Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

Feb. 14, 2015

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

Q. Was this the kind of crunching that you were looking for, the more step-on-them game?

COACH CALIPARI: We played well. Offensively we were really good which created a pretty big gap. But I thought we defended, we played with great energy, we needed to play a game like this.

What we need to be is in a war where we get up 13 and then we push it to 20. Where the other team's battling and it's six, four, five, it gets to 13 and we get it to 20. That's where we have been lacking right now.

Q. Can you talk about the honor you got today in connection with the Hall of Fame?

COACH CALIPARI: I'm honored and humbled when you see all the people they're talking about. And then people that I followed their whole careers.

But, and again it doesn't mean, they still have other votes, this means you're a finalist. But I would say what I tell my team all the time, during the season, it is about our team. When the season ends, it's about individuals.

Right now we're in a season, so I'm not going to address it. This is it. I just addressed it. So I'm not talking about it anymore. When the season ends, if you want to ask me about it, I'll talk about it.

Q. This was the first game in five that Dominique (Hawkins) did not start. The last one was actually the last South Carolina game. Could you speak about why and what's going on?

COACH CALIPARI: Trey [Lyles] has been out. So I went and tried to play, continued to play nine guys. So Trey was out. The good news is, he had his opportunity to really play.

Now, Trey's back, we got to get back in that rhythm and I told him, and I told his teammates, that I'm making this decision based on Dom's good, he's just not as good as some of the other guys and they deserve their minutes.

So, that's why we did it. But he's -- again, he was in this same position a year ago, we played Michigan, and he went in and guarded (Nik) Stauskas and did a great job. So I know we can count on him if we need him.

Q. A little while back you were talking about Wally Pipp with Dakari. It didn't seem like he was really making you happy with his effort the way he was playing. Did something change today? Did he --

COACH CALIPARI: No, he's been playing. Well, he hasn't been fighting, he hasn't been fighting in practice, in the games, letting the other guy outwork him. Well, then he's not the same guy.

Today, he gets 13 rebounds, I believe. I mean, he went after every ball and he did it in 10 points, 13 rebounds, a double-double in 21 minutes.

Karl(-Anthony Towns), on the other hand, got those two rebounds late because I told him you got two rebounds. You got two rebounds. So he went in there and rebounded and did some good stuff.

But like I said, we're good, our post play is good, we're really good. We're making threes now, we can really beat you pretty good.

Q. Did Willie make strides in terms of being one of the best players, as you said?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, he made some shots. He's still, his feet get too close, his balance is bad at times when he gets physically pushed around. But I was pleased with him and pleased with our team. We're a good team -- duh.

Q. How good?

COACH CALIPARI: We're still trying to figure out how good. But I know we're a good team. Now, where do we want to go with this? I thought Andrew (Harrison) was great today, I thought Aaron (Harrison) played, Devin (Booker) played, Tyler (Ulis) played, they all played. Trey (Lyles) got beat on a defensive breakdown, I took him out. You're out. You're not doing that. You got to focus on this and the same with Karl(-Anthony Towns). I thought Karl was a little lackadaisical in the second half. Boom, let the other kid play.

I thought Marcus Lee did some good things today. It's good to see him play well.

Q. It's a regular season thing, but do you try to let your players know to enjoy making some history?

COACH CALIPARI: I told them you just tied. We're all freshmen and sophomores and Willie, and you played an unbelievable schedule. One of the best non-conference schedules in the country and you're in one of the best leagues in the country. I said, ‘So you got today off and you got Sunday off.’ I gave them two days.

Q. With James (Young) and Julius (Randle) in town, have you had a chance to speak with them and how did those conversations go?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I did. I just saw James for the first time. Julius was in the office last night, yesterday, and I spent some time with him and he was teasing me at the press conference yesterday. But it's great to see those guys.

Now, I am going to the All-Star Game to see all my other children. So, as I give them Sunday off, I'm going to go to a high school game at 2 o'clock on Sunday, and then I'm going to that game there, and then flying back Sunday night. I'll be here to get ready for Monday and Monday's practice and travel to Tennessee.

Q. Karl had some nice baskets early on in the game. When he's going offensively, does that elevate you guys to a whole another level?

COACH CALIPARI: Yup. Yup. He's just got to fight and stay focused. He can shoot free throws, he's a good shooter. He played 17 minutes today. We had -- how many guys had eight or more points? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. That's pretty good. When you're talking about playing guys 20 minutes, 23 minutes. The most played was Andrew (Harrison), but Andrew's playing really good right now.

Q. Not to say you were in a bad mood at times last year, but it seems like you've been really good and really enjoying the last couple of weeks. Are you just enjoying this a whole lot more than at this time a year ago?

COACH CALIPARI: I'm telling you, winning, is so much more fun than losing. You have no idea. It just is. Losing stinks.

So, we had to learn from a lot of stuff last year. It was frustrating that they weren't getting it quick enough. But by the end of the year, we got it. By the end of the year, everyone was happy. I was extremely happy for those guys.

Q. By your standards the defense has been slightly less than it was. What made the difference today do you think?

COACH CALIPARI: I think we were able to switch and really take them out of some of the stuff and the other thing was, we were able to block some shots. That's why I got on Karl the one play, he could have blocked it.

Look, when you're blocking shots in there, it forces them to take jump shots. Now think about the last three games. Six foot guards were driving on seven foot players shooting layups. Then you say why are they shooting 57 percent or 47 or 46? That was why. They were shooting layups on our big guys.

So we have gotten after it a little bit and what I did in practice, for two days, and you guys that know me last year, we practiced long last year and late in the year because we needed it.

Normal case, we back up off practice this time of the year. Well, we went back Thursday to an hour of scrimmage and then they got after each other and I even scrimmaged them 15 minutes yesterday, which I never do.

It's our advantage. We got a good group of players that need to go after -- they don't want to do drills. They look at me and say, ‘Stop the drills, let's play.’ Throw it up. But you're juggling balls. What balls are you juggling? You don't want anybody -- you want to keep everybody healthy.

But I think this team needs to -- it's, again, I'm learning about them. They're a young team, so we need to scrimmage a little bit. We'll probably scrimmage 15 minutes on Monday. They will have Wednesday off. And on Thursday, we'll scrimmage for an hour. We'll go up and down the court.

Q. You mentioned you're going to the All-Star Game tomorrow. What did you feel when DeMarcus (Cousins) finally got his first All Star berth?

COACH CALIPARI: I thought he deserved it based on the numbers and all the other stuff. He really did. But so did Damon (Lillard). He deserved it too. I mean, you know, he's a really good player and I love the fact that DeMarcus called him and said, you should have got in, which tells me a lot how much DeMarcus has grown.

But what's really neat is you have two players on the starters in John Wall and Anthony Davis. And Anthony, I don't believe, is going to play.

But you also have a sophomore game, you have Nerlens Noel and if Carmelo (Anthony) doesn't play, I think Brandon (Knight) would be in. But I have a feeling he is going to play. But Brandon's in the skills stuff and our guys are doing well. It's really great to see and I told them you guys get in there, I'm going to get up there. So kind of fell where I could make sure I get up there.

Q. How intense are those scrimmages when you're going up against each other?

COACH CALIPARI: They argue, fight, foul, grab, and whoever loses has to run. If I forget to tell them to run, whoa, whoa, whoa, White's got to run. And then I got to make them run and then we -- so they don't -- if they beat somebody they're making that other team run. They're really competitive. Plus you got all these big people. I mean you got three, four, seven footers on the court playing. Both teams are big, both teams have good guards, both teams shoot it well.

Q. Anthony (Davis) said at the All Star festivities I guess today that his 2012 team would destroy this year's team. Weigh in on that one.

COACH CALIPARI: Did he say that? But if you ask DeMarcus (Cousins) what would he say? The same thing. And then if you asked Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones and that group, what would they say? ‘We would kill them.’ So, that's fine.

The good news is they, other than playing here and playing against each other, I would tell you this, they will all root for each other. And this team now has done something all those teams haven't done. And I remember Brandon Knight when we got to the Final Four, when he made that game winner, what was, what he was so jacked about is they went farther than the team before.

Like, everybody said we weren't going to be as good. Well, we just went further than our 2010 team that went 0-20 from the 3-point line (in) a Regional Final. But anyway.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports....

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#5, Andrew Harrison, Guard

On Willie Cauley-Stein’s play the last three games …
“He can dunk. He’s been putting the work in. He even hit some jumpers today. He’s been working on it.”

On tying the school record for best start of 25-0 …
“A lot of us didn’t even know about the record. We’re just trying to take it one game at a time and win every game that we can play. It doesn’t matter if we don’t finish it out right. We just have to stay focused.”

On Coach Calipari being named a Naismith Hall of Fame finalist …
“I’m very happy for him. He’s a great coach. Coach doesn’t want us to worry about that, but just focus on the team.”

On the importance of increasing a moderate lead to a larger lead to put a game out of reach …
“Me being a point guard, I just have to make sure everyone’s focused. You just have to keep your foot on the gas.”

On scrimmaging in practice …
“We usually win. No, I’m just joking. They’re fun matchups. You have to compete or you’re going to lose. Nobody wants to lose.”

On if this was a dominant performance …
“I’m not sure about it being dominating. We just played really well today and made a lot of shots. They’re a good and physical team. They have guards that can really drive the ball.”

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, Forward

On what he has changed in his game the last few weeks …
“The same, just playing aggressive instead of looking to be passive.”

On becoming one of the best players in the country …
“I think that this is as center stage as it gets. I’ve been on center stage. I’m not going to say I’m scared of really anything but Kentucky is center stage. I can’t walk outside my dorm and have like seven pictures taken so I think that this is pretty center stage.”

On playing with more energy …
“I think I just feed off of my teammates. I make a highlight dunk or something and I’m like getting head butted, their faces are looking crazy and that is fun to me. Seeing my teammates happy is more fun than me actually doing something.”

#44, Dakari Johnson, Forward

On scrimmaging in practice …
“You know, it’s fun when we are talking smack to each other and just getting back in that competitive mode.”

On Trey Lyles back in the lineup …
It’s big because he is so versatile. He can guard people on the perimeter and he can erase shots and he’s 6-10. It’s really good for us.”

On playing tough in the post today …
“We just really have to fight for position because we are not going to get calls that other teams are going to get so we just have to fight through that. We have to take it up strong physically.”

South Carolina Head Coach Frank Martin

Opening Statement …
“Didn’t put up much of a fight today, and if we’re not going to put up a fight, we’re not talented enough to be able to play with a team like Kentucky. Cal’s got these guys playing just together, united on both ends of the floor. They out-worked us, out-ran us, out-rebounded us, out-screened us, out-toughed us, so if we didn’t win any of those categories, it was going to be hard for us to put up any kind of a fight today.”

On Kentucky’s progress and Coach Cal’s nomination …
“Yeah, that’s awesome. Cal’s so deserving of that. It’s what he does for kids, for our game, the way his teams play. I don’t know why he’s never received the kind of credit that he deserves. He’s real good, and I’m so happy for that. It was hard for me to judge their team today because I thought they played with the same resolve three weeks ago. I just thought we fought. Today we didn’t fight, so the game got away from us. It’s hard for me to judge how good they are today because we didn’t put up a fight. We walked in there, and as soon as we got punched we went down. We never fought back. It’s hard to see. We fought back three weeks ago, so I got a feel for their basketball team. I know they’re real good. I don’t need to compare them to anybody, but it’s hard to answer that part of it because we just didn’t fight today.”

On Sindarius Thornwell’s play …
“He’s been playing better and better. He’s the one guy on our team that actually never went away, but, you know, you’re not going to beat Kentucky with one guy trying and everyone else was kind of waiting for the buzzer to sound. I’ve got to help Sind. Sind’s trying to do his part. I’ve been begging for leadership and all that the whole year, and here over the last couple of weeks he’s really trying to embrace that role, and I’ve got to help him there.”

On warning signs of play …
“I can sit here and tell you about having to practice with eight guys for the last two weeks and all that. I don’t want to do that. You don’t want to hear it, and I don’t want to hear it. It’s—we made some adjustments on how we want to attack them offensively because obviously last time we won all the effort plays, but offensively, we didn’t do a very good job. I thought the adjustments we made, we tried to execute them early. We missed shots and those missed shots led us to hang our heads, and if you hang your head against a team like Kentucky, you see what happens. I thought we were fine going into the first media timeout. I think the score was 6-2 or 8-4, something like that, and I liked the shots we had gotten. I like what we had tried to do, but we had guys missed shots. Then, we hung our heads. As soon as you do that against them, it’s a problem.”

On Kentucky’s defense …
“That’s kind of the adjustment we made based on their switch. The idea was not for guys to hold the ball through the whole shot clock. We just, early on we attacked it. We tried to do the things we spoke about, but as the game evolved, we just stopped doing it. The only guy that tried to do what we spoke about doing was Sindarius. He’s the only guy. Everyone else was a day late and a dollar short. It just, you can’t succeed if you hang your head. I don’t care what your game plan is, if you hang your head, it’s not going to work. Today, we had guys hanging their heads. Kentucky’s not the kind of team that you want to do that. Not just because of their talent, but because of how hard they play.”

South Carolina Student-Athletes

#0 Sindarius Thornwell, Sophomore

On how UK seemed to have control …
“We didn’t stick to the script. They outplayed us and out-hustled us. They got easy baskets and we didn’t.”

On how to improve offensively …
“It’s just a lot of repetition. It’s just getting the ball and trying to get it to go in. We just need to get keep shooting and to get the feel of the ball. We need to get the feel of winning a game back.”

#4 Tyrone Johnson, Senior

On how to stay motivated …
“We just have to believe in ourselves and work.  We need to be doing the things we were doing two months ago. It’s just belief. We have to believe in ourselves and have confidence. There are so many good teams in this league and if you don’t believe in yourself or have confidence then you aren’t going to make it.”