Kentucky Basketball Previews Louisville

Hawkins, Lee Video

Kentucky Men’s Basketball
UK-Louisville Pregame Quotes
John Calipari
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.
Dec. 23, 2015


John Calipari


On taking a few days off… 
“I think every team that I’ve had it’s been a good time to get away. You know you go hard for a couple of months and you just get a couple of days away from each other, and you come back excited because it’s a long season. I mean, it’s a long season. We’ll practice later tonight when everybody gets in and probably not go long – an hour and a half. Then we’ll practice tomorrow and on Christmas Day to get ready. I think historically I’ve done this and it’s been a good thing.”

On whether or not this team needed a few days off… 
“It didn’t matter. We were going to do it anyway. Whether they needed it or not, I needed it.”

On if Skal Labissiere needed a few days to regroup … 
“I don’t think he’s – unless he’s reading stuff (it would mess with his psyche). Hopefully he’s not. What you find out is this is really hard, and it’s really hard here. It’s even doubly hard. For all of these guys, all of the freshmen – returning players now all of a sudden, ‘Wow, there’s more stuff on me.’  There’s a little of that awakening of, ‘Wow. We’ve really got to come back and regroup and get this thing right.’ ”

On what the players who were unable to go home did … 
“I think most of them went home, most of them did. They’re on their way back. I’m trying to think if anybody didn’t go home. I mean, obviously Tai (Wynyard) and Isaac (Humphries) didn’t go home. Isaac was with the family that he stayed with (in Indiana), I believe, and Tai was here. He had just gotten in.” 

On whether or not Wynyard worked out with anyone these last few days … 
“Kenny (Payne) did. So, Kenny spent a day or two with him.” 

On the feedback he’s received on Wynyard … 
“He’s just got to get into shape. It’s just hard playing the way that we play at the level that we play. We’ll have to see. I haven’t seen him really practice. These few days will be the first time that he’s with us practicing.” 

On the intensity of the Louisville game and whether that will motivate the team … 
“I don’t know if they will. I mean we have guys who probably don’t know that part of it. The Kentucky kids do. The other kids know that, hey they’re a ranked opponent, they’re playing really good and we’re going to have to play well to win. If we don’t play well it’s going to be a really, really hard game for us.”

On the team’s identity … 
“We’re still working on it. We’ve got things that we’ve got to do. We’re still tweaking offensively exactly how we have to play. I saw some good stuff in the second half of that game (Ohio State). But, we’re a ways away.”

On if not having an identity at this point in the season is unusual for him … 
“We’re not searching. We’re a team that applies pressure. We pressure the ball. We play fast. We have that identity. The question is exactly how are we playing. It’s not an identity thing. The second thing is we are still trying to figure out ways of getting to 50-50 balls and beating people to balls. That’s normally what our team is built on and right now we’re not winning that battle and that’s where we’ve got to get to.”

On if he believes that Tyler Ulis is completely healthy …
“I don’t believe so. I think he’s not one that’s going to worry about that. It’s like anything else: You have to adjust a little bit to how you’re playing and what you’re doing. I would tell you again, I think the guards are playing too many minutes, so we have to figure out ways of cutting their minutes down. I thought Marcus (Lee) and Alex (Poythress) played too many minutes at the end of the game. The two or three plays that we had to make, they didn’t have the energy to make the plays. I’m probably playing them too many minutes right now. That’s the kind of stuff that we have to figure out. It’s not what we are. We’re a fast, guard-oriented and a great driving team. We put pressure on the ball as well as any other team in the country. We’re a good pressing team. It’s just, ‘Ok. What do we need to do offensively?’ Are people sagging? Are people playing zone? How are we doing this? That’s the kind of tweaking I’m talking about more than anything else.”

On the slow starts to the games …
“We are concerned about those. A friend of mine called me and said, ‘Cal, what your guys have to understand is that the other guys have the Five Hour Energy drink before the game. You have to know they’re going to come out like that.’ Every team does. We are still learning that. I want to do some stuff for the start of the game to get us in a different frame of mind. I want to do some stuff up six and down six. We’re trying this week, next week and the next two weeks to work on situations. That’s part of the issue. We just have to clean it up a little bit and get them to understand the important plays. There were eight or nine possessions each half in the Ohio State game, simple things, and then three or four plays in each half were critical. All of those breakdowns led to baskets. You try and eliminate those.”

On the guard matchups with Louisville …
“They’re guards are playing well. They’re shooting the ball well, scoring well, and have three really good older players. They’re playing aggressively defensively. They’re really playing well.”

On what Damion Lee does for Louisville …
“He is a catch-and-shoot guy, but he’s doing more than that right now. He has some size and they can throw him in the post when they need to. He’s done some good stuff.”

On if the situational practice is the winning basketball …
“Winning time. I have to do it every year. Winning time. It’s getting guys to understand the kinds of shots you have to take and the defense that you have to play. There were two switches that we had to make, simple switches, and we dove and they led to baskets. That game, they were struggling to score. That’s when you’re more alert and focused. Offensively, we had it rolling and have our chances, then take a tough shot or run someone over. If you have to go and take that kind of play, then you do it late in the clock; not with 25 seconds left. These kids need me to coach them through it. I’ll say it again: I like the team. I like the kind of kids that we have. I like the kind of talent we have. I like my team. We’re just not where we’re going to be in a month. Right now it’s, OK, we have a tough opponent coming up, how are you going to respond? We’ll throw them out there and let them know that we’re with them. I believe in these guys.”

On Derek Willis’ status last game … 
“Derek was hurt. Did not practice the day before. Limped around the shoot around. That’s why I didn’t put him in the game. And that hurts us. He gives you another guy that stretches the floor. ”

On if it was an ankle problem …
“Yeah.”

On if he’s getting a better feel for the substitution rotation …
“No, but we’re trying to figure out how. Do we leave Marcus Lee at the No. 5? If you watched him in the games, he played well when he was under that basket. Because when you have him out on the floor, they’re not really guarding him at all. So now you put him there. And if you do that, OK, Alex can play about 22, 23 minutes, 24. Do you put Derek at the other No. 4? Like I said, we’re tweaking stuff. When we tweak it and it’s right, you all look and say, ‘Alright, I like that.’ Because we’ll all be watching the same thing. We’ve got to play a little looser offensively. Make the plays you make. We’re still making plays that you shouldn’t be making. You shouldn’t do that, but if you have 10 of those shots, you’ve got to shoot them.’ They go under pick and rolls you’ve got to shoot the ball. I took a guy out in the first half twice, because I didn’t think he was being aggressive enough offensively. Now think about that. ‘I told you once, took you out. Now I put you back in. I told you again: You’re out. Be aggressive.’ “

On if he started playing more aggressively …
“Late in the game. But these kids, they’re feeling each other out. It’s just a process. I wish we had played better those two games, but I said it: if we had won against Ohio State it wouldn’t have changed the issues. It wouldn’t have changed what we have to get better at. They have been the same. So we now have to figure out are we playing guys too many minutes? Different things we have to do. I just want them to have a ball playing. They’re not right now. They’re not and it’s based on being a little bit tentative here and there. It’s hard to say, ‘Well, he takes me out when I make a mistake.’ You’re playing 37 minutes. ‘Yeah but those two he took me out. I sat 32 seconds then he put me back in.’ It’s hard to say that so the tentativeness becomes ‘I just don’t want to let it go.’ Just let it go. Shoot the ball, let it go. I’d rather have, well I’d rather you not go 1 for 10, but I’d rather have you go 1 for 10 shooting it not being tentative.”

On if Jamal Murray has a bright green light to shoot …
”He’s had the bright green light. He really has. I just would rather not see a lefty runner from the foul line. My thing is you’ve got to have discipline in this, which means no one is telling you, ever, not to shoot. But then you’ve got to work hard to get great shots and if you’re covered you’re just not going to take a bad one because you have the green light. You’ve got to respect your team, but the team needs you to score balls. Like somebody was saying: We’re a guard-heavy team. May have to have Isaiah (Briscoe) shoot more balls. He doesn’t need to shoot 3s. Pull up. You don’t have to go all the way to the goal. Shoot the 15-footer. We’ve been telling them that. But, again, if you’re not comfortable with a 15-footer, what do you do? Put your head down and keep going. You gotta shoot those balls. And we’re going to get to that point. And when we do, we become a totally different team. Because if we can make you spread out – if you want to press us and spread out and do all that – we’re a way better team. If you pack it in, right now we haven’t been as good. If we shoot the ball a little bit better, put pressure on the other team where they’re not playing this guy and they’re not playing that guy, now we become a little bit better if we’re making shots.”

On what he’s seen from his team when teams try to pack it in …
“They’re not being played. It’s a hard deal when you’ve got the ball and no one’s guarding you. (Laughter). ‘I’m open!’ ‘Yeah …’ But like I said, we’ve got some guys that are better drivers, we’ve got some guys that are better shooters, we’ve got some guys that are better at, you know – we’ve got some veterans, we’ve got some strength inside, we got some length. Let’s just pull it together. This wasn’t last year where I went and took a team down to the Bahamas and spent three weeks and got us ready. Jamal didn’t get here until September. Isaac the same. This is a little different deal.”

On his message to the fans with Louisville coming in town …
“I would hope our fans – and again, you bring that up; it has not entered my mind. I’m watching tape. I think they’re doing a great job. I think Rick’s doing a great job with his team. And I would tell our fans enjoy the game. Don’t be bringing in banners. Don’t be bringing in posters. Don’t. You don’t need to do it. Let’s just enjoy the basketball game. Let’s be classy. We have the classiest fans, and I would expect that’s how they would be during this game.”

On why he feels that way …
“Because you asked me. I didn’t even think about, to be honest with you.”

On him telling fans to be classy in the past …
“You probably asked me the question and I probably answered it the same way. I have not thought (about it).”

On why he wouldn’t tell fans to “give them the business”…
“Because I have never done that. When I was at UMass, I can remember a school had an issue with a gambling thing and I can remember saying, ‘If I see one thing, I will walk off and won’t coach the game. Let’s just play basketball. We don’t need to relish in anyone’s struggles.’ I’ve always been that way. The stuff we do is very hard. Not everybody handles it that way. Some of them encourage that stuff. I’m not one of those guys. Let’s just have some class. Let me just tell you, we need to worry about how good their team is and how well they’re being coached; not anything that happened five years ago. Let’s just play ball.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes


25, Dominique Hawkins, G


On what he has told the new guys about the rivalry …
“We just got off of break. We haven’t been home so I really haven’t talked to them about it, but we’re just going to take it as another game pretty much, is what I’ll tell them.”

On his appreciation of the rivalry …
“I really don’t—I know as a fan I look at it like a rivalry, but once I came here I don’t look at it as a rivalry (anymore) because, as Coach Cal says, we’re just trying to play to the best of our abilities and we really only focus when we are in the SEC Tournament and March Madness. So we’re just taking it one day at a time.”

On how nice it was to have a couple days away …
“It was real nice to see family and friends. I noticed that a lot of other schools don’t do that, is what Coach Cal says. And we appreciate that. We’re just glad to be back and be able to start practicing again, figuring out what we need to do to start winning again.”

On where this team is through 11 games …
“It’s early. It’s in December, so we have a long ways to go. We’re not where we want to be right now and that’s why we’re going to start practicing. As Coach tells us, everybody’s gotta figure out how to play their role and once everybody gets their role and starts playing really well we’ll be all right.”

On whether he would prefer to play again soon following a loss …
“In my opinion, I would like to be back out there. I feel like when you lose you really want to play another game and make sure you win and get that confidence up. But the days were also much-needed too. We’ve been practicing and playing a lot of games, so it’s great to get some days off.”

On the youth of Kentucky’s backcourt vs. Louisville’s experience at guard …
“I guess just expect a battle. Great guards, as you mentioned. Everybody’s going to be focused on that and we’ll see what’ll happens once the game starts.”

On his memories of the rivalry growing up …
“I can’t really remember so much. I know when I was a kid I was a big fan, but when I started growing up in high school I kind of wasn’t as big a fan as I was but I was a fan.”

On what they need to work on after Saturday …
“I would say defensive-wise we definitely need to stop perimeter shooting. I feel like Ohio State definitely made a lot of jump shots and got some good looks, but I just feel like we gotta have more fight and figure out how to keep the lead and control the game more.”

On what the Louisville game means to him …
“It’s just another game now. My freshman year, I was so hyped about it because I never got to play against Louisville. Now, it’s just another game and we’re just going to go in there and be prepared to play them.”

On whether they learned something about Jamal Murray in the second half against Ohio State …
“I definitely already knew that he had that in him. In practice he shows that he can hit shots in a spurt. He caught on fire during that game. I see it in practice a lot and it’s tough to guard somebody like that that’s got that size and his ability to shoot the ball as well.”

On what they can gain from the Louisville game …
“Playing Louisville, we know that they’re a great pressing team and I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re going to prepare for because my first two years I know that they love to pressure the ball and do that as well. To carry on, it’s just another game and we’re just looking to win and be able to continue during the season and play some more games and try to win those as well.”

On Tai Wynyard …
“I haven’t seen him work out at all, but I’ve seen him conditioning and stuff. When we were practicing and stuff I saw him conditioning and doing some drills with KP (Kenny Payne).”

On what he could add …
“He’s going to add a presence inside. I really don’t know what his strengths are and stuff because I really haven’t played with him, but from what I’ve heard of he’s going to be—he’s a good big, a big body, he’s good at rebounding and stick-back shots and stuff like that, is what I heard about him.”

On how the freshmen have responded to the losses …
“They definitely didn’t like losing, as anybody wouldn’t like losing. But they took it hard on themselves. Definitely coming into this program, you notice that winning’s a big deal and they notice that as well.”

On what the rivalry means to him …
“It’s a rivalry to me. I know how big it is. Some of the guys probably don’t know what it means, but we’re just going to take it one game at a time, just like any other game.”

On whether it’s a good or bad thing the freshmen don’t know what to expect …
“I really don’t think it’s either, but I’ll say it’s a good thing because it could put a lot of pressure on you if you’re thinking about it as a big rivalry game, we gotta win this. You just gotta relax when you go out there and play. Hopefully they just go out there and play and be relaxed.”

On whether it was nice to get away …
“It was nice to get away, but you’re always going to think about the loss. When I was flying back here to Lexington, I was thinking about how could we have won that game and stuff like that, but it was good to have those days off because now we’re more focused on the next game and ready to play.”

00, Marcus Lee, F


On if he went home for Christmas …
“I actually didn’t go home. I stayed here with a couple of my friends here and my girlfriend.

On if he was able to get back in the gym or did he take the days off …
“No, I definitely took some time off. But I also got some work in the gym. You can’t just totally – You get unfit pretty quick.”

On if the team needed a break …
“I think it’s good that we did take a little break and get our minds reset. We do that every year and it always helps us in the end.”

On explaining what getting their mind reset means …
“I kind of call it our halfway point, where you’re halfway in the season and you’ve already gone through a lot with freshmen, basketball and school. All that is in your head, so now you have the time to relax and kind of start over.”

On if that is big for freshmen players …
“Definitely, just because it’s a lot to go through when you’re here at Kentucky. You have to deal with a whole lot. Your body goes through a whole lot. And even if it’s just a day or two to get your body and your mind back on track, it helps a lot.”

On if it’s especially important knowing that SEC play is coming up …
“Yeah, it definitely helps a lot. Especially since we’ll be – Actually, I don’t think we’ll be gone as much as we were last year. I’ve seen our schedule and it’s a whole lot easier with a whole lot more home games. But it definitely helps a lot.”

On how much it helps being an older player trying to help the younger players through a tough patch …
“I just try to remind them that it happens to everybody. It’s not something that’s totally new or it’s not something that they’re just going through. We just have to let them know that we’re there for them and we understand.”

On Coach Calipari saying that opponents “smell blood” in Kentucky and think that they’re vulnerable …
“I mean, it’s great. I don’t want to play somebody that fears us or is scared to play us. I want somebody coming at me with their all, and if we beat them with somebody that comes at us with their all, then we know where we are.”

On how he sees the UK-Louisville game compared to when he saw it when he first came in …
“Now that I have the total story of it - I‘ve been here a while, I understand it – it starts growing on you. It’s more of a gift to the rest of the state of Kentucky, and that’s how I go through it. I see it as we do it to give back, especially during Christmas time and the New Year’s. It’s something that everybody enjoys.”

On if he enjoys it …
“Oh definitely, without a doubt. It’s something that it’s just fun. It’s time where we can play basketball and enjoy Christmas and everything else.”

On if he knows it’s more than “just another game” …
“No, it’s still just another game. No, you have to go through this game like you go through every other game or you’ll mess up if you do something totally different or your routine different. It’ll throw you off, and you have to go through it like it’s a normal game like it is.”

On what he sees being a common thread in the two losses …
“I think there were two different ways of losing. But there are also two different ways of learning. We’ve learned a lot out of those two games, and once we get back in together, we’ll start breaking it down and fixing it point by point.”

On what they learned from each one …
“Both games we started out pretty slow, and that’s what we’re trying to fix immediately. It just took us some time to notice that we can’t start that slow.”

On facing a physical frontcourt in Louisville …
“I think it’s a great thing that we’re playing against a lot of different bigs throughout our beginning season. It shows how our bigs are able to change up and play differently and that’s what we’re really trying to show.”

On why he thinks they started slow against UCLA and Ohio State …
“I think it was just learning. A lot of people that are new, that haven’t really been in the game a lot. So, we’re just learning and trying to feel each other out and that’s what happens throughout the season.”

On if he feels like he needs to step up offensively with Skal Labissiere struggling …
“Skal is doing just fine for the time right now. That’s where most bigs are at this point. He’ll come back and surprise most of you guys, and I feel that happening. It’s just more time, and that just takes time.”

On if the intensity he feels from the fans for this game has an effect on them, as players …
“No, we just see how much they enjoy it and we kind of just know that we have to work hard for them.”

On if they have a chip on their shoulder after the Ohio State loss similar to the UCLA loss …
“There’s always going to be something that we’re going to have to prove as bigs. We’re not the biggest bigs, but that’s something that we’re going to have to continuously prove is that we’re not soft and that we’re able to battle. That’s something that we’ll continually try to prove each game.”

On his initial impressions of Tai Wynyard …
“I like Tai. He’s become one of my favorites already. I was able to hang out with him on a couple days off and he’s a real cool guy and we’re excited to have him through our practices.”

On what he likes about Wynyard …
“Have you heard his accent? That’s all you need to know. His accent is pretty awesome. He’s just easy to talk to. He was able to blend with our team immediately, especially when we went on our trip, and that’s what we really liked. We just liked that he was able to come in and just act like one of us immediately.”

On Wynyard’s tweets about Lee’s celebrity status on campus …
“Yeah, he got that little freshman notice of once you get here it kind of blows up. I was like, ‘Just wait, it’s coming for you too.’ He saw it as amazement just as the rest of us did.”

On what kind of player Wynyard is …
“That’s something for you all to figure out. You guys all always do all the analysis and all that.”

On Lee having played against Wynyard rather than media observing him …
“I haven’t played against him.”

On Wynyard not practicing yet …
“He’s been at practice, but (he’s only been through) our pregame practices where we don’t go body to body. I mean, I’d have to see what he can do throughout our practice and how we can fill him in in our practice.”

On how much Wynyard can help the team …
“I think he’ll help tremendously. Having another big always helps. I’m just really excited to have him here.”