Kentucky-Miami Postgame Quotes
UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY MEN’S BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 28, 2023 Lexington, Kentucky, USA Coach John Calipari Press Conference
Kentucky 95, Miami 73
JOHN CALIPARI: Got out-rebounded again. Wow. Pretty good.
Q Coach, after last game you talked about you wanted to see how the team finished tonight. When you were playing Kansas, then kind of lost the lead. What was different tonight to make them step on the gas?
JOHN CALIPARI: The only thing I did was we played it as an eight-point finish. We wanted to keep shortening the game and make baskets. We are still not quite there. We didn’t finish off. We got too late in the shot clock. Some of them you want to go and shoot it and rebound it and you kick it out and you go again. And now you just used the minute off the clock. They don’t have a chance to beat you.
We hadn’t worked on any of that with Kansas. I was just trying to get them to be a basketball team, pass to each other. So we really didn’t. Now we are beginning to. I’m trying to put guys in situations in these kind of games and see how they play. We still had some break downs, discipline. You can’t just do what you want to do. We’re a team. There was a game plan, stick with it. And we kind of got out of it.
But to be honest with you, the way we run and fly up and down the court, you know, I don’t know if you can remember some past years where I’m just yelling “Go, go.” You could hear me through the TV. Because that’s how I wanted us to play. But to play that way you have got to run. And it can’t be me telling you to run. Just run.
And it was good stuff today. I did not see D.J. (Wagner), but I think they said his ankle, he just didn’t — he wasn’t going to come back. So we were really shorthanded, but a good game against a good team. I mean, defensively we were saying make the 3 hard, make them take tough 2 ‘s. They can beat you with 3’s. And they also beat you if you turn it over, because they unbelievably finish at the rim. And we just didn’t turn it over that much.
Q John, what did you see in Reed (Sheppard) maybe during his recruitment or even in Toronto that maybe indicated that he did have this kind of impact this early in his career?
JOHN CALIPARI: He’s — the biggest — my best players that I have coached mand I’ve coached NBA, MVP’s, you know, those players are even-keel. Now, they will get emotional about a play, but they are never up and down. Those guys, they just are like that (indicating). And that’s how he is.
Now, I was just with Chip Rupp. The family, the Rupp family, has been unbelievable to me. Chip and his son, Brad, they grew up together and, so, I saw them last night. And he said, I watched Reed as a 9th grader, a 10th grader, 11th grader, 12th grader. And everybody is talking to me like is he a knock-down shooter. He was never a knock-down shooter. When I saw him, that was — you know, what he has done? He lives in that gym. He works. And he’s made himself kind of like Shai. And some of these other kids that I have had, they build their own confidence. It’s not me saying you’re great or you are bad or…you know, it is them.
But I always saw his ability to have a feel for passing. His hands, I am not joking when I say this, that’s Stacey’s. That’s who that is. Jeff wasn’t that way. Stacey was that way. And, you know, you just see him get his hands on balls. But, again, he had about five break downs today that were discipline. He just, like, why did you try to steal that? Why are you leaving your feet? We are not playing that way. But he was young. He is young. I don’t know, his plus-minus was probably off the charts again. Yeah, 35. So…
But it was good. I mean, you know, we didn’t take as many 3’s. And I know some people would be so mad because you’re telling me how to coach and we need to take thirty-five 3’s and he doesn’t listen and all of that stuff. There are games you are going to take more and there are games you are going to take less. It is just how it is.
Q John, I always thought overrated was about the dumbest cheer ever. I noticed you had to get after the student section late in the game.
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, I just — you know, our fans are the best. Our students are the best. But I just — you know, that kind of stuff I’ve never been — you know, we get it everywhere we go. And sometimes we got some coaches that would encourage that. I just don’t; you know, they don’t deserve that. They are young kids.
You know, let them — we may end up playing them again and then all of a sudden, you know, that’s living with them. So, no, I just said don’t do it. And how about the fans? They responded and just stopped. That’s how good a group that we have.
Q Cal, similarly, along those lines, in the past you have talked about, saying to your players, you know, I want you to be a team that people love watching play. It seems like the reaction, people love watching this team play. What is that interplay? How important is that, sort of how the players maybe feed off of a fan base that is kind of anticipating?
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t think they do. I think they are into each other and they really like each other.
Q Cal, you guys against Kansas got off to that hot start in the second half and then let it go and you talked about learning how to finish. You guys kept it on the gas.
JOHN CALIPARI: How about we were up and then all of a sudden I look and we were down, call a timeout, and then we are up five at half time, which was the Kansas score.
JOHN CALIPARI: But I’m just — to play as fast as we play, it doesn’t — it is not just what it does for us, it is what it does to an opponent. And especially Jim’s like I am, he is not playing a whole lot of guys. He was riding those guys. And now all of a sudden in that second half that’s when it hits. But, you know, I thought, again, we passed to each other, 26 assists. I loved the one where Robert got it and threw it right back to Reed and then Reed hits the….I mean, come on. People are not holding the ball, they are getting rid of it. So it is good stuff.
Q Cal, another superb assist-to-turnover ratio for you guys tonight as well.
JOHN CALIPARI: When you have players that can dribble, pass, and shoot, like Shai Alexander said, you play this way and you won’t turn it over that much. We only had three at half time and Adou had two that were easy. What did you just do? Why didn’t you look at him and throw it underhand to him? You rocket it to him. And the other one, you threw. Like, we would have had one at half time. And the speed of that game, now think about that, how fast we are playing.
Pretty good stuff.
Q I was going to say, what is the confidence level in this team being able to continue that even in fast paced tracking at games like tonight was at times?
JOHN CALIPARI: This is how we play. And, again, I would say this and I know I am not — every team I’ve coached I’ve had to coach different. If I tried to play this way last year, why are you laughing? We have got people laughing. I couldn’t have played this way, who we had. Now, I am not saying they are not good players.
Oscar’s getting 30 rebounds a game in there. But he’s not Tre, Tre’s not him. I wish he rebounded a few more balls. But you can’t play this way if the guys are not good with the ball and confident
three-point shooters. So we’ve had three guards when we had Maxey and Quickley and Johnny Juzang and Ashton. I mean, we played that way but we didn’t have a five like Tre. We had Nick Richards. So he is more of a rim runner and a shot blocker and…
But I’m anxious to get a couple of the bigs back. And, I mean, the people that come in my gym, we have got people that have never walked in my gym that are giving their opinions of what these big kids are or when or why or this or rumors or…I don’t get it. I mean, I really don’t understand it. Like Aaron, the guy’s on TV watched it today and yesterday, watched him. So I’m hoping he plays Saturday. But what if he doesn’t? Was I lying? No. I just think he will play Saturday. If he doesn’t he will play the next Saturday.
Z finally, did not practice today, got sick. I don’t think he is telling the truth. I am telling the truth. Had 104 fever. Isn’t it going to be fun when we get these guys back? How about we talk that way? So it is what it is.
Listen, I appreciate you all. I have got to go do this radio. This is a half hour later for my body than normal. So I have got to get home. So let me do this radio. I appreciate it.
KENTUCKY BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. MIAMI (FL)
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOVEMBER 28, 2023
#1, Justin Edwards, G
On what was clicking for them tonight….
“A little bit of everything. Our buildups, and our practice has been really good the past couple of days. We focused on the gameplan and went out and played good.”
On how the team having fun on the court plays to their success…
“It plays a lot because that is how we are off the court. We are a bunch of friendly guys hanging out together, so I think it plays a big part in our success. I feel like us being young plays a part in it, so we try to get everyone to go out with us. Even the vets like Tone (Antonio Reeves) we go bowling with sometimes and we just try to get everybody out.”
On how their pace of play feels when on the court…
“It is really fun because we have a whole bunch of guys who can do a little bit of everything, so it opens the floor for all of us.”
#12, Antonio Reeves, G
On the crowd tonight…
“Electric. Everybody was so in tuned to the game. It brought us together as a team.”
On handling Miami’s run in the first half…
“Just stay solid as a team, on defense and offense. Just focused on the scout report, we stayed locked in on what they are doing on the offensive end and try to get a stop.”
On only having eight turnovers and if the team is doing anything different…
“No, just how we are on the offensive end. We just guard our play and take care of the ball. It came natural for us.”
#15, Reed Sheppard, G
On the crowd …
“The crowd was unbelievable. I don’t think they sat down. It was so loud. From the first possession to the last possession, they made a huge impact on the game. They made it tough for Miami to run plays. It will be a moment we will never forget.”
On his plus/minus …
“I don’t really worry about any of that. I do everything I can to help my team to make the right play. With these dudes around me, it is easy. We were hitting shots left and right tonight and everyone was passing and having fun.”
On beating a really good team…
“Yeah, it’s huge. We are going to enjoy this win tonight. Then get back at it tomorrow. We knew we had a good team and now we know for sure we have a good team. We just need to keep doing the little things, keep sharing the ball, keep passing it around. It’s going to be a fun season.”
KENTUCKY BASKETBALL POSTGAME QUOTES
KENTUCKY VS. MIAMI (FL)
RUPP ARENA – LEXINGTON, KY.
NOVEMBER 28, 2023
Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga
Opening statement …
“A number of things, first of all Kentucky was terrific tonight. Very explosive, and we couldn’t really defend anyway. Their size, athletic ability, shooting ability. You know, they shoot 42 percent from three, 59 percent overall and we just couldn’t guard. I said the first team to 80 would win, but we didn’t score. We played totally out of character on offense and that impacted our defense, which, unfortunately, is a weakness of ours. And some of it, I thought, had to do with a little bit of foul trouble and the frustration our guys felt because they were sitting on the bench anxious to get back in. When Norchad Omier only plays eight minutes in the first half. And Bensley Joseph plays only six minutes in the first half. And that’s two of our really critical guys. Bensley defensively and Norchad with everything. Especially rebounding. So credit to them, and we’re going to have to go back to Miami and get ready for our next one.”
On where Miami went wrong in containing Kentucky’s offense …
“Well, it’s the same issue we’ve had in our first five games too. But we were able to outscore them [those opponents]. We’re not very tall, as you can tell. I think they have probably three or four inches at the point guard position, five or six inches at the two-guard spot, three or four inches at the three, two to three inches at the four and five inches at the five. We’re small which means that we must play very good offense and score the ball regularly and then really try to help each other defensively and we didn’t do either. We didn’t score the ball well enough. And we didn’t guard at all.”
On the difficulty of Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham coming in off the bench …
“Those guys are pretty good. I’d say those two guys are, I mean Reed ended up starting in the second half. I mean, those are two NBA guys. They’re terrific college players, but they’ll play beyond for sure. They can shoot it, they handle it, they share it extremely well. And I think that’s what’s impressive about Kentucky’s offense is how well they share the ball. They had 26 assists and we had eight, it’s not a good stat for us.”
On what makes Reed so difficult to stop …
“He’s so good at everything. I mean he can shoot it, he can handle it, he can pass it. He finds the open man great and he defends you know, you might look at him and think that okay, he’s not that athletic. You try to score on him, but he’s moving his feet using his hands and doing a great job at the defensive end of the floor as well. He comes up with a lot of deflections and steals as well. He had four assists and one turnover and then Dillingham had nine assists and no turnovers. That’s a pretty good night from your bench. They don’t start.”
On what Kentucky did to get Nijel Pack out of his rhythm …
“It wasn’t Nijel Pack, it was our team. I think with the hype of the game, the crowd, our guys wanting to play well individually. They all wanted to have a good day. And, as a result, you can’t win individually. Kentucky showed us that’s the facts. You have to share the ball and find the open man and get assists. That’s what they did. That’s what we didn’t do.”
On the crowd being so loud and finding a way to play with it…
“We didn’t figure out a way to do it. I don’t know how many teams will when they come here. But I watched the other games and there were times in the St. Joe’s game they were able to score with them. [They] took the game into overtime and played really, really well. But there’ll be teams like that, especially if you’re big enough. And we couldn’t keep them out of the lane. I don’t know what they shot on layups and dunks, but it was far more than we’ve given up in years.”
On how hard it is to change systems like Calipari does…
“Well, I was looking at the game notes. And this was before the game, and I read the list of NBA players that he has coached here. You know, all these NBA All-Stars and stuff. So, I would say this, Cal could change his style every year. It’s going to work because he’s got so many terrific players. The players make the coach, and when you have as many good players as he has, he’s going to have a lot of success. If you don’t have very good players, you’re going to struggle. I’m fortunate that during my years at Miami, we’ve had a lot of good players and they’ve been able to compete at a high level.”
On if this is a game where you just throw away the tape…
“Oh, we’ve got to learn from it. We have to understand what we did and what we didn’t do. But you know, one thing I told the team beforehand, I was a little surprised. The crowd was great. So hats off to them, but they booed me. They booed me before the game. What did I do to deserve that? That’s the first time I’ve ever been booed. So tell them, you know, be polite. You know, teams are going to come in and you’re going to kick their butt, and you’re going to boo them like they’re bad people? They’re nice people. We’re nice.”