Kentucky-Portland Postgame Quotes

Dec. 8, 2012

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. On Ryan Harrow's play.

COACH CALIPARI: I liked it. He had two lapses of his old self. I absolutely jerked him out of the game because he's not playing that way. The other parts of the game I thought he did fine.

Got to run the team a little bit better, like yelling out what we're doing. But he was good. It was great to see. I'm happy for him.

Q. How do you compare this to the other night?

COACH CALIPARI: We got better. But we're still a ways away, folks. We're still doing the same things only a little bit better than we were doing them.

Q. It's late in the game when this happens, but Archie Goodwin gets those dunks late. Is that what you get if you get Ryan in the game?

COACH CALIPARI: We don't get any easy baskets when he's not in the game. The head of the pack. That was at the very, very end.

But, you know, we scrambled a little bit better, we helped down a little bit better. All the stuff we've been working on. But there were still lapses.

Again, the start of the half, I may be trying a different starting lineup at halftime because of the one that starts in the second half right now. If you look at the numbers, we're getting outscored in the first five minutes and second five minutes probably by five points every game we've played, every single game. So maybe we have a different lineup. I don't know yet. We've got to figure it out.

Q. You were up there 14 midway through the second half. Go on about a 21-5 run. Is that more what you want to do?

COACH CALIPARI: Here is what happens. In a normal college game, if you have two teams fighting, one team will hang around for the half. About the 12 minute mark, 10 minute mark, 11 minute mark, they'll let go of the rope. That is when you go on that 12-0, 12-2, 14-2, and that's the ballgame. But that's been us, the team that let go.

So we're trying to get that to be who we are. Now, the way we finished the game, and again, I had to coax them into playing, I shouldn't have to. I shouldn't be on a guy, play, scramble, stay down. What? What is that, strategy? I mean, that's basically how I'm coaching right now.

So like I say, we got a ways to go. This is an unbelievable three weeks. We're practicing twice tomorrow. Finals will be Monday so we're going to give them off Monday and maybe off Tuesday. Probably practice after finals on Tuesday. Go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, get ready for a game Saturday. From Friday night on, there's no days off, nothing. We'll be going three times a day.

So for the next two weeks, we'll be going at least five of the days three times a day. I'm fine. I'll be exhausted, but what the heck. The whole point is to help these young people think differently. They've got to think differently than they're thinking.

Q. Could you elaborate when you said Ryan sort of reverted to his old self.

COACH CALIPARI: Jogs the ball up the court, standing straight up and down, not moving as the ball moves on defense. Just absolutely standing there.

Okay, you're out.

The rest of the game he didn't do it. He pushed the ball ahead, flew it up the court, stayed in a stance, bothered the ball. When the ball drove, he went level with the ball.

But it's really hard to play that way. Same with Alex (Poythress). Alex is up to about three minutes and five seconds at a clip. He went from three minutes to three minutes and five seconds. But he's moving in the right direction.

Q. Did you want them driving in the paint?

COACH CALIPARI: No. We had guys playing them on the side.

I'm just telling you we have a long way to go. My question to my team: There's eight or 10 teams that are better than all the rest of the teams in the country. Do you want to be one of those eight or 10 teams? What are you willing to do to be one of those eight or 10 teams? Or you don't want to be? Too hard. I don't want to be one of those eight or 10.

You tell me we have to go three-a-days to be top 50, hope we make the NCAA tournament. If we're in the NIT, it's a good run to New York. We can be that team, too. I mean, which team do you want to be?

I'm looking at everybody in the country saying we're probably 50 to 100 right now, but we could be top 10, top 8. Those eight are the only ones that truly have a chance to win the whole thing. Do you want to be those or not? That was my challenge to them. Are you fearful you're not good enough right now? Are you like Derrick Rose, who when I had him: I just don't think I'm good enough, I have to work harder, spend more time. Or Michael Kidd(-Gilchrist), Brandon Knight, guys that understood, I'm not good enough, I've got to get better.

I'm working on as much mental toughness and the mentality this team has. It's not all their fault. We played Maryland and Duke to start off. We all think everything's good because we only lost to Duke by three. It was a three-point game, so we're good.

We weren't right. I knew we weren't right. That falls on me. I'm trying to correct the mistakes I made and make sure that we get these guys after it.

Q. Did you give your guys a chance to answer when you asked them about where they wanted to be?

COACH CALIPARI: That team meeting you had, have another one, try to figure this out. Come back and tell me. If you don't, don't let me go nuts by myself. Just tell me: We're good, cool down, we'll jog it up the court, help each other when we feel like it, have some big threes sometimes. Just let me know.

As I say this jokingly to you and sarcastically, I like my team and I like our players. What are they choosing to do? Did you see the fans gave Kyle Wiltjer a great ovation? Can you tell me what that was for? Tell me why they did it. He rebounded a couple balls. You know he didn't have a rebound in the first half.

Our fans will cheer him. He only had three rebounds. Acted like he had 12. But he got three in traffic that they haven't seen in eight games. Well, that's what we've been doing in practice. There were loose balls he didn't get, he had to sit down, you're not playing. Loose balls that Ryan didn't get, you're sitting down, you're not playing. I'm holding them accountable.

I grabbed a couple of them after. It's hard, isn't it? Hard trying to be special. Easy being mediocre. It is really hard to try to be special.

I can help you or you can say, I don't know what I'm doing. Maybe I don't. I never prepared anybody. I don't know. Or you can listen to what I'm saying and do it.

You know, I'm not afraid to tell the media what I've said. I like our fans to watch and say, he is exhausted, my gosh, look at him, so these guys understand.

It's hard playing here and it's hard playing for me. You don't come here unless you want to be special. Don't do it. Don't torture you or me.

Q. You mentioned that start, the tough games early on. Did that speed you up or slow you down getting this team to where you wanted to get them?

COACH CALIPARI: That's a good question. We did what we did because we needed to figure out early because we didn't have anybody returning.

But it gave us a clear picture now that we've got three weeks to get this right. We got one week with finals, but that means we'll have time, then we have no class for two straight weeks. I cannot wait. I won't be leaving campus for anything. I'll be staying right here with these guys every day going. Well, I got to leave one day...

Q. You said many times that you don't believe in the early morning workouts that coaches do. Now Coach Cal, 7 a.m.

COACH CALIPARI: It's not basketball practice. It's conditioning. It's conditioning.

Q. What's the difference?

COACH CALIPARI: There's a big difference. The reason I'm doing it, it's not how much we're killing them in the workouts, it's that you've got to get up at 7:00 and do it, which means you're up at 6:30. The biggest fight you have is that early-morning wake-up call. That's the biggest fight of the day.

If I can get them when they feel like that, having to condition and get their heart rate up, that means in a game when they don't feel like going, they know they have something in the tank.

I told them, I'm working more on you mentally than physically in the morning. I'm making you get up, sweat, get your heart rate up. Now we'll practice. Hopefully we're going to get this thing right.

When they come back for school, we're back to the normal two-hour practice a day, which is what we do. I'm not a three-hour guy. Even now we'll go two hours. I may go 2 hours 15 minutes, but normally it's two hours.

Q. Nerlens Noel I guess is okay. Said he had some kind of leg bruise. How is he and how did he play through that today?

COACH CALIPARI: He did all right. He started limping. We took him out. If you want to play, fake it, don't limp, play.

He went back in. I said, you're an energy guy, you're not a skill guy. You're not an up-and-under swing, hook guy, that's not who you are. You're an energy guy. Get on Willie (Cauley-Stein). Willie one-handed it, came down and lost the ball. Why didn't you grab it with two, crab dribble it, dunk it. It's harder, that's why.

So he comes back the next play, grabs it. Compete against the guy you're going against. That's what this learning experience is for this team. They're getting better. But I'm not backing up. I'm holding them accountable on every possession until they're ready to say, C'mon, let's go.

Thank you.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#34, Julius Mays, G

On if there were improvements for the team today…
"Yeah, I think we came out and did some things better like defend and kind of pushed through. Obviously we still have a long ways to go."

On Ryan Harrow's play today…
"Ryan is going to be Ryan, he's going to be alright. It's all about getting his confidence back, coming and playing, and being who he is and not trying to be anyone else. When Ryan is being Ryan we could be a very good team."

On closing out games in the second half…
"That's something that we've been working on. It's always that when we come out in the second half there's always that five to 10 minute span where we are really shaky and we allow them to score and we go in a scoring drought. It's something we've been working on and something that Coach (John) Calipari has been pushing us to work on."

#12, Ryan Harrow, G

On his recent improvement…
"I'm just starting to listen to him (Coach Calipari) more and accept what he is saying and do whatever is best for the team."

On how the offense flows when he is in the game…
"I think the flow is a little bit better. Archie (Goodwin) has a scoring mentality. I'm more about finding who is open and if they're open I need to get them the ball as soon as possible. I think everybody played well today."

On how Archie Goodwin benefits when he is in the game…
"He's unstoppable on the fast break. I'll find him. I'll find anyone if they are open. As long as I have the ball and am getting it to them, they are going to do their best."

#3 Nerlens Noel, Forward

On if he thinks that the team is getting better…
"I think we have made progress from last week especially how much we have been working.  I feel like it was a step forward giving us more confidence in what we are able to do and how he (Coach Calipari) wants us to play."

On what his injury was…
"I have tendonitis in my knee.  It came up in the warm-ups, it was just like soreness.  I get it from time to time when I play a lot like we have been this week.  It was tough early on but then it started to loosen up. Play hard, less pain."

On how Ryan Harrow played…
"Every game he is getting better and better.  He is getting more in-depth with the play style and how Coach (Calipari) wants him to play.  You can see it in his play, he is really coming together."

Portland Head Coach Eric Reveno

Opening statement …
"I would just like to mention, like I told coach (John) Calipari before the game, we are just appreciative of the opportunity to play. This is a storied program, good basketball team and the defending national champions. The challenge going into tonight for our guys was to try and find a way to win. We felt like we had a game that wasn't to (just) stay close. We wanted to get out in transition, we wanted to hustle, we wanted to try and outrebound them, we wanted to try to get to the offensive glass and we wanted to improve as a basketball team. For us, as a team, ironically I think our basketball issues are no different than what coach (John) Calipari has been talking about (in) playing together, playing hard, playing competitively for 40 minutes. That's what we tried to do. I appreciate the opportunity. I feel like our players got better in this tough week against Washington State, UNLV at home and here. We are in the same spot as a lot of teams at this point. We are trying to get better and I felt today we did. We rebounded some well, had some breakdowns, turnovers again became an issue for us, but ironically we got the same number of field goals as they did, shot the same number of shots, so turnovers and rebounds kept us equal in possessions. Some of our shots didn't get to the rim, where as most of theirs did. That makes it problematic. But, you saw us being able to execute against their very good defense and length and running good offense. Our turnovers led to their high-percentage stuff in transition. It was a good step for us. We came here with different intentions, but I appreciate how our guys battled."

On Kentucky's first-half defensive effort compared to Kentucky's second-half defensive effort …
"Kentucky's defensive effort looked pretty good to me. I was focused on our guys and everything. I don't feel like we did a good job of putting pressure on them all the time to exploit some mistakes that freshman players will make. Whether it's a certain action you're running, or a certain match-up you recognize that you have a good opportunity to put a good player in a good position, I'm not sure we did a good job. That is on our coaches, not our players in terms of executing offense. You have to make a freshman handle a good action. We have to make a freshman execute some things. We had a little bit too much of one-on-one, guys having to make a play and so I don't think that was the best way for us to put pressure on Kentucky's defense."

On how this UK team stacks up against past teams he has faced …
"I don't know. I appreciate you asking my opinion, but in my humble opinion, I feel like they were competing and were focused and it looks like a group of young guys trying to do the right thing, trying to compete, trying to do what their coaches are asking of them, trying to make the smart play, rotating on defense. I know my team is going to be better in two months and I know under the coaching staff, this team is going to be better. So, I always say when speaking of my team to people that are asking that it really is a matter of the observers' perspective. The glass is either half full or half empty. It says more about the critic than it does about the team. There is a lot in that glass at the University of Kentucky. You know, from my perspective their glass is overflowing, so they will be fine. They are working through some early-season issues like everybody. "

On comparing this UK team to the 2010-11 UK team that went to the Final Four in Houston …
"Yeah, compared to two years ago, thinking back, again, I appreciate the opportunity to have this experience of playing them three years running and I would say they seem a little bit more similar to that team. I think that is a fair comparison in terms of not hitting on all cylinders. Again, don't quote me and highlight that only quote. 'Coach says Not Hitting on All Cylinders'. Be very careful. They are very good. They look like they are hitting on all cylinders to me. The veterans they lost, they look a little younger. There are some similarities. I wish we had put some more pressure on them to see."

Portland Student-Athletes

#32, Ryan Nicholas, F

On the challenge around the basket …
"They're so long and athletic, its no secret we knew that coming in. The problem is, if you pump fake them once, there is another one coming on the weak side. I don't think we will see another team with that much athleticism again. It was a good test for us and it showed us where we are at."

On what Kentucky did to disrupt their shots …
"There length is pretty amazing. On top of that all week we heard Coach Calipari has been on them for their toughness and effort, so I think without seeing too much of their previous games, it felt like they were coming out firing and defense and really trying to get after it."

On what the team can take from today's game for their conference play …
"I don't think we will face length and athletes like that in conference. The moves we made on them and they way we finished gave us confidence we can play against the teams in our conference. We can play with anyone for stretches. The thing we have to work on is playing for 40 minutes as a team."