Kentucky-Tennessee Postgame Quotes

Jan. 15, 2013

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Head Coach John Calipari

COACH CALIPARI: It was a good win for us, I'm happy with our guys, I came to this conclusion: In the last seven, eight years, I have coached teams that have absolutely womped on people, and this ain't one of 'em (laughter). And every game, we are going to be in is going to be a dogfight, and instead of going crazy about it, how about just accept it, right, and coach that way.

I can't imagine this team being up 20 on anybody, because you get up 12, 15, someone will try to steal a ball; they will foul; they will leave their feet. On an out-of-bounds play, one guy will not do what he's supposed to, give up two layups. We are blocking every shot, so why would you grab arms when they dive in there? We are not trying to steal balls on drives, give ground, we just kept fouling, fouling, fouling.

Guess what? We got better. Alex (Poythress) got better. Really, how about Alex diving on the floor. At the end if the game, he didn't run one time, he didn't come up with the rebound. But he made strides. Kyle (Wiltjer) was terrific. Nerlens (Noel), the workouts for Nerlens has helped him more than anybody else. He missed free throws today which he had not been missing but he did good.

Q. After Texas A&M you mentioned kind of you wanted people to stem the tide, you talked about the other day; do you feel you got to that mark?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, so did stop the bleeding, but the point is there were seven or eight errors, again.

And when I say they are not buying in, here is what it is: We are playing this a certain way; why do you try to steal the ball. That's not how we were playing that. Why did you go over the top of that screen? Why didn't you fight this? Why did you not -- there are just things that we are walking out of time-outs talking about how we are playing out-of-bounds plays, this is what we are going to play.

We draw up the play that they got the back layup. We drew it up; it's like I coached his team and my team. I drew it up; this is what they are going to do and they shot a layup. And it's like, I wasn't, there was one stretch where I got a little bit, you know, because I thought they were letting go of the game.

But short of that, look, folks, we are what we are. I love this team. We have so much upside. We are going to be in dogfights. We have to go to Auburn, Auburn is playing as well as anybody in our league right now, on the road, they are retiring numbers, it's Jersey Day, Cup Day and Bat Day in Auburn. And it's going to be an absolute war for us to get down there on the road and try to steal one.

But I'm happy for them. I said, be happy you won, you won a game.

Q. They made plays, Kyle, Julius Mays --

COACH CALIPARI: You know what's great about Kyle, for the first time since he's been here, he told me to run a play for him, which I absolutely did. Because the minute a young man comes to you and says, "Coach, run four down," you run it, because now it's off me and it's on him.

So I always will do it. And he even came back after he made that shot, came back and said, run another play for him, and we did, and then we came back on the third one, I said, cool out, man, come on, let somebody else try to shoot it.

Q. Can you talk about Archie Goodwin's decision making, particularly in shot selection?

COACH CALIPARI: He struggled today. He was a little bit out of control, playing too fast. We are trying to get him to shoot the runner, which when he did, he made it; the one he missed, we rebounded and made.

So it's what we have been working on, but we have been working on him to jump, stop; jump stop. So he goes driving down the lane, left his feet and threw a wide-open pass to the corner, I think it was to Julius, I believe it was, for a three, but he left his feet. But we work every day on jump stops, so there are things that, you know, these guys are growing with.

Look, we just have to be better than the team in the gym and get better. We fought and battled and did some good stuff and came up with some balls. We out-rebounded one of the better rebounding teams in our league.

Ryan (Harrow) played okay. I think he's got to be better than he played. Just his decision-making, fouling and some of the stuff that he did, and missed three layups and said I got fouled. Well, they are not going to call it, you have to be tougher to make them.

Again, how about Jarrod (Polson) going in the game and doing what he did. Jarrod changed the game, it was like a two-point game and Jarrod went in and shook it up and did his thing. We went to subs, and I didn't want to fall into the same trap that I did with Texas A&M, so I subbed earlier. But it was a good win for us.

Q. How surprising was it that Kyle asked for a play?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, I told the team after, I'm happy. I have no problem with that.

Q. The play, were you surprised?

COACH CALIPARI: He said it, I said, okay, let's run it. There was no surprise. I'm happy. Thank you. This is supposed to be their team.

Q. Kyle had asked you a couple of times about Nerlens, when maybe he's turning into that leader, you guys are feeding off his energy, like he was the guy that wanted to take over down the stretch.

COACH CALIPARI: And that's what we need from him and the reason he can do it is he's really been working in practice. He's been spending the time.

Q. Why do you think Nerlens got the most out of the individual workouts and everything?

COACH CALIPARI: Because you saw the progress. Some other guys, in a month, their exertion level heart rates never really moved, which tells you as soon as they hit that wall, they kept stopping, for a month.

Nerlens, on the other hand, started in the same spot and just kept moving.

Now, we changed the workouts with a couple of the guys to try to get him, and Kyle was another guy working out that has gotten better.

Q. The shot that Julius hit late were the shots you've been hitting all season, what can that do for his confidence?

COACH CALIPARI: The thing is, I get mad when he's catching the ball at the 3-point line and the guy is in the lane and he doesn't shoot it. Literally the guy has a foot in the lane running at it, but he's in the lane. You caught it, you have to get it off and shoot it. Or, if he thrives in a dead run that way at you; not running at you, he just jumps that way at you, then you should one-dribble pull-up.

But see, you have to understand now, his assist-to-turnover ratio may be one of the best in the NCAA.

So my thing to him is: When you drive, drive to pass. Don't drive to score, you're not big enough. You're not athletic enough. Shoot the three, one dribble pull-up, or drive to pass. Remember against Texas A&M, he drove and he shot it, with Archie in the wide-open corner. Those are all the things that I keep saying, you have to buy into how we are telling you to play, Archie. This is how we are telling you to play and you're not doing it, so you're not bought in.

The trust I'm telling you about with these guys, unless everybody's doing what they are supposed to, you don't trust each other. This guy, we all know what he's supposed to do, but he's not doing it. Well, how can I trust him? Now I worry about myself; now he can't trust me, and then you look like a team that doesn't trust each other.

We made some strides today, but we have a ways to go, believe me. You know, this is the thing about coaching 17-, 18- and 19-year-olds.

Q. What do you attribute Nerlens' ability to make steals to?

COACH CALIPARI: He's got a quick twitch, I will tell you that, and he's long. And you know, he's doing some good stuff. And I was happy for Kyle.

Willie (Cauley-Stein) was fine today. He did the stuff we needed him to do but he got into foul trouble so Kyle stepped in.

Q. The game was chippy both ways, a lot of talking back and forth, do you like seeing that?

COACH CALIPARI: Good. If there's anybody that was getting sand kicked in their face, you know, at some point, you have to stand up. We don't teach that. I'm not teaching it, but I know this: You put your heels in the sand, and you know, like if I see somebody talking to one of my players and they are not challenging back, I'm not happy.

It's not what I want, but I'm not -- you know, you've got to be a man. This is a man's game and this is a man's league we play in. You have to play through bumps; quit crying about fouls. Everybody is fouling everybody.

Q. Are you going to be able to accept having a team that won't womp on people?

COACH CALIPARI: I have to. I did today. I mean, I did not -- you know, I knew watching the tape that this would be close, and it was. You know, I got upset a few times and about the 10:00 mark I got a little bit upset with a couple guys, but all in all, I told them after, the last eight years, winning 35 games a year, beating people by 30.

Well, this team is not capable of doing that. We are still learning to sustain effort and to trust each other. Then, you can start becoming the team we want to be. Until then, we are going to be mired in the stuff we are in right now.

But, good win. Any time you win a game in this league, it's a hard game, and the way we finished the game, the free throws, Julius making baskets, those were big. We come out, we executed. I mean, we walked out of time-outs and really executed which was good to see.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#33, Kyle Wiltjer, F

On whether Coach Calipari is wanting more from him guided his performance tonight…
"I've just been trying to stay positive, and just work hard every day in practice. Not only practice. Just get extra work in. I think (the hard work) has helped in paying off. I just need to keep being aggressive on both ends."

On how motivated he felt the team was today after losing to Texas A&M…
"We've worked hard and any loss hurts. We didn't want that to happen again so we just really wanted to get a close win and it feels really good that we were able to pull it out."

On his reaction to Coach Calipari's comments that this team will be in a lot of dog fights…
"We have confidence in ourselves that we can break through. We've got a lot of improving to do so I think we can use that as motivation and try to just really stomp on people and not have any break downs."

On his thinking behind asking Coach Calipari to ask him to draw up plays for him tonight…
"In practice we had run some sets for me. We kind of designed them and in the game I just said, '[Coach Calipari], can we run that play.' I knew that the defender would cheat on the screen so we just ran it and then I knocked it down so he was happy."

#22, Alex Poythress, F

On his hustle plays early in the game...
"I was just trying to help my team out, diving for loose balls and making hustle plays."

On the progress of this Kentucky team...
"I think everybody made progress today, everybody is just getting used to each other. People stepped up big. Nerlens (Noel) played a great game, Julius (Mays) hit some shots, Kyle (Wiltjer) grabbed some rebounds. Everyone just picked it up for real."

On how physical this game was...
"This was a pretty physical game. All of our games have been physical though, we have to expect that every game."

#3 Nerlens Noel, Fr., F

On how he thinks he played tonight…
"The first half I think I was off pace, but the second half I think I brought it back to life and did what I had to do for my team."

On him becoming the leader of the team …
"Yes, I am definitely becoming more vocal and keeping everyone together."

On "womping" teams …
"In time I feel that we can "womp" teams. Right now, it is a process and we have different types of players. We can beat teams by 20 and 30, but not right now. We have to stay patient and keep working to that point. We really need to mesh together on the court, and play together at all times. We have to stay up communication, defensively, and have each other's back."

Tennessee Head Coach Cuonzo Martin

Opening Statement…
"I thought it was a well-played game by both teams. Both teams competed and played hard. I thought both teams executed. They did a good job in the second half of really executing their offense. I thought (Nerlens) Noel did a tremendous job in the second half of really setting the tone defensively and altering shots. Also, credit our guys of doing a good job of continuing to attack the rim. Other than that, good ball game."

On Kentucky making plays down the stretch …
"They did a good job of making plays. I thought our guys put ourselves in position but just didn't capitalize. But I thought we were aggressive and continued to attack the rim."

On Julius Mays' foul late in the game and the events following …
"Well, Josh (Richardson) missed two free throws and we had a play and got to the rim and I think Jordan (McRae) might have got blocked. But he executed the play. That is part of it."

On the team improving in the second half …
"We just have to really sit down and defend in a hostile environment. You have to sit down, defend, do your job and carry out assignments."

On the team's first-half performance …
"I thought we did a good job. Guys took care of the ball and moved the ball and we had spacing. The key was trying to get those big guys off the blocks and force those guys to play on the perimeter so our guards could attack the rim. When you have spacing you can make layups and make plays."

On Jordan McRae's performance …
"Offensively, I like what I got from him. I didn't think he did a very good job defending. But he did a good job attacking and I think that is the next phase for him and we talk about it a lot. He understands that and he is taking pride in defending. I think that is the next step for him, taking pride on the defensive side of the ball."

On the performance of Trae Golden …
"I just think that Trae (Golden) has to play a little bit better. I think he has to accept challenges defensively and continue to get us in our offense and execute what we are trying to do."

On Yemi Makanjuola's foul out …
"I don't think I was saying it was my fault, I knew he had picked up his fifth foul. I was saying to Yemi that he did a tremendous job of playing in the game. I don't think it was necessarily my fault. We knew he had four fouls and we were rolling with him because he was playing so well. You saw after we went out of the game we couldn't get a consistent stop. It was one of those deals were we were riding with him down the stretch until he fouled out because of how well he was playing and competing."

On if Yemi Makanjuola and Jarnell Stokes fouling out and if that was a key in the game …
"I think more than anything when Yemi went out of the game because he was setting the tone, being physical. He has a tremendous presence around the rim, even though he is not the shot blocker of (Nerlens) Noel, he is a physical guy and understands his assignments and knows where he needs to be."

Tennessee Student-Athletes

#52, Jordan McRae, G

On how the team played tonight…
"I think we fought hard the whole game, but kind of like the last three games, there are key plays that we have to make down the stretch and I don't think we have."

On carrying the scoring load for the team…
"I don't feel like I'm carrying the load. I'm just doing the same thing I always did. I'm just taking more shots and attacking more. It isn't just me."

On getting off to a good start…
"We definitely went into the game knowing that we could win. Down the stretch our team has to make key stops and better decisions."

On starting out 0-3 in SEC play…
"It's something that we can hopefully get ourselves out of. These next couple games are must win so we are going to have to do whatever we have to do to try and get it straightened out."