Kentucky-Boston Postgame Quotes

University of Kentucky Basketball Media Conference
Tuesday, November 24 2015
John Calipari
Men's Media Conference

COACH CALIPARI: They’re a good team and I'm still fighting guys. I thought Alex (Poythress) -- I subbed him four seconds in. He didn't go after a ball. Athletically, you're an athlete, explode and go get balls, even if it's on the floor. And he stood there and watched it. Boom, you're out. Then he got back in and he's a double-double and he could be dunking every ball, making free throws, getting fouled. I mean, that's who he is and that's where we got to get him back to. I didn't think -- Skal (Labissiere) did some good stuff. He's coming, but he's still got some things he's got to do. Again, we got to make some 3s.

And right now Tyler's (Ulis) not making them. I just told him, you got to shoot 'em. You got to let it go.

I thought Charles Matthews was outstanding. I think he moved into the rotation now. If you ask me, he changed the whole game. It's not what he just did offensively, it's what he did defensively and coming up with balls and being active and trying. And I said, look, get in the gym and shoot free throws. If he makes free throws, he's in that seven-man rotation and he pushes guys out.

Q. You mentioned the early play there with Alex. But there were a couple times he seemed to not be worried about his body, threw himself at people midair --
COACH CALIPARI: He's getting better.

Q. Is he forgetting about the ACL more?
COACH CALIPARI: I told the team after, I'm not going to accept anything other than an elite athlete when I watch him play. If he's not an elite athlete, he's out. He's not playing. Because he's capable of doing it, it's just really hard. And it's having to have him break through some confidence in his body.

I'm kind of demanding it and I love what I'm seeing. We got to make some 3s, you can't go 3-for-15. I think on the year we're shooting 23 percent. 22 percent. And we're still scoring a lot of -- think about it, what I'm saying. What if we made five or seven more 3s. And we're capable of that. We're just not doing it right now.

Q. Was it Boston's zone that maybe caused you guys to take so many 3-pointers tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: We didn't take that many. We only took 15. So we just didn't make 'em. Like some of them were open, but our whole thing was, let's go inside, let's throw lobs, let's offensive rebound, let's drive the lane if they play zone. And I think they did a good job.

They (Boston) ran their stuff. I thought we defended really well in the second half. I don't know exactly how many points they had, but I think -- what did they have 30 in the second half? 29? So, the last one was a foul where we gave them a couple free throws.

So, I thought we did a much better job in the second half guarding and kind of wearing them down a little bit.

Q. One thing about Alex, you bring him off the bench as like a sixth man. Are you looking -- is there a reason why the sixth man?
COACH CALIPARI: I just said, when I went in after, I think he should be starting, but we'll figure that out. He's a starter, it's just he or Marcus (Lee). Then I said maybe it's Marcus and he together and let Skal come off the bench with Charles right now. So you got seven. There you go. Just figure it out. Is there an 8th man that sneaks in? I'm not seeing it right now, but maybe there is.

Isaac (Humphries), I didn't play him today only because of his foot. He limped around for a couple days. But I'm thinking South Florida, who won today by the way, beat Albany. I'm thinking that he has a chance, because that's a game. They have a couple guys that I think he could guard that he can play with.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Orlando (Antigua). How far back it goes, how did it start?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, he played at St. Raymond's High School in New York, so. Ended up going to Pitt, but he went after I left Pitt and went to Massachusetts.

I watched him and got to know him. And when he got into coaching, stayed close with him and had an opportunity at Memphis and he came with me, did a fabulous job, just like he did here. I mean, I've not ever met one person that has anything bad to say about him. And I tried to hire guys that that's how they are, because everybody talks bad about me. So you would like to have, you know, people around me they're thinking good things about.

He's done a great job. They lost some games. But if you watch the games, they're running good stuff, they're organized, they're getting the shots, they're missing a lot of shots. They're missing a lot of 3s. But they're trying, they're fighting, and it was a great win for them tonight.

Q. How tough is the USF job for anybody?
COACH CALIPARI: It's a very hard job. But he's up for it. I'm telling you, I've watched him, I've seen him. But it's just like anything else, those are the kind of jobs that it takes time. It takes one or two, three classes to come together and then you see it.

But when you're walking into a situation like that, it's just hard to say, hey, we're going to --. I remember at UMass we were 10-18 and 17-14 my second year and they were saying like, man, I'm not sure this guy can do this. And then by my third year, we were 21-14. Happened to get to the NIT and still questioning what we're doing. And then I got that group of seniors and then we started going and it changed the whole thing up there. But it takes time. It took four years. My fourth year is where we started getting to where we were pretty good.

Q. How often do you talk to Orlando and would you anticipate maybe scheduling him to play a game here?
COACH CALIPARI: They will play here next year, I believe. But he and I, we probably talk once a week, maybe more than that. Like, I'll call him and that. It was a two-point game with two seconds to go while the anthem was playing and I was looking at Chris (Woolard), tell me if it's over, give me the thumbs up or down. So I wanted to know that he won that game.

Again, I hope he loses the next one. But after that I hope he wins them all. But, you know, he's somebody that's helped me in two different situations, Memphis and here, turn these things around and I wish him nothing but the best. And I think not only is he a great guy, a good person, a great heart, good family man, he's also a terrific basketball coach.

Q. Isaiah Briscoe had three steals, I think he scored off all of them and a block in the first 10 or 15 minutes tonight. Did you see him keep that up?
COACH CALIPARI: He's got to make a couple more free throws. Four or five out of seven, I can deal with. 3-for-7 is a hard deal. When you're a guard I can't have you in at the end. But here's what he is. He's just so disruptive defensively and rebounding the ball. And he really is smart and can see things. And now you have Isaiah out there, or he and Tyler out there, they're mixing it up pretty good and talking to one another and playing off of one another. We just got a different kind of team.

We need Jamal (Murray). He needs to be a little more active offensively than he is right now. And we'll figure it out. I'm watching Skal, watching what Vandy is doing with their big guys. They're letting them catch it at seven feet and square up and shoot balls and drive. Maybe that's what we do with Skal. We haven't figured this stuff out, just so you know. We're still trying to know, how do we play, how do we finish games, what's the best way to play.

Do we put Tyler away from the ball at times, so we can give it to him where he can make plays away? But I will say this, we got, you got to make some 3s, you can't win good games being 3-15 from the 3-point line. And we have been that now since the beginning of the year.

Q. What causes that? You have good shooters.
COACH CALIPARI: We do have good shooters. We just don't have good makers.

Q. How did you like the shots that they're taking?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I thought Tyler should have taken a couple others. Like he took a tougher shot on the drive. I said, you got to shoot the first one, and we’ve got to live with it. And then you got to get in the gym and make sure you're getting more confident shooting the ball. Because we all watched him, he was a 43 percent 3-point shooter this year. What is he this year? 16 percent. Think about that. He was a 42, 43 percent 3-point shooter last year, so he has it, he's just not making them.

Q. Was tonight the most aggressive you had seen Skal defensively?
COACH CALIPARI: Better. He's getting better. Look, last year, I think I'm going to get for him to see where Karl (Anthony-Towns) was in some of these games, because it may have been Buffalo he had 3-pointers and two rebounds last year, Karl did. Couldn't get it to the basket, was shooting fadeaways, couldn't get a ball, had a couple blocks and it's going to take time.

Skal, he's trying, but this is all new. He doesn't react like the other guys right now. He's got to start reacting quicker. React quicker to voices. When someone says something to you, you can't look at them, what? What? What? You got to react to it. "Switch. Help. Step up Skal, step up." You can't be stepping back. And that's kind of where he's still figuring stuff out.

And I say that, he had 16 points and seven rebounds and three blocks and a steal. And we're like, he's got a long way to go. So, we're looking for like 25 and 20 and 12 blocks.

Q. What do you do with your kids for Thanksgiving to keep it a family thing?
COACH CALIPARI: We're going to have a meal down there at a country club with a friend of mine. We'll leave tomorrow and we're going to do something at the Alonzo Mourning Center and then we're going to practice at their Miami facility, take them out to dinner tomorrow night, and then practice probably around noon on Thanksgiving day. Have Thanksgiving at five.

Some of them have parents down there, so we'll probably have a dessert bar after at the hotel, so we can meet all the families and do all that stuff. Play the game on Friday and I think we come back.

Kentucky Student Athletes

#22, Alex Poythress, F

On his four dunks …
“I just took what the defense gave me. I just tried to drive to the basket and elevate over defenders.”

On taking criticism from Coach Calipari …
“That’s expected. I just have to take it and continue. If he’s not yelling at you, then he doesn’t really care about you. He expects the best and doesn’t expect any less. That’s all I’m trying to do.” 

On being the sixth man so far this season …
“He’s just looking for energy from all of the players. It doesn’t matter if you start or come off the bench. You bring energy and you play.”

On the late run and overall play from Boston U …
“They were a good team. They play great defense. They had a lot of shooters and a great game plan. We’re going to play teams like that all year long. We just have to fight through it and grind it out. We have to keep on chipping away.

#1, Skal Labissiere, F

On Alex’s (Poythress) performance …
“He played like a beast. He’s a great athlete. He had a double-double again. He’s been doing what Alex does and we need him to do that. If we can get him to do that, I think we’ll be a really good team.”

On Cal pushing him …
“He’s always pushing me more and more. I appreciate that from him. It shows how much confidence he has in me. I’m just going to have to listen to him and keep working.”

On how Cal is trying to utilize him …
“I feel like I’m still trying to play with the guys. We’re still trying to play with each other. I think it’s going to get better as the season goes on. We’re going to try to get better and play better as a team. I’m still trying to find my way and we just got to get better.”

#23, Jamal Murray, G

On the team’s play second-half performance … 
“We didn’t want to keep it a close game. So we came out focusing on defense. We picked it up and were helping each other out in the half court.”

On getting more involved in the offense …  
“I’m not really worried. I was really trying to not force anything. I was letting the game come to me. If I had a shot I would take it, but I was just trying to get Ty (Tyler Ulis) into a rhythm because he was struggling with it a little in the first half. Help him pick up his confidence. Isaiah (Briscoe) was driving to the lane.”

On Ulis’ 3-point field-goal percentage … 
“We all know Tyler can shoot. I mean he is struggling a little bit right now and you know he will pick it up for sure. His confidence is a little low but we gave him the ball back in the second half. We know he can shoot. We give him back the ball and encourage him. We want him to get into a rhythm so he can be a threat.”

Boston University Head Coach Joe Jones

Opening statement…
“Well how fast does a year go by?  It was about a year ago that I sat here with a very similar score against the No. 1 team in the country again.  So hats off to Coach Calipari and his staff for being able to reload so quickly.  And really, like I said, last year what I’m most impressed with what Coach Cal has done was how the players move, they play as a unit, they play as a team, and it gives them a chance to get better. You don’t see guys out there trying to play individual basketball.  You see young guys trying to make plays for each other and really try to execute the things that Kentucky tries to do.  And I think that’s very hard to do in this day and time, to have such talented guys and have them play as connected as a group so quickly.  I was proud of my team tonight.  I thought we fought hard.  I thought Kentucky kind of forced us to make some mental mistakes that we don’t normally see.  Their quickness, their length, at times bothered us.  For us to have 17 turnovers, that’s a lot for us.  But I thought that was the difference in the game is we turned it over too many times.  And then they ended up getting 18 offensive rebounds, way too many.  We were down six or eight in the second half and the kid, (Charles) Matthews, comes off the bench and gets three offensive rebounds.  I thought that really hurt us as well.  So, all in all, I was pleased with how hard we fought, but we can’t make those type of mistakes against a team like that and put yourself in position to win the game.”
On Kentucky’s fast start to the game…
“Well let’s hope that it definitely helps.  We were obviously rattled by the way, from the tip, and they got off to a clean start.  But our guys are fighters.  They’re not gonna back down.  I’m proud of that.  They showed a level of resiliency that we’re gonna need to be successful.  And hopefully last year helped, but I think we were able to get something out of this game tonight even though we came out with a loss.  I thought our guys should feel good about the effort they gave tonight.”
On what changed in the second half after keeping it close in the first half…
“Yeah, you guys watch enough basketball.  You know you have to be able to sustain.  Whether it’s offense our defense, you have to be able to sustain over the course of 40 minutes.  And as the game gets longer, it’s harder to sustain.  It becomes a little more mental, a little more physical.  And in both years, the game got away from us in the second half.  You know, in the first half we were able to kind of pack in it a little bit. We wanted to force them to make contested jump shots.  We wanted to keep them out of the lane whether it was zone or man.  We kind of wanted to keep them out of the lane.  And in the first half we did a decent job of that.  And I thought also in the first half, we were able to get our shooters open for some threes that made it close.  Then in the second half, I thought they did a better job clamping down on our 3-point shooters.  And then I thought they continually applied pressure getting the ball inside, using their size to score.  And over time, they just kind of wore us down.”
On last year’s Kentucky team versus this year’s Wildcats…
“Well they’re both remarkable teams.  They’re both really talented teams.  Obviously last year probably had more depth than this year’s team.  I thought the girth and size of last year’s team was unbelievable. This year’s team, the guards might be a little more skilled.  (Isaiah) Briscoe, (Tyler) Ulis, and (Jamal) Murray might be a little more skilled than the guys that were playing the bulk of the minutes last year.  But both teams are very talented, both teams are very long.  Both teams execute at a pretty nice level.  Both teams played as a group.  I just thought last year’s team had a little more depth up to this point in the season.  But to be No. 1 again, it’s unbelievable. To be able to do that again is unbelievable after losing all those guys.”  
On his impression of Skal Labissiere…
“He really hurt us.  Just his length reminds me of like Sam Perkins.  He’s just got a soft, soft touch around the rim.  A very skilled player.  Just hard to guard.  And, you know, he goes to the offensive glass pretty well.  But I really like him as a player, and I think his upside is phenomenal.  I think he’s got a chance to be a really, really good player at the next level.”
On Nathan Dieudonne’s performance in the game…
“I love Nathan Dieudonne.  I just love his toughness.  He’s just a winner.  He just wants to win.  He couldn’t care less about his personal stats.  He puts winning ahead of everything, he’s been a four-year starter.  He’s the heart and soul of our team.  He just brings a level of toughness and competitiveness to the table.  And we’re lucky to have him. He’s been terrific.  Someone that’s I’m going to really miss after next season.  It was good to bring him home.  I don’t know about coming back here twice, but at least once it’s been good.”