Kentucky-Penn Postgame Quotes

Jan. 3, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Q. In the first half it seemed like you couldn't buy a basket. Was that their startling defense or do you think a little of a hangover?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, you've got to give them credit for how they played in the first half. They controlled the whole half. We were lucky we were not down 10 at halftime.

We made a couple baskets right at the half -- we were down 12 with four minutes to go in the half. They were executing, making shots and we were not being aggressive enough going after balls. They were just doing whatever they wanted and they were comfortable.

You know, that kid, Tyler (Bernardini), was unbelievable. He was making everything.

So in the second half, you know, when we got it close, we just said, hey, we got it to five we just got lazy. We stopped and I said that's it, and then we went and got it up to 12, 14.

But they had a good game plan. They tried to force us to the baseline. Wherever we caught it, they were forcing us that way. When teams do that, you get seven-footers, you just sort of drive that way, and not many teams have played us that give us that length and that layup. But it was good, because it kind of got us a little bit. In the second half, I think we settled in a little bit and really made shots.

Q. Do you subscribe at all to the last four minutes of the first half, first four minutes of the second half?

COACH CALIPARI: Oh, yeah, it's important. But you think about it, we had it. We were up seven ready to go; up five ready to go; and we played great defense, and one guy stops, and the ball is thrown into halfcourt and our guy walks and they give it to their guy. And you know they are getting a 3 now. Our guy could have stolen that ball and we could have been up seven.

You know, it's just the importance of every possession, we don't get yet. And young kids don't. Inexperienced players don't.

Really pleased with Josh (Harrellson) again tonight. Pleased with DeAndre (Liggins)'s effort; not shooting the ball as well as he had been. Brandon Knight running the team, and Doron (Lamb) making shots again. Doron offensively really gives us a lift; 12 turnovers and playing as fast as we are is pretty good stuff for a young team and for an inexperienced team.

Q. There was a stretch in the second half where you got three straight blocks on the basket and got three straight 3s in a row, talk about that stretch that broke the game open.

COACH CALIPARI: Again that's all effort and hustle plays. You want us to play like that all the time. And I know I'm asking a lot. I'm asking guys to come every game ready to go and ready to battle.

But I think if you demand a lot, you get a lot. If you accept mediocrity, you're going to get it every single time. If you accept what they want to give you, that's what they are giving you and so my career has been about, I'm not accepting anything but your best.

I don't care how old you are, if you're 18 or 24, doesn't matter to me, and so you know, we had guys, they stepped it up in the second half. They just stepped on the gas. But I'm telling you, if we played in a league game and did this, we're down 15 at the half and it's a struggle now. You know, the other team, you know, they are going to grind it a little bit more and make us take chances; and they keep making shots, you lose the game. I mean, that's the lesson of this game.

Q. How much has Josh Harrellson benefitted from practicing with Enes (Kanter) every day?

COACH CALIPARI: It's helped him but what's helped him is he's changed habits. He's conditioning 40 minutes before practice. He goes out and does full-body conditioning. Goes in the locker room, lays around for about 15 minutes, tries to get his mind back, and then he goes out and practices for two hours.

And that's what's changed him, nothing else. His habits have changed and he's building his own self-esteem because he's performing in games. You can do whatever you want in practice. You walk in that game and you can't demonstrate performance, you're not going to build self-esteem and confidence. Walk in there and turn it over and get rebounded on or get scored on twice, I don't care what you do in practice, you could do it against Michael Jordan, does not matter. Got to do it in the game, and he's performing in games right now.

Q. Obviously in the first half, they made a lot of 3s, and then the second half they couldn't even get them off. But what changed there?

COACH CALIPARI: Subbed some guys. Subbed some players. It only takes one guy breaking down. The first half, we left corners, which we never do. We just left guys in corners. We don't leave corner shooters. We come from the weak side to block and we stun off-court. We don't leave corners. But we gave them I think four first-half looks in the corner with no one on; we left them, and I was going bananas. Like, I cannot believe we are doing this.

And I thought the second half, they did a better job. But you've got to give Penn credit. I mean, they came in with a game plan and they executed. If we didn't have that run at halftime, they may have beaten us.

Q. You talk about that play at half court where somebody quits on the ball and they get a 3 out of it. You said yesterday that your will is stronger than Terrence (Jones)'s; is he testing that?

COACH CALIPARI: No. It's just habits and he's got to know what's acceptable and what's not acceptable, just like Josh (Harrellson) does and just like Eloy (Vargas) does.

Eloy went over in the first half and played pretty well. Did some good things. Second half, I put him in, the first ball that comes out, there's no one near him and he one-hands it. That's what we are talking about -- one hand, unacceptable, you're out. That's an error that we talk about a thousand times a practice. We do everything with two hands. If your habit is that bad, you'd better change it or you're coming out.

So there are those kind of things. It's not like everybody makes a mistake. That is not the kind of a mistake that's a good mistake. You know, there's things that you're going to do as a young player.

But again, you look at Josh, he's going after every ball with two hands. Look at him; every ball with two hands, and he's leading our league in rebounding. Josh Harrellson is leading our league in rebounding, because he's changed his habit and he's going after every ball with two hands. I've got to get Eloy doing the same, just got to get him doing the same thing.

Q. Darius (Miller) has had --

COACH CALIPARI: Darius played great in the second half.

Q. Are you getting the sense that (Miller’s) starting to get that consistent type of form?

COACH CALIPARI: No, because in the first half he didn't go after any balls and he just was flopping around on the court. Boom, next guy, here we go.

So second half, he went in and he played. Did all of the stuff he could do. I mean, again, I think he should be All-League. That's what I think. But it doesn't matter what I think or you think. It's what he thinks. And I think he should be as good as anyone in our league. There are some guys who give him problems, but he'll give people problems. You saw him in the post; he can shoot a 3, he can make free throws, he's good with the ball. Just got to be tough, man. Mix it up, man. Come on. If he does that, I told him, you guys wrote stories and had him in the front page of a newspaper; he had seven points and seven rebounds. All-League play; because he jerks the ball away from someone else, we are all stunned and writing stories. He can do that. He needs to play that way.

Q. Jerome Allen said he had you guys right where he wanted you, especially with the youth. How do you think you guys responded; are they over that youth part where they couldn't get rattled now?

COACH CALIPARI: No, we are what we are. This is who we are. You know, they had a couple guys that could make shots and made them and they are up 12. We had a couple guys break down and gave them baskets and we are down 12. They settled down in the second half and they all -- if one guy wasn't playing, he was out, because I needed five guys to compete so we could create a gap. And then when we got the gap, then I went back to those other guys and let them play a little bit. We had to get the gap. We're here to win games.

Look, we just shot 18-for-22 in the second half shooting the ball. Brandon Knight goes four assists, no turnovers, 8-for-12, 4-of-7 (from 3), 2-for-2 (from the free-throw line), two rebounds and he defended (Zack) Rosen, and did a good job.

So, wait a minute, he was pretty good. Doron (Lamb) was pretty good. DeAndre (Liggins) was pretty good; didn't shoot it as well as I would like, and he's been shooting great in practice; I don't know why he's missing shots.

So when you look at this, we have got good stuff. But you know what, we want more. I want more than just, OK, we won by 12. I want this team to start understanding, you've got to be a little bit of a juggernaut and that means five guys, one heartbeat. We are not one heartbeat right now. We are about a heartbeat, and a half, and a half. We are not, bang, bang, bang. We are not there yet. At times, against Louisville, we were. At times against Notre Dame, we were. At other times, both of those games, we were not.

So, you know, when you're coaching young teams, and I've done this a few different times in my career, your will has to be stronger than their’s and you are not giving in, and I don't give in.

At the end of the day, if I have done my job, and Terrence (Jones) has responded, Terrence Jones will be the best player in the country by the end of the year; if he wants to be; if he wants to listen and change. Change some habits, he'll be best player in the country by the end of the year. Or he may be nudged by somebody else on our team. But if he wants to be, then change habits, do these things, and you can do it. And you know what? If he's capable of doing that, shouldn't I expect that? Well, he's only 18. So? What does that mean? And I should expect that.

And that's -- you know, but now we have got Georgia, at Georgia, already sold out. Does that surprise anybody here? Another Super Bowl game we've got to play down in Georgia. League is going to be terrific. I mean, it's going to be hard.

I'll tell y'all this: We are playing on our half, the eastern half. Our 10 games in the eastern half, I'm put up against any other league's that they are playing their teams when they are not playing doubles. They are not playing teams twice; they are playing them once.

So our 16 games, we have got 10 of them on are on this half. Think about that. Our strength of schedule at the end the year will stay in the Top 15 or 20. Maybe higher. On a team that's this young, all freshman and inexperienced? Yeah. Yeah. It will be a tough road for us.

Q. Back to Josh (Harrellson) for a minute. He's not the greatest leaper, with all due respect, yet he's pretty good at blocking shots. Why is that?

COACH CALIPARI: He times them. He's pretty good. He'll get a body on a guy so a guy can't jump and then he goes after it.

But I would rather him just body up than block because we cannot afford him to be in foul trouble. I was thinking about playing the small team today some just to do it. And I didn't get a chance to, because I also want to try to get Eloy (Vargas) minutes to see if he can do this. So we're a little bit in a jam, but, you know, just have to figure it all out.

You know, here is Darius (Miller), and I said he just played okay. He has 11 points, seven rebounds, 16 assists and two blocks and two steals. I'm, like, not satisfied. I don't start him in the second half. That's how good I think he is, how good I think he is.

Brandon (Knight), I'm so proud of him. How many of you were in Hawaii with us? Different player, isn't it. Different player. And that's what you are trying to see with guys that want to change and want to get better. We're on him about his defense and you know what, today he went out and said, I'm going to guard better, and he did. So a lot of good stuff.

Anything else?


Kentucky Players

#20, Doron Lamb, G

On  the slow start...
“We didn’t play good help defense on the pick and rolls. They hit all of the shots that they took in the first half. They (Penn) were on fire in the first half. We knew we just had to dig in. In a TV timeout, we huddled and we wanted to dig in on defense.”

On if he got the sense that Penn had a will to win...
“Well, everybody tries to beat us, and they (opponents) go all out to try to beat us. We know that, so we we just have to go out there and play harder than them. We played defense at the end of the first half, and we ended up with the halftime lead.”

On if Penn played harder than them in the first half...
“Yeah, they (Penn) played harder than us in the first couple minutes. They made every shot. There was nothing we could do about that.”

#12, Brandon Knight, G

On the main cause of the slow start...
“They (Penn) weren’t missing. We were leaving guys. We were missing assignments. They (Penn) were playing great in the first half. We were giving them open opportunities. On the offensive end, we were missing easy shots and easy layups that we normally make. ”

On coach talking about his will to be greater than the teams...
“I think it’s very important, because thats only going to make us better. If guys aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing, they are hurting the team. When (Coach Calipari) takes a guy out every time he does something wrong, that is helping out our team out.”

On his vocal leadership towards Eloy Vargas...
“Eloy (Vargas) knows what he needs to be doing. As a leader, I need to tell him that everything you do, you do it with two hands and try to get the ball to the basket as quickly as you can. When you come out of the game, sometimes you revert to things you would do in practice. I just told him (Eloy Vargas) to just come out and do what you need to be doing.”

#1, Darius Miller, G

On Kentucky’s slow start to the first half …
“We definitely were really sluggish. I don’t think we’ve started that slow in awhile. It kind of shocked us and surprised us. Coach (Calipari) talked to us at halftime and got us ready to go in the second half. We definitely had a better second half.”

On if he thought the team was sluggish because of the big win at Louisville …
“Not really. We talked about it. Everyone seemed focused. We had a great practice yesterday. Coach said it was one of our best (practices). We were all kind of surprised on how we came out.”

On the irony that the team had a bad practice before winning at Louisville and a good practice before playing slow in the first half against Penn …
“We need to put two and two together. We need to have good practices and good games. I’m pretty sure we’ll be ready to go next game.”

On his different performances between the first and second halves …
“I don’t know (why I started slow). I really can’t tell you what happened in the first half. I really don’t know why I had such a slow start. Like I said, we did a better job of taking advantage of opportunities in the second half after Coach made a few adjustments and it helped us.”

#55, Josh Harrellson, F

On the difficulty of playing on the road …  
“Like you said, we are everybody’s Super Bowl, especially after last year. I remember my first year that everywhere we went in the SEC wasn’t sold out. But, last year our following was greater. Every game was sold out. I think I heard that Georgia is already sold out for this weekend. It’s going to be a tough place to play down there.”

On the play of Brandon Knight
“He has just totally transformed. In the beginning of the year he didn’t run us like he should have. He wasn’t the vocal leader. He had a lot of turnovers and not that many assists. Lately, he’s been taking the big shots when we need them to get us back in the game. He’s running us out there. He’s getting us in the huddle and telling us where we need to be. He’s been a great vocal leader when Coach can’t be out on the floor with us.”

On the importance of him having another solid performance following the Louisville game …
I think it was a big step for me. People have been saying lately, ‘how is he going to turn around after the Louisville game?’ I’m just going to keep playing my game, nothing is going to change. I’m just going to keep playing my game in the post. I won’t be looking to shoot every ball. I’ll keep taking them if I’m open. I want to keep finishing around the rim, and hopefully I can keep doing that so they’ll keep passing me the ball.”

On being named the SEC Player of the Week
“I was actually pretty shocked. I didn’t even hear about it until Coach said something about it at practice. I was really shocked about it actually. If you would have said something about Josh Harrellson being named SEC Player of the Week a year ago or two years ago, I probably would have laughed like you all just did. It’s a new year and a new me. So, I guess anything is possible.”

Penn Head Coach Jerome Allen

Opening statement…
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for college basketball and this school’s history and tradition here. It looks like Coach (John) Calipari has it going in the right direction and I have nothing but the utmost respect and I wish him the best of luck.”

On what changed in the second half compared to their first half...
“I think the thing that’s glaring is that we try to tell our guys all the time that if you make or miss shots it’s neither here nor there, but you must be consistent in your effort on the defensive end. I think in the second half we couldn’t put stops together. I won’t say it’s just because they were superior to us, but (it was) our effort and lack of concentration on the defensive end. The first eight minutes of the second half we gave up 22 points. To win basketball games at this level, Division I level, particularly when you’re playing on the road or when you’re playing at home, that’s too much. We say that we’re going to be a defensive minded team, and in the second half, I’ll say after the first 15 minutes of the game, we didn’t do a great job at defending.”

On comparing Kentucky to other teams Penn has faced this year...
“I take it one game at a time. I respect the game enough, whether we’re playing Kentucky, or we’re playing Delaware, or we’re playing Drexel, or we’re playing Villanova, it’s college basketball. You have to prepare yourself in a certain manner, pay attention to all the details and just go out and try to be focused. Our biggest thing is we don’t get caught up in the rankings or where we’re playing or who we’re playing. We play the game of basketball the way that we want to play. We leave that other stuff up to you guys or the people outside our locker room. We want to be pro-Penn from day one, just holding on to our principles and the style of basketball that we want to play.”

On playing in Rupp Arena and the feeling of having the lead with five minutes to go in the first half…
“Kentucky, the University of Pennsylvania and a couple other schools out there are in the top-10 all-time wins in Division I basketball, whether you know that or not. I bring that point up to say this, winning in Rupp Arena, the Palestra, it’s something that we’re used to. Those of you that are basketball historians know where I’m coming from. I’m not necessarily taking a shot at anyone sitting here, but I’m just going to say that once the ball goes up in the air, whether you’re on the playground, or whether you’re in Rupp Arena, or whether you’re in the Palestra, you got to play the game. It’s great for you guys to write about and the history and all that, but as long as I have the opportunity to coach these young men, no matter what arena we go into we are going to expect to win. That’s the habits we got. Our habits match our expectations. It’s Division I basketball and if I had to sit here and go down a list of schools that Penn has beaten in the past – us winning in here in Kentucky, we wouldn’t have been storming the floor or high-fiving and celebrating. We would have smiled a little bit, got up, walked down to the other side, shook their hands and then started thinking about our next opponent. That’s just how I feel.”

On the importance of Kentucky closing the first half on their run...
“It was big because obviously you expect teams to make runs. What you try to do is minimize their production when they do make the run. Although we had it up 11 and they came back and went on a 12-0 run, we felt going into halftime that we had opportunities to tighten some things up. We gave up 13 offensive rebounds in the first half. If we minimize the amount of offensive rebounds we gave up and we continue to defend and contest passing lanes, we’re going to be where we want to be. I think that run that they went on helped them and their confidence because to be as real as I can possibly be, I felt like the balance of the youth that they have and a couple of experienced players they have, that we had them right where we wanted them, on the ropes. You never know, a team playing at home and a lot of pressure. Brandon Knight is a phenomenal basketball player, but he’s still a freshman. He’s still a freshman. You never know in an environment like that where there’s a lot of pressure to produce and if things aren’t going you’re way how things will pan out. But ultimately, they did what they had to do to win the basketball game.”

Penn Players

#4, Tyler Bernardini, G

On what was going through his mind when Penn owned a first-half lead ...
“We just wanted to sustain the momentum, especially on the defensive end. We were getting stops. I think that was the key to our offense. We just were trying to hold on to that. We just weren’t able to for the full 40 minutes.”

On the difference in Penn’s offense in the second half …
“I definitely think they (Kentucky) tightened up (their defense) a little bit, but a lot of it was on us. Our execution wasn’t as good. I don’t think we were feeding off our defense. We were getting scored on and then we weren’t getting out and getting much movement on the offensive end. We were pretty stagnant. That didn’t leave us with many open shots.”

On how Kentucky compares with other teams Penn has played this season …
“We’ve played a lot of good teams, but it’s about us. We try to make sure it’s about us. We want to be in the tournament at the end of the season so every game in the preseason is getting us ready for league play. Every chance we get to go out and play we’re trying to prepare ourselves and look at what we can do better. That’s how we approach it.”

On what it meant to have early success against Kentucky …
“On the bus and our preparation for this game we were excited. We came in here ready to win. We weren’t coming in here just to try to play a game and entertain fans. We came here to try to get a “W.” So we’re pretty disappointed that didn’t happen. We thought we prepared ourselves well. We were confident. In the environment and the history and how special this program and the tradition here is kind of sweetened the moment a little bit, but we didn’t get it done. We have to go back, work hard and get ready for La Salle.”