Kentucky-Portland Postgame Quotes

Nov. 26, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

John Calipari: Let me do this first: I've got to tell you, I've been doing this a long time. Coaching is coaching, whether it's baseball, basketball, fast break, whatever it is, volleyball. For our football team to do what they did today, for Matt Roark to do what he did today, for Joker (Phillips) and his staff to keep that team together and do what they did with a wide receiver at quarterback, that may go down as one of the greatest wins in the history of our athletic department.

Now, you never have coached, so you'd do it that way. But if you have coached, you would say that is unbelievable. My hat's off to that team and their staff and Joker. Matt Roark, I've got to go hug this guy, rub up against him. That's unbelievable. That would have been like sticking me at quarterback. Here, Cal, you're going to play quarterback. What? What did he run for, 100-some yards? 124? Put his head down and ran people over trying to get first downs. He did fumble that ball, by the way. (Laughter.)

But I'm just so -- I can't be happier. I can't be happier for our program and the athletic department, all of it. It was the first time in 26 years, whatever, how many years? 26? I mean, come on. I'm just happy.

Q. Cal, you guys had 20 assists, just four turns. Talk about the way they took care of the basketball, and were they as aggressive as you wanted to see them?

John Calipari: You know what, we started the game again sloppy. The other thing is we need to be a little more physical and not settle for some of the jumpers we settled for, especially if you're running something to post the ball. It's not that I don't want guys to shoot balls, but I'm saying if we're going to run something to post it, post it first and then shoot a jumper. We came down and shot jumpers right away.

But we're still learning. The biggest thing we've got to learn and spend time on is guarding 3-point shooters. If a team has players (that can shot the 3-pointer) -- because we're going to play Florida. They're going to take 35 3s against us. Florida will take 35 3s against us. That means they'll win by 108 points right now if we don't learn to guard a 3-point shooter. You cannot get hung up on screens. You have to chase. If your man is setting the screens you've got to help a little bit, just a stunt and get back.

We were just -- it was pitiful but we hadn't worked on it that much so I'm not going to say much.

I was disappointed in how we defended down the stretch, but really happy for Darius (Miller) and how he played. I was happy, I thought Marquis Teague played a terrific floor game. The best play he made, and I told him after the game, breakaway lay-up, he slowed down and gave it to Terrence Jones, best play he's made all year. It just shows that he's playing for his team.

Q. Back to the football for a bit, with what Matt Roark did and the entire team did, are there lessons there that you can tell to your players?

John Calipari: The biggest lesson is always hope, and if you believe in your mind you're going to do something, that's the first step to doing it. There's always hope. And what you also learn is some of the great games and great contests were played with somebody hurt. Maybe someone on your team gets hurt and he goes for the biggest game of his life because he's more focused and more attentive. I think our football team knowing (that Matt Roark was going to be playing) they were going to protect Matt Roark, they just told him, ‘Do your thing, we're going to protect you, and they all stepped up and played better.’

But I think, again, we're going to be going on the road like we did a year ago where we could not win and we're going to be up against it and we're going to have to really focus in and grind games out and things that we're not capable of doing yet.

Q. Do those sloppy starts concern you and anything consistently you're seeing that this is happening at the start?

John Calipari: I'm going to watch the tape. I thought the first play we had a couple guys, their motor wasn't running. We had a play, a guy had a shot, all he had to do was one dribble into the lane and shoot it and he ends up catching it half speed so he could try to throw it to somebody else. Well, we can't start games like that. You've got to come out of the gate with some aggression and you've got to go at that rim and get fouled.

I thought Terrence, the first play was great. Then we had about five plays after that that were just sloppy.

We've got a ways to go. There's no question we've got a ways to go.

Q. You said after the Old Dominion game that you were thinking about starting Darius (Miller). Obviously you're getting a lot --

John Calipari: When you watch this right now, yeah --

Q. What's your thinking?

John Calipari: What you see right now, you'd say why isn't he starting. I mean, and maybe he should be, and that's why we've got three days to keep looking at it and see. The greatest thing with him, and I said this to him today in front of his teammates. There's three things that has happened for our team: One, Darius Miller accepting that he has to come off the bench for the time being. That is huge for us. And I told him in front of his team, just understand when this thing is all said and done, there's no one that's going to fight for you more than me and our staff. I will fight when this thing is all said and done to make sure you're in good shape because of what you're doing.

The second thing was Terrence Jones, I said, ‘Terrence, are you averaging as many as a year ago?’ No. Guys, he was a lottery pick that chose to come back, and he's just playing. He's not worried about scoring points. He's a way better player, way stronger, way more skilled, not scoring as many because he doesn't have to on this team.

And then the third one was Michael Gilchrist came to me and said if I need to come off the bench for Darius, I will, I have no problem. That's the kind of team we have right now. The question is when the lights go on in these big games do we continue to feel that way, and that's something we're going to have to see.

Q. Could you talk about going to the press right there with a six-point game, I believe, and you were able to turn them over a couple times and kind of sparked a run and got it going?

John Calipari: Yeah, and again, you have to understand, we have not -- that's not something we spend 20 minutes a day on. It's just not. I believe a press -- you're not going to press great teams that are well coached into submission. You're not. I don't care what anybody says. You're not winning a championship if that's the thing that you're relying on.

But I also think a press can change the complexion of a game and can give you a gap. You have to be able to guard in the half court, you have to be able to shut people down. Today we looked very good, but you have to be able to guard 3-point shooters, you have to get out and understand you don't leave corners, you don't get hung up on screens when you're guarding a 3, you're in absolute chase mode.

I would just tell you that, yeah, we are going to press some, but there are some games that I'm not going to press at all. We don't need to. The other team is going to play fast. We pressed because this team was going to hold the ball. They hold the ball, you've got to go out and play people and try to win them out.

Q. How big of a concern is rebounding at this point?

John Calipari: They were physical again. They pushed us in the back. They wedged us, and we weren't down and ready to go. We're playing -- the next two games are going to be really hard games. If we don't physically battle before the ball hits the rim, before it hits the rim, you battle. If we don't, it'll be hard for us to win either of the next two games. I don't think we can win either because both of them are pretty good rebounding teams.

Q. It looked like you tried to post some with Anthony (Davis) a little bit more than you had. How did you think he did?

John Calipari: Well, we've been working with him, but again, he missed free throws again today. It's hard to post a guy if he's not going to make free throws. You've got to be able to stand up at that line and make them. Again, I think this is part of Anthony's growth. It's called a mental toughness. I missed one, I'm not missing the next one. You move on. You have a toughness to you.

Right now he's just growing into that. He misses one, it leads to another, another. He misses four in a row. Wait a minute, you're one of our best shooters, how's that happen? It's all mental. And that's the toughness he has to grow into.

Q. Eloy (Vargas) played significantly less. What was the reasoning behind that?

John Calipari: Just trying to get Kyle (Wiltjer) and get this rotation and try to figure out these guys first. You know, I even went with Darius (Miller) at four, and I hate to tell you, I really liked it. We beat Florida a year ago when I put him at four, and he did basically what he did today, the exact same thing. So I like him at four. So again, we don't have that toughness we need, I can put him at four and we can play. That's the greatest thing about him, he can play all those different positions he's capable of playing. But again, we've got to be better than we were tonight offensively, and I know -- I looked at the numbers. The numbers looked pretty good. I mean, the numbers looked like, wow, they were there. But we have to be better than we're playing right now.

We're going to give them off tomorrow. We've got a couple days of practice before St. John's, a day in, and then we've got a noon game, so we've got a tough road this week and that's why I said take Sunday off, relax and let's come back and get ready to go.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Players

#14, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F

On volunteering to come off the bench for Darius Miller...
“That’s just who I am. I look up to Darius (Miller). I look up to his leadership. He is the key to this team and that’s why I said that (volunteering to come off bench).”

On why he thinks the teams is getting off to slow starts ...
“I don’t know. We are just a young team. We got the win and all that that matters. We are going to be good in the long run”

On where his second half dunks ranks in his career ...
“It (the dunk) was crazy. I was having fun and that’s how basketball goes. It’s No. 1 and it might be No. 1 for my career.”

#3, Terrence Jones, F

On Kentucky’s pressing defense ...
“We are just really long and it makes it difficult for teams to get it (the ball) over when you got guys like Mike (Kidd-Gilchrist) guarding you and me coming to trap.”

On the team’s unselfishness...
“We all respect one another on all levels. No one is playing for themselves. We are all playing for the team. It makes the game more fun and easier.”

On the team settling for too many jump shots ...
“Yes (we are). It’s difficult when guys are sagging so deep. Coach told us that he doesn’t want us to settle so much so we are going to keep going to the hole.”

#1, Darius Miller, G

On playing the four (power forward)...
“Coach (John) Calipari did that some last year too when he felt like I was a matchup problem for their four man, so maybe he might start doing that every now and then. I'm sure we will work on that a little more in practice.”

On Portland sticking around late in the first and early in the second...
“We didn't do a very good job on defense early and they got a lot of open looks, especially on the 3-point shot, which is their strong point. They did a great job of knocking down tough shots and open shots so they came out and executed their plan.”

On the younger guys playing more physical...
“They will be fine. I think it just comes with experience. We are all struggling with it, including myself, and like I said it takes a little bit of experience. It's the younger guys’ first time playing division I basketball where everyone is bigger, stronger and quicker so they'll get it down.”

On not starting every game...
“I don't think any of us have time to worry about who is starting. We are just focusing on what we need to do as a team to win this championship.”

#23, Anthony Davis, F

On playing tougher in the upcoming games...
“We are doing a lot of one-on-one drills, the bigs are doing a lot of drills in the post, and the guards are doing a lot of zone penetration and contact drills. That's what we have been doing about every practice.”

On if slow starts will hurt them later against good teams...
I don't think it will because of our defense, we really lock down defensively. If we keep playing the way we have been, I think we will be OK.”

On the possibility of breaking the single season block record at UK...
I haven't even noticed. I'd be happy with it though, that's good to know. I would take it.”

Portland Head Coach Eric Reveno

Opening statement ...
“I just told the guys that I was pleased with their effort. Basketball is competed in three different areas, athleticism, toughness and skill, and I had to break it to them earlier in the week that Kentucky is a little more athletic than them. We had to beat them with toughness and skill and we weren’t able to do that consistently. Like Kentucky has shown, they can get you in spurts, those four turnovers consecutively in the first half and in the second half we cut it and our press breakers weren’t clean. Give them credit, our point guard drives out of the post and ball fakes on one side and looks back and the same guy is on both sides of him and that’s a little different than what he has been used to. We have to take responsibility for that number of turnovers and the ones we can manage so give Kentucky credit for having the ability to get you out of what you want to run. They let you feel like you are running an offense and then block a shot and get out and run so give them a lot of credit. I hope for my young team that it is a really good learning experience. I like my team.”

On shooting ...
“It was nice. The guys that shot the ball well, despite the numbers this year, are our good shooters. Kentucky knew those guys were shooters so that really helped us. The bank-shot three and some of those other ones were really fortunate for us. We shot it well and we thought if we executed our offense that we would get shots.”

On his team handling the atmosphere ...
“I think they handled it well. I wonder if there is an NCAA rule that allows us to put more timeouts in the next contract. We tried to use our timeouts; I took our full right away trying to take the crowd out of it. Great support, great crowd and we kept them out of it for the most part. I think when we were disrupted it was purely give Kentucky credit for disrupting us with the ability, length, athleticism, and execution that we haven’t seen. They feed on it, we worked on those lob dunk plays they run it’s just they do a real good job and execute well and are tough to defend.”

On comparing opponents, Kentucky and Washington...
“We played better this game than we did against Washington. We got shots against Washington and missed them so that’s the difference between the two games. Comparing teams is unfair, we played better in this game and are even more mature than we were just a couple of weeks ago. Kentucky has such length and Washington is a little quicker but both were very tough at home. It’s hard to make comparisons at this time of the year but they are both very good teams.”

Portland Players

#33, Nemanja Mitrovic, G

On making shots in the opening half ...
“We knew we had to come out aggressive. We didn’t want to come out and back down at all. We just came out firing and stayed in there with them for a little while and then we made some mistakes and had some turnovers.”

On how this game helps them in the conference season ...
“It helps a lot. They did some things that will really help us like pressing us. We need to get better there. But, anytime you play a good team, you are going to mistakes, but we just have to get better.”

On playing in Rupp Arena ...
“It was definitely a great environment. I wish we would have came out with a better result, but I think it was a fun experience.”

#11, Tim Douglas, G

On playing in Rupp Arena...
“It’s a good experience. It’s always fun to play somewhere where the fans are into the game. It’s such a historic arena. So many great teams and great players have played in here so it’s definitely an experience.”

On how playing the No. 2 team in the country will help them ...
“It’s always good to play against great competition. We will know how to handle pressure better and handle playing in an atmosphere similar to this. It’s always good to play great teams like that.”

On the team’s 3-point shooting...
“We can definitely shoot the ball. We have some shooters that can knock down some shots. This was one of our better nights. We haven’t been shooting up to par lately, but we shot the ball pretty well tonight.”