Kentucky-Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
Q. What was the difference for Aaron (Harrison) in the second half? It looked like you were getting on him pretty hard there in the first half but then he showed up and made a couple big plays down the stretch.
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I think he played so well in the second half. That's who he is. And I thought his brother played that well, too. They both played with unbelievable energy. They were aggressive and attacked. They played smart. They didn't try to make crazy plays. They made easy plays that they could make. But Aaron basically threw dagger after dagger. I thought Marcus Lee played really well. Willie (Cauley-Stein) did what Willie does. Then he took that jumper and I know we all looked at each other like what in the world. But he's been practicing that. That's something that's been working on. He made his free throws.
Dakari (Johnson) in the first half was - you just can't play way. In the second half he played. We had some guys not play well. But that's what happens when you have a lot of guys. You just kind of scramble until you figure out ‘OK, who’s got it going.’ That's what I did in the second half and I just ran with the guys that had it going.
Q. You've talked about defense, this team has talked about taking pride in defense. What happened there in that stretch?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, any time you make a mistake against them, they make shots. Let me say this and I told Kevin (Stallings), I watched a bunch of their tape, the job he's done with that young team is phenomenal. Each time down the floor against a normal defense, we're like not normal, like we're like ridiculously fighting, scratching, and every play, every pass. A normal team, they get a good shot off every time. It they may not make them all, but they get them off. Against a team like us, any time we had a breakdown, any time we ran into a screen, any time we didn't find a shooter in transition, they made them. Or at least let's say 70 percent of them. They didn't miss many of those.
But I told him after the game, what a job he's doing with that team. They're playing exactly how they have to too win, and it's a good game for us.
Q. On the time and score, why was Willie's shot good and when Dakari's was not?
COACH CALIPARI: His was good because it went in. I tell guys on plays like that, you want to shoot a ball like that, you better make it. Dakari shot a fade away and Dakari, they had three blocks and they were all Dakari's shots. He's still turning into the defense and shooting the ball in front of the guy. Like you can't shoot, you got to -- if you're going to your left you got to shoot it here. If you're going to your right you got to shoot it here. You can't turn and that's what he keeps doing.
But he made free throws, he did some good stuff. Like I said, we'll learn from this. We didn't offensive rebound. This team, they rebounded with us. But it was a good win. I'm happy.
Q. Did they try to take the 3 away from you a little more than some teams have and then what did you think they did with did he have I know defensively?
COACH CALIPARI: They didn't do anything. He just, he wasn't, you know, did they try to take the three away? I know we only took six, we made four. I don't know. But I know this, we were posting the ball and we missed a bunch of bunnies in there. What they said was, let's see if we can play them one to one in the post. I would say if a team does that to us, I'm happy, but we just, we missed a ton of those. Balls ripped from us a little bit and that.
Q. Dakari's first half issues, were they mainly defensive stuff?
COACH CALIPARI: He wasn't ready to play. He wasn't in the frame of mind you have to be to play. The energy wasn't there. Shots blocked again. Everybody's going crazy on defense and he's standing there. Boom, you're out. Second half, he went in and did it. Aaron was kind of the same way. I just I said I'm not settling for that. Look, I have a vision of each of these kids, the best version of themselves. But they have to play extremely hard, they got to play with unbelievable energy and some emotion. They all know the plays that we're trying to get them to make. And they're capable of doing it. But they're not machines, they're not computers, but I'm not, you know, I'm not backing up. I know what these guys are capable of and I'm holding them to that standard.
Q. How important was that stretch by Marcus (Lee) when he scored those six straights points and sort of brought you guys back to life at a time when you needed it?
COACH CALIPARI: He was terrific. I thought he did well. My staff kept saying to me, hey -- now what I was afraid of at the end of the game is that they were going to foul him. I didn't want to put him on the foul line. I said, look, your free throw shooting is a hundred times better, but I don't want to put you in this position. I'm not going to do it that to you and that's why I didn't put him in at the end.
Q. Could you talk about the play of Karl (-Anthony Towns) and what you hope he gets from a game like this?
COACH CALIPARI: Again, by the end of the season, I want Karl to be the best big man in the country. That he plays pick and roll as good as any big man. See, if you can't play pick and roll, you understand that next level it's you got an issue. I want him to be someone that when you watch him, he's unbelievable in pick and roll. That, if you don't double team him in the post, he'll score. That he'll get, if he doesn't score, he's going to get you to foul. He's not playing that way right now. A guy that there's times we can put him in pick and slide him to the elbows and let him shoot some jumpers.
Again, he had seven blocks today. Go rebound that ball. Go block shots, go do those things offensively. Fly. Physically, he's not mature enough in those legs, it's hard for him to stay down and fight. He wants to do it upper body. Well he's 18, 19 years old, that's why. But my vision is, by the end of the year, he is the best big guy in the country.
Q. Did Dominique (Hawkins) have any sort of setback there?
COACH CALIPARI: No, the game was just, again, I don't want to put guys in positions where they could cost us a game when I am the one that's not giving them the experience. So the game got tight and I just went with the rotation to win the game.
Q. What did you think of Riley LaChance?
COACH CALIPARI: They all played well. He played well. They shot well. They weren't afraid. They had 16 turnovers, but they were fighting the whole game. They never quit playing. There was no, until the horn went off, they did not quit. I told Kevin, I said I'm impressed with them I'm glad we're not playing them up there. Ooh, I wouldn't want to do that.
Q. Was there a problem with transition defense because they seemed to get some stuff there.
COACH CALIPARI: No, no, we missed some matchups, but it's really hard when guys are running to the 3-point line. They were running everybody to the 3-point line. We had some miscommunication. I'll watch the tape, but, again, you have to understand, we guarded today. We guarded. They made some tough threes, any mistakes we made, they made us pay. But I liked our effort. I liked our energy.
Q. When Aaron missed his first three in the second half it looked like you sort of looked at him and tried to lift his spirits a little bit?
COACH CALIPARI: I just want him to play and compete. I don't care about missed shots. They do. So they, the whole team, they miss a play, there's some other guys today, couldn't make plays, and then they just melted because they're so into offense just play hard. Just attack the basket. Make the plays. Can you make one dribble pull-ups, can't be guarded. Make 3s if they're there. Defend, dive, run. Don't stop playing and get beat on a back door. The shot goes up, don't look at the ball, block out your man. All things that they're capable of doing. He's as good as any player in the country when he's playing the way he played today in that second half.
Q. Was there something specific a that you said to him during halftime?
COACH CALIPARI: I told him I love him.
Q. What if anything does having the best record after a hundred games mean to you?
COACH CALIPARI: It means we have had 19 draft picks. It means we have had a team full of draft picks now. That I've had the best players in the country here the last five years, now going on six years. And they have accepted being coached, they accepted each other. Selfless kind of kids. Our three pillars industriousness, work, work. When you look at my guys, they understand how to work when they leave us. See, it's not just saying words like we're this, we're that. No, this is what we're about.
Servant leadership. Which means they're great teammates. They understand, we get them to second pillar.
The third pillar. Kind heart. So you look at John Wall, Nerlens Noel, you look at DeMarcus Cousins, you look at all these kids, Patrick Paterson. You're talking about kids that leave us that understand how to work, that understand what leadership is, servant leadership. They also understand what it means to have a kind heart. Care about other people. To make time for somebody that you just made their month. We got a great group of kids that have been here.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports....
#2 Aaron Harrison, G
On his performance in the second half…
“I just wanted to do everything I could to help the team win. I knew I had to get my energy together, and I did in the second half, which helped me play better. ”
On Vanderbilt giving their best shot …
“They definitely gave us their best shot. I know if I was playing against the No. 1 team in the country I would play my heart out. That is what they did tonight, and that is what every team is going to do. We just need to be ready for it. ”
On his fearless mentality when it comes to shooting …
“I don’t know exactly when my no-fear mentality started, but I feel like it is how I was raised. My dad taught me that early on, and it has just stuck with me.”
On taking late-game shots…
“I definitely feel like the team looks to me sometimes to make a big shot late in games, but we have a great group of guys with a lot talent. Tonight, Devin made a great entry pass, and I was ready to knock it down.”
#12 Karl-Anthony Towns, C
On improving physically throughout the year …
“I feel good, I feel really good. I’m jumping as high as I’ve ever jumped, timing and quickness. They work on me so much with my whole body that it is coming to the front right now. I’m playing really well defensively, just put both sides of the ball together and I can be real special.”
On enjoying the fourth best start in school history …
“It’s really fun. It’s all about winning, I love winning. That’s all I’m about. When you’re winning you’re as high as the clouds can take you and I’m touching the stars. So I’m having a lot of fun right now. But you know we have to keep it going. We have to stay on the defensive end, we have to stay tenacious on the offensive end we have to get it together. If we can do that we can be real special.”
On Andrew and Aaron Harrison down the stretch, that they scored the last seven points …
“That’s what they do, they’re real clutch guys. They’re veterans also for Kentucky standards. We are so fortunate and lucky to have people like that on our team who late in the game when you give the ball to them you know it’s going to be good results. They both proved themselves and I’m just glad to have them on my team and not any other team.”
#00 Marcus Lee, F
On bringing energy to the game ...
"Its a tremendous feeling knowing that you can help your teammates with whatever they need help with."
On Aaron Harrison coming back out better in the second half ...
"I think it's just his confidence. No matter what happens in the first half, in the second half he can come back and do what he needs to do; he's good enough to where he can just keep going."
On being able to improve in the second half ...
"It's not just one player that can do that. We have a whole team of complete finishers; it comes out naturally."
On being "handled" by Vandy ...
"They played as hard as they can and that's what every team does: they go as hard as they can because we're Kentucky. They did a really great job today and it's not that we're playing down, it's that their best is playing up."
On his mindset ...
"I go from one level of energy and raise it up a few notches more. Doing whatever it takes to help your team helps everything."
Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings
Opening statement …
“I thought we did some good things and just didn’t do quite enough. There is really no consolation in doing some good things. We can’t do enough to win, and didn’t. I thought we defended a lot. I felt we rebounded for the most part fairly effectively. Aside from the first five or six minutes of the game, I thought we took care of the ball pretty well. They obviously got to the foul line a lot more than we did. They did a better job at the foul line than we did. I was OK with how my team played. I wish we could’ve done a little bit more. I felt there was a lot of fight, a lot of energy and a lot of grit. You have to play that way against them or they’ll embarrass you. Congratulations to them. John (Calipari) has got a really good team. He is very, very underrated as a coach, especially as a defensive coach. Their defense is terrific.”
On making comeback after trailing early …
“I didn’t think I was going to bring any people in here who were going to quit. As we like to say, playing hard is just the price of admission. That just comes with being on the team. You better play hard or you don’t deserve that uniform. Our guys played hard. Key possession of the game: we went zone, they shot an air ball, saved it, and Aaron Harrison hits the corner 3 over there. Nevertheless, it was a good game. We had some guys that underperformed. You can’t come here and have guys underperform and win. You’ve got to have everybody playing on top of their game, or close to it. I thought (Damian Jones) did. I thought (Riley LaChance) and (Matthew Fisher-Davis) did. (Wade Baldwin IV) was awfully good. Both of our point guards played well, actually. (Shelton Mitchell) played well. We had some guys that weren’t quite as good as they need to be in order for us to win here.”
On containing Kentucky’s weapons …
“I think that what makes them the best team in the country is they can have guys have off nights. They can have a poor shooting night. Their margin for error is quite substantial. I’d like to think that we tried real hard and did a good job. I think (Devin) Booker is incredible. They just have weapons. That’s why they’re good.”
On Kentucky’s defense …
“Well, honestly, I’m sure to a lot of eyes, it looked like their defense was disrupting us. I’m kind of entertained because John [Calipari] can’t come in here and talk about his young team tonight because my team’s younger than his. I literally call a play we’ve been running all season long for the first possession of the game and have a guy completely run to the wrong side of the floor. Honestly, to me, it was more us playing like we were temporarily outside of our minds than it was anything they were doing defensively.”
On Vanderbilt’s transition offense …
“As good as it (Kentucky’s defense) is, you need to try and beat it before they get set up as far as I’m concerned. Now, I lost, so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but that felt like (that was) as good a chance as any for us, to get down there and try to beat them before they got set.”
# 5 Matthew Fisher-Davis, G
On not being intimidated coming into this building…
“Not at all. They’re the fifth-youngest team in the country and we’re the third youngest. It balances out”
On the size of the Kentucky defenders and if that caused problems …
“No not really. Honestly, we have three seven footers down there as well, so it didn’t really matter.”
On the Kentucky’s defense opposed to others they have faced …
“Arkansas has a really good defense. They (Kentucky) have a really good defense.”
On being able to rebound well tonight …
“We really fought tonight. We knew they were a great offensive rebounding team but they also give up a lot of rebounds to their opponents. We really hit the glass hard. Fought down low and that was it.”
#13, Riley LaChance, G
On seeing himself as a guy who has to score every night …
“Not necessarily. I’m just doing whatever I need to do to help the team win. If that’s rebounding one night, if that’s scoring, if it’s making assists, I’m just doing whatever I can to help the team win.”
On not throwing up a lot of shots …
“I’m just letting the game come to me and trying not to force anything.”
On if Rupp Area was intimidating for the team …
“I don’t think we were scared to come in here and play. We came in here fired up and that’s just how we have to go into every game.”