Kentucky Basketball Previews Georgia

Labissiere, Willis Video

Kentucky Men's Basketball
UK-Georgia Pregame Quotes
John Robic
Joe Craft Center - Lexington, Ky.
Feb. 8, 2016


John Robic


On Alex Poythress’ knee …
“He’s doing OK. Right now it’s just day-to-day. Expecting him to play tomorrow. It’s one of those things he just felt sore and he’s getting treatment on it right now.”

On if he expects Poythress to play tomorrow…
“I do, yeah.”  

On Georgia’s defense …
“Really good question. They do have very, very good numbers, both from the 2-point and 3-point. And they even defend the 3-point line pretty well too. They don’t really – they really don’t overextend defensively, man-to-man wise. Sort of more like a pack-line defense, packing it in, which we’ve seen a bunch of this year and we’re doing a good job with that. But they will also sprinkle in a couple different types of zones, so they’re going to try to keep you off balance from what they do. Just really solid defensively play the ball well. Been impressed with what we’ve watched on tape.”

On UK getting into foul trouble and the focus on Charles Mann …
“Oh he’s been – I think he’s lived at the free-throw line for the last four years. I don’t know if it’s as much your big guys as it is your guards – being able to guard the dribble, knowing that he is a driver, that he is a big physical kid that creates contact. But I think starts out a little more out on the floor, and then our big guys have to challenge at the rim.”

 On how well he thinks the guards have been defending …
“We’re getting better and better at it. I thought Saturday’s game was terrific defensively. Coach put in a great game plan of how we were going to guard Florida. Players executed it really well. We really guarded as a unit as five, and that takes away some of the pressure off of individuals, and it was really a truly a solid team effort in the half court. Then, in transition, they did a really good job of not letting, you know, (Chris) Chiozza and Kasey Hill get transition layups, which they are both very good at. That was a key to the game.”

On Tyler Ulis’ defensive effort …
“He’s just such a smart player. He sees a play ahead, he’s a great anticipator. We had him off the ball a little bit more. He did play both, but we like him off the ball sometimes too because of anticipation. He just has a great knowledge of the game and it’s really impressive. He’s a smart player.”

On Isaac Humphries’ playing time …
“Well, he played terrifically. He stepped up when the opportunity was there. He did the things exactly what we needed him to do. So sure, I think that getting back to it today – we had a light workout yesterday – but getting back to it today he was solid and it was nice to see that he stuck with it.”

On Ulis’ impact as a “coach” on the floor …
“Well, your great point guards are an extension of your head coach on the floor, for sure. Everyone that I’ve personally been around and most have been with Cal since we’ve been together so long. He thinks like the head coach. After two years, you know, you get a pretty solid bond of what you’re thinking and when you’re thinking of it. It gets back to, he makes suggestions because he’s actually on the floor so he can get a better feel from than us on the side watching it. We trust him. That’s the biggest thing, especially that you need in a point guard.”

On having a player like Ulis commanding the game on an annual basis …
“If you’re a really good point guard it is. There will be times where he’s going to get overruled, but we have that trust factor in him that he has earned.”

On common characteristics of (Georgia head coach) Mark Fox’s teams …
“We were actually talking about it today. They’re always really solid. They really execute offensively how he wants to play. A little bit more of a pattern-type team with reads off certain plays. They’ve gone this year with this lineup. They’ve had a little bit more ball screen action because of the three guards they’re playing: (J.J.) Frazier, Mann and (Kenny) Gaines together a lot. I think the difference on this year’s team as opposed to the last couple years is that they don’t have that No. 4 man that can step out like a (Nemi) Djurisic did last year. That was a threat from 3 so the ball’s in the hands of their guards a lot. But (Yante) Maten, boy has he gotten better. Putting up great numbers. You can see his confidence level is really high. He’s gotten good and he gives them a solid low-post threat.”

On point guards he’s coached through the years that make suggestions to the staff …
“I think you go back, I think Derrick Rose was like that. I think John (Wall) and Eric Bledsoe were like that. I think Brandon Knight was like that for sure. Even with Andrew (Harrison) last year being here two years, they remember stuff that we forget, so we’ve had probably six or seven in that time. I think, again, it gets back to that feel of the game. They’ve done a good job running our teams.”

On Isaac Humphries playing …
“I just think, No.1, it’s going to depend on the flow of the game. For instance, this would be a good game for Isaac because of their post players. They actually have size in the post. If it was like a Tennessee where they really don’t have a true post, that would be a tough game for Isaac. This is a matchup game that benefits all our bigger players. So again, I can’t put a number on it. It just depends on the flow and how he’s actually playing.”

On if the staff listens to Ulis’ suggestions on other players’ playing time …
“Yeah, I told you he was smart. No. 1, Tyler likes playing with Isaac because he sets great screens. That frees Tyler up, but then that frees other teammates up as well. Really Isaac is a smart young man, so he knows our offense, he knows what we’re doing, he knows exactly what’s expected of him. Tyler has liked Isaac, but there was a ton of games during the stretch where more times than not they were bad matchups for him.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes


#1, Skal Labissiere, Forward


On how he thinks the team did against Florida …
“I think we did well as a team defensively. That’s what we worked on the most a couple practices before that, so I think we did a pretty good job.”

On Coach John Robic’s comments about how it could be a big game for the bigs on Tuesday …
“I don’t know. I mean, we’ve only had one walkthrough before this game. We’re about to go into practice and we’ll go over some things about it. I don’t know Georgia that well, so we’ll find out today.”

On his comfort zone getting better …
“Definitely, definitely. I feel like Coach Cal has put me in a better position to be successful. So definitely.”

On if he likes the 15-footers …
“That’s what he wants me to do on offense, so I’m going to do it.”

On if he feels like Alex Poythress will play on Tuesday …
“We found out before the last game that he was out, that his knee was bothering him a little bit. But he’s day-to-day from what I’ve heard. I think he’ll be alright, I don’t know.”

On how different the post is when he doesn’t play …
“For us, it’s the next man up. He went down before the game, and I think that kind of put a chip on our shoulders a little bit to bring it the last game.”

On what parts of the game are becoming easier for him …
“Definitely I feel like the defense, talking more. I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team in any way I can in any way possible.”

On if not getting rebounds was bothering him a lot …
“Definitely. That’s something I think about all the time.”

On if he heard the crowd cheer for him on Saturday when he grabbed a rebound …
“I heard some. I heard a little bit.”

On if it makes him smile when he hears that …
“It’s definitely a good thing, I’ll say.”

On if the fan base pays close attention to every little thing the players do …
“Definitely. I think everything is magnified here at Kentucky. So I think the fans definitely really pay attention to everything we do.”

On if it was difficult to learn that at first …
“I knew it. It’s just something that you just have to get used to.”

On the more physical practices …
“It’s definitely helping me more because practices are more physical than games definitely. We go at each other, so that’s been helping a lot.”

On what ways he sees Tyler Ulis as an extension of Coach Cal …
“During practice and games, I see it all the time because he’s just a great leader. Telling us where to be on the court, tell us what to do and what not to do. I think he’s done a very good job at that.”

On Mike White saying that Ulis anticipated a lot of the plays …
“He’s just about paying attention to the scouting report. I think he does a really good job at that, and we need to do a better job at that as players, as his teammates, because I think he does a really good job at that.”

On how much Isaac Humphries has been helping him in practice …
“He has helped me a lot. Of course he’s a big guy down there, and he’s really skilled too. Just pushing me every single day, being physical with me, getting me better.”

On if he was surprised Humphries wasn’t playing more …
“I wasn’t surprised because he’s been working really hard. I feel like he’s ready to play because he’s just been working really hard since the beginning of the season. So I think he’s ready to play.”

On how important it is to add depth to the bigs with all the foul trouble …
“It’s very important because I think Isaac can definitely help with that. He’s good enough to, so it’s very important for us.”

On if it’s an advantage to have different bigs play different roles …
“I think it’s a very good advantage. We’re all different players. Any time you can have that on your team, I think that’s a big advantage.”

On what’s an example of Ulis being a coach on the floor …
“I don’t know. Just like you said before and like I’ve said before, he’s just a very good extension of Coach Cal on the court. Everything that Coach Cal tells us to do, he reminds us to do it while we’re all out there on the court. We always need his guidance when we’re out there on the court.”

On if Ulis says things nicer than Coach Cal …
“A little bit.” (laughter) 

#35, Derek Willis, Forward


On how much Tyler Ulis acts like a coach on the floor …
“Yeah, he’s been more vocal for sure than he has been in the past. There’s just a lot of things, like, talking has been kind of an issue, I think, so we’re trying to focus on that, and where to be in a play. Sometimes you get mixed up. He’s just trying to be more vocal basically.”

On if he feels like he’s arrived and can contribute on a consistent basis each game …
“Yeah, I think the thing right now for me is, I don’t really feel like I played a good game, per se, after that one. But I don’t know, I just didn’t think I played really good defense. I mean, 12 points is whatever, it’s fine, probably could have had a couple more rebounds, but just try not to be complacent, keep doing other things.”

On if it’s better for him to face a bigger team, like Georgia …
“I mean, it doesn’t matter. I think the teams that we’ve played against, I think that’s what they end up doing anyway is going smaller toward the end of the game. I mean, we’ll probably expect that. It doesn’t really matter though, I don’t think. I think we’ll still play our game.”

On if he’s ‘settled in’ to the four spot …
“I wouldn’t say settled in, but I’m just trying to do the things to stay there, honestly.”

On playing as a third guard …
“It’s not been bad. I wouldn’t say I’m used to it, but I have to learn more plays and try to get more options with the offense, and like I said, just the defensive aspects, definitely.”

On what it says to get that big win over Florida without Alex Poythress …
“Basically next man up type of thing. Isaac (Humphries) came in and gave us some pretty quality minutes and did a lot of good things, I thought. It’s just how it goes here. It’s the same thing every year. One guy can’t do it and you have a couple more.”

On what Ulis says or what issues he deals with as a coach on the floor …
“I just think it’s basically like, back to what I said, I mean, there are times when I’m running the opposite direction and I’m like, ‘Oh, OK then,’ and he’ll say something. It’ll help out. Cracking down on defense, that’s really about it, honestly.”

On if Ulis is demanding like a coach would be …
“He just wants to get the job done and he knows if he does his role, which being point guard, he has to be vocal and stuff. If he does that pretty well it’s going to help him transition to other aspects of the game.”

On what Ulis’ tone typically is like …
“Just how a coach would be probably, is how I would compare it to.”

On how much they needed a team performance like Saturday after the loss at Tennessee …
“I think we needed a pretty good team performance, honestly. I don’t know where we were standing, where everybody’s head was, I didn’t really get to talk to some people, but it showed in the game, I thought. I thought we played real well. I mean, Alex before the game we were looking around like, ‘Where’s Alex?’ Hear he’s not playing, something’s going on with his knee, whatever. Coach is like, ‘Isaac be ready,’ and he did fine.”

On if more players need to get injured in warmups after playing well following two pre-game injuries …
“I mean, I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone, but we just adjusted and it helped.”

On it taking time to get used to the magnitude of Kentucky, specifically for a freshman like Skal Labissiere …
“It’s just a lot. Like I said, it’s all new to him. He’s learning different things about the game. He’s got to deal with probably people after the game. People calling him, texting him. I mean, he’s got social media so I’m sure he does enough of that. It’s just been hard to him, but he’s getting adjusted to it, he’s doing what Coach is saying, and he’s mentally becoming stronger, so it’s just part of it.”

On what Alex Poythress brings to the game …
“He’s a guy you have to focus on when he’s in the paint, honestly. He gets it and he goes into the middle, he’s probably going to score. Just does a lot. He’s a big, physical guy and brings that. We miss him when he’s not in there, but stuff happens. Like I said, next guy up and Isaac did good.”

On the SEC race …
“I haven’t even been paying attention to it, honestly. I think Texas A&M was about the only thing I heard, them being ahead of us maybe. I don’t even really know what’s going on in the conference, but we’re just taking it game by game, honestly.”

On Georgia …
“I haven’t seen (anything) about Georgia. Last thing we were watching was Florida and that game and yesterday we just kind of watched that film and now it’s focus on Georgia today and we got the game tomorrow.”

On whether they will watch Georgia film today …
“Yeah, we’ll probably see a little bit of film or some clips, something. We usually don’t watch an extensive amount of film by any means.”

On the quick turnaround …
“I like it because I think it’s like your minds on yourself and it’s not about the other team. Because if you prepare for something you think they’re going to happen and you come out there and they hit you with, ‘Oh, we’re just going to play small against them,’ and you prepared to play against two big guys. It just happens to work out better for us when we worry about ourselves.”

On Tyler Ulis being a coach on the floor …
“He’s just getting on guys a little bit more, trying to make them take their responsibilities and be more vocal. He’s just trying to do what Coach is doing on the court.”

On whether he has seen other teammates take on a similar role …
“Drew definitely did. Andrew Harrison definitely did. I would say a little bit of Aaron too. Especially them. It was a little bit of everyone. Even Willie (Cauley-Stein). I remember last year he got on me a couple times in practice and it just helps you.”

On how much a team needs a guy like that …
“It’s just like—I put it this way: In high school, the best teammate I ever had was the person everyone hated because you just come to practice, he’s going to be up in you if you didn’t practice hard, if you didn’t do something right. It was like your parent was there or something. I don’t know. Still to this day, it’s been my best teammate. It helped me learn a lot.”

On who that teammate was …
“Corey Washburn.”

On Ulis’ pass to Humphries …
“Just a good catch and a good finish. I mean, I don’t think Isaac really expected it, but he got the basket and it was all good.”

On whether everyone on this team hates Ulis …
“Hate Tyler? I wouldn’t say anyone hates Tyler. It’s just like—you look at it as, I don’t know, it’s just our job. You come into a job and you gotta do what you gotta do. If people aren’t performing, then the boss is going to get mad at you or whatever. It’s nothing personal. You just gotta get the job done. If you’re not doing it then it’s the next guy that we gotta count on.”

On every team needing someone who holds others accountable …
“I think that’s probably the way to do it. You just need one guy to kind of get up in everybody. If they’re not doing their job then you’re just going to be fearful of that person pretty much, honestly.”