Kentucky Basketball Previews Clarion


UK MEDIA RELATOINS
MEN’S BASKETBALL
Pre-Clarion Media Opportunity
Oct. 27, 2016
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.


Head Coach John Calipari


On playing Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk together … 
“It’s going OK. It’s going to be a work in progress but it’s going good. 

On separating those three guards until now … 
“We wanted them to go nose-to-nose against each other. We still break things down in practice where they have to go against each other because it elevates each of them. It brings out their competitive spirit, but eventually, like I said, we’re going to have to get to where they’re all out there together.”

On the battle between the guards … 
“It was good. They’re different, but it’s been really good. Their strengths don’t conflict so it’s good stuff.”

On the statuses of Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard … 
“Isaac and Tai both practiced yesterday. Isaac just told me, ‘I’m 100 percent.’ My guess is they will both play.”

On the setup of exhibitions … 
“I like the fact I can help Clarion, Asbury and Transylvania. We’ve done different schools within our state, and I’m happy we can do that. Sometimes I wish we had an exhibition season where we play whoever we want to play. Two teams get together and say, ‘Let’s go home-and-home, you play us here and we’ll play you there.’ You play two games and they’re exhibitions. We’ll play it that way. I don’t understand--if you want, they’ve got to be on a weekend and you can’t miss class. We can do all that. Again, I just think it would bring more excitement. But like I said, the ways the rules are right now, my concern is getting my team right and then who can we help and how do we help another program.”

On what the team needs to improve right now … 
“Playing harder and playing each possession the whole way through. We aren’t doing it right now. Playing within how you’re going to play to make yourself really look good and help our team. In other words, you’re trying to invent stuff right now. Don’t do that. Do these things that you know you do well. You worry about this type of game. I remember (playing) Christian Brothers at Memphis and we thought we’re going to go in and work on our stuff and we’re down 10 at half and win by five. These teams come in here, playing in front of a big crowd, and they get excited and they’re going to come after us.” 

On letting Malik Monk go on the floor … 
“He’s probably going to attempt some shots, you know. If it’s off of one or two bounces I’m never going to say don’t take it. It may be in the shot clock or a time and score that I may say stop. I’m trying to get him to go to the basket more right now. Part of his deal is he can just jump over you and get a shot. Matter of fact, we’ve been looking at posting him and Isaiah Briscoe and they’ve both done well in the post.”

On possible renovations of the Joe Craft Center …
“You guys know I’m always looking at the bigger picture. This building is 10 years old, and it’s time. Let’s go through and make it more modern. There are some other ideas that I have. Again, you want to stay the gold standard. You want to tie all of what we’re doing together on the campus and other things. I’ve talked to DeWayne (Peevy) about some of that stuff. Obviously I’m so happy for baseball. I’m so happy for football. Anybody that’s worked with me (knows that) when they make a commitment to soccer, women’s soccer, what they’ve done for track, when you do those kinds of investments, in my mind, which works differently, you’re doing it for the kids, and I’m good. You’re doing it for the kids. You’re doing it for those players. You’re doing it for both men and women. I am ecstatic. Alright, now it’s our turn.”

On what could modernize the building more …
“Ten years ago, when this was built, it was unbelievable. It’s still really good. When we all grew up, we were in houses that were all cut up. You had the dining room, living room, and this room. Now, no one wants walls. Well, you have a weight-bearing wall. Then, they ask why. ‘I just don’t want anything. I just want to walk in the house and from front to back you see nothing but everything.’ You can’t do that. We need to go back and say, ‘How do we update this?’ This is a well-built building. I wanted to make sure the media were taken care of. I was thinking out back by the garbage dump in the corner. We’re going to have a special room for you guys. As far away as you can get. I laugh when (people say), ‘You’re doing something for a coach.’ You’re not. You’re doing it for the kids, the program, and the kids that are coming later. I think the best thing that Mitch (Barnhart) has done here is investing in the kids. It’s the best thing he’s done. He’s done it not only on how we support them, but the facilities that they need to compete at the highest level. You give them what they need to compete, and you bring in good kids and get them coached up. We needed baseball. Come on.”

On how De’Aaron Fox has changed since he’s been here …
“He’s getting better. He’s still got a ways to go. I want him to be aggressive. He’s not as aggressive as he needs to be. I told him, ‘I can always tell you when not to do something, but you’ve got to be more aggressive. Get in that lane, play faster, but it doesn’t mean that you have to be out of control. We’re also going to try some different combinations. People ask me who’s going to start and I don’t know. I really don’t know. We’ll figure it out today. They’re off tomorrow, which means I’ll have some time to think about how we’ll do it and what kind of rotation. I’ll tell you who’s been playing really well: Mychal Mulder has been shooting the (heck) out of the ball. Really shooting. Dom (Hawkins) has played. Dom goes against these guys and is getting mauled right now by Isaiah Briscoe, and if he’s not mauling him, then De’Aaron Fox is mauling him and he’s doing his thing. (Mulder) is making every shot right now. If you leave him open, it drives me crazy because we don’t like to give up 3s, but he’s making them.” 

On Mulder looking for confident, bouncier and more active …
“It’s usually what happens. That year is big. Part of it is playing here. The lights and all the stuff that goes with here kind of gets you on your heels. Then you’re everybody’s Super Bowl, which puts you on your heels. Then you start questioning them. It usually takes those kids a year. He’s doing well.”

On Coach Cal’s Clarion days and what he will tell his team about them … 
“I had a ball. My college coach (Joe DeGregorio) will be here. My high school coach (Bill Sacco), who went to Clarion, will be here. They’re going to bring down some alums and different things. A couple of the players too. I’ve been so busy but I called the other day and said, ‘Why don’t you invite all the guys that I played with and get them down here?’ That was only two days ago so I’m not sure if they were able to do it.”

On “displaying great form” throwing the football at the SEC Nation pregame show …
“It was really good, wasn’t it? Say that again, I didn’t hear it. Say it again.”

On if he practiced through the football beforehand …
“No, I’m just naturally gifted. The 40-yard dart that I threw over the top which the kid caught, I don’t know who he was. But there was no way a lineman was going to beat me throwing the football. I mean, come on. I was mad that Tim Tebow didn’t throw. Come on. I asked him, ‘Why aren’t you throwing?’ He didn’t want any of this.”

On attending the World Series …
“It was cold. You don’t know who I am a fan of, but they saw me in a (Cleveland Indians) sweatshirt. Why did I have that sweatshirt on? Because I was freezing and I walked in and bought a sweatshirt and put it on. You won’t believe this, in Cleveland they sold no Cubs stuff. I couldn’t understand it [sarcasm]. Terry Francona was a heck of a basketball player. He was about 6-3 and a lefty shooting guard at New Brighton High School. (He) really could play. So, when I saw him in Boston – I didn’t get to see him on this trip – but when I saw him in Boston, I had a couple of my friends and I said, ‘I’m going to tell you how good of a basketball player he was.’ He said, ‘Stop right there.’ He got all of his assistants, all of the coaches to come in a room and, ‘Alright, say it now.’ I told how good he was. They’re all like, ‘Ah, you’re killing us. He’s been telling us how good he was at basketball. We don’t want to hear it.’ But, he really was a good basketball player. How about this? He does this in Boston and now Cleveland. I mean, come on now. It shows. And the greatest guy. I mean, literally if you met him you’d say, ‘What a neat guy this is.’ I’m happy for him. (I) like the Cubs (to win). I mean they were good last night now.”

On if the Craft Center could be getting eye scanners to enter buildings like the football training facility …
“We’re getting them. We’re getting them, and it’s not because I’m trying to stay up (with everyone else); it’s because our guys lose those fobs. So we gotta prop doors open. Anyone that wants to come in, there’s no locked doors here. Well, you’ve got the fob. Yeah, well half the team lost them. So yeah, we want to do the scanner for that reason alone.” 

On Anthony Davis scoring 50 points in the season opener of the NBA last night …
“How about Michael Kidd-(Gilchrist) went for 22 (points) and 14 (rebounds)? How about Andrew Harrison started? I was so happy that I texted those guys. I didn’t text Anthony. He scored 50 and I’m like, ‘Yeah, you should.’ I hit Tyler (Ulis) who had a blocked shot. Are you kidding me? He said it was a steal that it wasn’t a block. I hit him back and he said, ‘I’m waiting for my chance.’ I said, ‘It’ll come.’ I tried to hit Jamal (Murray) this morning because I know he went 1 for 8. I know him well enough and I was just trying to hit him but he didn’t have a voicemail so I’ll probably get him after.”  

On former players’ DeMarcus Cousins and Devin Booker’s scuffle …
“Let me say this: It would be a scrap. Devin will not budge, and I imagine the little kid (Ulis) went out and bit his knee cap when it happened. Because those two are absolutely – that’s two boys right there. Those two are like two peas in a pod, those two. Look, we have so many guys that when I get in in the morning, you know what happens. I have a list of all of my guys and how they played, if they won. You know, I’ll hit a bunch of them. Some of them I just like knowing (how they did). I get them (those lists) every morning. Today the list was like this (shows with his hands the length of about 12 inches) with all of those games. It was like a long list.”

Kentucky Players


#11, Mychal Mulder, Senior, G


On seeming “bouncier” …
“Oh, I don’t know. I feel good. We’ve been working hard in the offseason, had a lot of time to progress. So I’ve been feeling good. A lot of us are feeling good.”

On how much he weighs now …
“Closer to 190, so I put on some weight.”

On Isaiah Briscoe saying he’s the bounciest player on the team …
“We work really hard every day on strength and conditioning. Just using athleticism in basketball. I don’t know. I don’t claim to be the bounciest. I can jump, you know what I mean? But we’ll see. We’ll see about that.”

On whether he has improved his athleticism …
“Yeah. I feel like I’ve feel progressed body-wise and when it comes to confidence and just an all-around basketball player I feel like I’ve progressed.”

On how excited they are to play another team …
“We’re all really excited to be able to line up against somebody that we don’t know so well. We work hard every day against each other and I’m excited to see us really project that against an opponent.”

On what he hopes to get out of exhibitions …
“These games, they always show you what you need to work on early on. It’ll show you what you got going for you and what you might lack. In an exhibition game like this, we’re just excited to go against an opponent and see what we can do against somebody other than ourselves.”

On what the seniors bring …
“I feel like we bring a little bit of leadership. These guys are all really talented, young basketball players and they do look to us for some sort of guidance for how we should handle ourselves on and off the court. Generally, I think it’d be leadership.”

On how that will show itself starting Sunday …
“Like I said, it’s not like they need a lot of extra leadership. These guys are leaders on their own at a young age and it’s impressive to see. They’ll look to us—they’ll be jacked up to see all the fans in Rupp for game one and I’m sure they’re excited about it. They’ve been talking about it all week, so I’m excited to see how they handle that.”

On what the young players have been saying about Sunday …
“I feel like I have an idea what the crowd will be like, but they’re just excited to see it all filled up. It’ll be more packed even than what it was at Madness, probably. So they’re just really excited to see that and they’re excited to go against another opponent.”

On whether his father will be at the game …
“Yeah, yeah. He’ll be there. He seems to always be there. He’ll be there. He’ll be at most of the away games. Any chance he gets.”

On how confident he is as a shooter …
“I’m really confident in the ability to shoot the ball. I’m still growing as a whole basketball player, but shooting the ball I’ve become a whole lot more confident since last year. I’ve been focusing on getting more consistent and just being ready to catch and shoot. So I feel pretty confident.”

On the difference in his confidence from last year …
“I think experience definitely helped. Just having a year under my belt in Coach Cal’s system, understanding what’s expected of me on offense as well as on defense. And I feel like along with that, just having confidence really just comes from being comfortable on the floor and understanding what’s expected of you.”

On whether Calipari has talked about playing at Clarion …
“He hasn’t talked about that too much with us. I’m sure it’ll come up at one point. We’re just really focused on ourselves right now. We’re still a couple days out, so we haven’t focused too much on the opponent. But just right we’re focused on getting better and just making sure we don’t beat ourselves, first and foremost.”

On what the team has improved the most this offseason …
“We just really mesh really well together. We all have a really great relationship as a whole and it’s been great to watch us come together on the basketball floor. You see us competing and I feel like a lot of the young guys have learned what it takes to fight really early on in the season. So I’m excited to see where we go from here, but we’ve learned a lot in the time that we’ve spent together.”

On the biggest difference in him personally …
“I think it’s like I said: just being more comfortable in the system, understanding what’s expected of me and just being more ready, being more consistent.”

On how hard he’s working to earn a spot in the rotation …
“We fight every day. Everybody’s battling for a spot and we all understand that. It’s a battle between the lines and when we come off the court we’re all great friends. We’re really close, but we understand there is that competition for playing time and stuff like that. I feel like that’s what keeps the level high in practice. It keeps the competitive level high and a lot of energy is shown between everybody.”

#35, Derek Willis, Senior, F


On if they’re ready to play a game …
“Yeah, looking forward to it. Kind of get tired practicing against yourself. It’ll be nice to go against someone else.”

On preseason training camp …
“It’s been good. Learned a lot. Been moving fast for the most part. Still putting in some offensive sets, defensively I feel like we’re doing fine. Just like anything, we have a lot to work on.”

On how he’s doing …
“I’m doing good. I’ve been rebounding better. Just trying to make open shots. Just trying to play as simple as I can.”

On how the three guards playing together has looked …
“I think it’s good because they can alternate the point guard (role). Malik (Monk) can run the point, of course (De’Aaron) Fox and Zay (Briscoe). I think they’re just testing it out and seeing how it’s going.”

On how the big lineups have looked …
“It’s always an idea. We’ll see just depending on the matchup.”

On how far along this team is compared to other teams …
“Well, for starters we had everyone here through the summer, so that was good. I feel like our chemistry with everyone on the team has been fine. Everyone hangs out with everyone. Off the court we’re great together. Just like anything, it’s still early and we’re just trying to figure out what we want to do with things.”

On how different of a player Mychal Mulder is this season …
“Mike’s been doing real good. I think in the scrimmage he played really well. We practiced at Rupp Arena (Sunday after the Women’s Clinic) and he was doing real well, knocking down shots. The thing I like about Mike though is that he plays really hard. You can respect that about anyone. But he’s been doing really well though.”

On how impressive of an athlete Mulder is …
“When he goes up for rebounds – I don’t know what his vertical is, but I’m sure it’s up there. He goes after balls, he’s really quick, he’s probably one of the quickest people on our team. And then again you can’t leave him open. I feel like his athleticism does get overlooked though. I can definitely see that.”

On the most important thing for him to get out of these two exhibition games …
“Play hard, do the things I have to do, make open shots, make sure my dude doesn’t score, grab rebounds. If I can do that I can stay on the court.”

On the most important thing for the team to get out of these two exhibition games …
“Just breakdowns, being complacent. I feel like that’s been a thing every year where we’ll get a lead or something, we get comfortable, and then the team catches back up to us and we’re in a dogfight. If we can learn to just bury people when we have them down I think that’d be really good for us.”

On how a game like this compares to a regular season game …
“I would say it compares to a regular season game in the sense that for our freshmen it’s their first time out there so they’ll kind of get a taste for how Rupp Arena is in a game setting. Our mindset though is each game we play we obviously want to win. We’re just going to go out there and try to accomplish the goals we want to meet for that game – get so many rebounds, don’t make so many turnovers, stuff like that. That’s usually what we try to focus on.”

On how his defense has improved …
“I think it’s really like a mindset. I feel like there will be days where I do play good defense, and then there’s days where I’ll have a couple breakdowns and then it’s in my head, ‘Ahh, I’m not playing good defense,’ and that’s where I feel like for me the practice will just go down from there. So, it’s just a thing for me being more consistent and trying to do what I do each day.”

On how much this team helps him work on his defense by playing against very athletic players …
“I guess it’ll get me ready in the sense that if there’s ever a situation where I need to come out and play the 3 a little bit I’ll be prepared for that. Maybe even guard a smaller guy, or they might have like – if we’re trying to just bury a kid, maybe their best player is a point guard and they want to keep rotating guys off of the point guard. Then I can maybe have to step up and do that for a little bit just to give somebody a break. Just kind of get me ready for anything, honestly.”

On what this team needs to address in the exhibition game …
“For me, personally, I think it’s my intensity. I feel like I need to play harder, have a higher intensity. I feel like that just kind of brings the team up when you can see everyone out there going hard. But from the team standpoint I feel like we need to communicate better. I feel like that’s a thing, and it just goes back to the complacent part. If we get up, then keep it that way. Don’t let them get back in the game. Stuff like that.”