Kentucky Basketball Previews Stephen F. Austin

Briscoe, Humphries Video

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Pre-Asbury Media Opportunity
Nov. 4, 2016
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky. 


Head Coach John Calipari


On Humphries learning the four and playing with Bam … 
“Well, you’ve got two really good passing big men, and they’re big. Now you’re 7-foot, 6-10, and both of them are skilled. Bam can play out on the floor defensively as well as anybody we have on the team, so that’s why they can play. It’s more defense. Can they guard the guys they have to guard? I think they can.”

On recruiting …
“All is good. All is good. It’s what we’ve been able to do, what these players have been able to do, how we’ve handled things off the court as well as on the court where they’ve become their best version. Talk about John Wall being the Community Assist Award winner in the NBA with Anthony Davis as the runner-up. Those results help. Twenty-eight draft picks in seven years. The staff has done a great job of getting us involved in the right guys and the right guys for this place. This isn’t for everybody. At the end of the day we get the kids we’re supposed to get. It doesn’t mean we get them all. We don’t.”

On the strength of the nonconference schedule …
“We probably did overschedule. You talk about some of the teams we’re playing, and even our first game is against a team that has been to three NCAA Tournaments back-to-back-to-back who will come in here with the idea that they’re beating a young team. They have veteran players even though they have lost some players. The players that are going to play in that game all were in the NCAA Tournament the last couple of years. I don’t like to overschedule. And again, as we go forward, like next year’s schedule, there’s a couple of things we have to figure out. Home-and-home and do we start something on the road? Where are we with this schedule? It just happened (overscheduling). When you add a Big 12 Challenge, when you throw that in, and you have a couple other neutral events, you have a couple of home-and-homes we’ve been playing, now all of sudden it’s going to be rough. It’s going to be rough. I’m just anxious to get started. I’m there and it’s like, OK, another season. The next time I turn around we’ll be going somewhere for Christmas. Then I’ll come back and the next time I turn around will be the conference tournament. And then the time I turn around – it’s just how it goes.”

On Stephen F. Austin …
“It’s (the schedule) starting against a really good opponent. In the tape I’ve watched they’re well coached. They play and they’re going to guard you. They stretch out the court, they deny wings and they make entry passes tough. They like to go high-low. They like to go at their big guys and try to get our big guys in foul trouble. I’ve been talking to Bam for two days now. ‘I’m not fouling.’ You just move around and you foul. He’s that big.”

On if he has general idea of the identity of the team …
“No, usually that’s organic because we are so young. When teams have the same guy back for two, three or four years, you have an idea on what that team looks like and you have an idea on what we’re going to play like. Here it’s totally different. When you have a new team every year, you’re guessing early and it kind of organically rolls into what it should be. We’re going to play fast but my teams always play fast. Some are faster because they run faster than others. This team is a fast team. We should be a great defensive team but we aren’t right now. We should be a great shot-blocking team, (but) we aren’t right now. I met with the four big guys, Isaac, Sacha (Killeya-Jones), Derek (Willis) and Wenyen (Gabriel), and just said, ‘Look, every one of you has gotten better. Your mission and why you came here was I want to be the best player I can be and I want to be the best version of myself on the court and off the court.’ You’re all moving in that direction. You can’t let the first two or three games, how many minutes I give you or who shoots more – it doesn’t matter right now. You’re getting better and stay on that path.’ We talked about it. I probably am going to play nine guys and then go deeper if I need to. Maybe eight guys, then go deeper if I need to. I think it’s going to be game-to-game. When I talk, Issac and Sacha they both deserve to play. Maybe there’s a game where Isaac is better than Sacha is. Maybe there’s another game where Sacha is better in the game because the opponent. Same with Wenyen at a four or a three and Derek at a four or a three.”

On his relationship with Briscoe this year as opposed to last year …
“The first year is always hard for these kids because they have their way of doing something, it got them here and they think they can continue to be that way and go where they’re wanting to go. In most cases you can’t. This thing is about developing great habits. A lot of times guys will fight you because they have to develop great habits. They want to be sneaky and you can’t. These are the habits you have to develop to have success. I look at what he is able to do. One, he is owning his own game. Like, he’s in that gym, he’s working on his shooting, he knows that is what he has to do. I love the fact that he’s competitive in what he does. We were on the phone the other day and we were talking about how he didn’t have to guard anybody until he got to Kentucky. He didn’t guard anybody. I watched him; we played against him. You look at him now and he has transformed who he is. Yeah, when you’re first getting started and you’re not hearing who you want to hear, ‘I don’t like him.’ I’m not going to tell you all what you want to hear, but I’m proud of them. I will tell you, if I’m in a foxhole, that is who I want beside me.”

On the turnover of constantly having new players ...
“However it works out for the kids is how we roll with it. I don’t want kids to be here two or three years because it is better for me. If they’re here more than a year or two, it’s because it’s what is best for them. Yeah I like it (players staying), but it’s not what is best for me and we have had some leave after a year, some leave after two years and some leave after three years. It is what it is for each of the individuals, and we don’t promise someone you’re going to leave after a year. You get your own evaluation after a year, you get your info and we’ll take it. I’d like to have a couple veterans on that court at all times if I could. I would probably guess that those five freshmen are going to play a lot.”

On Briscoe’s defensive mindset rubbing off on De’ Aaron Fox and Malik Monk …
“De’Aaron’s issue is different than Malik’s. De’Aaron’s is that if he is on the ball, he’s really good. If he’s off the ball, he’s typical as a high school player that you don’t play as hard. Malik is just getting in tune. Quit trying to steal every ball. Get in there, mix it up and rebound. Play the whole possession. Don’t try to run gaps or shortcuts. You’ve got to grind it. They’re all learning together. What’s great is we’ll have another coach on the floor and Isaiah talking to him about, ‘You can’t do that, man. Let’s go. We’re trying to win.’ So, the whole thing in coaching here is getting a group of guys together that want to share for each other, that understand if we ever really become special it’s because they’ve all become servant leaders to each other. And then teaching them how you play winning basketball and what that means on the defensive end. Here’s how you win, and on the offensive end, here’s how you win. That process, we’re at the very beginning stages of it.”

On what Willis brings to the team as a veteran …
“He has grown every year, but this is the most maturity he’s had. This is the best shape he’s been in. He stays after every practice. He and Bam are always the last two in there with Isaiah and sometimes Malik, but they’re the last two in there. He’s building confidence in himself and building our confidence of him being out on that court. I just love the fact how he’s running up and down the court. When he’s flying, just think about it: You’ve got all these guards flying, him flying, Bam flying, you better run back. Don’t try to offensive rebound because it’s like a wave of people. So, I’m proud of him. Plus, he shoots the ball. It gives you an added thing. It gives you one more guy who can make jump shots.” 

On Willis’ attitude changes …
“He came up to me and he reminded me we did something in zone offense last year that I wasn’t doing and I said, ‘You’re right,’ and I changed something and I said, ‘Thank you.’ He would have never done that. That just shows you he’s maturing and that he’s able to trust enough. I know I can give a suggestion and that it’s not going to get thrown back at me. He was unbelievable yesterday in practice. He was really good.”

On if he’s talked to his team about the presidential election …
“I haven’t. There was an election?” (Laughter)

On if he’s acting like Nick Saban now …
“Who’s Nick Saban?” (Laughter)

On if he likes to stay out of politics …
“In this state, yes.” (Laughter)

Kentucky Players


#13, Isaiah Briscoe, Sophomore, G


On how they are looking in practice …
“A lot better. We’re starting to play together. Well, we’ve been playing better, but we’re starting to get a feel for each other’s game. We’re sharing the ball a lot and we’re just running out in transition and just trying to fly.”

On how the three guards are playing with each other …
“It’s fun, I’ll tell you that. I like playing with them both and I’m sure they’ll say the same. We all complement each other’s game and none of us are selfish and things like that, but we just look out for one another.”

On how they complement each other …
“I think that we all can do a little bit of everything and it takes of pressure off of one another, playing with other great players. So I think that’s good.”

On being excited to start the season with two games in three days …
“Yeah, and I’m looking forward to the season starting, of course. Everybody else is and, like I said, I can’t wait to get out there and just get it going.”

On what De’Aaron Fox brings to the table …
“Speed. He forces me to run the break. I’m trying to score, so he’s forcing us to run. We get the rebound and we just push.”

On what Malik Monk brings to the table …
“Athletic, he can score. He’s an underrated defender. I think that he knows how to play defense and watching what me and Fox do on the ball in practice I think that makes him want to do the same thing. Sometimes he’ll go out there and guard the ball full court.”

On whether the freshmen watch him …
“Absolutely. As a leader, I know that everything starts with me and they’re looking at me, so I just try to lead by example and be vocal and just make sure everybody’s working hard.”

On the biggest improvement they have made as a team …
“I think just us being unselfish. I think that that was probably a big question for everybody because we got a lot of talented guys on the team, but everybody looks after one another, none of us are selfish with the ball. We all just play together.”

On how he has changed as he’s taken a leadership role …
“I think being a leader pushed me to be a better person every day. And that’s on and off the court trying to help these guys out with whatever they need. Overall that’s just been—I’ve been inspired by being a leader, so I’ve just been trying to become a better player.”

On what being a leader entails on the court …
“Just leading by example, being vocal, asking questions, making sure everybody is on the same page.”

On whether having improved post play takes pressure off the guards …
“Yeah. That’ll open up the game for us if we can throw it down to Isaac or Bam or one of the bigs a couple plays in a row so all the pressure won’t be on the guards.”

On what Coach Cal has said about Stephen F. Austin …
“They made the tournament three years in a row. They got a lot of juniors and seniors.”

On how his game is now vs. a year ago …
“I feel like I got way better. Coach is telling me that I’m a leader on the team has inspired me to get others better. I just think overall I’m a better person and basketball player.”

On what he means when he says he’s a better person …
“Just overall. You got people on the team looking up to me since I’m a leader. I gotta lead by example. I gotta work hard, let them know that nothing’s easy, I’m not just trying to coast or anything like that. I just gotta know that it starts with me.”

On other coaches saying he looks different on the court …
“I’m in a better state of mind, I think. I feel confident, a lot more confident on the court. I’m just getting comfortable. Me and Coach’s relationship is a lot better. I know what he wants from me. I know what he wants from the team and the more I talk, the less he has to talk in practice. I think that he enjoys that.”

On his relationship with Coach Cal and it seeming like he is always pushing him …
“Yeah, always. Pushing me to be the best I can be. That’s one of the reasons I came to Kentucky, to be pushed, to be disciplined, just to work hard and become a better person on the court.”

On the difference in their relationship from last year …
“It wasn’t bad last year, don’t get me wrong, but his point guard was Tyler (Ulis) and they had a great relationship, Coach and Tyler. I had a good relationship with him last year, but this year I’m a sophomore, I’m a leader of the team, so our relationship, it had to get better. And it did and, like I said, I’m more comfortable with Coach on the court as opposed to last year and I just feel I’m in a better state of mind.”

On whether he likes taking a leadership role …
“Absolutely. It only makes sense. Last year I started. I was the only returning starter, so coming up this year it only makes sense. I took on the challenge, I embraced the role and here we are.”

#15, Isaac Humphries, Sophomore, F


On being ready to play a real game …
“Yeah, definitely. Obviously, those first two exhibition games got us a little bit used to playing against a different competition and a different opponent. But yeah, I’d say we’re definitely prepared for this weekend.”

On what they got out of the Asbury game …
“We could obviously work on our transition offense. We got to condition. Running up and down with those guys, it was a conditioning session, essentially. There’s always a positive in something like that.”

On where he is the UK frontcourt rotation …
“I think that we’ve obviously got a good group of bigs this year. Fighting every day is really important in that rotation. For me, I think I’m fighting every day against everyone. I understand that minutes are not given and you have to fight for it. It’s not really clear. We’ve only played two games and those two games we were just rotating trying to find a good group. I don’t really have much of a look on that yet, but I feel after this weekend we’ll know a little bit more about how that’s going to work.”

On playing with freshman forward Bam Adebayo …
“Obviously when I’m playing with Bam I’m the 4. So that’s different for me. Coach has been teaching me that position. I’m very comfortable with the 5 because I’ve played that my whole life and all of last year, but learning the 4 just makes me a little more versatile and I can do more things for this team as the 4, also.

“Playing with Bam is great. We’re both really big, we both can dominate inside and we’re kind of interchangeable. He can come out, I can go in, I can come out, he can go in. It works well.”

On if how well Adebayo is playing increases the impetus for him to learn the power forward position …
“Yeah, Bam is doing really well. Everyone can see that. Minutes are such a weird thing to me because sometimes it’s just about everyone doing so well and it’s really hard to kind of figure out who. It’s such a day-to-day thing. If I’m playing really well that day, Bam might not play as much. If Bam is playing really well that day, I might not play as much. It’s just so day-to-day here because everyone is just as good as the other.”

On if they have a better idea of what their identity is with this year’s team than last year …
“Yeah, I think so. I’ve said this before, I think we’re a lot more – we have really good guards and we have really good bigs as well this year, as opposed to just dominant guards. I mean, we had bigs last year, but we were in the shadows a little. This year, I’m confident we have that balance.”

On the biggest difference between the power forward and center positions …
“Just playing on the perimeter is the biggest difference. The five in our system very around the basket orientated. Come out and set screens, stuff like that, which is what I’m very comfortable with. But learning how to get open on the perimeter, dribble on the perimeter, stuff like that is the biggest difference.”

On how good he feels about his face-up game …
“I worked on it over the summer so it’s definitely improved. I feel very comfortable to shoot it from mid-range. I feel very comfortable with face-up and taking one bounce and shooting a hook shot, stuff like that. Honestly, that sort of thing is just like every day you just try to develop that more and get more confident with it. Right now I feel I’m in a pretty good space with that.”

On why he thinks Coach Cal is experimenting playing him alongside Adebayo …
“I think having Bam and I playing together – we’re both really big so it kind of, I don’t want to say twin towers or something like that. I’m trying to think of how I can explain it. It’s an asset to be able to have both really big players being able to do both of those positions. Like I said, I can play the four and Bam can play the five. Or, if I get down first I can play the five and he can play the four. It just becomes very interchangeable and not so structured.”

On guarding a power forward versus guarding a center …
“Obviously guarding a perimeter player – because a lot of teams have their four out on the perimeter. Yeah, it’s going to be a bit different, but I spent all of last year learning how to play defense on quick people. I think it’s a good time for me to be able to show that.”

On if having he and Adebayo playing together could be intimidating at times to opposing teams …  
“I think so. I would be intimidated if I walked out and saw myself and Bam. I think we look very tall, but I think the way we play also is intimidating. Bam is really energetic and super aggressive. He’s very strong. Between the both of us, I think that size is going to be really important.”