Men's Basketball
Kentucky-UNC-Wilmington Postgame Quotes

Kentucky-UNC-Wilmington Postgame Quotes

December 2, 2023
Lexington, Kentucky, USA


Coach John Calipari


Press Conference



Kentucky 73, UNC Wilmington 80





Q Coach, when a team like that comes in and they’re playing well

and your — you know, and your guys finally get it going in the

half and they kind of get on another run, what do you say to a

young group of guys like that?


JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, the first thing is this was Saint Joe’s again

where we couldn’t stay in front of the ball.  And you can scheme and

do all the stuff and they go and do an A-1 lay-up on a straight line

drive, it’s hard.  So we’ve got time in between games, and we’ve got

to keep working on the importance of staying in front of your man and

make him score through your chest.  We just keep opening up the hips,

and they’re shooting lay-ups.  The difference between this and Saint

Joe’s, we made shots.  So we were able to keep the game — and that’s

what I keep coming back to.  There are games you’re not going to make

shots.  You’ve got to rebound and defend.

You can’t, like — the thing that bothered me to start the

game — I understand our starting point guard was out; okay?  But we

didn’t play the same way.  We held the ball.  Everybody is trying to

make a play.  So now you say:  Well, why didn’t you get off more 3s?

Because everybody who caught it held it.  Instead of a pass it just

to pass and drive the lane.  They help.  You kick it out.  It’s an

open 3.  We had to get 3s where I had to run a play to get a 3.

That’s not who we are.

I mean, we — there was a play where there was a guy straight

ahead, our best three-point shooter.  And I had a guy try to throw

across court bounce pass, and that guy was standing right there with

no one on him.  Literally, the only guy between — it was just — but

there were other plays the same way.

They deserved to win the game.  They did.  I would have liked to

have tried to have stolen — steal the game from them, but they

deserved to win it.  They played well.  They shot well.  You know,

they have 12 turnovers.  You imagine, we had more turnovers than they

did.  We had 8 at halftime, or 9, whatever it was.  I’m like, guys.














And they were all because we’re trying to make the hardest possible

play instead of just easy plays.  We’ve got stuff to learn.

You know what?  This is all part of it.  You win, and you learn.

This is learned.  We better guard the ball better, you know.  Yes.


Q You kind of mentioned, to the point in the season where it’s a

week between games.  Other than staying in front of your man,

guarding the ball, what are one or two things that this team

really needs to work on over this next month?


JOHN CALIPARI:  Well, we’ve got to make sure we don’t revert back to

holding the ball.  Okay.  That’s — you know, you have coaches

calling me.  I love watching your team.  If they watched this game,

they did not love watching this team.  So what was the difference?

You know, I mean, we could say it was one guy, but I’m saying,

like, all of the — why did we do that?  Sometimes you’ve got to

stick your hand in the fire and get burned to know I don’t like this


I was saying in huddles:  Are you having fun?  I’m not having

fun.  Why won’t you pass it to each other?  We had post-ups

available, and a guy drove it and tried to shoot it and turn it over.

Like, what?  But that’s what happens with young teams.

And, like, rebounding, there were three plays.  Again, it’s our

game.  A guy shoots a ball, and we don’t block out.  We turn and run

to the rim, and it bounces over the guy’s head, And-1.  The very next

play, the same thing.  The guy blocks out like that instead of

meeting him, And-1, and he gets his fourth foul.  I mean, those are

stuff — those are all correctable.

But again, that’s a good team.  You know, I’ve got to give it to

them.  They — and I knew it.  I told them prior to game after

watching the tape, I’m like, why are we playing this game?  But

that’s part of what this team will go through.  Now, you guys know we

can play with anybody in the country, and we can lose to anybody in

the country.  And we’ll play the right way.  We get better

defensively.  We rebound.  We’ll be fine.

They said you can’t do it with young guys.  Well, we’ve kind of

done it with young guys.  But staying in front of the ball — now,

you may have had a player on my team that was your favorite player in

the history.  If he got beat 17 times on straight line drives,

just — I can go down the line.  It just wasn’t just one guy now.

And we’ve just got to get better at it.


Q John, can you put your finger on why you think they reverted

to just holding the ball —


JOHN CALIPARI:  I have no idea.


Q How surprised were you that —


JOHN CALIPARI:  Very surprised.  I thought the other team was who we were.  So, basically, I keep coming back to             dominant habits.  If your

dominant habit is, when a shot goes up, to run to the rim, that’s

your dominant habit.  I’m trying to get them to create, a shot goes

up, you go find somebody to block out.  It’s not a dominant habit

right now.  Passing just to pass is not a dominant habit.  It isn’t.

Now, they’ve been doing it, and we’ve been training it.  But the

dominant habit is what you saw today.  I’m going to make my play.

That’s — it’s hard to play basketball that way.

And we don’t have to because we’ve got skilled guys.  I would

tell you that there are some guys playing on this team that because

they’re on this unselfish team, they really look good.  And they’ve

made other people look good.  What you saw today, you could say

so-and-so was okay.  We can go right down the line.  Why didn’t he

play to the level where he was?  We didn’t do this together.  But

it’s a good lesson.  But believe me, it wasn’t just offense.  It

wasn’t.  You’ve got to stay in front of people.


Q John, you talk about a young team learning.  Obviously, a

22-point win the other night over a top ten team.  Everybody is

patting them on their back.  Was that an education, something

they had to learn today, or do you think they were ready to



JOHN CALIPARI:  You’d have to ask them that.  All I know is we didn’t

play the way we’ve been playing.  How did we stay in front of Miami?

Was there — it’s not that important and then, all of a sudden, you

give the other team beer muscles.  Now, all of a sudden, they’re

driving like crazy because you chose not to think that was important.

And your dominant habit is a guy drives — (audio glitch) — deserved

to win the game.  I mean, the shots they made, I mean — and they

were big shots.  When they needed to make a shot, they did.  When we

needed to make a shot, we didn’t.


Q Coach, we did see Aaron Bradshaw for the first time tonight.

You’ve kind of been bit by the injury bugs, the Big, now D.J.

What did you think of the way Aaron played, and is there an

update on D.J.?


JOHN CALIPARI:  First time out, for him, I think it was probably plus

a bunch.  I don’t know exactly.  You’d have to look.  Well, was it?

Plus 11 in a game.  We lose by this.  So, obviously, that says he did

okay.  He’s still not in the flow of the stuff yet.  But he did some

good stuff.  That’s a good start for him.  And I have no news on D.J.

at all.  Thank you.




DECEMBER 2, 2023


#3 Adou Thiero, G

On ball defense and straight line drive …

“We got stuff to improve on, ball defense is definitely one. We came out tonight and let them get a couple straight line drives to the rim and some and one’s in crunch time, but we’re just going to take that and learn from it and come back next game.”

On cause of offense having of flow …

“We came into this game selfishly, I think. First half we weren’t really swinging the ball to each other as much as we usually do. We didn’t get the same amount of assists we usually do; guys were trying to do things on their own – we were just out of it.”

On what was different at the start of the second half after being down at halftime …

“We flipped the switch, but we dug ourselves a hole earlier and couldn’t get out of it.”

#15 Reed Sheppard, G

On how tough this game was …

“Yeah man. Any time you lose, it’s a bad feeling. Nobody likes to lose. You know, you have to give credit to UNC-Wilmington. They played a great game, they hit shots. They did what they needed to do. Tough loss, but any loss is a bad loss.”

On if the team felt ready to play …

“We were prepared. We were ready to play. They just came out and they were hitting shots. They’re a really good team, and we didn’t play well. We didn’t share the ball well, we didn’t shoot it well, and they did so that’s what happened.”

On how much staying in front of one’s man factored into this game …

“Yeah, it was a big factor. That allowed them to get everything going to the rim and stuff, so we’ll have to keep working in practice. Just guarding, staying in front of our man, and just make that a point in practice on the defensive end. Staying locked in and staying in front.”

#4 Tre Mitchell, F

On DJ Wagner’s impact on the team …

“You’re talking about a playmaker and a dude who attacks the basket very well, draws a lot of attention off pick-and-roll situations. As well as he dogs the ball on defense. He presses the ball, and we had a lot of straight-line drives tonight and a lot of and ones. That could be one not guarding the ball and two we don’t have any help when were supposed to be there, me included. So, I mean DJ Wagner just brings another energy to the court. I feel like we were very dead tonight from an energy standpoint, and part of that falls back on me being a leader. I got to do better and more than just talking, be able to get guys excited and into it.”

On how he steps up to be a leader …

“One is to take a step back from everything and realize that we’re human, you know, we’re not going to be perfect, we’re going to have nights like tonight. It’s whether we can have the maturity level to not get super down on ourselves and to take a look at the tape and film. I think we know in our heads what we did wrong that day. But when you really look at it on film, you’re able to see it in front of you and you’re able to analyze it – it clicks in your head. But as a leader, nothing changes from my perspective. You know, I have to come into practice every day and push these dudes and not let the energy get low.”

On how the team is going to respond to the loss …

“I feel bad for whoever we got next. Short and sweet. I don’t think these dudes are going to take this lightly. You know, I think whoever we play next better come with everything they got because these dudes have something to make up for. Just simple as that.”




DECEMBER 2, 2023


Takayo Siddle – Head Coach

Opening statement …

“Let’s give a lot of credit to Kentucky and I appreciate Coach Calipari for giving us this opportunity to come up here and it was a great experience for our young men and our program in general. It was one of those games where we knew it would be tough and we knew we would have to withstand some adversity. I think the previous game that we lost before we came up here really prepared us for this moment. It was a game that went back and forth, our crowd was into it, but our guys never wavered. They hustled with some haymakers and responded with our own haymakers. We finished the game off like veterans and I am very proud of our guys.”

On getting Kentucky out of the flow of their offense …

“We did what we normally do. We wanted to extend our pressure up the court, be really aggressive in the passing lanes and try to eat the basketball up and it probably flushed them to the paint a little bit and they probably thought they had an advantage to the inside or with their athleticism touching the paint. It may have had something to do with it. I thought our guys were really aggressive, I feel like they were on their heels a little bit and we stayed aggressive throughout the game, and it paid off for us.”

On his experience at Gardner-Webb and coming into Rupp again …

“I mentioned it briefly yesterday (laughter). It was so long ago, and they don’t want to hear about my glory days at all. My message was believe. Anything can happen and little Gardner-Webb  came in here back in 2007 and we had the same outcome then we quickly moved on because they didn’t want to hear that but I think they understood the message I was trying to get across to them. We came in here believing that we could win the game, we know how talented we are as a ball club and our guys did a tremendous job executing.”

On speaking to his guard (Shykeim Phillips) postgame…

“My job is just to try to help these guys as much as I can. On and off the court and try to, you know, help set them up for success. And that was my veteran point guard who has been with me the longest, Shykeim, and we’re trying to get him to lead and talk a little bit more. So, I just grabbed him and told him ‘Hey, this is the message that you need to go back and talk to your team about’ because Calipari, I’m sure he said it a million times, ‘The good teams are really elite teams, the players coach themselves.’ And so that’s what we’re trying to get to, so I just told them ‘Hey, look, you know, there was a good half but the game’s not over.’ You know, Cal probably went in and went off on his guys. And we need to be ready for that. We need to be ready to exceed their toughness, their energy, their fight – everything, so go out there until you guys have good half. We’re not done yet. We didn’t come here to win a half. We came here to win the ballgame. So, we settled in. And, you know, let’s do it for 20 more minutes.”


#1 Donovan Newby, G

On if straight line drives were part of the game plan and key to the overall success …

“In our pregame and going through our scouting routine, Coach (Ponder) talked about trying to get paint touches. So, when we had the defense collapse into that, we just kept making plays and that was what the deal was with that one.”


#13 Trazarien White, F

On how much more respect he has for his coach since he played and won in Rupp Arena against Kentucky in 2007 …

“Coach Siddle is the type of coach that is never going to let you underestimate yourself. He is going to push you to be the greatest you can be on and off the court. He had the keys to success, and we just followed him, and it worked out in our favor.”

On what are you wearing on your neck and what does it represent …

“This is the toughness chain. It goes to the player the team feels like gave all they had. It means toughness, not just in scoring, but in plays and the little things on the court. It means a lot to get the toughness chain. It is a great feeling to get all the attention in that moment that the player who receives the chain rightfully deserves it.”

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