Cats Preview Ottawa

Video: Lee, Mulder Preview Ottawa

Assistant Coach John Robic

On Marcus Lee’s comments of Alex Poythress practicing like he was never injured …

“His confidence has grown. He makes those plays and doesn’t even think about it. The big thing that Coach (Calipari) is telling him is to just trust it. There are times where his explosiveness is there. You just forget how big he is. Having another big player on the court is really beneficial to us. He’ll get there. I couldn’t even give you a percentage of what he is right now. It’s nice to see him do the things that he used to do.”

On how beneficial it’s going to be for the team to play against a different team like Ottawa to get a different look …

“It’s about that time. We’ve been going since October 3rd or 4th for the most part. It’ll be good for us as coaches to see the entire team on one bench and see the flow of the game with substitutions, who’s playing well with who as opposed to really just going at each other every day in practice. I think Monday and the following exhibition game will be really helpful for us.”

On if Mychal Mulder is a streaky shooter and his performance at Blue-White Scrimmage …

“Even in practice he can go through spells like that. It was nice to see him come out and hit his first few in a row. They were all good looks. They’re going to fall for him. He has confidence in his shot and his teammates do as well. For him, it was really the first time shooting at Rupp Arena in front of a big crowd. It was good to see. I thought they were all good looks after going back and looking at the tape. We have confidence in him.” 

On free-throw shooting in practice …

“The difference between our practice gym and Rupp is depth perception. We didn’t shoot them well. So we’re just making sure that the guys are shooting more free throws throughout the course of the week. They have to get up to 500 free throws made per week now, and we want to chart it. I think early on in the season, it’s maybe a little bit of an afterthought. I mean, we do shoot them, but not every day. But we’ve put more of an importance on it as of right now. “

On expectations for Skal Labissiere …

“We don’t have any expectations now. You see the talent and you see where he is. Really skilled, really can shoot the ball. I think the other bigger players that we’ve had progressed by shooting the ball – you know, when Anthony (Davis) and Karl(-Anthony) Towns stretched their range out. Skal has that already. He’s a little bit tougher and starting to block some shots out in practice. But by no means do set any expectations for us. It’s a long season, and we really haven’t even played a game yet. So we’ve just got to get a baseline and see where we go from there.”

On comparison of Labiessere to guys like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns …

“He’s really skilled, wants to be coached, wants to be better and is getting better. The coaches’ big thing is that we’ve got to get him to fight a little bit more and be a little bit more aggressive. And that’ll come over time. 

On the progression of Isaac Humphries …

“He’s getting better and better. He’s getting in better shape, starting to battle, doing more things than just shooting the ball. Rebounding the ball well in practice and puts up good numbers. Defensively, after seeing on film what he needed to see, he’s starting to defend pick-and-roll better, which is going to be an important thing in how we defend.  Again, it’ll be good to see him play in shorter spurts. Those kids all played 40 minutes the other night and they got tired, especially the bigger players. So it’ll be interesting to see if the production goes up.”

On how often they have games where there aren’t any grand conclusions to be drawn …

“As coaches I think you have to take something out of every practice, every game, whether it’s something we’re doing well or it’s something we’re not doing very well at all because you just can’t waste a day that way. Like, we’re going to get a lot of out of the next three to four days. We’re going to have four or five practices before we play on Monday. Things that we have to touch on and get better with. The team is starting to see us get better as well because the competition has risen a little bit, and I think that’s great. I think the person that’s really leading that is Tyler.”

On the Blue team’s three shot-clock violations and if the shorter shot clock had anything to do with that …

“The shot clock really didn’t have anything to do with that. Honestly I don’t think – in my personal opinion – I don’t think the shot-clock deal is a huge issue. I think what you’re going to see is a lot more teams playing zone. You’re going to see a lot more teams pressing you and then going back into a zone just to use clock. But I don’t think it’s going to be a big factor. The timeouts are interesting even though the referees screwed it up in the first half. I think that’s going to be come into play, and I think there are some other things you have to be aware of with the reduction of one timeout and how you use your timeouts a little bit more strategically.”

On how the referees messed up the timeouts …

“In the first half, right before the 16-minute timeout, the ball went in and they went media (timeout). (Reporter: It wasn’t a dead ball.) Correct. We told them at halftime.”

UK Student-Athletes

#00, Marcus Lee, F

On playing a different team Monday night …

“It’s amazing. Playing against the same people over and over, I mean, you get to learn how to play with them while playing against them, but it’s good that we finally have to be a whole team and play against somebody else.”

On if there has been any progress made in figuring out the rotation …

“We have all year to figure that out, and that’s usually what happens with us. It takes all year, and then one day it just clicks and we’ll figure it out. We’re still figuring out the kinks of our team.”

On what Coach Cal’s main talking point has been since the Blue-White Scrimmage on Tuesday …

“A lot of it has just been on keep working hard and battling. That’s one thing he’s been stressing is keep battling hard.”

On Coach Cal saying he wants him to block more shots …

“I definitely take it to heart. It’s something that we kind of – that’s who we are at Kentucky. We block shots. I think it was kind of hard knowing that we’re going against people that know how to play against us. There’s Tyler (Ulis) that knows how to shoot a floater, like a really high floater against us. They know how to get the ball above us. I guess in the scrimmage it was a whole lot harder, which makes us better to figure out.”

On if he wants to fill that shot-blocking role, similar to an Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel …

“I think it definitely is, but it’s never just been one person, and I feel like we have many people that are able to fulfill that.”

On seeing Alex Poythress back on the court …

“I’ve seen it for the past three or four months. It was probably a joy for you guys to finally see him in full action, but I’ve been seeing him get better and better and working through his injury.”

On how much he has seen Poythress’ confidence increase …

“In practice you’ll see lapses of him totally forgetting he has an injury, where he’ll just totally jump out of the gym and do something insane. He still knows that he has parts where he has to work on and he’s really excited to work.”

On Isaac Humphries …

“I think he’ll be a really great impact just because he’s a different type of big. He brings such a different perspective into our overall game that it makes other teams really think it through.”

On how much progress Humphries has made …

“He’s made tremendous progress. He’s done so much to up his game and we’re just really excited to have him here.”

On what he knows about Ottawa University …

“I actually had a friend who went to Ottawa. She played for the volleyball team and then transferred somewhere else. I actually knew of the school before playing them.”

On what he has seen from Mychal Mulder in practice after an up and down performance Tuesday …

“That’s how shooters are. It’s hit or miss. That’s one thing that he does really well is that his confidence is so high with his jump shots that it doesn’t matter if it goes in or not, he knows it will eventually go in. That’s what great shooters do.”

On if his tattoo of puzzle pieces is new … 

“Yeah, I got it this summer. It just reminds me that I’m different than everybody else, and to always keep that up.”

On what Coach Cal has said about UK’s team defense …

“For a Blue-White Scrimmage, it’s kind of a little bit more laid back than our practices. They’re not so intense, so seeing that we’re not fully going all out as a team, he kind of got a little frustrated with that knowing that we could play a whole lot better. And he just wanted to stress how much we have to go really hard all the time instead of taking breaks.”

On players getting tired at the end of the Blue-White Scrimmage …

“It’s the beginning of the year, we have a long way to go. And sometimes people have to get new wind of not just practice wind, but also game wind, because those are two different things. You just figure out how to get through it.”

On differences in shooting free throws in practice versus games …

“I don’t think it’s so much the crowd. I think it’s more of in different gyms there’s different depth perspectives, especially going from our practice gym to Rupp, it’s very different. It’s something you have to get used to or you have to get comfortable with.”

On how he felt he played at the Blue-White Scrimmage …

“Personally, I think it went OK, but it also taught us the ins and outs of how we should be playing right now, and where we’re at right now. It showed a lot of where we need to go and how we need to get there. It’s something that it really helped us with.”

On what it means to his game, individually, when Calipari says ‘fight’ …

“As a big, it definitely shows we have to get a lot more rebounds, we have to be more dominant on the boards, and we have to figure out a way to establish a post-game, and that’s something that we’re really trying to figure out right now.”

#11, Mychal Mulder, G

On if he’s gotten any questions if Ottawa is in Canada …

“I mean, they think it’s all close, so they wonder if we know people in Ottawa. But it’s not usually like that.”

On if he knows the opponent is from Kansas and not Canada …

“Yeah.”

On how he assessed his first game-like opportunity …

“The scrimmage was good. We have a lot to work on. We’re just trying to go hard with each other. We’re really excited to play someone who’s not us. We’re pretty used to playing each other. We all know what we do well and don’t do well. But I thought it went pretty well. I thought everybody showed off what they could do. I thought it was a good time.”

On his two different halves …

“A lot of shooters go through that - someone who predominantly shoots the ball. I feel like it was a little bit of both first half and second half transitioning with the teams switched up a little bit. Playing with Tyler (Ulis) was a lot easier than trying to create my own stuff. So when they switched the teams and the three guards were on one team, they were doing really well and there isn’t so much being created on our side. So I think that’s probably the difference.”

On if it felt good to see some shots fall early …

“Yeah it felt great. I’ve been waiting to put some shots up in Rupp for a long time. Warming up, we were all pretty hot and excited to go. So it was really fun and a good opportunity to play with the guys and play in front of people.”

On how Tyler Ulis helps shooters …

“Tyler helps us tremendously. He makes my job specifically so much easier. He puts the ball in my hands when I’m ready. Not just shooters, but everybody. Tyler is a great point guard and probably the best in the nation. We expect a lot from him and I feel like he provides a lot for us.”

On what has been his best shooting numbers have been in the five-minute shooting drill …

“I think 64 has been my best.”

On what percentage that it is …

“I don’t know. I couldn’t really say. But we get as many up as we can and try to get as many to drop as we can.”

On what the best number anybody has put up in the drill …

“I think Tyler put up like 70 the one day or 72. Something like that.”

On how easy three-pointers are to him …

“The distance is good. I’ve been shooting 3’s for a long time. I feel like every team I’ve played on, I’ve had the green light to shoot 3’s. It’s not really like the hardest shot I can really say.”

On what else he has to do to get on the floor …

“To get on the floor with Coach Cal, it’s not so much about offense as it’s about fight and compete. He wants a lot of effort out of us and I feel like if that’s something you’re willing to do, he notices. So that’s probably the next thing you have to do.”

On what his outlook of Skal Labissiere is so far …

“I’d definitely say I’ve seen Skal take some steps forward as a basketball player and as a person. Coming in, he’s young and he’s handled everything that’s been put on him really well. He’s playing really well in practice and I’m excited to see him play.”

On one team having three shot-clock violations in the scrimmage …

“It was probably just a little lapse in communication right there. We had played a couple good possessions of defense and kind of forced them to do some things they weren’t comfortable with. So I think it was just little slight mistakes by them. That’s all.”

On how fast this team will play …

“I feel like we’ll play pretty fast. A lot of us have the ability to get up and down the court at multiple positions. So I think that’ll be a strength for us.”

On the difference between a 35- and 30-second shot clock …

“Thirty-five to 30, I mean, 30’s a long time in basketball. So I feel like if you can’t get a good shot in 30 seconds, you’re probably going to have to force one up, which you don’t want to do. I feel like you have a lot of options, a lot of opportunity to score within that first 30 seconds. I don’t think it’s a huge deal.”

On the shorter shot clock makes Tyler Ulis even more important …

“Yeah. Tyler’s super smart on the basketball court. He’s got that vision. He sees things two, three seconds ahead, it seems like. It makes his job so much more important. I feel like he does it really well. So we’re really lucky to have him.”

On what it was like to shoot well in the first half and poorly in the second …

“It wasn’t necessarily as easy the second half. I didn’t have Tyler on my team. So that made it a little bit harder. But it felt really good. I’ve been waiting to get some shots to go down in Rupp for a while, so that was a really fun experience for us.”

On the shooting background in Rupp …

“I thought it was great. A lot of—there’s a little bit difference in going to Rupp or playing in the practice facility. The depth perception’s a little bit different, everything like that. But I feel like—personally I didn’t feel like it affected me too much. I felt like it was just really fun, really great opportunity.”

On whether he has heard of Ottawa University …

“I hadn’t. I actually hadn’t.”

On what he needs to do to fit in the rotation …

“I feel like in order to be a part of that I just gotta show fight every day, compete, go hard with my teammates and show that I’m a good teammate on and off the floor. Just gotta do my job, whatever he (Coach Calipari) asks me to do, that’s what I gotta do. I don’t gotta be anything other than myself and I feel like that’s something we’re all working on.”

On what Coach Cal is asking him to do …

“He’s just asking me to fight, work hard, knock down shots when I need to. Those are pretty much the things that he wants from us.”

On whether he has a Halloween costume …

“Not yet.”

On whether he will …

“I don’t know. I might just be a UK basketball player. I don’t think I need a costume.”

On how much he looks forward to playing another team …

“I can’t wait. We’ve been really, really eager to play somebody other than us. I feel like it’s going to be really fun on Monday and we’re all really excited for it.”

On how much Coach Cal is working on defense and him being unhappy with that in the first half …

“A little bit in the first half. A little bit lackadaisical. But we work on it every day to get better and I feel like we’re going to end up being a great defensive team. We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of skill on that side of the ball, so I think that’ll be great.”