Kentucky-Cleveland State Postgame Quotes

University of Kentucky Basketball Postgame  
Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016


John Calipari


Q. How do you think you performed offensively and defensively without Briscoe out there?
JOHN CALIPARI: It was good. You don't ever want to have a guy have to step away for awhile. He was hurting after the last game and then he tried to practice and I didn't really - you can't be 75 percent with the way we're playing. So, he took today and tomorrow off and see if he can go Friday. If he can't go Friday, we'll just hope he's ready for Monday. But it gave me a chance to really focus on De'Aaron leading, gave me a chance to put Malik some at point guard, which we hadn't done this year. Gave Mike a chance to play. I went with that big team, which is what I have wanted to do, Derek, Wenyen, and Bam. Now all of a sudden you’re 6’10", 6'10", 6'10" and two big guards and woo! And that team gave us a run, because it's hard to score, it's hard to get shots. We're still, hands are down. It's habits they have, high school habits. When you're 6'10" your hands are at least at your shoulder and usually they're above your head and you guard that way, because you're 6'10". A lot of times they will throw the ball right into your hand, if it's just up there. Hard to do it when it's down by your side. And now a 6'10" player becomes a 6’2" player. And we did a bunch of that tonight. But again, we're getting better. I was disappointed in some of the free throw shooting, because we're a good free throw shooting team and we got guys missing that should not be missing, or at least not missing two or three. I thought our discipline defensively was better. We just, we're a November team. I told them after the game, we're a November team. I don't want my team in November to look like it's January or February. Because the only thing that team can do is come back. And I've done this 30 years, and I've seen teams come out of the gate so good that I laugh and say, they will not be there at the finish line. They're so good right now, they can't get better. All you can do is get rattled. We're not as good, we didn't make as many shots, man, earlier in the year we were. We're not that. We're a ways away from where we need to be.

Q. De'Aaron has through five games he's got 14 more assists than Tyler had last year at the same time. Is he better than you thought he was going to be right now early?
JOHN CALIPARI: I expected him to shoot the ball better than he is right now. Because I watched him play. But defensively I didn't realize that he could play that way. I knew he could play fast, but he just needed to be - it had to be demanded. Like you can't be fast when you feel like it, you're going to be fast the whole game. But his ability to find people and make the right play, woo! I thought Malik was outstanding. Malik has a chance of being special. When I put him at point guard I told him at the end, you played like a shooting guard would play point. If you want to be a point, you’ve got to play like a point guard. But I thought defensively, I mean, he stays in front, he's quick, he's chasing, he didn't break down. Wenyen Gabriel, wow, this kid, you know, a double-double. We don't even talk about him. We don't talk about him. More people call me about Wenyen than anybody else, because of how hard he works and what he does. But he goes 10 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists in 26 minutes. Now, hands are down on defense and he gets beat on straight line drives, but you can't have everything, I guess.

Q. It's only five games, your fastest team here?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think John (Wall) and Eric (Bledsoe) and those guys would argue the point that they were faster with Patrick Patterson and that team. And you put DeAndre Liggins - that was a fast team. But this team is really fast. I mean it's - how about Bam? - there's a couple of you guys that are old enough to know Wes Unseld. Some of you, he was a child when you watched him play. But his outlet pass to halfcourt? That's Bam. Right now. He throws that ball to halfcourt, if you will run, he will throw it to you. He's getting better offensively. Now, what I did in the second half? I said, if Bam doesn't get 10 shots in the second half, we're practicing tomorrow. So, if you wondered why they just kept throwing Bam the ball, that's why they were throwing Bam the ball. I said, I looked at them I said, I'm not kidding, you guys are not giving him the ball enough. Throw him the ball. And I said, at halftime, I said, okay, so you guys want to shoot all the balls and he'll go get every rebound block and fight and drive and outlet and throw it and then you shoot all the balls. Is that right? Oh, that's really good. That's what I said. Okay, this half, this is what we're doing. But we need Isaac and Sacha. They just got to keep getting better. I thought Derek Willis showed some signs of what he can do for us. Mychal's got to defend. Straight line drive, straight line drive, no rebound. I mean, come on, if you want to be on that court, you’ve got to do this. So, we got to - we're a November team. It's November, whatever it is, 23rd. I should know, it is my daughter's birthday. Happy birthday, Megan. She was a Thanksgiving baby, by the way, too.

Q. You touched on Malik Monk, but through five games he has more threes than any other UK freshmen in history. The scouting report on him is that's a streaky shooter. Is this just a hot streak or can he consistently be this good?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, I want him to drive the ball more and get to the rim. That's what I'm trying to get him to do. I know he can shoot threes. But I don't want him to settle for that, for that what you just said. There's not, whether it's Steph Curry or whoever, guys that are volume three-point shooters, they will go through spells where they miss. They will have one of those 2-12 games from the three. They do. I don't care who you are. So my thing is, don't make that the only part of your game. But I will say this, he can, he is, he's working for the first time, where he's in the gym and he's being disciplined about his work, he's focused on what he needs to focus on, and he's getting it done. He's listening to, instead of bunny-hopping, everything is a one-two step now, where he's really rolling into the shot. And it's an aggressive shot. But like I said, we’ve got a ways to go. Again, Tennessee-Martin had Mississippi beat, lost by three. They won every other game. They’ve beaten all the teams here. They press, they trap, they drive the ball at every chance, and so we have that game. Then you go to the following week and you think about who we're about to face, bam, bam, bam. And it's going to be a tough road. I think that Valpo just beat Alabama by eight. Valparaiso has a center that they tell me is an NBA player. 6'9", 250, absolutely a lock for the NBA. Big kid. Scoring 25 a game right now. So we have - look, we are where we are. Now, each game forward is going to get better and better. It's exactly what you need before you get into league play.

Q. (By Bam Adebayo) Who is the fastest team again?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, if our bigs would run, I would say this team. But since your bigs don't get up and down the court, it's a little bit of an issue.

(Smiling.)

Q. There were moments when it looked almost like a dunk contest out there. Gary Waters said that you're allowing a lot of offensive creativity, because the guys are playing so hard on defense. Is that a fair assessment?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah. Yeah. He knows them. Gary and I have known each other 20 years. He knows how I coach. And the problem I have is when former players come in, John Wall sat behind our bench and said, ‘he got soft.’ “Like, yeah, but I'm dealing with all freshmen all the time and you can't be like I was when I had juniors and seniors, who at times would kind of step back and get numb and you had to punch them out of being numb. And, offensively, I don't really know all the things that these kids can do, so the only way I can see it is let them go a little bit. Now, most cases I'll have two in my pocket, like let that one go, let that one go. But the third one, I got to call him over and say, hey, come on, man. But this is - the one thing I would tell you, they're unselfish. We had 38 baskets and 25 assists. I mean, all those dunks are, most of them are on lobs, on drives and finding people. So, if they're unselfish.

I can deal with some - like De'Aaron Fox, why? He has the best floater in the country. The best. I have no idea why he won't shoot it. When I tell you the best, I'm saying I want him to shoot it five, eight times a game. Drive in the middle of the lane, get to seven feet, and shoot a floater. He makes it. He's driving into everybody bang, bang, bang, bang and trying to make a layup. I have no idea why. But he's feeling that out and we'll show him on tape, that doesn't work, but the floater works. And we show him and show him and show him and he'll be shooting floaters. But you’ve got to let them go a little bit. Bam and the big guys, Kenny Payne and Tony Barbee and the guys are saying, throw it to the bigs. Even if they miss shots, just throw it to them, so they get a better feel and we get a better feel on what we got to work on.

Q. With the game today and another one Friday night how do you handle Thanksgiving with the team?
JOHN CALIPARI: We're going to do, Jerry Lundergan and his family for 30 years has been, the Salvation Army, and feeding the less fortunate and so we're going to go down and help serve food in the afternoon. And then we're going to meet at my house, our team and any of their families that are in. So we're all going to have one big thing at like 3 o'clock. And then we'll probably walk through, 7 o'clock we'll walk through Tennessee-Martin. I think I'm going to give them tomorrow off, which I usually wouldn't do before a game, but this is going to be a tough run. And then Saturday morning, we play Friday, Saturday morning we're (in the Bahamas) for three days before we come back and then it's on again.

Q. Coach Waters also said that your team enjoys playing defense. Would you agree with that assessment?
JOHN CALIPARI: They're starting to. That's the first step to being good. Look, I said to the guys after, there's such a thing - you guys all relate confidence to shooting free throws or shooting balls or handling the ball. There's such a thing as rebounding confidence. Like they're really confident they can rebound. Who on this team is that way? Shot goes up, you know he's confident.

Q. Bam?
JOHN CALIPARI: Wow, good, you guys watched the game. Who is the other guy that's really confident rebounding the ball like he'll go? Wenyen. But I got a couple other guys that are not confident going after balls. Defensively, Isaiah Briscoe. De'Aaron Fox, on the ball. Bam is confident, did you see him guard guards today? He's confident that he can do it. Some other guys go to guard the ball and they go, ‘Oh, my gosh, he's going to drive.’ Yeah, he is. He absolutely is going to drive around you. That confidence has to be built in practice. It can be built in our practices because you're going against someone really good every day and if you can guard that guy, you can guard anybody we're playing. But we got guys that are accepting, this is who I am. Now, if you don't have confidence rebounding or defense, I don't care what you tell me, ‘Well just give me the ball on offense you'll see my confidence.’ No. It doesn't happen that way. You're not getting dunked on three times and then go down and you're going to make a jump shot. Ain't happening. So, there's such a thing as confidence that way. But again, I told you too, there are two 18-year-olds - Sacha may be the youngest freshman in the country and Isaac is the youngest sophomore in the country. They're young. They're little babies. And I don't coach them that way I'm holding them accountable. Mychal, man, he's getting a chance. Everyone on this team and in the gym wants Mychal to play. But if they're shooting lay-ups on you all day, you are not playing, so you better figure it out. Stay in front of somebody, get some confidence defensively. Do we need his shooting? Yeah, but not if you give up more lay-ups than you make shots. That don't work that way. So, we’ve got stuff that we're still working on. And Dom, Dom said he's going to be okay. I think Isaiah, Isaiah may need a couple more days, I just don't know. But he hurt it when he was jerked to the floor that last game.

Q. What happened with Dom and also does he have the worst luck of any guy you've seen when he gets an opportunity to play?
JOHN CALIPARI: He's got buzzard luck now. This poor kid. But he's going to be fine. He's the greatest kid, too. When I told him I was going to give Mychal an opportunity before him, because I just have to give Mychal a chance to prove what he is and let everybody see it and he hadn't had that chance. He was fine. He's the greatest kid. The craziest thing, both he and Mychal, unbelievable athletes. Let me ask you, does Dom have defensive confidence? He really does. Well let me say this, Mychal is just as athletic as he is. So now it's, okay, man, you're going against Malik every day, you can guard him and stay in front of him and make it hard on him, you can guard anybody we're playing. Happy Thanksgiving, folks.

Kentucky Player Quotes


#32 Wenyen Gabriel, F


On the team being unselfish …
“Yeah, we already knew that we were. Every time we score we are congratulating each other. A lot of times we are comfortable passing the ball which wasn’t usual though, because a lot of us come from different high schools where we had to shoot more and when we got here, we started having to pass the ball more which was very enjoyable for all of us.”

On enjoying playing defense …
“Yeah, that’s one of the emphasis on our team here. If you can play good defense it will turn into good offense, which we’re always thinking about.”

On Malik Monk’s play …
“Malik’s a heck of competitor. He’s an athlete. He’s always wanting to play his best, which the team really feeds off of.”

#0, De’Aaron Fox, G


On his thoughts about the game …
“I think we played well. Without Isaiah Briscoe today, people stepped up and we ended up getting the win.”

On being compared to John Wall …
“At this point it happens all the time. It’s a great honor to be compared to a player like that. I’m just trying to out there and play my best.”  

On his thoughts about having more assists in the first five games than Tyler Ulis did last year…
“My teammates are just making shots. A lot of the time, it is just throwing it to Malik (Monk) or Mike (Mulder) and they’re making the 3. I also throw it low to Bam (Adebayo) and he’s dunking it, and I throw a lot of lobs. It hasn’t been hard to get assists.”

On why he doesn’t shoot his floater …
“I don’t know. I’m not really thinking about anything when I’m going through the paint except not getting a charge. But I am going to get better at it. I’ll get better a picking my shots and choosing my shots.” 

#5, Malik Monk, G


On how not to settle for bad shots …
“You have to feel when it’s right. Cal helps me with it a lot in practice, so I know when to take what shots. It really just depends on the game plan and how the game works itself out.”  

On what he looks for to determine if he will shoot or drive …
“The defender determines that. If he is playing up close you drive, if not you shoot.” 

On having more 3-pointers than any player in UK history in the first five games…
“I didn’t even know; I was just playing basketball. I didn’t know that was possible either. I’m just playing basketball. Like I said, my teammates set me up well and I’m knocking shots down.” 

On his chemistry with De’Aaron Fox …
“It’s crazy, but we just play basketball. We have great chemistry. Although we never played that much together we always know where we are on the court. That’s another thing that makes the team so close.”

Cleveland State Head Coach Gary Waters


On the combination of De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk … 
“Well, if the NBA had different rules, they would probably be there right now. They are good basketball players – especially Fox. Fox is a really good guard. He is playing as well as (Jamal Murray) when we played Kentucky in Cancun. He’s not shooting as well, but he is playing as well.”

On if they tried to make Kentucky beat them from 3-point range … 
“No. The reason why it didn’t work out was pretty obvious when you look at the score. My goal is to go out and play our kind of basketball. We get up and we press you and it wasn’t effective today. It just wasn’t effective. They’re a pretty good team. You’re ranked No. 1 for a purpose. If you’re not a No. 1 and you’re there, you’re going to be knocked off there very quickly. They’ve got a chance to hold that (ranking) for a little. They’ve got bodies and they’ve got big bodies. For us, it’s a little harder because our inside presence hasn’t played yet this season and when your leading rebounder and haven’t played it’s hard. We are trying to do everything from the outside and that’s hard against a team like Kentucky because their guards really come after you and playing defense. It’s probably the hardest we have played against a team where they guarded our guards that hard. And you know what the crazy part about it is? They enjoy doing it. When you get guards who play on the defensive end that hard you can have a lot of success.”

On what he sees as UK’s biggest flaws … 
“If you look at that score, I’d say zero. Probably their perimeter shooting. If they can have some folks that keep Fox out of the middle and make the others beat you, you’ve got a chance. But. They’ve also got good inside presence. They want to score inside. They’re physical and you’ve got to match that size. There aren’t a lot of teams who can match that size. Ask Michigan State. They tried to match it and they couldn’t match it. And if Michigan State can’t match it – it’s hard. The difference between them and others it (Kentucky) has more of them. I know Calipari feels good about this group of kid and I have to bet he enjoys going to practice every day. 

On what his team needs to work on …
“We have a lot to work on. We just need to get personnel back so we can figure it out. I did feel good about Robert Edwards. He had a good game, but we can’t beat a team of that magnitude with just one person. You need a group of people to do that. We have to get more people contributing offensively. The biggest thing is if we had an inside presence, then you can get that. Now, you have to worry about that. Now teams are saying, ‘Let’s just shut down the outside.’”
 
On if he was surprised with the speed of the Kentucky players …
“It was about what I expected. They’re relentless when they come out you. The thing that’s scary about them is they enjoy getting out there and doing it because they think they can be creative out there. I have to give them credit. (Coach Calipari) is allowing them to show creativity with a bunch of young kids like that. Usually you have to be more strict and disciplined to make sure everything is run to an order. He’s not doing that. He’s saying, ‘You play hard for me on the defensive end and get out and enjoy yourself on offense.’ That’s pretty good basketball when you can do that.”
 
On UK’s five freshmen on the floor and guard combination …
“They’re playing pretty well together. They play their roles well together. A lot of people make a big-to-do about five freshmen. If you look at those five freshmen, probably all five will be in the draft. When I look at their team – I was fortunate when I was at Eastern Michigan to be able to play the Fab Five when they were all freshman - (The UK freshmen) have the equivalency to be able to go out there and play like that. They’re literally a better defensive team. They don’t have the guard size that Michigan team had, but they do have the quickness and defensive ability that team had.”