Kentucky-Eastern Michigan Postgame Quotes

Jan. 2, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

Q. On Alex Poythress.

COACH CALIPARI: He still has some glitches, but the team gave him a hand after the game. But we've got to continue on the individual work. He and I are going to work tomorrow. There were just two or three things at the start of the game that we have been working on that he didn't carry over. He reverted back.

But he at least played with some energy. You could see it. He ran the floor hard. You could see it. It's so obvious what we have to do. I like the big team. I looked at it, and that's what we've been practicing the last couple of days.

But Alex has to play for me to play that team. We can't come out with the energy or the lack of effort that he has in some of these games. He came after it in this game.

Q. You said you like the big team. Can you talk about Willie Cauley-Stein's development?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he's been great. What I told him, I think he made 400 free throws since the last game. So as I'm working out Alex and doing the stuff I'm doing with him, and Kyle (Wiltjer)'s down on the other end working out, and then I'm working out with the two guards or three guards, then he comes in, and he's on the side charting free throws. What I told him before the game is get fouled, and go show everybody what you've been working on. Then I said, and if you miss one, it's okay, because you just say to yourself, you don't make every free throw. But I'm still going to show him what I've been working on, and it was great that he made it. It was a crier. It kind of went in, but it went in.

Q. What did you think overall of the defense and the intensity?

COACH CALIPARI: Better. Again, this team beat Purdue now. And Michigan and Syracuse they were within 8 to 10 for a long time in those games and then those teams broke away from them. So this defense that they play is a tough defense. It's something that I think is a zone that's very effective, and they've done a great job with it.

Q. 13 in the first half, you went on an 11-0 run. What did that do for you, kind of finally the spark that they got things going?

COACH CALIPARI: They were fine to start. The first play of the game made me mad. Alex got hung up on the screen, and the guy got the three right off the start and just gets hung up. But short of that, I thought we defended. I mean, they had 14 points at halftime. Kyle gave up the three-point play, and Julius (Mays) threw a ball over the top for them to steal, when he's got a seven-footer standing right in front of him. All he's got to do is throw it up in the air on the out of bounds play.

So five of their 14, we just kind of threw them to them. So I thought we defended the whole game. That's what I wanted to see. All I was talking about every time was discipline. Quit taking chances, stay down, we're not leaving our feet. We do not want to take chances. Let's just grind this and get better, and I thought we did.

Q. Did you guys press and trap more, and was that a thing of energy creating? What was that?

COACH CALIPARI: Partly, it's how we wanted to play this team. Partly it was good. I like Willie up there. It's tough when you've got a seven-footer running at you now. He's just got to get a little lower so he can keep the player in the trap a little bit better. But I like him up there.

Q. How important is it for Julius to see some go in?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, here's what I said. Even Julius missing shots, he doesn't hurt your team. He just doesn't make shots. So there is no like, not only is he not making the shot, he's not guarding, he's turning over. Well, Alex was hurting us. Julius never hurts us; he just maybe doesn't help us as much as we want. Today he helped us.

I think the rotation the way we have it right now may be something that I stick with for a while. Having him and Kyle come off the bench, you have scoring right away when you go to it off the bench. You've got a very, very big team on the court that can do some stuff. You know, then Jarrod (Polson) can spell Ryan (Harrow).

I thought Ryan was good again today. Had a few turnovers he didn't need to have. He had two of them. Really, he had two turnovers. Two of them were the late half cool throw to Archie (Goodwin) that was, why did you do that? And then go between the legs. That's the old kid that used to play but wasn't very good. The new one is not turning it over. He's strong with the ball. He's aggressive. He's making plays, you know, so...

Q. Cal, you go into SEC play next week. I know you've said all along that you like your team. But how do you feel now as opposed to how you felt a couple weeks ago?

COACH CALIPARI: Oh, much better. But I'm going to tell you, it's going to be a process. Here's what I told them after the game. You understand it's not wins and losses? The way I coached them today, we were up 40, and I was on them about taking chances. I got on Julius on a play. I got on guys today.

I said it's about discipline. It's about playing together. It's not about the score of a ballgame. I said, if it were about that, I would have been angry after the last game. I wasn't. This is a process with this team. We're starting four freshmen. I'd like to know if anybody else in the country is doing that? We're starting four freshmen. I mean, now that's what it is.

So I'm worried about us getting better. I'm not worried about any other team in the country. I could care a less. I don't watch other games. I'm focused on what I have to do to get individual players better.

Now I told all of you I do some stuff that I told you at a later date what that is. And I'm going to tell and you the Big Blue Nation tomorrow. We're going to tell what we've been doing with the guys. It will be on my website.

Q. Do you have to buy any product to get on there and see it?

COACH CALIPARI: If you'd like, that would be nice.

Q. Just wondered. Can you talk about Michael Kidd-Gilchrist coming back today?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he surprised us. He's such a great kid. He knew that there was a plane coming from Charlotte. He just said, "Hey, can I jump on it?" And he came in, and they beat Chicago. They practiced today and he comes in to watch the guys play.

He was really, really angry when he saw the locker room. He was smoking. He walked in my office, and he said, this is BS. What we had last year. Look at this. So he did it in fun, but he was like -- but it was good to see him.

So what I'll do is tomorrow you're going to have a good idea of what we've done that is unique, out of the box. We're a non-traditional program. We're doing things that we have to do that have never been done, based on the fact of what we're doing with young guys. We've got to try different things. So it will be out tomorrow sometime.

I'm basically doing it for the Big Blue Nation to see, but since I told all you in the media, I'm telling you now it will be out tomorrow.

Q. We've seen Ryan's offensive game grow and the command of the offense. But how much growth has he made defensively?

COACH CALIPARI: Wow, how about that today? It wasn't even the steals. He played, he competed, he battled, and he got punched in the face to today on a play and it didn't affect him. So I'm more than pleased.

But the question is, this is where I thought he'd be at the beginning of this year. Now where do we go from here? He's got to continue to grow. He's got to continue to get better. No lapses. When we're in our league, we're going to be playing games. We can't afford lapses, especially by our point guard.

Q. You've been doing the individual instruction. You've talked before about you want Alex to be the best Alex he can be. But this may be the dumbest question you get all year, but how do you know when you've reached that point or know there is nothing more inside that player to come out?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, here's one thing you can look at. Can you bring something out of a kid that's not in there? I've never settled for that for any young man I've ever coached. Because in my mind, he doesn't believe it's in there, and I've got to convince him it is.

So, I told them, I'm not only building their confidence. You know who else's confidence I'm building? My confidence in them. Two days with Alex, I decide to start him. He was good enough that I looked at him and said I've got to start this kid. He's that good. So he built my confidence in him, and I helped build his confidence.

But I even told him, what did I do? I didn't do anything. You did it. But I'm going to tell you, he's halfway home. Half the way there to where we need him.

So it's still going to be weeks away. Maybe a month away. If he makes it, I'm okay if it's a month away. Because at the end of the day with him and the other guys, I like my team. We'll be fine.

Q. Can you talk about the free throw shooting? It was a lot better tonight than last game. Is that anything that you guys are working on?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, Alex goes 6 for 8 instead of 2 for 6. Like I told you with Willie, I said either you have a vision, you're going to make them or don't get fouled. So today he goes 1 for 2. So those two, when you talk about it, one went 0 for 5 or 6, and the other went 2 for 6 or whatever he was. Your percentage is bad right from there. The other guys weren't that bad at the line.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#22, Alex Poythress, F

On his one on one sessions with Coach Calipari…
"It's been tough. I've just been working out and trying to get better."

On if his attitude changed between the first and second half…
"No. I was just trying to play hard. We were just trying to have fun and play hard out there."

On how he felt about his performance against Louisville…
"I was a little upset, but we all have bad games. I just have to brush it off and get better the next game."

On if there is more pressure on him than other guys…
"I feel like there is pressure on everybody. There's just pressure being at Kentucky and you just have to learn to deal with it."

#34, Julius Mays, G

On what it feels like to see shots start going in …
"I knew it was a matter of time. The only way a shooter can come out of a slump is to keep shooting. As long as I keep my confidence in myself and my teammates I'll be fine. They want me to shoot more but when you're missing you start to second guess yourself. To see the ball go in is a good feeling."

On he thought of Alex Poythress tonight…
"He made some major strides. Coach has been spending a lot of extra time with him so we've all seen improvement. He has been working on the areas that need work and building his confidence back up. The slump that he was in was more mental than anything; he didn't have confidence in himself. For him to come out tonight and play well both offensively and defensively was great, hopefully he can build on that."

On how much better the team is at sustained defensive effort than a few weeks ago…
"We've made major improvements on defense, that's what we've been focusing on in practice. We're seeing our efforts in practice carry over into the games. I think we've made major strides and it's showing on the court."

#12, Ryan Harrow, G

On why Alex Poythress improved so much tonight …
"He had a really good practice yesterday. He played hard and nobody had to tell him to do that. We told him to continue to play hard, no matter who we are playing."

On whether it was a big deal he made four three-point baskets…
"I was just playing basketball. Coach told me if I am open to shoot it. We do a five minute shooting drill in practice and if you make 50 shots in the five minutes then you've got the green light. I've been making over 50 in the drill so he told me that if I get open, just shoot it."

On what made him more confident shooting the ball …
"Just being confident and putting in the extra work. He works with Alex, Archie and I and those are the type of things we work on like shooting threes and coming off screens and shooting. We practice stuff we do in the games."

On the 15-0 second-half start …
"I didn't even notice. We just had a really good game today and we didn't take any possessions off. It was a 40-minute game.

On reverting to the "Cool Ryan"…
"Yea when I did the behind-the-back dribble he took me out and said 'If you want to be cool you can sit over here' and I said 'Okay, I'm not cool anymore' so he put me back in the game. I was able to finish the game off so everything was good."

Eastern Michigan Head Coach Rob Murphy

Opening Statement...
"I feel like we ran into a really good Kentucky team this evening, coming off a loss to Louisville we knew it would be tough. I thought we started the game well when we hit a 3 and we had them down 3-0 and the first possession, we did a really good job of making them shoot a 3 with like three seconds on the shot clock and they made the 3. From there we turned the ball over a few times and they kind of ran away with the game. I was concerned about scoring against this team. We have struggled scoring the basketball all season, but looking at how they protect the paint, hedge, ball screens, and do a great job with their activity, pressuring the ball, I knew it would be tough. Them starting three big guys, I knew it would be even tougher. For us, we just have to continue to get better. We have young guys, transfers, guys that are still trying to gel together and find chemistry. We ran into a really good basketball team today and there's not much we could do to stop what happened. Saying that, we will continue to improve and get ready for conference play."

On trying to score against the tall lineup...
"Anytime you have two 7-footers on the floor and a 6-8 guy i knew they would create second chance opportunities for themselves. I knew they wouldn't shoot as many 3s because they didn't have three guards on the floor. So that alone, that size advantage in the paint, was going to give us trouble. Then we have to guard the lob, and then we have to get out and guard the 3. Their size creating second chance opportunities also sped us up. Offensively they jumped in their press early and just to see that size and athleticism after a couple of plays for our guys, they got confused, they kind of lost a little bit of confidence once they turned the ball over and didn't play the next play like I preach all day every day of the season. They allowed the pressure to get to them and once we made a few mistakes, they continued to make mistakes. The size was a huge advantage for them on the offensive glass and protecting the paint."

On what his team will take from this game for MAC play…
"I talk to our guys everyday about conference play, it's the biggest picture. We have UMASS left, and we want to continue to get better and that's what we are striving for, to defend our west crown in our league. We want to be one of the top four teams in our conference. We want to go to Cleveland and see what happens. I won't judge my team at Syracuse, at Michigan and at Kentucky, these are very tough venues and you take these games for different reasons. Obviously, we don't want to lose by this margin. I would like to see our guys play for 40 minutes, but at the same time we are going up against a really good program (Kentucky), with tradition and history, and a future hall of fame coach, in about 3 to 4 years players on this roster will be in the NBA. That's the reality about playing a game like this. We just have to continue to move forward and get better for our conference."