Kentucky-Eastern Kentucky Postgame Quotes

Kentucky Men’s Basketball Postgame Quotes
Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky
Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., Dec. 9, 2015
Attendance: 22,544

I thought Alex (Poythress) was outstanding in the second half. I thought Marcus Lee was really good in the second half. And I thought Skal (Labissiere) made strides. He's not there yet, but he mixed it up. He dove on the floor. Now, he hurt his elbow, he said. But he did dive on the floor. I mean, so he's making strides. I keep telling him, it has nothing to do with what you do offensively. You're all seeing that's pretty good offensively, but that's not what it is.

We're still ways away, folks. I was happy about some of the stuff, but we don't come up with stops to put people away. It's been this way all year.

I can tell you, (EKU head coach) Dan (McHale) did a great job with his team. I watched his tape. They’ve got to be excited about watching basketball up there. The way they play and skill guys that can all make shots. They missed some against us, but we defended and made them drive into bigs, but that team's going to win a lot of games.

All these teams that we have played, like EKU, they're all good teams.

(We’ve) Got to shoot a little bit better. Tyler (Ulis) and Jamal (Murray) didn't shoot it particularly well, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm more worried about us, how we're playing. This was a game where we were going to play up-and-down because that's how they defend. They let you get into a running game.

I was disappointed in turnovers. We had 17 turnovers. Four from Jamal, four from Marcus Lee, three from Skal. I mean, come on. Most of that is just being tough with the ball, making easy plays.

Q. Coach McHale said that Alex (Poythress) is a pro when he wants to be. What makes the difference, do you think, when Alex wants to be and apparently when he doesn't want to be?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. You can ask him.

Q. Marcus Lee, coming back from that injury, obviously looked good shot 5-5 from the field. What did you see out of him?
COACH CALIPARI: In the first half he wasn't particularly (good). (He) did well and in the second half, he played. I thought he blocked balls, he came up with rebounds. I even liked the fact Skal blocked somebody out so that the other guy could go get the ball.

But there was a late-game rebound that we really needed to finish the game off. Skal let the other guy get it from him and you're out. You can't be in. We're trying to win. And even though we're learning as we go, again, we're the most inexperienced team in the country and we show it. I'm probably expecting way too much from these guys, probably because we have all been spoiled that when we step on the court, everybody thinks we're just supposed to win.

The UCLA game kind of got everybody in check like, oh my gosh, are we that team or are we that other team? And this is what happens when you have inexperienced guys.

Q. Anything you would like us to ask Alex Poythress?
COACH CALIPARI: Oh, you guys will all ask him. You know what we're all saying. I mean, I want the kid to be the best player in the country, that's what I want him to be. He's capable of that. Made free throws today, he just stopped on one rebound and he brought it down his old self and he lost it. And then on one defensive play, he knew he stopped and the guy drove for a lay-up and he knew it. I mean, he eliminates those two, missed a couple shots, but a near perfect game.

Q. Coming up close on the semester break, I wonder if Camp Cal, the no 20 hours, is that going to be more important for this team than other teams?
COACH CALIPARI: It will be important because, plus we have Tai (Wynyard) coming. He's 6'-10", 260. Could he be the answer to toughness? Then the other guys got to take a back seat? I don't know until we get him here and we let him get in there and mix it up.

But the other side of it is, we got finals, we got two practice days, and a game Saturday against a really good opponent who is playing really well right now. Beat Texas A&M going away.

Then we have finals. So they're off Sunday. We have Monday, Tuesday, we'll have an individual workday on Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, we travel to Brooklyn and then they got Christmas and they're off for a while. So when they come back, we have a couple practice days and we play Louisville who is playing really well right now. So we have no -- this stuff is on now. Like it's on.

After that, we may have some space. I haven't looked at the schedule. But we're going to do a lot of scrimmaging. They got to bring this out of each other. Can't do it with drills. Let's just throw it up and scrimmage and let's figure it out. You want to take somebody's spot, go beat them out, go play better.

Isaiah (Briscoe) did some good stuff today, but he's got to make free throws. You can't go 0-for-3 and one was the front end one-on-one and that means your 0-for-4. You can't do that as a guard. Plus it's demoralizing. He's a good enough player that you don't need to do that. But, boy can he can he get to the basket, is he good with the ball? How physical was he? And he defended pretty good.

Q. You said yesterday, maybe, it doesn't have to be Skal, maybe Alex can be the guy to establish that post presence --
COACH CALIPARI: Or a guard. It doesn't have to be a big. You just have to be able to throw it to somebody in there and create some havoc.

Q. As far as big guys go, is (Skal) your best chance?
COACH CALIPARI: It's early. I would like to have more than one. I would like to have Skal and Alex. I would like to be able to throw the ball to Marcus Lee when they try to be physical with him, where he spins and gets to the rim.

Q. What about the spark that Charles Matthews gave you off the bench in that first half?
COACH CALIPARI: He played good. And then again, they didn't play him. OK, so he's got to figure out, what am I going to do if I'm not being played? At halftime, I went right on the board and said, OK, they're not playing a couple of you. Like, literally not guarding you. You must slash and be around that lane area where we can find you because you're not being guarded.

Second half, he stood, he threw it to the corner, and he's pointing to the post, and he stood there. And that's the time Skal got tripled teamed by his man. And I took him out. I said, look, come on now, we want you in the game. I want you to do those things, you’ve got to listen. If you're not being guarded, you can still be a heck of a player, slashing, offensive rebound -- you saw him get a dunk. But he did alright. Like I said, he's young. I've been tough on these guys, I'm driving them pretty hard, most of it is based on we just, we, if they can't take me hounding them, where can they take an opponent? And every game, here's what I said to them before the game, every game we play, the other team plays loose as a goose, and they play hard. Because they have nothing to lose.

And I'm telling them, we got to play that way. That's got to be who we are. Because we're not last year. This is who we are, we're a good team, got good players. So that's what we're trying to get to.

Q. You mentioned that y'all are going to start scrimmaging more?
COACH CALIPARI: We have scrimmaged the last two days.

Q. And you mentioned the playing time is up for grabs.
COACH CALIPARI: No, no, no, no.

Q. Is it one through five playing time is up for grabs?
COACH CALIPARI: No, no. There's one or two guys, if you want to play, play better and do it in practice. But you got five, six, seven guys, it's locked in who they are. Skal wants to give it up to those other guys or Tai when he comes, then give it up. If you don't want to give it up, fight. Fight like crazy and go get it done.

Alex and Marcus Lee are playing. Those three guards are playing. Who are the other couple guys? You want to play? Prove it in practice. That's the old school way of doing it, I hope you know. That's, like, how they do it. And then the other guys don't play. Now, it's, you know.

Q. You kind of talk about how Tyler is talking right now, the last couple games he's 5-of-22 shooting.
COACH CALIPARI: Arm's still bothering him. It was his right arm. There are times he doesn't want to make that shot. We're telling him, look, you got to shoot it, whether you're making it or not, because if they're not playing people, it's the only thing can you do. But the other one was Jamal. Just missed a lot of open shots. I mean, and he's a good shooter. Made the couple that we needed to space the game, but when it's ready to bury people and put them out of their misery, we're not making those plays and we're breaking down defensively.

Q. One other thing about Tai, how far along is he in his development and when does he play?
COACH CALIPARI: I don't know. I don't have any idea. I'll see him. I watched him on tape, but I haven't seen him in person. Haven't seen him against our guys. We'll see what he is and what he's not and whether he's going to be able to help us this first year.

Q. What does he look like on tape to you?
COACH CALIPARI: He looks like he's 6'-10" and about 260. 250.

Q. Will he play regardless for you or is it still a possibility he might redshirt?
COACH CALIPARI: He could redshirt, but the plan is, let's slide him in there and go. But again,OK, we play on the 19th. He gets here only on the 18th. Then we go on Christmas break. And he's going to come back here and I’ve got to have staff working with him over Christmas. Then we have two practice days and we play Louisville. Not probably the ideal game to shove him in, with two days practice. But then let's just see where he is and let's, we'll figure it out.

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#22, Alex Poythress, F

On his double-double tonight … 
“Coming off a loss, we tried to make a statement in this game and I tried to start early on in the game. We can bounce back from a loss.”

On what he wants to accomplish …
“I’m just trying to play hard every time I’m out there and give 100 percent as well as bring energy out there and play the best I can.”

On his third double-double this year …
“I’ve been through everything. I’ve been through a rough year, an ACL injury and a lot of things don’t phase me. I’m just trying to get through adversity and keep on pushing.”

On establishing a post presence beside Skal Labissiere …
“Skal is still learning. He’s just a freshman who’s 19 years old. One of us has to step up and I’m glad I can do it today. I’m going to try and bring it out every game in the future.”

#4, Charles Matthews, G 

On bouncing back in this game coming off of the loss at UCLA …
“We just wanted to bounce back after that loss from UCLA. We had a sour taste in our mouth, and we’ve just been competing against each other in practice. We wanted to come out here and preform.” 

On the learning process for you personally …
“I’m just taking stuff step by step and understanding that this is a journey. For me, it’s more of a marathon instead of a sprint. I’m far from my finished product, so just be patient.”

On learning to be physical as a player …
“I don’t think it’s hard at all. I think it’s just a mindset and a mentality that you come into practice every day with. I’m going to come out here every day and compete to make my team better.”

On being fired up after just about every play that you make …
“I just have passion when I play. I love the game and I bring energy to the team. I am just doing what I have to do. You have to make the most of it. When I go in I want to maximize my opportunity.”

#00, Marcus Lee, F

On how they played tonight…
“We took a huge step forward. Skal had a great game today. He played with great confidence and he pushed him so much in practice that he played really well in the game today and he showed it. That’s what were excited for.”

On why an older guy cannot be more consistent (Comparing Skal and Poythress)… 
“I mean, it’s life, you can’t do the same thing over and over again everyday. Sometimes you just, something is wrong with your body, something is going on in your head, there’s something interfering with you playing at the best of your ability. But you gotta just get over it and sometimes its not your greatest, but as long as you’re going hard you’re fine.”

On emphasizing going to the hoop… 
“We definitely emphasized going to the hoop and being strong with the ball a lot this week just to teach us toughness in practice. It kind of moved from practice to the game and it helped us a lot.”

EKU Head Coach Dan McHale

Opening statement …
“I’m proud of my guys. We battled. I think we showed everyone what we’re made of. Didn’t play very well offensively. A lot of that is because of their defense. To be down eight at the under-eight timeout, I would have taken it. We just couldn’t get consecutive stops back together and couldn’t keep them off the offensive glass. I think we showed a lot of heart and everyone can see how hard we play.”

On how much of the game was a “scrap” game …
“It was. I challenged my guys. We had to be first to the floor. We had to get the 50-50 balls. We had to gain rebounds. I think we did two of the three. We couldn’t keep them off the glass. That’s their strength. That’s our weakness. I think you saw we went on that run late in the second half; guys diving out of bounds, guys playing for each other. That’s what I told them. I said, ‘Don’t make this about yourself. Make this about the team. If you focus on making this about the team we’re going to win a lot of ball games.’ (I’m) very proud of their effort. (I’m) very proud of the way they kept coming back. We just didn’t have it tonight offensively.”

On Van Florence coming tonight and walking out with him …
“Again, this goes back to my time here. It was so special and a lot of those memories were with Mr. Keightley and his guys. Van Florence and Bobby Wiggins meant a lot to me personally. It meant a lot. He’s not doing very well at all. He’s very, very sick. So everyone please keep him in your prayers. But he didn’t want to miss it and it meant a lot to me and I’m sure it meant a lot to him.”

On if there were any jitters early on and if so how he settled his guys down …
“Of course, it’s human nature. You can say what you want, but we watched pep talks, speeches and rallies. These guys were excited to play. But I knew once you go out there and you see this animal that it is playing out here it’s going to be tough. They settled down and played well. The difference in the game, it was a five-point game at the end of the fourth timeout and the 12-0 run just killed us at the end of the second half and in the first half. But we weren’t at it. Like I said, we came back in the second half and took their best punch and kept swinging.”

On Kentucky’s grief over the UCLA loss on film versus in person …
“I think Coach Cal got their attention the past couple days. They’re a tough team. I think going out to the West Coast is a little bit of a lax but give them credit. They get back to basics. They know their strengths and had 58 points in the paint. We talked about it. Keep (Kentucky) out of the paint. We just couldn’t do it. And when you give a team like that 18 offensive rebounds, they always capitalize on it. If you let them get an offensive rebound, they’re going to cash it. They’re a good basketball team and not even close to reaching their ceiling right now. They’re really not. So give them a lot of credit.”

On the impact of Jarelle Reischel’s fourth foul in the second half …
“It was tough. When you look at it he’s our leading scorer. And when he was hampered with foul trouble, having the 4th one I had to sit him for 6-7 minutes. When you do that we become easier to guard offensively. We just couldn’t get into our rhythm all night. So yeah picking up that 4th (foul) was big but it was on a second chance shot that he didn’t block out. So he has to learn from it.”

On JaVontae Hawkins’ foul …
“When you play as hard as we do it’s going to happen. I still haven’t seen the play. They called the foul on him and he looks like he went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. The foul is on him so I have to see it. I’m sure it was. The refs did a great job. We’re going to rest our guys a little bit tomorrow in the middle of finals but we have to pick ourselves back up from that. We play at Marshall, which is another tough road test coming up.”

On his 3-point shooting errors today …
“A lot of it is their length. Their length really bothered us. We didn’t get any clean looks. It’s just one of those things where you go and you shoot the ball great at walk through. Today we didn’t miss a single shot at walkthrough. Then our guys go out there and see 20,000 people in the stands and that definitely has something to do with it. We’re a lot better offensively than we showed tonight and a lot of that was because they took us out of our stuff.”

On things to take away from this game for the rest of the season …
“I think the biggest thing is we started to go one on five with about four or five minutes to go in the game. And we didn’t need to. These guys need to learn to trust their teammates. And that’s what they have to learn from this. Their effort was outstanding. I think they played great and to keep coming back the way they did it did show me a lot about this team. But we’ve got to be able to watch the film and understand if we can trust our teammates instead of driving into the trees and getting swatted at all the time, then we will become a better team. We’re a very close team on and off the court. They’ll learn from it.”

On Kentucky’s Alex Poythress tonight …
“I think he was a difference maker: 21 points, 13 rebounds and six offensive. He is a pro when he wants to be. When that motor clicks and when he starts playing at the speed he did tonight, he’s very tough to guard. He’s jumping off trampolines and just finishing in traffic. He’s a special, special player.” 

EKU Student-Athletes

#21, JaVontae Hawkins, W 

On what went right for UK and what went wrong for them …
“I think what went right for them was they kept it in the paint, and kept on using their lobs or offensive rebounds…  For us, I think it was that we lost a little of our composure, but we will bounce back.”

On the reason for productiveness of UK …
“Their size. They are great basketball players and a great rebounding team as well, so we did as much as we could to get down there and battle with the bigger guys. They did a great job at doing what they always do.” 

#30, Jarelle Reischel, W

On not scoring as many 3-pointers tonight as they would’ve wanted …
“We did not shoot threes well at all today, but we drove the ball well, made the extra pass, got to the free throw line… just not a good night from the 3-point range.” 

On playing in Rupp Arena/facing a big crowd …
“It was a great experience seeing the crowd and the fan base and everything, but I’ve been in numerous big games before, so I’m kind of used to it, just like JaVontae, who came from a higher program. It’s nothing we’ve never seen before.”