Kentucky Previews Boston University

Lee, Mulder Video 

Kentucky Men’s Basketball
UK-Kentucky State Quotes
Assistant Coach John Robic
Joe Craft Center – Lexington, Ky.
Nov. 23, 2015

Assistant Coach John Robic

On the team’s improvements from the first practice to now … 

“Our offense is starting to get better. They are starting to understand what we are looking to try and do, where we are trying to get the ball and some concepts. It was tough picking it up early. Defensively as well, just making some adjustment from when practice started until now. We still feel that we have a long way to go in every aspect of the game.” 

On what to make of UK being ranked No. 1 this week … 

“Not to make a big deal of it. It’s November, but it’s great. I think that’s five of the seven years that we’ve been here that at one point in time we’ve had that honor. It’s kind of a neat thing, to be honest with you, for each team that we’ve had here to have a grasp of that. But knowing that it’s November, (it) doesn’t mean a whole lot. I’m proud of it. I think our team would be proud of it as well”

On what it means to be ranked No. 1 … 

“Well, it’s just a credit to Coach (John) Calipari, the players and everybody that helps this program out. It’s a team effort and it’s what you shoot for. You want to be the last one standing at the end of every year, but again, like I just said, it’s neat for these kids. They have never experienced this ever before and this is basically a whole new group. It’s hard, but it’s rewarding.” 

On Kentucky being No. 1 and what it brings to the table … 

“To be honest, I think it’s a little different here because you have that target on your back each and every game, whether you’re rated No. 1 or something below that. I mean, it’s Kentucky. You’re getting every team’s best shot. I know you guys have heard that before, at home or on the road. You’re getting that other team’s best shot, so I think it goes a little bit hand-in-hand.” 

On what UK did successfully against Duke’s Grayson Allen on defense … 

“I think our guards did a great job. He’s such a good driver of the basketball going into our game. He puts his head down and goes. Leading up to our game, he was creating eight fouls per game on the opponent. I think our guards stepped up to the challenge, stayed in front and didn’t let him turn the corner, which is a big part of his game. At some point in time, all three of our guards were guarding him and did a terrific job.” 

On the Thanksgiving week schedule … 

“We will practice today. We play late tomorrow night. We are going to leave Wednesday at noon and practice down in Miami and then practice Thanksgiving Day, play Friday afternoon and then come back right after the game. I think.” 

On scouting Boston and what problems they present … 

“Watching the game last year, they have everybody back off that team. They have two players that are out right now, that haven’t played yet: (Cedric) Hankerson and (Eric) Fanning. They were two really good players. Last year they spread us out and tried to drive us probably because of our size. They mixed it up with man and zone against us, so we will anticipate that again. They are playing a little bit of both this year. They are 2-2 and they should be 4-0 after you watch the tapes. Very impressed by their personnel, what they run, and their players have gotten better this year, and that’s a credit to Joe (Jones).”

On who took a step forward against Wright State … 

“I thought Tyler (Ulis) played extremely well if you’re talking about taking a step forward. He played an exceptional game. He’s confident, he’s leading, he’s coaching on the floor and he doesn’t want to lose. I thought he had the most standout game of anyone on the floor that day.”

On if talent trumps experience … 

“You hope it does. We have an inexperienced team with minimal points, rebounds and minutes played coming back. It’s been that way since we’ve been here. It’s been an underclassman-driven team, but you just hope that our guys step up to the game and the challenge that an experienced team is going to bring. Hopefully our crowd is a big factor. A lot of the smaller schools don’t play in front of crowds that we get at Rupp every game, and use that to our advantage.”

On if one player has stuck out to him as being absorbent to coaching … 

“Isaiah Briscoe. He’s a sponge. He listens to everything you say. He’s really smart. He does what coach asks him to do. He’s still learning. I’m impressed of how he’s playing defensively and he’s aggressive. When he’s aggressive, he’s a tough out. He’s tough matchup.”

On if Isaac Humphries has returned to practice after missing Friday’s game … 

“Yeah, he did. He practiced yesterday and we’re getting ready to go out here again.”

On Dominique Hawkins’ challenge to get playing time … 

“Coach (Calipari) just put it out there to everybody when we had a team meeting: Everybody is not going to play. You have to separate yourself in practice and show it consistently to the point where coach is comfortable putting him into the game. The statement that was made yesterday is that with Dom(inique Hawkins), you know he’s going to guard. The way that coach is with defense, that’s a big feather to have in your cap.”

On Briscoe being coachable … 

“I think it surprised a lot of people. But he’s so smart and sees the play ahead and can be aggressive. Our guards have done a tremendous job of adjusting to the new rules – no hands, staying in front. We are really, really happy with that part of it. You see all over college basketball right now that you can get into major foul trouble. Our bigs still have to help our guards somewhat on ball screens for them to have a chance to stay in front. But, he’s taken on the challenge and I don’t really give it a whole lot of second thought to put him on the other team’s better player at times.”

On the rule changes for 2015-16 … 

“The one that you notice is the hand check or keeping the hands on, by far. The shot clock hasn’t really come into play at all. The timeout situation really up until this point really hasn’t come into play. The 10-second backcourt situation hasn’t come into play yet. A little bit with the hand checking, and a little bit with the post player being able to arm bar.”

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#00, Marcus Lee, Forward

On what Cal has focused on in practice after not being happy following the last game …

“After three years, I’ve noticed he’s not backed up in any way. He goes for perfection and he wants you to go your hardest the whole time. When he sees you not doing that he asks of you and what the team asks of you, he loses his mind. That’s what great coaches do: They push you to your limits and they make sure you don’t back up at all.”

On what he means when he says Cal “loses his mind” …

“He has an image of each and every player and how great you can be. Two games ago we showed how great we were able to be. So the expectation grew at that moment and we took a step backwards. That’s not something we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to take another step forwards and continue with where we went.”

On if it is challenging to live up to that …

“Not all. All you really have to do is just keep working hard. All he really asks of you is energy and to be into the game, to be totally focused. That’s what we’re really trying to focus on right not, is just staying focused and that’s what we’re really trying to focus on right now, is just staying focused and staying in the moment and staying energetic the whole time. We’re getting there.”

On being ranked No. 1 …

“I mean, it’s honestly just a number. Each team is just as equal right now. It’s the beginning of the season. It really doesn’t even matter. It’s not really going to—rankings don’t even really matter until March. And then at that moment it really doesn’t matter until the last four teams.”

On it being a reminder of the respect people have for them …

“No, honestly it means nothing to us because we know we still have a really long way to go. We’re a new team. We are freshmen. We have people that haven’t played a whole lot last year. We know that’s not what we’re supposed—we know we’re not where we’re meant to be right now. And we need to be a couple steps ahead of us right now.”

On why he thinks they did take a step back …

“I honestly don’t know. It happens sometimes with athletes. It happens sometimes in games. You have games you’re just mentally not there. It doesn’t really matter after that game. It’s just, it shows—it depends on the game after if you’re ready to pick back up and continue to do better.”

On whether they don’t feel like the best team in the country …

“Right now we have no idea. Right now we feel like we have a really far way to go to be the best team in the country. Right now we’re working towards it.”

On the change to the arm-bar rule …

“Yeah, it’s a lot of rules you have to change to and adjust to this year. But it’s been like that every year, where they make new changes or small changes where you have to adjust quicker throughout the year. And that’s just something us as bigs are trying to figure out. Hopefully we all get it, but we realize it’s not just us. Every big man in the country is trying to figure this out."

On which of the rule changes has he noticed the most in play …

“It’s definitely the hand-checking rule where you can’t really have a hand on the offensive player and you can’t give him bumps, you can’t interfere with their motion. That’s something that’s affecting every basketball player because we’re used to bumping and pushing them while they’re dribbling, being rough. Essentially, it’s like taking out the roughness.”

On if he likes the rule changes as an offensive player …

“Definitely. It’s definitely a give-and-take with both of them. One, you already get used to it and it’s a little bit easier, and the other you’re trying to get less fouls and you don’t want it to happen.”

On how much former UK star Julius Randle would like to have had these rule changes …

“I’m not going to comment on that.” (laughter)

On how much he thinks coaches are trying to take advantage of the new rules, such as doing a quick spin when someone has their arm on you …

“I don’t think it’s so much taking advantage as it’s getting used to it. It’s taken awhile for bigs to – we have to figure a different way to score and a different way to play defense. It’s essentially a different way to play the game for big men. The quick spin is not so much to get the foul; it’s easier to get away from the guy because you’re putting all your weight on just a forearm. It’s a great way to make bigs learn on the fly and figure things out.”

On what he’s thankful for this year …

“I mean, it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’m happy. We’re going to Miami where it’s warm. It’s cold here now. It started snowing at the football game. I’m ready to get out of this cold before it starts getting cold.”

On being ranked No. 1 …

“Right now we have a long way to go, and we know that. We know we have to battle and still take it step by step and not really think about that.”

On if they try to help manage expectations with the younger players …

“Yeah, it’s something we all try to push in their heads knowing that there’s so much ahead of us that we need to get to. We haven’t gotten on the yellow brick road, if y’all want to talk about that. We’re not even close to being close. That’s something they understand and something that Cal always talks about.”

On Boston …

“I expect it from them like I expect from every other team, to come and bring us their best. When people come in to play the University of Kentucky they know they have to bring their best. We know that they’re going to be energetic to play and we can’t back off and think any different from any other team.”

#11, Mychal Mulder, Guard

On how he’s been adjusting to playing college basketball …

“I’m loving it. It’s been real fun. It’s a great opportunity, so it’s going well.”

On him battling to get on the court more …

“It’s not really something I’m worried about. I’m worried about how the team is doing right now and what ways we have to go to move forward. So I mean, we’re all battling in practice and opportunities come. So I’m not that worried. I’m just waiting.”

On how he’s changed as a basketball player since he’s arrived at Kentucky …

“I mean, it’s great. The speed of the game is a lot faster. These guys, they’re the best competition you play at against in college basketball. So it’s been an awesome experience.”

On if his confidence has gone up even though he hasn’t played much …

“Yeah, I mean, it’s almost inevitable. You can’t really help but be confident by being around such confident guys every day in the locker room and in practice. We’re all working hard and competing, so the confidence is not something that’s ever really been a problem for me.”

On what the competition level is like in practice …

“It’s really high. We’ve been battling every day. I feel like we work so hard, but no one is really worried about our individual minutes or our play. We’re just worried about what areas we need to improve on to get better as a team. So we’ve been working really hard and I’m excited to see what we do coming forward.”

On how he’s measured his own progress within the system …

“It’s been great. I feel like I’m growing as a basketball player every day. Playing against these guys, you get better and it’s inevitable. You can’t not get better here. So it’s been great.”

On any specific areas he’s improved upon …

“Just all around. You know, mental toughness, physical toughness, speed of the game. Everything like that.”

On if it bothers him being away from home during Thanksgiving …

“It doesn’t bother me so much. I’ve been away from home for a while, so it’s not really – it’s not a big thing. I feel like we always seem to have a family when it comes around to this time of the year and that’s what I’m excited for.”

On what it means to him being part of the No. 1 team in the country …

“It’s great. I mean, it’s great and a nice honor, but it’s early in the year. What we’re focused on is being No. 1 in March. So that’s what we’ll be striving for.”

On if the team talked about the North Carolina loss at all …

“I mean, you know in college basketball, every day you go out, anybody can lose. If you don’t play hard, anybody can beat you. So, I mean, we weren’t really talking about it. We’re more focused on us and what’s going on in our locker room and our practice court.”

On Calipari being disappointed with the way the team played against Wright State …

“Yeah, it was a little bit ugly at times. He was disappointed definitely. He just said there are so many areas we can grow in and we had a lot of opportunities to show a lot of things and we failed to do that a couple of times. But other than that, it was just room for improvement. That’s all.”

On what Calipari has told him to work on to carve out a bigger role on the team …

“It’s all just about fighting every day. It’s not that he’s told me anything particular to work on. It’s just playing against the best guys in the country and when your time comes, be ready. So I’ll be ready.”

On where the team’s conditioning is right now …

“I feel like our conditioning is good. We go up and down a lot every day in practice, so I feel like it’s going good.”

On how much the back-to-back games help them when they look back on it …

“It helped us definitely. Playing a couple days in a row is pretty cool. You don’t get to do that a ton early in the year, so I feel like that was good for our team in general.”

On if he knows anything about Boston …

“We’re more focused on what’s going on with us and what we need to do to win. So I feel like as long as we do it, we’ll be fine.”

On if practice was tough after the Wright State game …

“I mean, practice is tough every day. We work really hard every day and just try to get better. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was any tougher or less tougher. I feel like we work hard every day. I mean, there’s no point in wasting time. You go in there and work hard every day.”