Kentucky-Eastern Michigan Postgame Quotes

Nov. 27, 2013

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Talk about what Willie (Cauley-Stein) gave you in the second half energy-wise.

COACH CALIPARI: Willie is playing well. He still faded away on a couple shots that he didn't need to. The good news is he's really confident in himself shooting free throws now. That makes a big difference in how you play because now you'll be aggressive and try and score because you're not afraid to get fouled.

All in all, to play a team, they were holding people to 33% from the floor. They were first in blocked shots in the country. They were shooting almost 50% from the floor. We hold them to 36 and can't make a jumper - James Young - and still played okay.

I thought, again, we got better. We got better because the twins (Aaron and Andrew Harrison) played harder, longer. They're still a ways away. Let me tell you, they're a ways away.

I thought Julius (Randle) in the second half ran the floor and did what he had to. I'm going to tell you, we're going back to old school. Any of you ever played basketball or do you just write? If you ever played, did you ever see when they used to tell you to put your hands behind your back and defend that way? That's how we were all taught. They made you put your hands behind your back, both hands, defend the guy if he's trying to go around you. The only thing you could do is move your feet.

Guess what we're going to do? We're going back to that. You may say, ‘That's seventh grade.’ I don't really care. What we did prior to, legwork. Do you know what wall sits are? Do you know? So when you went away to camp, they made sat you against a wall because you were a bad kid or whatever.

My talk to the team before practice five, six minutes, they're wall sitting and they're carrying a 50-pound sack that they've got to pass to each other for like six minutes. Why? Because I can't get them into a defensive stance. At least seven minutes, they're going to be down.

Then we did legwork. Remember when you're competing against the guy, slide, slide, slide. We did that. Now we're going to put lines on the court and you got to keep the guy in front of you and not let him around you with your hands behind your back. It's what we got to do.

I mean, again, we're getting better. We're showing signs. Coach (Joe B.) Hall made me feel really good yesterday. Said, ‘Would you stop. You have the youngest team in the country. Not always going to come on your terms. It will hit them at some point and you'll say, ‘Wow, they're finally figuring it out.’’

We're not there yet.

Q. Based on what you just said, are their fundamentals just that bad?

COACH CALIPARI: No, it's not fundamentals. They're good basketball players. They got good hands, they can catch, they can pass, they can shoot, they can dribble. Nothing to do with that. They have always played comfortably.

We're doing legwork. The one kid says, ‘My legs are burning.’ Well, that's what it's supposed to feel like. Have you never felt that before?

So we're doing stuff. Because I can't get to them by doing things five-on-five, to push through that comfort level, so I'm just doing stuff.

Do you know 17 cross-court in a minute, which is like ridiculous? We were doing 17 cross-court, right to a defensive drill that you have to do for 30 seconds. Now I'm asking you to go a minute and a half. You cannot go a minute and a half. It's really hard what I'm asking them to do. But that's the kind of stuff I'm doing right now.

I trust their basketball. We made free throws, but we didn't shoot it particularly well today. We had open shots. But it's not basketball with these guys. It's: Will they compete? Will they look to the other guy and say, I'm competing with this guy?

I thought Alex (Poythress) was good. I thought he had more points. I thought Alex was better today.

See, here's the thing that happened. Last game Alex shot an air ball. He was done for eight minutes. Done. He was so embarrassed he couldn't think, couldn't play.

Dominique (Hawkins) shot an air ball. I went to Dominique and I said, ‘You shot an air ball.’

He said, ‘No, I didn't.’

‘You shot an air ball.’

‘No, I didn't.’

‘We're going to go watch the tape.’

He said, ‘I'll watch the tape.’

He watched it, he shot an air ball. He goes, ‘Man, I shot an air ball. He had already forgotten.’

You got to play that way. You have to have amnesia. Can't worry about a missed shot, a breakdown.

It's where we're trying to go, what we're trying to do with this team.

Again, too many turnovers. James and Julius had 10 turnovers between them. C'mon, you're too good of basketball players.

But that zone... I'm telling you, I'm happy we won the game. I'm happy they played the way they played. That's a good basketball team.

Q. Are you at the point you're concerned about 3-point shooting or not?

COACH CALIPARI: No. You know we don't rely on3. I never coached that way. If we make 'em, we beat you by 30. If we don't, we're just trying to win the game.

You know what I'm saying. The 3, I don't play it that way. I think part of the reason my guys go to the next level and play well, we're teaching them how to play basketball, not a shooting contest. We're teaching you how to play.

If we make 3s, great. If we don't make 3s, we're still able to win the game because I'm teaching you how to drive the ball, play off of one another, play when you're not making shots.

I asked James today, ‘It was your C game, but you still did enough to help us win. You rebounded the balls, you came up with some balls, you defended better,’ so...

Q. Another slow start tonight. Have you had teams in the past, just the personality is they start slow and there's not a lot you can do about it?

COACH CALIPARI: Part of it is the other teams we play here. This is like a big thing. They walk into that arena, 25,000 people. I think it's 24, 25 thousand people. More? Today we had 26,000 in there (laughter).

But they walk in and they see a packed arena. How many times have they had that opportunity? Then to beat Kentucky. I remember Mark Gottfried told me, ‘You have no idea, Cal. If we beat Kentucky in Lexington,’ when he was at Alabama, he said, ‘I didn't sleep for a week.’ You don't understand. Everybody that plays you, that's how it is.

So they're going to come out of the gate. And we don't understand that yet. I got too many young guys. They just think they're playing, it's a nice game. Why you going nuts?

They're fighting. We have to figure it out. We're going forward. The teams that we're playing from Providence, Baylor, Boise (State), Belmont, (North) Carolina, Louisville, these next games, we could lose every one of them. Every one of those guys are going to come out of the gate playing. You get down 15-0 to one of these guys, you don't come back. They're too good of teams.

We got to get guys understanding. I think they will.

Q. Julius seems to have trouble handling the ball, out of control. Is that part of his game he hasn't developed yet? Are you concerned?

COACH CALIPARI: I'm not concerned because they're sending like 19 guys at him. They're saying, ‘Do whatever you have to do to stop him, body him, grab him, foul him, do whatever.’

I remember John Wall coming in saying, ‘I'm not having fun.’ No kidding. Everybody is doing whatever they can do to stop you. Now the game has become harder. You have to run harder, be sharper.

For Julius, he must sprint the floor so he can get an easy basket or two. Every other time you catch it you're going to have five guys around you.

You also got to offensive rebound like crazy because you're going to get a free basket there. Then when we do throw it to you, you better catch it tight and move quickly, would you say? Because if you hold the ball, square up, watch this.

They brought five guys, so your only choice now, I knew you wouldn't know, is to pass it and dribble. You were wrong. You can only pass it.

My thing to him is a pass can be an assist or if the guy misses it go rebound it, get a rebound and a basket. But a turnover gets us nothing. Don't turn it over. If they come at you, you can't get it, pass it.

He's still learning.

Q. Talk about the energy that Willie gives you in there. Can he be taught to win a jump ball so that he can start?

COACH CALIPARI: He was going to start today. John Robic screwed with that. When I sat down, Marcus Lee was there, I said, ‘What are you doing here?’ Robic said, ‘I put him in the lineup.’ I said, ‘You weren't at the shoot-around today? What were you thinking about?’

Willie, he was going to start today. He'll start from here. Then the other two, whoever's playing well, will get the most minutes of those two. Willie can play some four. But, again, if a team plays zone, I probably could have gone to Derek (Willis) today. I had that plan. I wanted to get Alex going, so I left Alex in there.

But, you know, Derek deserves time. I'm trying to get these other guys playing.

Folks, have a great Thanksgiving. I hope you have a chance to be with family and friends. You have a great time. Thanks.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#30, Julius Randle, F

On the difference between his play in the first and second halves ...
“I had bad rhythm. I got into foul trouble. I didn’t get to the necessary spots in the first half. Second half I ran the floor a lot better. I took advantage of the opportunities I had.”

On Coach Calipari making the team do wall sits to improve defensive stances ...
“I hope we don’t have to do them again. Those are painful. It’s helping us out in the game. We came here to work and get better so I’m not surprised.”

On his Thanksgiving plans ...
“It’s hard to be away from my family. Fortunately for me, I have a family away from my family. My (teammates) are my brothers. They’re here for me. We are all here for each other. It’s going to be a great day tomorrow. Thanksgiving means a lot to me because I have so much to be thankful for. I am very fortunate and blessed to be in the situation that I am. It definitely means something to me and is not something I take for granted.”

#2, Aaron Harrison, G

On if it is time to start worrying about 3-point shooting...
“No, not really. James (Young) is a great shooter. We have all seen him make 20, 25 in a row before. All shooters have their little slump and it will get better as the season goes on.”

On not having to rely on 3-pointers to win games...
“It’s because we are such a good offensive rebounding team. Three-pointers are really just an extra for us. We all can drive the ball and get to the free throw line.”

On utilizing the lob in the offense...
“It has helped a lot. It has made Willie (Cauley-Stein) a better player. I think Willie caught four or five oops today, so it is helping him a lot.”

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, C

On Coach Calipari saying that he has earned the right to start...
“I have been playing good off of the bench, but it’s either way. It doesn’t really bother me if I don’t. If I do, hooray. If I don’t, then I can just come off the bench.”

On bringing energy and defense to the game...
“It’s not just me. Other guys are eventually going to get there. I’ve been through it and I’ve played against the same team last year. It was the same way without the fouls, but they played that zone and it was real stagnant. I have kind of already been through it, so I already knew how to beat it. Eventually everybody will be like that.”

On if Julius Randle can get a double-double every game...
“He should. It’s hard to stop him. He should be able to get one every night.”

On the team’s improvement at the free throw line...
“We have been shooting a lot of free throws in practice and having walk-throughs at night where we will have to shoot like 100 free throws before we can leave, so that is probably why.”

Eastern Michigan Head Coach Rob Murphy

Opening statement ...
“I thought tonight we got off to a pretty good start offensively and as the first half continued to develop a few of our guys got in foul trouble early so it was tough on us. We didn’t rebound the ball well overall. Give Kentucky a lot of credit, they were known for hitting the glass so they used it to their advantage tonight, came up with 19 offensive rebounds, which led to 23 second-chance points. Any time you’re playing against a team like that you have to find a way to keep them off the glass. Any time you come into a game, you have a game plan. I though our game plan was solid: to make them shoot from the outside. But when they missed shots they were able to rebound. Offensively we didn’t get anything from our top two guys tonight, which was Karrington (Ward) and Raven (Lee). Coming into the game both were averaging 18 points so anytime you don’t get points from your top two scorers you are going to struggle. I thought Darell Combs did a great job stepping up and making shots when he entered the game and throughout the game. He played with a lot of confidence. Ultimately foul trouble and Kentucky’s offensive rebounding caught up with us. They made plays to win the game. We just have to move forward, continue to get better. We will learn from this game as we move forward. Each and every practice, each and every game we will get better. We lost to Kentucky, who is a top-five team tonight, so like I told my guys in the locker room it’s not the end of the world. I thought if we made some different plays throughout the game we would have had a chance or have been in a better position to try to win the game late, but we didn’t. We have a good UMass team coming in on Tuesday. We have to stay focused and worry about them, and move forward. This is a very good Kentucky team, and they will have huge success this season.”

On holding Julius Randle scoreless in the first half...
“I didn’t even realize he was scoreless in the first half. Our interior guys, because we have size, we have pretty good athletes; we are able to make it tough on every team in the interior. Our plan was when he caught the ball centers were up and forwards come down and make it tough on him. He picked up a couple of fouls, I do know he was in foul trouble, but ultimately he got going and ended up with a double-double, which I think in the second half made all the difference for him.”

On his top two scorers struggling ...
“I give Kentucky a lot of credit. They play pretty good defense and their size got the best of us. Our guards drove and as opposed to making the extra pass or making a drop-down pass for a finish we were trying to shoot over trees so to speak. They got their shots blocked a couple of times, and any time that happens early in a game then guys begin to think. I think it happened to Karrington and Ray early and they never got that out of their minds. That comes from making bad decisions on offense. Because of their size and athleticism it made it tough on us tonight. I thought those guys did a great job of covering the paint, protecting the rim and we didn’t make good decisions when we got into the paint.”

Eastern Michigan Student-Athletes

#25, Darell Combs, G

On his performance tonight...
“I just took it as another game, a regular game and got mentally ready. I got a good night’s rest and I didn’t look at it like, ‘oh, we’re playing Kentucky’. I just looked at it as another game and did everything the same that I normally do.”