Men's Basketball
Kentucky-Ole Miss Men's Basketball Postgame Quotes

Kentucky-Ole Miss Men's Basketball Postgame Quotes


February 13, 2024 Lexington, Kentucky, USA Coach John Calipari Press Conference

Kentucky 75, Ole Miss 63


JOHN CALIPARI: I’m not going to stay here long because I got to go out and do that radio. Is there anybody who stayed out there? Did anybody?


Q John, when you have players who were struggling, young players especially waiting for the light to come on. How do you balance helping them versus the team struggle we’ve got, it’s getting late, we’ve got to maybe move on?


JOHN CALIPARI: Is not late. Look. I’ve had all kinds of new teams every year. Okay. That doesn’t phase me. Mid-season changing your team phases me. Because now, the chemistry, you are just plugging guys in. And I went to a shorter rotation. And, you know, I love how we started the game. We were the aggressor. We had to change a little bit of what we were doing. We also, you know, how we were guarding people. I keep saying we get shot blockers. Don’t give him a jumper. Make them beat you on the bounce. Because we got people back in there. Ugonna set a Rupp record. Which is amazing. 10 blocks. They got seven footers now, one guy is 7’5″. I thought Reed played well. Robert did not play well in the first half and I thought DJ really helped us what he did defensively and he comes out in the second half and didn’t play real well. But you know what, I grabbed him in there and he’s the greatest kid. He’s fine. He was of for two and a half weeks.

Almost three weeks. It’s going to take him time. You know, I still want to put Jordan in just because I love his energy and his fight and what he does. He didn’t get in this game. I thought Aaron played well. Justin. There are some plays that we are trying to train them on that they can’t help themselves. There are two guys wide open. We are the best three-point shooting team. And there are two guys wide open and you try to shoot a ball. Why is that? Now, all we do is talk about it. The best way we can get threes of is by driving the ball and when they collapse, find somebody.

Whoever you throw it to can play. Adou did it a couple of times again. Just try to shoot it. Like – that’s one of our biggest things, the way we shoot threes. The big thing today, we guarded. We guarded. I mean, their guards are really good. We guarded the three-point line, stuf that we have been working on. It’s just going to be a process. I keep saying to everybody that we will break through. We will. My teams break through. The diference is we’ve had to add guys. And I will say it again. If we will defend a little better. Be physical. 50-50 balls including rebounds. Tre being in there today helped us. He gets and gets those tough rebounds. Which we don’t get. Now you get them with him in the game. And then lastly, let’s improve our defense by about 10%. Because when you score and don’t turn it over much. And have individual players like Robert and Antonio and D.J. and Reed who can just go get a shot when they want to. That’s a recipe for a team that can do well. If they fight, play physical, 50-50 balls, and get better defensively. The other stuf, you saw today it doesn’t really matter who I put in. The five guys put out there can all play basketball. They can all shoot it and pass. All right, we done?


Q Cal, first of on Tre, any update on him?


JOHN CALIPARI: Went to get x-rays, I don’t know.


Q Okay. And two, what did you like defensively even aside from Adou?


JOHN CALIPARI: Pressure. Pressure. We weren’t backing up. It’s something that I just said look, the start of games are bad for us because we arr back. We can’t be that way. My whole career the first five minutes, four minutes we pressed. Even if it was an ugly press. Not to press them to get my team playing with a motor. I told them prior to the game. They are not getting an ofensive rebound in the first five minutes of this game. Do you hear me. They are not. Do you know how many games they get three, four, five ofensive rebounds in the first three minutes of the game. Antonio rebounded. You know, he went in and mixed it up. We still – Justins got to do more rebounding the ball.

But a good win. They are a good team. Like I said, I watched the tape. They had Auburn down 15. Auburn inched their way back in the game. Their guard play is good. Their big guys are huge. They made free throws today. I’m like, it kinda happens to us.



Q Cal, you touched upon it with Ugo tonight. Most blocks at Rupp since David Robinson did it. These past couple of weeks you seem to hit these huge huge strides.


JOHN CALIPARI: How about he made free throws. If you think about it. Those are big. Now. I told him you can’t go one for two and missed a dunk and then go one for two from the foul line. Dunk it and then you will get one more and if you miss that, it’s okay, we’ve got two.

One of the things that’s bothering me is we are throwing in really hard passes for him to catch. Like Adou threw him a lob, and came up through. Like, can’t do that to him. When he’s doing all he is doing defensively. Don’t do that to him. Don’t get him balls in bad areas. Now, rolling down the middle. Reed found him. D.J. found him. Robert found him. You know. Was he a double double? No, Ugo? If he hit those free throws he would have had a double double.


Q Coach, at the last half of last game. Rob found himself in just a few minutes in the same situation in the first half and the second half tonight he comes out and he is your leading scorer in the half, kind of an emotional guy at times. How do you balance the leash in that moment when you get turnovers the first half and second half he is just going of. How do you balance that?


JOHN CALIPARI: I give him another chance. I tell him I believe in you but you’re not going to play playing the way you’re playing. If he would have came out and had two more turnovers he would have sat. Because the turnovers were not like good turnovers. It was like giving them the ball for layups at the other end. Did that in Florida down there and the second half he played out of his mind. It’s nice to know that he, like I told him last game. He was -13. I was watching the game and no, he’s not playing real well. But I left him out for a long period of time because the other group played well together. So now, there is for five minutes to go and you keep a kid out eight minutes. Is it fair to him to put him in, in the guts of that game, it’s just not fair. If he would’ve come to me – and I told him this. And said I’ll be fine, put me in, I would have put him in. I would not have said go ahead, just go in. I’m not doing that to that young person. He loses the game on a missed shot. No, I’m not doing it unless he wanted in. It’s like Reed telling me stick with me when I’m throwing balls all over the place. I’ll be fine, I’ll settle down. They are talking more. We are doing some things in practice that they suggested to me. Some of it is to hold them accountable. We’ve got to be held accountable defensively. So here are some ideas. We did them and we went with them.



Q John, I wanted to piggyback of something you said after Saturday’s game in terms of being built for March. What does that look like to you. What are the areas that you want to see and how much do these games kind of determine that?


JOHN CALIPARI: Well, the next two games don’t. It’s over this period of time. In the NCAA tournament you can’t score 65, 63, 62. You can maybe in one game but you’ll get beat. You’ve got to be able to score points. We can do it. You’ve got to have a player that can go of in a game so you can advance. We have a couple of those. You can’t be a high turnover team because the team you are going to play, they are in the NCAA tournament. They are going to be a low turnover team. We are a low turnover team. The issue is will we be physical enough. The reason we were physical today. D.J. is physical. Tre is physical. Ugonna is physical. Adou is physical. Now you’re playing four of your top eight are physical players. They are going to bang. That was one of our issues. 50-50 balls. We missed some today again. Justin didn’t dive up for the ball. He tried to pick it up with one hand and threw it to them. 50-50 rebounds. Tre helped us today. We are still not where we need to be. And lastly, defensively you got to be more connected. So, if we get those things squared away. The hardest thing to be is what we already are. You know, and if someone is not playing well, what can I do? I will put somebody else in. What happened last year when we hit a game where a guy couldn’t make a shot and we had to stick with them. We had no choice. There was no one to stick in. Now you’ve got some diferent things. Shot blocking will also make a diference and it does make a diference defensively. You know. We’ve got a ways to go. I’ve explained that now. That’s about the 10th time I’ve explained what I meant so, no disrespect, But I’m done explaining it. You guys explain it to each other what I’m saying about why I think March. But we have to go take care of business. If we don’t get more physical when we play. If we don’t improve our defense. If we don’t come up with 50-50 balls. Tough rebounds. Then it doesn’t matter this over here. But this over here is the hard thing. All of the stuf I told you right there. What kind of skill does that take? No skill. Do you want it or not? What about the stuf over here. That takes skill. And you know.

FEB. 13, 2024


#12 Antonio Reeves, G

On Ugonna Onyenso’s shot-blocking …

“Man, every time someone drives to the hoop I said, ‘blocked.’ That’s really what it was! 10 blocks is crazy, I’m proud of him.”


On having paint protection …

“Man, it’s great. Send anyone down through the hole and he’s right there. Run him off the line, make him take on, let him try and shot a layup, he’s right there to block shots.”


On the improved defense …

“We were ridiculous in the first half. We definitely locked in, made sure we stayed to the game plan, made sure we got everything right. We did that all game and shut them down.”


#15, Reed Sheppard, G

On how much a win tonight boosted your guy’s confidence …

“The win was big. It was big that we were all having fun out there, all getting physical, and all playing as a team. We never lost confidence in each other or in the team when we lost. We knew we had to keep getting better and keep fighting. We had a great couple days of practices and everyone’s mindset was also great coming into this game.”


On what plays did you guys suggest to Coach Calipari to try tonight …

“One of our main suggestions was to pick up more full court and work to be the aggressor. We were trying to get into them a bit more than letting them come down the court and have 30 seconds to do whatever play they wanted. We wanted to pick up and make the game faster and how we need to play.”


On do you feel a responsibility to help pick up and encourage your teammates …

“This team does a really good job of picking each other up in time when people are down, missing a shot, or just not playing well. Someone is always tapping them on the back, building up their confidence in some way, and not letting them get down on themselves. Next play mentality.”


#33, Ugonna Onyenso, C

On tying the Rupp Arena blocks record …

“You know what’s funny? I told my coaches I was going to get eight blocks before the game… then I had seven in the first half. It’s amazing, I told my teammates I was going to get 10 blocks in one game this season and I did that.”


On the defensive improvement made by the team …

“Hopefully this game is going to be a turning point for us. We have to bring it coming into Saturday and stay locked in. If we do the same thing we did today, we have a good chance of winning that game. It all comes down to defense.”


On the difference in defensive play tonight …

“The difference today was we came in together saying we have to lock in, it’s all on us. The coaches talk and teach as much as they want to but if we as individuals and as a team don’t come together and play as one, nothing’s going to change. We had a choice that we have to make a change difference defensively – during practice we weren’t focusing enough. All of our attention was on defense.”

FEBRUARY 12, 2024 


On Kentucky’s defense and how it has been criticized …
First part of that question is none of my business. I coach our team. I thought Kentucky was aggressive, I think Tre Mitchell is one of the best players in college basketball. In my opinion, he’s not a stat sheet guy, there’s no denying it’s the poise and composure he gives this young really talented team. So, I thought, especially in the first half, where in our perspective, the game got out of hand, we played even with them for the most part in the second half. I thought Tre Mitchell did a good job just doing what he does, he’s a veteran player, makes plays. From my point of view, the combination of high turnover game and getting our shot blocked which seemed like a 100 times from where I was sitting. One player had a special game, just didn’t give us enough offensive possessions and we didn’t shoot it great tonight, but if our turnovers are lower and we don’t get our shot blocked quite as many times, we get enough shots even on a bad shooting night. We’ll be able to hang a little more in the game.”

On his team getting hot in the second half …
Yeah definitely, that’s depth of talent and depth in coach does a good job kind of just pushing the buttons and trying to find combinations, but our start to the second half was just us being aggressive. At the start we trapped the first ball screen, got in some rotations. We were the most aggressive team on that possession and offensively I think Ray (Marshall) took the ball to the basket and made a good mark physical SEC play. It was a good start for us, probably more important than the basketball tactic was just be gotta be aggressive coming out in the second half like the same thing could be said for the start of the game, we had decent starts in both 20 minute segments.”

On how Kentucky was able to block so many shots …
Yeah, in college basketball we win as a team and lose as a team so as a coach, I don’t get into the deal of talking about individual players for the most part but I will tell you we did not execute our game plan tonight. We understood the talent at the rim, we understood the collapsing defense. We would’ve much preferred to play off of two feet, we had some good inside out possessions but just not enough of them so it was obviously a big factor in the game. What makes it equally difficult with Kentucky is that’s what starts their offense. To me their best offense is their defense, if they can get a turnover there’s elite guys with hand speed, Sheppard is a steal guy, the shots the blocked shots at the goal just kind of fuels their offense. Some teams you can absorb that a little bit better, you can get back on defense and make a play, but it’s almost put in the books Kentucky blocks a shot or gets a steal. They’re just very explosive on the floor with great spacing.”


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