Kentucky-Duquesne Postgame Quotes
University of Kentucky Basketball Media Conference
Friday, November 11, 2022
Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Kentucky – 77, Duquesne – 52
One, how is Daimion doing? And, two, how do you think —
JOHN CALIPARI: How did what?
How is Daimion doing? I know he went home. And your thoughts on Sahvir’s night tonight?
JOHN CALIPARI: You get one question. Which one you want? First one? Okay. (Jokingly)
We’re leaving tomorrow to go to the funeral. I wanted to take the whole team, but we’ve got to go to Indianapolis, come back, go to Spokane, come back, go to London. They don’t need another trip.
But Cason is family, so he’s going to go with us. And then we’ll come back with Daimion. There was a family viewing today that he needed to be there for. It was amazing. He left after practice, or as practice was ending and all the guys hugged him.I mean, it’s, what’s happened, he’s got family here, and it’s these players. They all greeted him when he came back. He didn’t get in until 11:50, and they were all the waiting for him at the lodge to just let him know and hang out with him. So, it will be good to get him back.
And Sahvir did well. He played more minutes than I wanted to play him. But, I think our guards are going to play 25, 20 to 25, 27, depending on who is playing well. Antonio keeps amazing me. C.J.’s doing his thing. Cason. Sahvir. We got four really good guards. I thought Chris Livingston banged the boards and rebounded. Could have played him more, but I was trying to let Jacob play through, like come on kid, rough it up. And that’s why I left him on the floor.
But Chris did well. Adou, I told him after, the game wasn’t one that I wanted to shove him in the game. But he’s going to be fine. I just told him, just be ready.
And Ugonna, wow. Like, he impacts the game the minute he walks on the court. Not afraid. How about he shot a right-handed jump hook from 12 feet. Air ball. But, he had the courage to shoot it.
By the way, Mike and Molly McGuire are going to come in after if you have questions for them or anything. Wasn’t it neat though? They’re all here. They came, parents, siblings, children, some other people from the town. I mean there were a lot of — they all came. Which is great. I mean, you know, I’m not one that likes to go to these kinds of things unless I’m watching one of my players. This is my life. But they come in here and see it, and they want to stay and be in Lexington tomorrow some and enjoy the city. And I’m going to say this again because I grabbed the family in the hallway and told them again how it happened. I was sent the picture, don’t know who sent it, immediately saw it. Obviously, my grandfather was a coal miner. I said, I want this guy at one of our games. Find out who it is. We’ll give him the VIP. And then I didn’t think about it again.
By the time I got to the office, it had circled the world. And it was because here’s a hardworking guy that is into his family and his children enough to forget about showering, cleaning. I’m just going to go be with my son and I don’t want to waste time. And it was one of those feel-good stories.
And let me say this about Duquesne, too. I’m a fan of their program. I grew up in Pittsburgh. Keith’s — he just stuck a team together of like 11 new guys. And let me explain, by the middle of this season we will say, we beat a good team. Look at them. We beat a good team. They missed some shots. They were a little bit, you know, things that they won’t do later. They’re trying to figure each other out. But they’ve got good guys. They posted us up. They did what they wanted at times.
Curious about Ugonna and the potential down the road with Sahvir and Cason the way they pressure out front and having a guy like that in the back that can change shots like he does.
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, we have a lot of options. The thing I told the guards today is, look, you’re going to play between 20 and 25, 26, 27 minutes. They all played 27 today.
And I said, if one of you really is playing well, you’ll play more. And if someone’s struggling, this isn’t brain surgery, you’re going to play less. And the same holds true with other guys. When you have a deep team, it holds you accountable.
Now, it doesn’t mean this is for the rest of the season. Get yourself right and let’s go. Next game. Move on.
For the second straight game C.J. and Antonio were the two leading scorers. It looks like you guys went 57 percent from three. How much does that open up the floor for your offense when you have two guys that can fill it up like that?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we’re not throwing it inside to Oscar right now. So when you throw it inside, we threw it some to Ugonna. How about the one he kicked out for a three? The guys went crazy in the huddle telling him what a great job he did.
But, no, it helps us. Cason can shoot it. Sahvir’s shooting it way better. We’ve just got to, like I said, this next game, the reason this was a good game, I knew it would be a roughhouse game. I know how Keith coaches. Not giving you an inch.
The next game we play is going to be a roughhouse game. Now, either you can play in a roughhouse game or you can’t. If you can’t, don’t worry about it, go on to the next game. You just won’t play much because this game will be, it’s going to be a roughhouse.
Offensive rebounds, you’re going to have to work like crazy because they’re going to hold block outs. You’re going to have to fight. They’re going to fight through screens. They’re going to be up in you. They’re going to collapse defensively. They’re as well-coached a team as we’ll play all year. And they had Gonzaga beat, I guess, tonight. They lost by one?
Gonzaga, are they No. 1 in the country? What’s Michigan State, then? Was the boat moving or something? I don’t know.
What is Oscar’s status right now? How far along is he compared to last time you talked about him? And what about Tuesday for him?
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know yet. he’s got to go through some workouts and if it swells or does stuff, we’re just going to have to wait. That surgery, he’s ahead of schedule, but, you know, you’ve got to be able to stop and turn and, you know, it’s not ligament or anything like that. But there was an operation where they went inside that area where it will still be sore for a minute.
So, we’ll have to see. I hope, but I have no idea. I did not think Sahvir would play as many minutes as he played. But he got tired. He said, ‘you know I never take myself out, and I took myself out.’
Obviously you came into this game with exactly 40 minutes of film on this particular Duquesne team. But coming out of the game, what would you describe as their identity going forward?
JOHN CALIPARI: They’re going to be a tough out and I’m going to tell you why. They’ve got really good guards and they’ve got guys that aren’t afraid to be physical.
We had two rebounds offensively at halftime. Two. They checked us. They bodied us. They didn’t let — they got almost every 50/50 ball in the first half. And we talked about it. But that’s how they’re going to play. But here’s the big thing. They have good guards. Their guards are good. The guys inside, listen, when we played behind ’em, the guy turned and scored. One kid’s 6′-10″.
So, what I will tell you is, as this season goes on, you’re going to see, one, Keith’s a hell of a coach; but two, you’re going to see that team, because, like the fans here, it’s like what I have to do every year. You’ve got a brand new team and early on they’re going to struggle a little bit and make some mistakes, and then as it goes on, they get better and better and by the end, they will be really — when you have good guards in college basketball, you’ve got a chance. And they got good guards.
How do you think Jacob has played so far?
JOHN CALIPARI: He’s done okay. He’s done okay. He’s got to be better than he is, but he’s done okay. He’s way better than he was. But, you know, I mean, playing through bumps, wanting contact, 50/50 balls, rebounding in traffic, those things that you’re going to win at the highest level.
And Daimion comes back, it forces you to, you know, because they may be trying to do the same thing to Daimion.
How pleased were you tonight with the team’s ball movement. You got 22 assists on the 28 made field goals.
JOHN CALIPARI: Can I say this? We have good guards. And when you have good guards, you get that kind of play. And, like the good news is if they play 25 minutes and they get 18 points, they’re evaluated by 40 minutes. That’s how this, the analytics go.
And so the best time — I’ve said this before, the max minutes is about 28 and then you start going the other way, your efficiency. So they’re playing about that max that they want to play if they’re worried about efficiency, which I am too.
You talked about going from 11 guys to eight guys by the end of the season. Is part of that spreading minutes around maybe limiting Oscar’s minutes from — no?
JOHN CALIPARI: No. I just, he can’t play 36 minutes. And part of the reason he can’t is there’s this kid, Ugonna, that’s going to deserve some minutes. And then the question is, can they play together? I don’t know. I haven’t coached them together.
Ugonna, you tell him one time and he’s got what you say. One time. You don’t have to tell him twice. I already told you — no. Whatever I tell him, he does. But there may be games where he’s doing what he needs to and we leave him in the game, but the issue is right now, you’re going to play more people and then when you get down to it, you’re going to play seven or eight guys.
The hard thing becomes, you know, you’re talking four really good guards. Like, here’s the other one. Chris Livingston was really good today. Probably should have played more minutes, but I wanted Jacob to play through bumps and figure stuff out, so I played him more. But if that were the continual thing, Chris would have played 27 minutes instead of 19. He would have played the extra minutes.
If Oscar had been healthy from the get-go, do you think Ugonna gets this opportunity? And how much has he exceeded what you thought he might do coming in?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, he’s exceeded, but you probably are right. But, you know, I mean, Lance fought like heck today. He did better. I think both of them, you know, there may be a game that it’s Lance’s game and there may be a game that it’s Ugonna’s game. But the question is, who becomes that four? Is it Daimion? Is it Jacob? I’ve been playing Chris at four. Not a bad team. A little bit smaller, but as long as Chris rebounds, who cares? Damian, then you almost have four guards in, because he can shoot and play too.
But this, again, this was a good win. I was worried this morning. I was really worried about Howard. And then worried about this game because I watched 40 minutes of them just pound Montana by a hundred, and I’m like, what in the world?
But good game and I wish them well. Keith knows I’m rooting for Duquesne. And I go back to the Red Manning days and the John Cinicola days. Some of you Pittsburgh people know what I’m talking about. So it’s a terrific program and they’re in a good league.
KENTUCKY BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. DUQUESNE
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOVEMBER 11, 2022
#0, Jacob Toppin, F
On what improvements the team can make before Michigan State…
“We’re giving up too many offensive rebounds and we’re not getting enough offensive rebounds. We’ve got to play more physical. Me personally, I’ve got to be more physical. I’ve got to be better. Going into this next game against Michigan State, it’s going be a rough one, they are a physical team so we need to punch first. So that’s what we’re going work on, just being physical, grabbing rebounds and just doing all the dirty work.”
On having Sahvir Wheeler back…
“Very nice. He speeds the game up for us and makes it a lot easier for us as a whole because he can get downhill, dish it out to our shooters who can make shots. He looks for the open guy, so it’s definitely enjoyable for him to be back.”
On if the physical game prepared the team for Tuesday…
“I mean I feel like every game prepares us for the next. Obviously we’re going to go back, watch film, see what we can improve on, and improve on that before the Michigan State game.”
#33, Ugonna Onyenso, F
On how he was playing on defense…
“I am working on being more vocal on the court, you know. Calling out screens, knowing where to be, and helping my teammates when it comes to the screens.”
On what’s it like to play in front of so many fans in Rupp Arena…
“I am still adjusting to the crowd. I have not been in front of a big crowd before. As time goes on I will feel more confident about playing in front of a crowd. I will have to wrap my mind around playing in an environment with many people.”
On what his shot blocking ability does for the defense…
“I would say it helped the defense. I feel like I have the ability to stay in the game because of what I do. The fact that I help the team by blocking shots. I think it is going to get me more minutes. I am still working on other things. For now I am just playing a role on the team and doing my best to help the team.”
#2, Sahvir Wheeler, G
On what it felt like being back in Rupp Arena and getting back out there with his teammates again…
“It was great, it was great. A lot of fun, happy to play basketball again, you know, for real this time. Cal is on the record books, getting back in front our great fans and just to get another W in the W column was great.”
On what it’s like playing with Cason (Wallace)…
“He makes the game way easier on both ends. On offense, he can be the primary ball-handler as well, I don’t always have to come back and get it. He can initiate, he can create plays for himself and others, and defensively, that kind of speaks for itself. We’re probably two of the premiere, elite on-ball defenders in the country. We try to guard, we complement each other in that way, we’re both athletic, we’ve got speed and ultimately, we make each better and we make our teammates better.”
On how good the team is when they have a freshman seven-footer in the back…
“It’s crazy. Go ahead, you got to go by me and Cason and everybody else and we’re going to funnel you down there – so that’s big time. You know Coach Cal always talked about that his teams that were successful, they had a shot-blocking presence. So, when he’s (Ugonna) back there, when Daimion (Collins) gets back there when he gets back, all of that’s going to be hard for teams to go against. We’re going to wear you out, we’re going to get into your legs, pick you up full court, then you have to go finish over Ugonna and Daimion and hopefully at some point we get Jacob (Toppin) to get a couple blocks as well. Lance has been protecting the rim – because I think he had a couple blocks today again so, all those guys are chipping in.”
KENTUCKY BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. DUQUESNE
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOV. 11, 2022
Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot
Opening Statement …
“So, I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of good players. My hat goes off to Kentucky for two reasons. I think one, you know when you get all those McDonald’s All-Americans and you get them to play as hard as they did and share the ball, it says a lot about you as a coach. But you’re talking about one of the most historic programs in college basketball. I know it better than most because, you know, my uncle played against Kentucky in the NIT in 1950, my dad played at Duquesne when they were number one in the country. So, I know more about the history of Kentucky than most coaches do. So, over time, I don’t think there’s been a better program. And again, I think what Coach Cal does is phenomenal because it’s not easy to get young people to play that hard and together. They did a really good job.”
On Difficulty of containing Sahvir…
“Well, you know, we knew that if we didn’t guard, we were going to have problems. We did a poor job of guarding the ball, but that’s tribute to him. He’s a strong, tough, little guy that gets to where he wants to get and then shares the ball. That was probably the key to the game. We just didn’t guard the ball well. And then, when you don’t guard the ball well, with all that shooting they have and then the size inside, you’re scrambling.”
On overall Impression of team performance…
“I think it was too early for us to win the game, you know, we’re just not quite ready to play at that caliber yet with all the newness that we have. You’re talking about one of the top five teams in the country. We just haven’t been together long enough to win a game like that. You have to know when to score. You have to know when to slow it down. You can’t get to running a Kentucky Derby with them, right? They’re just too quick, fast and athletic to do that. You have to pick and choose your spots. And we’re just not quite mature enough for that at this point in the season. But overall, we competed hard. You know, when you shoot eight for 32 in the first half, that’s hard to overcome. But a lot of that is bad shot selection, right? Rushed shots, you know, you have to move the ball against them and make them play a lot of defense in order to win. Kind of like when Richmond came in here, right? That’s how you have to play against them. Pick and choose your spots to run. We weren’t quite ready to do that.”
Duquesne Student Athletes
#34, Austin Rotroff, F
On how Tevin looked on his first game back…
“Yeah, I thought Tevin was good for the first-time coming in. He had been through a lot in the past couple of weeks and months. We have seen him a little bit in the summer before the medical condition, so we know what he is capable of, and we are confident in him that once he gets settled in a little bit more, he will be able to offer a lot for us.”
On playing in Rupp Arena…
“Yeah, it definitely is a different environment. [It’s a] Cool experience to come in here, but once the game starts and you get a couple of possessions up and down, and really get to settle in, you kind of tune all of that out. So, it just becomes another game.”