Kentucky-Canisius Postgame Quotes

University of Kentucky Basketball Postgame Transcript


John Calipari


JOHN CALIPARI: “You know, when you're playing so many young guys, sometimes you just you have to settle them down. But let me say this about Reggie and the job he did, what he did was, they scored 70 points and they were using clock. So, what they did was, let's roll this thing and then we'll score late in the clock. And when have you freshmen, it is an unbelievable game plan because eventually one of them will stop playing, won't talk, something will happen, they will get a back door, a lay-up, a wide-open jumper, because we're just freshmen.

And I thought they played physical, they made shots, they weren't afraid. We're just a better shooting team. De'Aaron, I was disappointed in some of the threes he missed, but he played so well in other areas. But Isaiah was the man. What he did was, he just willed us when we were dying, and just said, look, I'm not settling, I'm going to get something at the rim. Made his free throws, rebounded the ball. Our guards today had 13 rebounds.

We’ve still got some issues at the four. Most of the guarding and rebounding. So now, the questions is, do you play Bam at four and let one of those other kids play five? And let Bam guard the four and rebound. And now you either go with Isaac or Sacha and you go to a big team, and let those other guys play some three? Because you’ve got, we just cannot have one position that's not guarding, that's not rebounding the way they should.

Q. Can you expand on Isaiah and the amount of work he put in over the summer to make himself a better player and how he is being that?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, the other thing is if you come to our practice, he's the last one to leave every day and he gets extra shots in. You build your own self-esteem, self-confidence, you build that will. You don't surrender because you've invested too much. If you don't invest anything in this game, you'll surrender. Then you'll make an excuse and then the people around you will enable you, tell you you're right, it was somebody else, he takes you out, but he doesn't take him out. When you work and invest, you will not surrender, you will not listen to any of that, you'll be, I'm getting this done.

It doesn't mean you'll win every time, but most of the time you just run out of time. You would have won if the game was another two minutes, you just ran out of time. And that's how I need this entire team to play. I was so happy Bam made free throws, because he missed six one-footers. And we missed every three. And we were up nine. That's what we were in the first half.

Then they shot 44 percent. They shot 66 at the beginning of the second half. So, we got to get better defensively. These high-level games, Michigan State, Kansas, UCLA, later Louisville, Arizona State. These high level games, you're not winning those games unless you're guarding and rebounding. And we out-rebounded them - and they were much smaller - by three rebounds. Come on. So for the year now, we're down five rebounds.

Q. With all your previous teams you stressed the importance of communicating out on the court. Seems like Isaiah was talking a lot out there…
JOHN CALIPARI: He's the only one.

Q. How would you assess the rest of …
JOHN CALIPARI: He's the only one. I had to take Wenyen out for not talking. Malik doesn't talk. Malik talks as the action is happening. Like, as they come together, switch. It's too late. I can't register it that quick.

When you see it happening, switch, switch. We say, say it three times. If you can't say it three times, you're saying it too late. Switch, switch, switch. Okay. If you can't get three times, whoa, whoa, whoa whatever we're doing, you're not saying it early enough.

So it's something, again, you think about it, we're playing with a bunch of freshmen who never talked to anybody on the court, who never defended for an entire possession, had their way, would miss 12 straight shots, but knew they had 12 more coming. Didn't matter. Never came off the floor. Played at their pace, played casual when they felt. And then they come here and every game we play is the Super Bowl.

Canisius, those first 10, 12, 15 minutes, they balled. They were jacked up. They were making shots. They were out-hustling us. They were running their offense better than we were running ours. And let me say this, Reggie just took over, so it isn't like they were there three years playing for Reggie.

So, it's what we face, and I told them in there, we're going to play high-level games, guys. I'm telling you, some of you guys, it will be a struggle for you to be on the floor unless you really start understanding how you’ve got to play. Communicating.

I think we're an unselfish team, I don't think we're selfish in any way. We're just used to being in their own shell. I'm worried about me and my man. I'm not worried about the rest of this. If we win and I play well, great. If we play poorly and lose and I play well, I'm happy. I'll have an excuse, I’ve got a bad team. Well, that doesn't work anymore. Now it's truly team defense. It's running schemes together. It's playing off of one another. And we're, believe me, light years from that right now. It's going to be a process.

Q. What can they do to get better on the boards?
JOHN CALIPARI: Maybe put better rebounders in. How about that one? Just say, if you're not rebounding, I'm not playing you. I'll come down to this again, I said it to them today - whoever defends better between Dom and Mychal, I'll play. Whoever defends better and rebounds, between Wenyen and Derek, I'll play. Whoever rebounds and defends better between Sacha and Isaac, I'll play. Because, offensively, they're about the same. So we're not going to lose anything offensively. And now we put our best defenders and rebounders on the floor, you won't believe this, we're going to defend and rebound better. And make them fight it out. Let's go. I wish we were, had a chance to play them all, but it's not how this stuff works.

Q. Why did you want to start the season out with three games in five days like this?
JOHN CALIPARI: Again, we're so young and this thing we're doing in this, this classic stuff that we do, we want to get a couple games under your belt. And that's why we did it. And it will be hard. We’ve got to travel, we’ve got to practice and travel tomorrow, have dinner in New York City, and you play the next day.

And how much can I do? We're going to get some stuff done. It will be very focused on Michigan State, which I have not seen them play. I saw the last 10 seconds of the game with Arizona, because I saw it in there before I walked out here after our game Friday. I have not watched any tape, I have not seen anything about them, have not looked at a scouting report, talked to my staff about it.

So, we'll do that tonight and tomorrow morning and get ready for a practice. And then go play a team that you know is going to play hard, you know is going to rebound, you know is going to fly. If you don't get back on defense, they're going to shoot lay-ups. You know they get back. They rebound like crazy, that's their hallmark. They rebound, they bang. They’ve got a couple guys that can go isolation. Tom does a great job with his team and puts them in great positions like always and it will be a war. It's going to be a tough game for us. We may start four freshmen, that's a tough place to start four freshmen walking into Madison Square Garden in that level of a game.

Q. Has anything surprised you, good or bad or both, through two games that you didn't expect to see that you have?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, I just said to the staff at halftime, I’ve just got to keep telling myself this is going to be a process. Because sometimes I'm coaching them like they've been here two years. But I've always done that and it has kind of worked. So, you got to either catch up or step aside, that's how it is. And throwing a lot of stuff at guys and making guys think and do stuff they have never had to do in their lives. But I tell you what, I am so blessed to be coaching this team. I had a friend of mine call me and say he's watching games and the back and forth and all this and he said, every day you walk in your gym you’ve got as talented a team as there is and they're all good kids. Look, you know I'm coaching these kids hard, I coach them all hard. They know that coming here. Trying to get them to be the best version of themselves. I cannot accept certain things that they do. And it's not them being disrespectful. It's on that basketball court, there's certain things you must do that I cannot accept if you don't. And I can't leave you on the floor. And it's not, I missed a shot, I come out. No, no, I don't coach that way. You don't dive on the floor, you don't come up with a tough rebound, you're coming out. You turn it over, I understand, you'll do that some. Bam missed five one-footers. Six. I didn't take him out. Take me out every time I make a mistake. No, I take you out when you don't dive on that floor, you don't come up with that tough rebound, you don't talk on defense. That doesn't take a skill, that's an effort. That's a focus. That's a laser focus on winning. And when you watch this team, who has it on this team? Isaiah. Anybody else? Nummh-hum. We’ve got one. Now I'm saying, you’ve got to drag some of these other dudes with you. But why? Did he have it last year? Not really.  He is twice as good as he was a year ago. Twice as good. And mainly because he's so confident shooting the ball now. Like he passed up a couple shots today I was upset about. Like shoot the ball, quit trying to keep going. You have that 15-footer, you had that three, shoot it. But like I said, we're, we’ve got a ways to go. And I would tell everybody, enjoy the process, you do every year. I mean, we're not the team that we look like now, we hit December and January and then February and then we go into March, it won't be the same team. But we better be a defensive team that really guards the ball, that really talks and rebounds, that can block shots, that flies up and down the court, that's an execution team, that keeps sharing the ball, that makes shots, a good shooting team. You can't play a zone. That's what we should be at the end of the year. Because we have that kind of group, that kind of team.

Q. Speaking of Isaiah again there was a timeout I think when the game was still tight early in the second half where it looked like he was doing as much talking in the huddle as you were. Is he kind of getting comfortable with the role that Tyler had for you guys?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, yeah, I want him to do that. As soon as this becomes their team, it's on. Then it becomes a whole different ball game. Right now it's, we still have guys casual in practice at times, lose their focus. I'm going to have to start doing things defensively to keep them in a stance for 30 straight seconds, and their legs are going to be burning. Why are my legs burning? Because you’ve never done this, this season. Now you’ve got to stay in a stance the whole time. And then the other thing is, in this next game, you better sprint back. I mean, you shoot it, you better sprint back and somebody better stop that ball. And everybody else better fill in behind, because they're flying. This is a heck of a basketball team we're playing, I'll tell you that.

Q. What did you think about Bam's ability to stay out of foul trouble tonight and his offense?
JOHN CALIPARI: Better. Better. And again, he did some things, like posting up way under the goal, because he didn't want to get fouled. Well you want to get fouled. You made nine out of 13 or eight out of 13. You think about it. And you saw him that first game when I was, the technicals, making him shoot the technicals. Now you know why I was doing it. I want him to get comfortable shooting free throws, because you must foul him to stop him. He's a beast. Now you’ve got to go make free throws. And you know what? The kid, again, he ended up with 14 and 11, he could have had 25 points and 14 rebounds. But he missed all those five, six, some of them I said it's sad they didn't go. Come on, didn't you feel bad, like, oh my gosh. There were like three of them like that. Like, oh my gosh, it didn't go in? And that happens sometimes.

Kentucky Players


#13, Isaiah Briscoe, Sophomore, Guard


On how he feels about his career high of 21 points …
“It’s fine. I was just doing whatever I needed to do to keep my team in the game. We came out sluggish. We weren’t hitting shots, so I had to keep us in the game.” 

On how he is the only guy who understands the “process” …
“Yes, they (the freshmen) will learn sooner or later. We have a big game on Tuesday so it was good that we were down in the first half early so they can get used to stuff like that. We should be fine.”

On if he envisioned this role for himself as a veteran …
“Yes, that was the whole point of me coming back. I’m just trying to lead these young guys, keep them on the right track and keep them focused.”

On if he felt he was going to have to take charge tonight …
“Yes, at some point I knew I was going to have to take charge. I could tell when we weren’t hitting shots, when we came out sluggish I knew I was going to have to keep us in the game the first half. Then in the second half, everybody got loose and then we could just play how we play.” 

On traveling to New York with the young guys for a big game …
“Coach says he forces young guys to grow up quick and three games into the season, we’re playing at the Garden. But we have to come out with the win.”

On if this team is ready for a game like this …
“Yes, I think so. They’ve played in other big time games before, I’m sure. This is another big game and we have to come out and play.” 

On if he’s looking forward to playing Michigan State …
“I am looking forward to it. Michigan State is a great team from what I’ve heard. We’ve been playing pretty well. We have practice tomorrow where we will go over the scouting report and go from there.” 

#3, Bam Adebayo, Freshman, Forward


On how he felt when he wasn’t making shots in the 1st half …
“I had to believe in myself and not put my head down, but just keep playing. You have those days, but it’s just another day that goes by. You get in the gym the next day and get better.”

On how Isaiah Briscoe's experience helped them as a team …
“I think it (helped) because he’s use to the college game and the pace. We’re getting used to it, but he’s our leader. We follow.”

On what he’s adjusting to at the college level …
“Keeping my hands high and trying not to foul and getting into the flow of the pace.”

On Briscoe’s performance ...
“We just depended on Isaiah (Briscoe). We all have to go out at the right time and ball. We’re a team and Isaiah is going to get a lot of shots because he’s our leader. Other than that, we just have to follow behind him and get in rhythm.”

#0, De’Aaron Fox, Freshman, Guard


On the mood after the first timeout …
“Nothing really changed. We are young. Teams come out and they play the best against us. They made shots and we didn’t. We just took shots to try to take the lead and we did by half time.”
 
On Isaiah Briscoe changing the mood after multiple shots in the first half …
“He just took over. I mean, he did what a leader was supposed to do. He knows what’s going on. He has been in the adversity before here. You know, we haven’t faced it yet. He stepped up and we followed his lead.”
 
On what was said in the first timeout …
“Just lock up and play defense. Play defense. Play defense the entire 30 seconds. You know, those guys are going to make shots that they usually probably haven’t made before just because they are playing us. Just come out and chip at the lead and we will be fine.”
 
On if he was surprised how Canisius started the game …
“No, not really. We watch film and the guys made tough shots. We called a timeout, and after that we just kept playing basketball. That is all you can do.”
 
On the competitiveness being different in college than in high school …
“Guys come out here and they want to beat us. We have a lot of top talent guys and All-Americans. That is what they see, and they just want to come out here and prove that they can do better and that they can play with us, and that is what they did for a while. We just blew the lead open.”
 
On his ability to use both hands …
“It is a huge advantage. I worked on it. I broke my left thumb freshman year of high school and I was out for like four weeks. So, that just helped me. I worked on my right hand and I started eating with my right hand and brushing my teeth with my right hand. People don’t know, but little things like that can help you. It helped me work on my ball handling and shooting flow and dribbling with my right and and stuff. It has helped my game a lot.”
 
On the upcoming game against Michigan State …
“No, not necessarily pumped up. I mean, those guys want to play us. We don’t really have anybody, well I can only speak for myself, but circled on our calendar. We go out the next game and do what we are doing and I think we will be fine.”
 
On knowing and playing against Miles Bridges …
“Yeah, I know him pretty well. We played each other once in AAU. He is a strong guy who can get up and down the floor. He played two, three, four and has been putting up good numbers since he has been at Michigan State. You just have to go out and play.”
 
On poking fun at Michigan State players during All-American Games …
“It was friendly. We are all friends. On the court, you just cut all ties. We aren’t going in saying we are about to be friends. We are going in saying it is a game.”
 
On being excited to play in Madison Square Garden …
“Yeah, somewhat. I know it is history. I know all the guys that have played there and obviously it is an NBA stadium. They have concerts and football games and stuff. But I don’t want to go in (thinking it is more). I mean, it is another arena. There is no wall behind the goal. I mean, you have people sitting behind the goal. Go in and think of it as another game.”
 
On freshmen stepping up and taking over in the game …
“Yeah. Bam (Adebayo) is a beast. He is probably the most athletic guy on the court. His rebounding is special. He did that tonight even after we were struggling. We struggled on the glass the last couple of games. We were all just trying to help out.”

Canisius Head Coach Reggie Witherspoon


Opening statement…
“I thought the game was a fast-paced game, probably a little faster than our depth handled tonight. We were able to move the ball and get some good looks, but a team like this recovers quickly and sometimes a good look can still be difficult. But we had pockets where we played well, but weren’t able to sustain it. Overall, hopefully an experience that we can get better.”

On how he thought his team got better in the game…
“Well, again, I thought we had pockets of play where we moved the ball well and got good looks. I think this game, more than anything, was an opportunity for our young men to get an experience that enables them to realize that we’ve got to pay attention to every detail. When you have a breakdown, typically you’re going to pay for it. So, we had little minor breakdowns. I thought the first half we got in foul trouble quickly, and those are opportunities for us to learn as well. Learning the hard way is no fun for anybody, but we had some of those. But I thought there were situations when the game started, I thought we were pretty alert and ready to play and I thought we stayed that way for most of the first ten minutes. In the second half, we were that way offensively but we had a hard time getting stops. So, I think overall we probably put together 15-or-so pretty good minutes of basketball, but as you know, that’s not enough.”

On what stood out to him about Isaiah Briscoe…
“You could see that he was a veteran and that he had been through it. Overall, what stood out was that he was physical and his aggressiveness. So, I thought his poise while he did that. Sometimes, you know, it’s difficult to arrive at that kind of balance where you’re aggressive, you’re physical, but you’re still poised and I thought he played that way for them.”

On what he was thinking when they were up 9-2 and 29-23… “
It’s the kind of start you want to kind of get off to here because you don’t want to play from the root and have them get on you. The last time I was in this building with Alabama, they jumped on us early. I thought from that standpoint, ‘This gives us a chance to move forward with the game.’ I thought we were okay until foul trouble, and then you go from hoping that you have five guys, maybe six, maybe seven are prepared, to all the sudden you play nine and 10 guys, and it might be a little bit beyond what they’re prepared for. So, that kind of hurt us a little bit. But I thought the start of the game was pretty much what we wanted.”

On the effect of freshmen guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk for Kentucky…
“Yeah, speed. Speed and quickness. If you’re a little bit out of position, they’re at the rim and we saw that on our video coming in and we saw that up close today. Those are the things you have to learn from. Transition, a couple times, we scored and they got out of the net and got it up the sideline and got it to the basket before we could get back. Those are things that we’ve been working on regardless of opponent, and what our hope is, is that we learned something today that will enable us to defend at a pace that goes that quickly.”

#5, Kassius Robertson, Junior, G


On being picked ninth in their league and still leading Kentucky through 17 minutes …
“Yeah, it means a lot about how we were playing, like Reggie said, in a good 15 minutes of the game. But like Coach said also, you’ve got to put 40 minutes together. So, it doesn’t matter how good we play for 29 minutes, 39 minutes, it doesn’t really matter. But I think it’s a really good learning experience playing in this kind of venue and then taking it back to the MAAC. I think it will prepare our guys really well. Like I said, I was really happy with how we were playing in the first 10-15 minutes. We just kind of failed some assignments going into the second half and coming out starting the second half too.”