Kentucky-Georgia Postgame Quotes

Jan. 29, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Q. Can you talk about your defense you gave Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie?

COACH CALIPARI: I think some of the stuff when I watched us against Georgia, it's more about me and the preparation and their (the team's) toughness. When it's a one-point game and how we finished it, it must be bad communication between what I'm looking for and what you're thinking I'm looking for. That's on me.

I thought today, they really were zoned in on how we had to play to make it tough for them. Georgia is a good team. They beat our brains in down there. (We were) physical until the second half, and then all of a sudden -- and again, it wasn't the entire team but one guy gets pushed like three or four straight times; we got pushed around again in the second half.

But I'm proud of our team. I thought we played well. Did some good things. And we got a ways to go, but it's a win.

Q. You struggled to close the door against South Carolina and today, any common denominators, any concern there?

COACH CALIPARI: (We) missed some free throws. Two plays we broke off that we were not trying to do. And that's what happens with a young team. But one of the things I said, this team has to be about Darius (Miller), DeAndre (Liggins) and Josh (Harrellson), our juniors and seniors. It's got to be about them what they accept, what they affect, and they have to be the guys making plays down the stretch, not freshmen. If our freshmen happen to do it, fine. But we can't count on those guys; they are freshmen. Get me those upper classmen.

Q. Speaking of which, in the first half, when guys really built the big lead with DeAndre (Liggins) and even Darius (Miller), as well, did a great job making the extra pass against the zone; is that something you stressed going into that?

COACH CALIPARI: We have talked. They play a little bit of a zone, like a 3-2, but they drop the one wing at times. They kind of move around depending where you are on the board. So they are a little harder to play against.

What I like was we got the ball in the middle, we made the pass, we swung the ball and we knocked down the open shot.

What I also liked was when Darius (Miller) was in the middle, he went after people and he was aggressive. There was not a fade away. It was just, boom, right at it.

And you know, I continue to look at the good things we are doing and showing that this is how we have to play. We have to break down some of the areas and show them like, look, this could cost you the game. We easily left ourselves in a position that we could have dropped this. There was no reason for that. We had this game in hand, and we did some things down the stretch missing free throws, missing a couple little steps, just a guy drives left and missed it. You know, you can't break down defensively, give up a couple 3s, and all of a sudden it's a five-, six-point game.

Q. What are the things you want to see those three older guys do to make those plays that you're talking about?

COACH CALIPARI: You must be the tough guys. You've got to make the tough plays. You're not missing a rebound, can't be. That's one. Two, you've got to be really strong with the ball so you're not getting balls ripped out of your hands, like not happening, and you're making easy plays. And then all of a sudden, you make that big block, you get that big rebound, you dive on the floor and get the ball and make that charge.

Maybe you're counting on those guys to make a basket that you're not as good making. That's okay. But all of those other things, those guys should be able to do.

Q. The word "toughness" keeps coming up. How do you coach that, especially if you have guys who are nice guys off the court?

COACH CALIPARI: I've seen nice guys -- they are boxers. What a wonderful guy that is, until he steps in that ring and he tries to rip the guy's face off.

Football players. I have friends that are NFL football players; the nicest people you will ever meet. I just wouldn't want them to tackle me. I mean, you can be the nicest guy in the world, have a great heart and be a generous person, but when it's time to battle and fight, you fight.

And you've got to do it is crunch time when the game is in the balance. And so we are learning from that. The big thing about this team, they want to do well. Do the guys want to please me? No question. And I like my team.

I'll say it again: We have more upside on this team than any team in the country. I told Terrence (Jones): You can be the best player in the country, and I'm not backing up -- I'm not backing up off you. You should be the best player in the country. Go play that way. Go drive the ball, go rebound every basket. Defend how he defended. Second half, he defended pretty well and he rebounded pretty well.

Q. Can you get more upside than any team in the country if you're not getting past six and a half guys?

COACH CALIPARI: Sure. We were that way when I was at UMASS. We had six guys and those six were really good, together. Let me say that again, (they played) together, they were really good.

This team executed in the first half and then broke off stuff in the second half, and they went on their own a little bit.

So what you do is you get up now, and it's my turn to do my thing. Well, we don't have enough people that are good enough to do that. Those teams that have six, seven guys, you just, hey -- they told me earlier when I was with Odie Smith today, Coach Rupp played five guys. If you were No. 6, you may not get in the game; played five guys.

And you go, that was in the 60s and 50s and 40s. "The old guys, we don't play too many people anyway."

They all say it: "Why do you play nine guys? We played seven."

"The game is faster."

"What do you think, we walked up and down the court? And we pressed and ran; what are you talking about?" Just, you figure it out. But the biggest thing is, teams that you play, you have to be an execution team. You have to do that for 40 minutes and you have to finish people off.

You know, this is good. This is good. We can be pretty good and you saw it today. And then, all of the stuff that we need to get better at, I've got it on tape. I can show them. And we still won.

Q. Can you comment on your turnovers?

COACH CALIPARI: The one by Terrence (Jones( was nothing. We truly only had eight turnovers in the game. We are one of the low turnover teams in the country. I'm not worried about it. Terrence, I don't know what he was thinking. I didn't even ask him.

Kentucky Players

#34 DeAndre Liggins, G

On Georgia’s run in the second half ...
“Georgia is a good team. They came out in the second half and made a push like we knew they would, but we were just happy to get the win.”

On his turnover ...
“I made a bad pass and thought Brandon (Knight) was going to be somewhere (and) he wasn’t. I made a mistake and turned the ball over. Afterwards, I got a little frustrated, but it was over with and we squashed it.”

#55 Josh Harrellson, F

On Coach Larry Brown speaking to the team ...
“(He said to me) Keep rebounding and just run the floor. A lot of big men can play, but not all of them can run the floor.”

On playing the full 40 minutes in a game ...
“We played hard for 35 minutes, but the last five minutes we let them come back just like South Carolina. We’re not mature yet, once we become more mature we’ll start playing the full 40 minutes.”

#1, Darius Miller, G

On how much of letting the game get close is freshman mistakes...
“Honestly it isn’t really on the freshmen, it’s all of us, me, Deandre (Liggins) and Josh (Harrellson) included. We have spurts where we play really well, and then there are times where we let down. We have to fix that as a team, not just the freshmen. It has nothing to do with being young because other guys are doing it too.”

On how the team was moving the ball so selflessly against Georgia’s zone defense...
“I think we are becoming a better team. We are playing together pretty well. It is something we work on in practice and really we just try to focus more on it, especially recently, and try to find open shots and work off the dribble for each other. That seemed to work out in the first half today.”

On veterans needing to be leaders down the stretch and why that is not happening...
“It is just something we need to work on. It also has a lot to do with us playing the whole forty minutes and not in spurts, so it kind of rubs off on the younger guys so it is something we need to work on.”

# 3, Terrence Jones, F

On their energy at the beginning of the game...
“We have been working really hard on starting games with energy. It starts with Brandon (Knight), Darius (Miller) and DeAndre (Liggins) brought a lot of energy too.”

On if he felt that they were in trouble in the second half of the game...
“No, we need to play better and take better shots. Just drive to the basket. Once we started doing that late in the game, it was good. wWe just need to make more free throws.”

On their defense against (Trey) Thompkins...
“He is a great player. Today we changed it up, just tried not to let him get in the groove. I just wanted to keep my hands straight up and make shots difficult for him.”

#12 Brandon Knight, G

On the difference between the first and second half...
“I think we just started missing a couple shots. They wanted to make a run. I think we did an alright job sustaining them, but I think we need to do a better job finishing the game.”

On the energy in the second half...
“The first half we came out with a lot of intensity; everybody was playing hard. In the second half, we had a lot of lapses and that could be due to lack of energy.”

On Doron’s (Lamb) game...
“He is a great player. He always steps it up when we need a big time shot.”

Georgia Head Coach Mark Fox

Opening statement...
“That was a hard fought conference game. Kentucky came out of the gates so strong we just had to play catch up the whole night. We just couldn’t finish enough plays to get back in it. Their team played well and I congratulate them.”

On the play of junior forward Trey Thompkins and junior guard Travis Leslie...
“Those two kids have made so many plays for us and been very consistent, and I think they combined to be 2-17 tonight. You have to credit Kentucky’s defense first, but they’ve been so good they deserve to try and play through a tough night. We just couldn’t get either one of them going. When Travis misses a lob right at the rim you know it’s not his night. It’s hard for us to win when those two kids are both having tough nights like they did today.”

On if Kentucky did anything differently defensively...
“I think their defense was very good. I was very concerned with how much energy we’d have because we had such a grinder the other night (against Florida), and I knew they had time to prepare for us, I figured their defense would be very good. I don’t know if they did a lot different but what they did do they did well.”

On how he thinks his team played following a double-overtime loss to Florida on Tuesday...
“I don’t think we put it all behind us. I don’t think we started very well. That’s taking nothing away from Kentucky but we didn’t start the game very well, but we finally came back to ourselves. We just couldn’t finish enough plays to get all the way back in it.”

On if the play in the final minute out of a timeout where Trey Thompkins missed a 3 was the play they were looking for...
“That’s the shot that we wanted. We just couldn’t get it going. That’s a shot that we just didn’t make. Nothing complicated about that, just didn’t make it.”

On what was different in the second half that enabled them to come back on Kentucky...
“Well we defended fairly well in the second half. I thought we rebounded the ball much better. I was extremely concerned about getting in foul trouble in the first half. We had to stay with our zone longer than I wanted to because one of our experienced posts had two fouls. (I) really didn’t want Trey (Thompkins) to pick up another. We stayed with our zone longer than I wanted to just because of the foul situation. But we got to the second half where I thought we could play the way that would give us a chance - we really had a chance to win with five minutes to go in the game. We just were too far away at that point.”

On what he expected from Kentucky junior guard DeAndre Liggins coming into the game...
“I think the problem with our defense in the first half was our offense. One of the things we did at our place was we scored the ball and I think the best way for us to defend or transition was to make them take it out of the net. That’s one of the things that we really talked about in our first game is that let’s make sure we execute so they’re having to take it out of the net. We weren’t finishing offensive plays so he had so much momentum coming down the floor that they were able to just really attack us in transition, and then, as you mentioned, they made a lot of the extra passes in the half court. I thought their offensive play in the first half was pretty good.”

On the first timeout he called in the game about two minutes in...
“Well I saw the early signs that we weren’t where I wanted us to be. We had two turnovers early and we can’t play that way. We can’t turn it over like we did to start the game and give them extra possessions, give them the momentum back the other way. That was that timeout. I was just really concerned with our mentality and level of execution.”

On the play of junior guard Dustin Ware...
“I thought Dustin played well. He got his third foul pretty early but I thought he came back and shot the ball well. Boy he had one turnover I know he’d like to have back that he made a poor pass to Trey (Thompkins). But he’s really played pretty well, competed hard and tonight our guards scored the ball. We have to be - for those of you who have seen us - we need more guys completing plays for us to be good.”

On Kentucky wobbling down the stretch again in a game...
“We just wanted to have a chance to win the game. We wanted to be in a position to win the game. I think that their kids have matured a great deal throughout the year and I think they’ll keep getting better, but I don’t think we hoped that they would wobble, I just think that we hoped to be in a position to try and win. We just couldn’t finish those key plays there in the last six minutes. When we got it back in striking distance we couldn’t strike.”

Georgia Players

#33, Trey Thompkins, F

On the play of Kentucky...
“They came out physical, they played at home, they played strong, they played tough, and they played efficient. They’re at home, everybody is tougher at home, that is all you can say about that. When a team is at home they are so much tougher than when they are on the road. You can’t really prepare Kentucky to Florida. They are completely different teams. They are both tough. They are contenders to win this league.”

On comparing Kentucky to Tennessee...
“You can’t really compare any team in this league. They are all very different.”

On his leg in the second half...
“It is fine. I’m really not worried about it anymore. I had a little problem with my shin. It wasn’t bothering me at all. My shot was just a little off today.”

On his rebounding effort...
“My teammates need me to score and when I’m not making shots it hurts our team and I understand that. We all, as a unit, understand that and we just find other ways to get the ball in the basket.

#1, Travis Leslie, G

On what happened that led to Georgia’s loss....
“I really don’t know what happened. None of my shots were falling, I just was off my game today, but im going to keep my head up and keep fighting.”

On how frustrating it was to lose this game...
“Very frustrating. They came out in the first half and got a good lead which made it hard to come back. We tried our best towards the end and got a little closer, but it wasn’t quite good enough.”

On if there was any “hangover” from the loss to Florida...
“I wouldn’t say that, we were past that; we were just looking forward to playing today. They came to play at their home and they had everything on their side and everything just went their way today.”

#3, Dustin Ware, G

On stepping up and having a good day...
“I was just trying to do whatever the team needed, but it was just one of those days. They have two great players who had once in a lifetime days. Our shots just were not going down. I was trying to pick it up and help keep the team afloat. We had a lot of guys play well for us today and we stayed in it, but couldn’t pull it out.”

On if he thinks Trey (Thompkins’) leg affected their loss....
“No, Trey (Thompkins) is a great player and he doesn’t let things like that affect him. It could have been, but at the same time he is a great player and you will not see him play like that.”

On what the team did to turn things around in the second half...
“We just kept fighting. We got down and tried to play better defense and keep fighting. We had the mentality that whatever happens, happens and we were just trying to win the game.”