Kentucky-South Carolina Postgame Quotes

Feb. 19, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Q. John, can you just talk about the way DeAndre Liggins played overall today?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I thought he was good. I thought he had great energy. He was focused. He was good.

You know, we tried some different stuff, bringing him off the bench. Maybe that's what he needs, too.

I thought Darius Miller -- he had one stretch that I wanted to choke him because he had played so well, so aggressive, so strong. Why would you go for two minutes and revert?

You know, you can't let yourself know that you can be that way. You just -- when I'm on this court, this is how I am. And it wasn't that he was making jumpers. He had nine rebounds and they're a good rebounding team, especially offensively. But he was good.

Q. That's two games in a row where Darius (Miller) has stepped up offensively. How much better are you guys when he gives you another guy like that?

COACH CALIPARI: It's nice to have a shooter that way, that can make baskets. And I'm just -- like, again, I was on these guys hard because I don't -- I don't want them looking at the score whether we're up, whether it is close; just play and execute.

And so we got up, and they started getting sloppy. I said I'm not looking at the score. I'm looking at how we're playing.

We made some decisions. You may say, You are going nuts and you are up 25. Yeah, because we were up 17, 18 and all of a sudden turned around and it was five. We've done that a couple times. So I'm trying to get them to forget about the score. Let's worry about execution.

And if we know it is a big score, you don't have to look up and know it. You know you are up big. Then you play to either get a lay-up or something easy or you use the clock a little bit.

And if you are down 10, 9, 8, you know you have got to speed up play. You got to make play. And if it is a close game, we grind it out. Let's grind it and make sure we get good shots.

In this game, I think it was 8, 9, 10 minutes to going, I started telling them, We are grinding it down like it is a close game. And we got it into Terrence (Jones), and one. We hit a jumper. We did some really good stuff. Really proud of them.

Q. John, is there something about the matchup that allows (Darius) Miller to be successful against South Carolina?

COACH CALIPARI: No. I think the last couple games he's been pretty good.

Biggest thing that we did today is we guarded. You know, we have to be a defensive first (team). That's what we are. Defense first, and rebound. Not just defensive rebound, we need to get free baskets in offensive rebounding. And then that gives us a chance to, No. 1 get free baskets on the offensive end and then transition baskets gives us a few free baskets.

Today we just shot the ball really well. We guarded, though. We really guarded them pretty good.

Q. Coach, you have been calling for these guys to step up and be leaders all year. Yet, you were kind of dismissive at the team meeting that was called. Looking back on it now, do you think that maybe that helped those guys kind of renew their sense of focus? Or are you going to wait for a road test to decide if you think it was worth it?

COACH CALIPARI: The first game they came back, we were getting smashed by Mississippi State and we showed no energy. And the guys that called the meeting, I went in and said, "Who called that meeting?" right after the game. I wanted to know, "Who called it?"

One guy sheeply raised his hand. Then, ‘Why would you play that way? You call a team-only meeting and you play that way?’

So my thing is you got to be responsible to each other.

And so I think you get more done in individual meetings with your team where I'm meeting with a player one-on-one and I'm trying to talk to them, either build them up or break them down, get them to understand, let them know how much I care about them, get them to understand he's got to do it with the team in mind. I think you get more done with individual meetings than you do with team meetings, my opinion.

Been wrong before. I think it was 1977, '78, something like that. So ...

Q. John, you got two weeks before post-season. What areas are you comfortable with, if any? And what areas specifically need to get better before then?

COACH CALIPARI: The 40-minute game; make a couple bad plays, it should not lead to two or three more. Get -- you know, grab the team.

It is kind of like this. At times, the quarterback throws (when we) need a first down. It is third and 12 and he throws it to the guy four yards in.

"Well, he should have ran." "No, you shouldn't have thrown it to him." We need to get it to the 12 yards, not four.

So we're making some of those plays where we're throwing it to the wrong guy at the wrong time in the wrong place and then mad at him because he makes a bad play. That stuff, we got to cure that. You just got to know "not now." You know, we got a nice lead or it is a close game, I'm not -- we will pull it out. We execute. We are a skilled team.

We only had 10 turnovers again. I mean, sometimes I think when we only have 10, we are not playing fast enough. We got to play more aggressive. I like it to be 11, 12. When we had eight, I think it was against Vandy, it is obvious we are not playing aggressive enough. You will have turnovers when you play fast and play hard that way.

But, you know, we are getting better at executing offensively, both zone and man. They're more focused on doing their job. I just told them, "Let's own the last five minutes of every game we play, let's own it. Let that be our time. "

And so I'm trying to do everything I can to get their minds off the score and on execution. I don't want them to play not to lose. You have to just play to win and you got to execute.

Q. Cal, only wanting to choke Darius (Miller) one time, how much fewer is that than normal?

COACH CALIPARI: I say (that), you know, but not literally. I told him exactly what I said to you guys. I said, ‘Why would you do that? You just played one of your better games since I have been your coach. But then you hit a two-minute spurt where you just, you know, go soft again, get pushed out of the way. Why? You had nine rebounds. You played above the rim. You were strong with the ball.’

But, again, you have game slippage. Some of it may be guys playing too many minutes. I think we had a little better rotation today. Kind of stayed out of foul trouble.

Did you wonder why I played Terrence (Jones) with two fouls that much in the first half? Because I was told DeAndre (Liggins) had two fouls. So you saw me putting him in and out.

And then as I came out, "Oh, it was Terrence that had two, I'm sorry." What? You know... So that's why he was in there, if you wondered why.

Terrence played well. Terrence is playing well, passing the ball.

Brandon Knight, nine assists, one turnover, six rebounds. He has 12 points but he missed all those free throws. So, really, his line was like a double-double, 16, 17 points, 10 assists. He could have had a triple-double.

You know what? There were points in the game where he didn't execute what we were trying to do versus the press. He got sloppy with the ball. And I'm all over him. Why? Because I want him to be the best. Nine assists, one turnover, 12 points, "Cal, that's pretty darn good." But, yeah, he is even better than that. And we're expecting a lot of him.

Q. Would you elaborate, please, on bringing DeAndre (Liggins) off the bench. Was there any punishment involved in that? Or what was your thinking about trying that?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, you know, it's like I have done this with just about every guy on the team. If I look at it and I say, you know what, we are going to try something different, we try it.

But he's -- of all the kids I've coached, I don't know if anybody's tried to please me more than him. But whether it is Brandon (Knight) or him or Terrence (Jones), if they are not doing what they are supposed to, I just told them, "I'm coaching you guys. Whether you like it or not, I'm coaching you."

We have shoot arounds. And some of you have been to our shoot arounds. I have to coach the shoot-around is like a mini practice. They need to be coached. I got all these young kids and inexperienced players. They need to be coached.

I haven't coached them for two or three years. This is it. We have been together six months. And so we need that time, and I use everything I can to get guys to play better, The best tool I have is the bench except when you have six guys you're playing. Then it is a little harder. Now you have the bench for one and maybe another, and it is not the same. When you have nine or 10 guys that you are playing, your best friend as a coach is the bench.

Q. Coach, what about Lamb's play? I know you had talked to him about being more consistent. What do you think --

COACH CALIPARI: A couple times I got on him. When we got up 20, he wanted to revert back. He wanted to jog that court. And I was all over him. He was looking at me like, "We're up 25." Yeah, we were up 18 at South Carolina and it became a five-point game. We were up 18 against Mississippi State in the second half late, and all of a sudden it is a five-point game or four-point game. I'm just letting them know we got to get better.

What I put on the board prior to the game was: Goal number one, let's just get better. Let's just get better. Let's improve. Let's try to go 40 minutes. Let everybody on this team know you know what your job is. Do your job. Do your job. So they're trying.

Q. Did they achieve that, do you think?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I watched the tape. Coach Robic, as we walked in said, "What did you want, a shutout?" We are up 50-20 and I am ready to, you know -- "What do you want, a shutout?" Probably.

But, again, I wasn't looking at the score. It was how they were playing. And if a guy broke down on a pick-and-roll, I was mad. If a guy didn't go grab a rebound with two hands, I was mad. I don't care it is 50-20.

You want them to perform for 40 minutes. Why? Because the next game is going to be harder. The next game is even going to be harder. The next game is going to be ridiculous. And the last game is going to be like wow. We just have to get better.

Kentucky Players

#1, Darius Miller, G

On his success in the game against South Carolina …
“I just had open looks. We did a great job executing.  I was open so I knocked them down.”

On his three point shot …
“After I hit a couple I was feeling it, so I just let it go.”

On his feelings during the game on his play…
“It felt pretty good. When you are playing like that, you get in the zone and knock down shots.  It always feels good to play well.”

On the team’s play tonight…
“I think we played pretty well.  We did a great job of executing and we all got looks that we wanted.  We got a lot of open looks especially against the zone.  We handled the pressure pretty well except for one little spurt.  We did a great job defensively especially at the beginning of the game.”

#12, Brandon Knight, G

On if it’s difficult keeping focus when gaining a large lead…
“Not really because we are focusing on getting better not on the score.”

On Darius’ 3-point shooting and the effect it has on the team …
“It makes us a lot better. When you have a consistent outside shooter, it lifts the team up.”

On the importance of their next game vs. Arkansas …
“It is pretty important, but as long as we focus on playing hard I think we will be alright.”

#3, Terrence Jones, F

On how the team played today… 
“We played great defense and Darius’ shooting was unbelievable.  He had 16 (points in the first half) and that really got us going.  I just think that we did a great job on the game plan and executing pick and rolls.” 

On if he feels like he is playing well…
“Yeah, I just feeling we are playing well as a team. Everyone is giving up shots for the extra pass and we are starting to talk well on defense.”

On the importance of getting a road win at Arkansas…
“It’s very important. We don’t want to lose another game. We feel we gave up a lot of them.  The way we are playing right now is so good. We need to continue it.”

#34, DeAndre Liggins, G

On his performance tonight vs. Tuesday against Mississippi State…
“I was more effective today and brought more energy and defended well.  Last game I had no energy and was out of control, and my body language was bad.  Today, I wanted to rebound off that and help my team win.”

On the performance of Darius Miller…
“Darius play was big tonight, he made a lot of big threes and he was aggressive from the tip.  We really need him to continue that to help the team out.”

On if this was more like the type of game he needs to continue to play…
“During the Mississippi State game I was out of it and got in early foul trouble, I felt like I couldn’t help the team.  Today, I decided to come out and help the team by bringing energy, defending and making easy plays.”

South Carolina Head Coach Darrin Horn

On DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller...
“I think it’s honestly a joke that anybody would refer to those guys (Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins) as role players. I don’t know what that means. I think you have three guys that obviously are capable of 25 (points) any night they play. I think they have some other guys that do good things for them. Those (other players) bring them athleticism and length especially on the defensive end. I think those players (Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins) do some really positive things.”

On Kentucky shooting the ball so well...
“Yeah, we weren’t picking our points. We couldn’t guard very well. Give them credit, they made open shots.”

On South Carolina’s inability to get to the free throw line...
“It seems to be somewhat of a trend for us, which is a big challenge for us. We played 30 minutes of 2-3 zone against Tennessee the other night and they shot 35 free throws and we shot 12 (free throws). We are an attacking team and we didn’t do a very good job of getting in the paint in the first half. We did try to emphasize it in the second half, but for whatever reason, were not getting those calls and getting to the foul line.”

On if he is concerned about his team bouncing back for the next game...
“I’m not worried about any of that. I’m worried if we are going to show up and compete. I have very little concern for where our guys are right now. I have great concern for (our players) to go out and compete and play what resembles South Carolina basketball. That’s my concern.”

South Carolina Players

#15, Malik Cooke, F

On the game …
“It’s a hard loss. He (Darrin Horn) basically told us we have to stick together as a team. We didn’t compete well enough as a team, we got outrebounded and stuff like that. The crowd was in it, they (Kentucky) got a lot of loose balls that we should have got.”

On playing from behind…
“We just have to come together as a team and get a stop defensively. You don’t really worry about offense too much you just have to get a stop. Sometimes you think about the shots going in and all but if you can stop the other team from scoring eventually it will carry over to offense.”

On the team’s confidence…
“You have to hold your head high. It’s a tough loss but the season’s not over. We have another game Tuesday and practice tomorrow so we just need to bounce back and compete.”

#23, Bruce Ellington, G

On playing from behind…
“Kentucky started off very hot, hitting everything. We just have to stay focused and keep playing and hopefully shots will fall later on. We focus on when we’re down having somebody go in and get a foul and get us started.”

On the team’s confidence…
“I mean it is pretty low but we just have to go into practice tomorrow and build each other back up and come together as a team and just play ball.”

On his shot...
“I’m not tired. I don’t think there is anything wrong with my shot. I just have to go in the gym and keep working.”