big shots they needed to, but it comes with experience. It was the first time playing in a big college town and a big game at Rupp Arena, but over time they will get used to it. You know they were both down about missing the shot. I just have to tell them to keep their head up. They are going to have more opportunities and one shot is not going to win us the game, so just told them to stay confident and keep knocking down shots.”


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