Kentucky Previews Wright State

Briscoe, Humphries Video

Kentucky Men’s Basketball
Pre-Wright State Media Opportunity
John Calipari
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 19, 2015


Head Coach John Calipari

On the last 36-hour stretch with the  win over Duke and new commits … 

“I haven’t thought about it in those terms, but we have a lot of good news on a lot of fronts. I’ve learned a lot about my team in a crazy environment, a lot of clutter around us. That was good, and a couple of kids decide they want to come and make it nicer.”

On big things he’s learned about his team … 

 “Guard play is good. Now we just have to learn how to fight. We didn’t crack down on some of the rebounding, but because we’re a shot-blocking team you’re going to have teams come in and just throw it over the shot blocker who don’t even worry about making it. You have to have weak-side crackdowns. The guards have to get in there and mix it up. We worked on it for three weeks because I knew this game coming up and I knew how they were going to play. The first part of the game they got four of them, right? That’s what young kids do, so we’ll continue to work on that. I thought Marcus Lee fought in the second half. There are some different wrinkles I want to do in transition that I saw in this (Duke) game. What I saw, teams aren’t going to stretch the court out on us. They’re not going to come out and play us; they’re going to play a lot of zone. That’s what I learned when I watched this (Duke) game. How you’re going to keep those three (Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe) out of the lane, I don’t know. Also, we have to get somebody that’s going to be consistent off that bench. Derek (Willis), Charles (Matthews), Dom(inique Hawkins) or Mychal (Mulder), somebody consistent that we know what we’re getting.  And it’s not shots. It’s someone that can go in, defend and rebound; (someone that can) make an open shot. But you don’t have to create; just finish. We have to find that guy. I thought Isaac (Humphries) was fine. Isaac was not at all intimidated by the situation. I thought he was fine. 

On Isaac being better than originally thought this early … 

“I have had more calls about him like, ‘Man, I didn’t realize he was that good. He held his own’. He’s lost weight. He had some pie the other day and he said, ‘All the weight I’ve lost, I’m going to have a piece of pie.’ Some of this stuff is for the first time in their lives. Isaiah went so hard (he) cramped up. So my point to him today is you’ve got to go harder in practice if you expect to play that hard in a game. If you don’t go harder you’re going to cramp up every game. You’re body has to get use to that kind of pace. I thought we played fast. I thought we attacked the basket. We’re going to have to have opportunities to catch and shoot because a normal team will not spread the court like Duke did where they came out and tried to guard us all over the place.”

On Isaac being an eager learner …

“I think there’s going to be all kinds of opportunities (for him).  Here’s what happens when you come to school here: It’s hard to get better just playing. If you never play, it’s hard to get better too. But if you play 15-20 minutes a game, you can show what you need for you personally. You can help your team win in just 15-20 minutes. You get better because you’re going against somebody in practice every day. So let’s say we play 30 regular-season games. How many of those teams will have NBA players on it? (Media member says eight.) So you’re going against an NBA player eight times a year and you think that’s going to get it done? You’ll play more here. In this practice for 200 days you’re going to go against really good players and eight other times a year you’ll go here (against eight other potential NBA players). And Skal’s walking behind me, Skal (Labissiere) did fine. I’m going to say this in the locker room, but last night my wife and I were watching TV. We don’t know how to work TVs. We don’t know how to work computers. Somehow we got on the hopper and then she pressed another button and it went to college basketball. I said, ‘Well, press that and see what that is.’ It had a 17-minute clip of our game against Arkansas in the championship game of the tournament last year. So now I’m watching our game against Arkansas, 17 minutes. In the second half I put in Karl Towns. He had four points and four rebounds in the second half. Going into the second half, eight minutes to go in the game, four points and four rebounds. The No. 1 pick in the (2015) draft and he’s a double-double in the NBA every time. You get better in practice. That’s the point to all of these guys. Worry about getting better. Don’t compare yourself to anybody. I sent them a message today (that said), ‘What you can control is you becoming the best version of you.’ Don’t worry what you are compared to somebody else. It has no bearing on you. You can’t control that.”

On what advantage having six early signees already gives them …

“Well, I can really focus on this basketball team and can touch some ‘17s. I may go – we have a pretty good beat on the 17s that we are on and probably six of them, maybe seven. I can touch those guys, but my focus now will shift to lets get this team right and we aren’t right yet.”

On if he is done recruiting for the 2016 class …

“I don’t know.”

On how far Isaiah has come defensively this season …

“He’s been tremendous. He’s confident and he’s comfortable in his own skin, so he really doesn’t worry about anyone else because he knows who he is. We are just trying to define him in a way where everyone will watch and say, ‘Wow, I love that kid,’ and it’s beginning to happen. The way he can defend, the way he can rebound, he’s so fast and strong physically and he’s so good with the ball. His shooting is good. Now there may be some people who say, ‘Well, we’re not going to play him.’ Good luck. He did average 25 a game in high school. He did shoot like 38 percent from the 3 in high school. Is it 3-point line in college and high school the same? There you go, a bunch of really good writers and none of you know. It’s the same – I think (laughter). But I will tell you that you’re all laughing because you really have no idea, someone Google it for God sakes. But I’m proud of him and I’m happy with what he’s doing. I’m really pleased with Tyler’s leadership off the court. See, you can’t really lead on the court unless guys know that you care enough about them to spend time with them, to talk to them, to have a relationship with them. Then you can lead on the court. Now you can move people around on the court, but you can’t really lead. And I think he’s doing a great job, and he’s doing it off the court now. I was so pleased with what everybody saw, and I’ve had calls from all kinds of people about him and Jamal. Former players called me and said, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t take him out on that lefty, behind-the-back pass in transition.’ And I said, ‘I’m getting soft. I can’t believe I left Jamal in on that either.’ The biggest thing is that we have to fight. Alex (Poythress) showed second half that he’s fighting, that he’s trying, and this is really hard. He has to break through the mental part – and he is. Just being an elite athlete, don’t try to be a bully. Bullies don’t make it in the next level. You’re done, you’re finished, you don’t play at that level. You have to be an elite athlete. He has it in him; he just has to start playing that way, and he did at times.”

On Kenny Payne’s request that Isaiah keep Grayson Allen to 10 points or less points and what that says about his defense …

“He guarded. And again, Allen was driving into some length that he didn’t like. That was the first game. They played two games and they played against each other. And then he was playing against guys that could block shots, and when he put that shoulder down and went in there it became tough. Then, you have to settle for all 15- and 18-footers. The problem was that he was throwing balls over people and they were sticking them in. It’s an issue that we have to work on.”

On if he is considering Isaiah the “stopper” of this team …

“No, he’s totally different. He gives you so much offense with the ball and he’s so creative. But what I’m saying is really that we need Jamal to guard better. Jamal has to step on the gas defensively. Then our bigs – look, the new rules are so simple. If you turn sideways on a drive, you’re going to foul them because he’s going to ride into you. And if you’re sideways, they’re going to call that a foul on you. If you square off – for all you guys that don’t know the distance to the 3-point line in high school basketball – if you square him off wherever he goes, if you just keep retreating, he comes into you and I’m in a legal guarding position, they may not call it. Now, they may make a bad call and call it, but they aren’t supposed to call it. If a guy is driving – not even attempting to make a basketball play, he’s just trying to get a foul – you aren’t supposed to call that a foul unless I’m not in a legal guarding position and I go sideways. So we are working on our bigs, making them score through the chest, square off, and we didn’t do that the whole game. We are trying to get our guards crack down because we block shots. It’s what we do; it’s what we’ve always done. You have to get down there if that big goes after that block. It’s stuff we’re learning. Offensively, a couple times Tyler said to me, ‘What do you want?’ And I looked at him and said, ‘No, what do you want? Run it.’ He was good.”

On seeing how the team reacts after a big win …

“Now that you mention it, I probably will think about it, but I wasn’t. We’re just going to have a great practice today. I’m not worried about who we play. Let’s just make incremental improvement. Today, the practice is based on what I saw that we have to improve on in the last game. Wright State will take 70 shots and 25 or 30 of them will be 3s. They have three really good 3-point shooters and are shooting 40 percent from behind the 3-point line. You have an idea of how they’re going to play. They have a pack-line defense. They’re not stretching out and they play a 2-3 zone, which is exactly what we have to go against. It’s a great game for us. That’s how teams, I believe, will play us. I have three guys that can get in the lane. You’re not just stopping him. We did what wanted last game, which was drive the ball.”

On Bam Adebayo …

“I don’t have any comparisons. He’s way better offensively than anyone realizes. Someone said he was 6-8 and 230 pounds. He was in eighth grade. Now he’s 6-10 and 260 pounds. If you watch the video that I did today, I said that we’d have to buy a couple more backboards down at Rupp because we only have three, and if he breaks one or two (we will need another). He’s a beast. He’s better offensively. My thing for him is to lead the nation in rebounding. Go get every ball. Then, let’s really get you to play the way you’re capable of. He can shoot. I’ve seen him make 3s. He can drive the ball. He’s always been overshadowed a little bit, but it’s his time. Go play, man. This is your chance to go do your thing and do something. There are a couple great things about the class. No. 1, they all have plans for academic success. They know they have a lifetime scholarship. Every one of these kids have committed and said, ‘I’m going to get my degree.’ Every one of them is totally different from the other. Sacha (Killeya-Jones) is nothing like Wenyen (Gabriel) even though they’re both 6-10. Those two are nothing like Bam. Nobody is like Tai (Wynyard). The two guards (De’Aaron Fo and Malik Monk) are totally different, and that’s the way I like it. Now, just be your best. You be your best and that’s going to be good enough.”

On the rule change that coaches can’t call live-ball timeouts …

“It was fine. Our kids were looking. I called timeout a couple times. We haven’t really talked about. We have so much to do. I just wanted to have enough so we didn’t embarrass ourselves in Chicago. Now, I have to go put a couple out of bounds plays in. ‘OK, we have to throw it deep.’ I was hoping none of that happened. If that was a close game and we had to get a 3, then we would’ve looked like, ‘Oh my God did you see that?’ A lot of the stuff we just haven’t gotten to yet. We’re the most inexperienced team in the country. Jerry (Tipton) will correct me and say that St. John’s is, but we’re the inexperienced team. We’re just trying to get them to play together and really figure out how we’re going to play. Are we pressing as much? I think so. The press that we use, why was it just man-to-man? I didn’t think they could beat us one-on-one so I didn’t want to trap and do anything crazy to give them opportunities. We have that press in. Will we play zone? I believe so. I like a zone with Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, a big and two guards. I like that zone. That’s a huge zone. With Derek in the game, you still have another shooter. That may be a zone team we throw in. I don’t know. Guys have stuff to prove and we have stuff to work on.” 

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#13, Isaiah Briscoe, G

On whether the team feels different after playing Duke …

“Yeah, I think we came together more as a team. I think our team chemistry increased during that game, and I’m just getting more comfortable with playing college basketball.”

On why chemistry improved …

“Because it was a big game for us and we were thrown into the fire early and we had to come together quickly.”

On his cramping in the Duke game …

“I just started cramping. I was playing hard, playing as hard as I can and I just started cramping.”

On cramping all the way up to his waist …

“Yeah. It was a problem.”

On whether he is eating bananas now …

“Yes. And on game day, I’m not used to eating a lot and drinking a lot, so it’s just making sure I get the right amount of fluids in my body.”

On that not being fun …

“No.”

On what the plan on Grayson Allen was …

“Fight over screens, chase over screens and just nothing easy. Hard two’s.”

On whether he is UK’s stopper …

“Is that what it looked like? (Reporter says, ‘That is what it looked like.’) I’m the stopper then.”

On if people would have thought he’d be the stopper growing up …

“No, not at all. No chance.”

On why they wouldn’t have thought that …

“Growing up I just wasn’t forced to play defense. But coming here, Cal, he’s holding everybody accountable for what they know how to do and he thinks I can be the best defender in the country. So he’s going to push me to be that.”

On the defense he played prior to UK …

“I played honest defense.”

On what that means …

“Take a couple trips off. Might play defense three trips in a row, then take another couple trips off.”

On what Cal would do if he did that now …

“Bench. Yell and then bench.”

On whether he rested on defense …

“Yeah.”

On how he likes playing tough defense …

“I like it. It gets me in the game early and my adrenaline is always rushing and just knowing that I’m playing the best offensive player on the other team, no room for error.”

On how Calipari has gotten him to play defense that way …

“I guess he’s seen the potential in me and just knows what I’m capable of. He said he’s going to get the best out of me.”

On getting easy baskets off defense and his layup before the half …

“That was an easy shot, but with good defense and great pressure from all five of our guys I think it causes a lot of turnovers and allows us to play our game - that’s run up and down and just have fun and play.”

On what his friends were saying to him back home after the Duke game …

“‘Since when?’ That’s all they said. ‘Since when did you start playing defense?’ Ever since I got here Coach Cal has been making me.”

On how becoming a great defender will help him down the line in his career …

“That’s just becoming a complete player, competing on both sides of the court.”

On if he’s battled cramping before …

“I have, but not in a college game.”

On how big of a problem his cramping is …

“Oh, not that big of a problem.”

On him shutting someone down being appropriate with his competitive nature …

“Yeah, and I knew that Grayson was averaging a lot of points so before the game I went over to KP (Kenny Payne) and said, ‘How many is he allowed to get?’ And he said, ‘10.’ I don’t know how much he ended with, but I was just trying my best not to let him get over 10.”

On Allen not getting to 10 points …

“I mean, like I said, I’m such a competitor, I’m always looking for something to keep me going. In practice, every day I’m counting my steals and I’m trying to beat the record that I had yesterday. Just trying to get better and better day by day. Like I said, just before the game I’m just looking for ways to keep myself motivated. So when I went over to KP, I spoke to him and he gave me the number and I was just trying to keep it under that number.”

On if he pays attention to who UK signs in recruiting …

“Not really. I don’t pay attention to that. Coach Cal is a great coach. I’m sure he’s going to have another great recruiting class coming in next year. I’m happy for them and I’m happy for the people who committed.”

On Allen entering the game averaging 27 points per game, and what that number said to him …

“That he can put the ball in the basket. I’ve known him from the AAU circuit and I know he’s a great player. But, you know, our defensive schemes worked. I paid a lot of attention to the scouting report and it worked. I would just like to say Grayson, he is a great player and Duke is a great team. It was a great game.”

On what their scheme was against Allen …

“We didn’t want him to catch and shoot and we didn’t want him to get straight line drives. I was just trying to stay in front, keep him in front of me. I wasn’t necessarily trying to stop him, I was just trying to contain him, and force him to take tough twos.”

On what kind of statement he thinks they may have made with their win over Duke …

“I mean, we still have a lot of room for improvement. We’re getting better day by day. It was a game, we won the game, and we just have to come here and practice today and just get better.”

On how much fun it was to play on that stage …

“It was fun. I love the environment. That’s the kind of thing I live for.”

#15, Isaac Humphries, F

On what he learned the most from Chicago …

“I think that just personally I learned that I can compete against bigger bodies. I personally know that I do better against a bigger body as opposed to like smaller people. I just got a bit more confidence back and stuff like that.”

On how he feels he’s coming along with his goal of competing at the collegiate level …

“Yeah, I’m definitely getting better here every day as a basketball player, and it just helps that I can go up against good competition like Duke. I mean, credit to their bigs. They pushed us and it was just fun to compete with them.” 

On how Coach Calipari giving him praise after every game affects his confidence …

“I think he just sees me improving every game and just doing something different every game. Just playing hard and that it just gets better and better every game. I think coming in he wasn’t really sure what I would bring, but now he’s kind of seeing a lot of the stuff that I can do. So I think he’s happy with me and that’s a good thing to know.”

On where he sees the team’s toughness level after the Duke game …

“I’m really pleased with it. I think we fought a lot and we didn’t let them get back in it and kind of just pushed the win out. So, I mean, that’s always a good sign, right?”

On if he had an ‘awe’ moment when he checked in against Duke …

“For sure. I wasn’t even expecting to hit the court at all. I was just expecting to be a team player that game and just contributing on the bench. When he came up to me and said I’m in, I said, ‘Me? Really? I’m going in right now?’ And I played a fair amount of minutes, so I was just determined to make sure that he was happy with putting me in and I just wanted to play hard and prove to him that I could do it.”

On what was the command on stopping Duke in the paint when he went in …

“I mean I knew that when I was put in, I would have to stop Marshall (Plumlee) from getting those offensive rebounds that he was getting. It’s Marshall right? Mason (Plumlee) is the one that – they all look the same to me, I’m just not sure. I just knew that I would have to stop him from rebounding, and I missed one rebound and I was taken out, and that’s fair enough. I mean my job was to go in and rebound. That was the command, if you like.”

On where he thought he would fit in in the rotation after three games early on …

“I thought I would honestly be a little lower and not really play as much as I did against Duke. I think that every game I go in and I get the chance to get in, I just play as hard as I can and show him that I can be in and just earn my minutes. I know that we have such good players on our team, and I know that my role is just to come in and play hard. Again, for me, it’s just going to be game by game.” 

On if he got any phone calls from friends and family back home about the Duke game …

“Yeah a lot of people watched the game back home. It must have been on TV because a lot of my friends and family were calling me afterwards.”

On what that felt like …

“It was cool. They just don’t understand what it is yet because we have nothing like it in Australia. They just think its a little basketball game, but little do they know that it was very big game.” 

On how he tries to describe it to them and if they understand basketball ...

“I mean, they understand basketball, but they don’t understand the severity of how important a game like that is. I just explained to them that it’s pretty big. It’s a pretty big arena, nothing like you’ve ever seen me play in before. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain to them. But Google is their friend. They can look it up.”

On if he was nervous …

“No my mentality was a little different this game because I was just expecting to be support, to be honest, from the bench, and I wasn’t really nervous because again, I wasn’t really expecting to play that much. So having that mentality really helped me because I went in and I was calm and I was like, 'Alright, I just have to get this done.’ ”