Kentucky-North Carolina Postgame Quotes

Dec. 13, 2014

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery  | USATSI Gallery 

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

Q. John did you have any hint, any indication at all how your guys were going to come out and play today?

COACH CALIPARI: No. No I was a little worried that we were all kind of -- the stuff with -- you know it wasn't cut and dry that Alex (Poythress) was hurt.

And then when we later learned it, we were just, just put us all in shock.

Then yesterday's practice was a good practice, but it was blah.

And even today, they were excited about playing the game, but I just think they're -- thank goodness we have time between games now to get ourselves right. And this has been -- I don't know if anybody else has (played) 11 games, we played a lot of games in a short period of time. So, we have a little (time) -- in two games in two weeks, which gives us some time.

Q. Given what Alex means to him, what did you think of the way that Willie (Cauley-Stein) came out and played today with sort of a lot weighing on him and affecting the game?

COACH CALIPARI: You would have to talk to Willie about that. But again, there are times I watch this team and I go, wow. And then there are other times I'm like, what in the world?

So I can't even tell you how good we could be. They got break out baskets, they got second shots against us next to the goal where we had a chance to rebound.

We fouled jump shooters which we just don't do. And they took advantage of all of that. And let me just say this:

Obviously, we know Roy (Williams)'s Hall of Famer, and his team, they have the kind of team that you look at, they just got to make jump shots, just like us.

So the only difference between us and them today were we made more 3s. Well, we only made one more. How about that?

But we didn't come out going 1-12, which is what we have been doing.

And everybody talks about us offensively. When you're 1-12 from the 3, I don't care what you do, it's not going to look good.

Q. What did you think of Tyler (Ulis') performance today with eight assists?

COACH CALIPARI: I thought he was tremendous. We had a bunch of turnovers in the second half unforced, putting -- guys picked the ball up crossing half court, threw it to the wrong guy. Had a guy next to them, did that and there were times where I was on him that you have to control that.

But in the end, I thought he and Andrew together were good. You got good free throw shooters, you got two good scorers and handlers.

There's a lot of things we got to try. I platooned today, but I did it with nine guys, instead of doing it with 10.

My plan was to give Derek (Willis) an opportunity to slide in and the game went -- the way it went and I just kept going the way we went, so he didn't get that chance. But I thought that, again, he's going to be fine.

Q. When you say you were worried, did you think there might be a little bit of a rush emotionally at the beginning and then did you worry about what might happen after that first wave?

COACH CALIPARI: No, I just -- I knew if I -- I thought the first group didn't have the energy I wanted to see. So I just put in the other group.

See, the one thing that Tyler and Devin (Booker) bring to the table is an energy level. They both do. It's not just Tyler, Devin does too. I was so pleased with how Trey (Lyles) played. But, he only gets three rebounds. Come on now. Come on. You're a 10 rebound guy.

Karl(-Anthony Towns) struggled today, but Karl's going to be fine. We all know how good he is. The game got a little physical and there was a little bit of fight there, but.

Q. What went into your thinking about going with Trey with the other four guys in that platoon and then leaving him in with the second guys?

COACH CALIPARI: Because he had played with the second guys, and that's why I did it.

Now, what I've told Aaron (Harrison) and Andrew (Harrison) and Trey, whichever one of you is playing the best will continue to play.

So you'll play with the second group. And that means with energy. If you're out there going crazy and you got great energy, then you'll stay in. If you don't have great energy, jogging and standing up and you're out. You want it stay in? Great energy.

My plan was to do what we did and then try to get Derek in on that third wave, because I think Derek has to be in with that veteran team to give him a true chance.

Q. The substitution patterns today, not using Derek and all of that, is that a matter of survive today, and then spend the next two weeks figuring out how the subs and the platoons might work?

COACH CALIPARI: No, I mean you had one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight guys played 20 minutes and Marcus Lee played 12 and got eight points in 12 minutes.

And the reason he played 12 is because Willie Cauley played 28. And Willie Cauley was really, he was "Willie good" today.

(Laughter.)

Q. Was there a point when Alex addressed the team? Was it before the game, was it --

COACH CALIPARI: No, he just came in. He came in before. He didn't -- I had him say the prayer. He looked at me. And then he said it and he said a good prayer for the guys.

So, usually pick somebody. I picked him today.

Q. What did it mean to have him here? I know that he didn't know if he was going to be here, he was here for the whole time. What does that mean for the guys to see that he's doing okay, that he's going to get through this?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, I get emotional prior to the game just thinking about -- like I was looking, where is he sitting, where is he? And then the thought of, "he's missing this whole season" hit me. And I had to gather myself before I went in that first timeout.

It's kind of like on senior night when it really hits you as a coach that this is the last home game that you're going to coach this guy. Haven't had many of those as of late, but, you know, that feeling is the same way.

But it was -- I just feel bad for him. The great thing, Julius (Randle) talked to him, Julius is going to stay in touch. He talked to him between now and the surgery, what he had to do, how to think, and then after the surgery what he needed to do. So Julius is going to be a good partner for him as he walks through this.

Q. Roy talked about Willie and said he affected the game dramatically and only took nine shots. That sounds like a guy you had a couple years ago. Is Willie becoming something bigger than you even -- I know you talk about how he never knew what he could be, but more than maybe what you thought he could be?

COACH CALIPARI: You're talking about a junior, you're talking about a guy that's played against some of the best players in the country, and he's a veteran, he's coming into his own, he's figuring out who he is as a person, as a player. He's doing it.

Now, again, you see, and I'm going to tell you, the biggest issue with us missing Alex, and it doesn't go away, don't think, well, they played well without Alex. There is a play in the game that someone has to block a ball. Someone has to come up with a tough rebound. Someone dunks on their entire team and changes -- that's Alex.

Now he may not have played great the whole time. May have played, you know, but I can remember the Louisville game in the NCAA tournament, he just, he went crazy. Changed the whole complexion of the game. We don't have that guy. Trey does not do that. Trey's a totally different player.

Karl does some of it, but not like Alex does.

So, that means we have got to be a more efficient team offensively, and that means we even have to be a better team defensively, so we're not in a position to have to have that play. Because it's not there any more.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports....

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#1, Devin Booker, G

On the importance of team energy early in the game ...
"Every time we step on the floor we want the fans, we want everyone to be a part of the energy. You know it makes us play harder, it's good for us."

On losing Alex Poythress and getting ready for this game ...
"Oh, it's tough. Losing a player like Alex, you know he does so many things that no one else can do in the world I'd say. So, you know it's really tough for us but everyone has to step it up a little bit, I'd say."

On being more aggressive today ...
"Just getting more comfortable with the college game flow, I'd say. You know, just getting more comfortable out there opens up opportunities for me."

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F

On playing without Alex Poythress ...
"There are plays that you get used to someone else making, and now you have to train yourself because no he's not there anymore to make those plays. There are rebounds and blocked shots that normally can stand on the other side and get the blocked shot instead of having to go get it yourself."

On having Alex at the game to watch and lead the team in prayer ...
"It was good because I didn't know if he was going to be able to. The past couple days for him to get up and go to the bathroom has been hard being out of breath, using all of his upper body. "

On something to prove without Alex there ...
"Nothing to prove, just to ourselves that we can't have let-downs like we did the last game we played. If we can play this way against top teams in the country, we should be playing like that all the time."

#3, Tyler Ulis, G

On why he missed the last few games ...
"I was sick and then I was a little injured, a little beat up, but I'm better now, I'm back and I'm just ready to keep it going. It felt great to get back out there. Sitting those two games out was hard for me because just watching them play and not being out there is just not the same."

On playing in the lineup with Andrew [Harrison] ...
"I love that lineup because Andrew's a great player, he's a playmaker and I'm a playmaker as well so when we're in together we just try to get in the lane and make things happen. Offensively it helps us get in the lane more. He likes to drive and help create and that's what I do as well so it opens up a lot of things for us offensively."

On losing Alex Poythress ...
"Losing Alex hurt everyone on the team, he's a great guy and we're all really close with him and just knowing how he feels. If I tore my ACL I wouldn't know what to do, I'd be in my room crying and stuff like that, so we're just trying to be there for him and help him out."

North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams

On UK making the 3-pointers ...
"I told John [Calipari] before the game, we can cure a lot of peoples' 3-point woes. We tried to play a little bit of zone early and we haven't played any zone this year. We didn't do a good enough job in the zone. We didn't get there and guard them. Texas played in the zone, but they challenged them, they made their first three less than three minutes to play. Texas challenged those threes much better than we did. When we went man-to-man the dribble penetration really hurt us."

On Willie Cauley-Stein ...
"He's going to be effective. I watched him in the Texas game and he was unbelievable. It's hard to believe he was a wide receiver in high school. He effects the game in every way, he blocks shots, gets steals, gets follow-dunks, and gets dunks from guard penetration throwing it up around the rim, he goes and gets it, but he is a complete player. If you look at it, he affected the game drastically and only took nine shots. They are very gifted. John [Calipari] does a great job with them. He has everybody buying into the sharing the minutes and sharing the basketball. They had 19 assists and 15 turnovers in an up and down game and were trying to press and trying to do some things, and we have 13 assists and 18 turnovers. Their defense was so much stronger and I think that was the dominating thing in the game. And Willie was the spearhead "

On Alex Poythress affecting UK's Team...
"Coach [Dean] Smith used to say if you lose a guy, that the next game you're going to be so much better because everybody is going to try to pull forward a little more effort and play better, but in the long run nobody is going to be better if you lose one of your better players. But from reading all the comments in the paper, he's the kind of kid I think he is. So it had to hurt everybody and at the same time the comments they made about him would make me think that he might have been challenging their rear ends in the locker room before the game. It's a loss because he really is a gifted player, they got some depth which is going to help them get through some things."

On UNC junior guard Marcus Paige ...
"He made some shots. We've been talking about his shot a little bit. There's nothing mechanically wrong with his shot. Probably needs to get his feet set a little bit more. Four times today, he went up in the air to shoot the ball, and their defense was so good he had to pass it. He made a couple tough ones. We need him to shoot the ball like that, but we need some other guys to step up and make shots, also. We shot 54 percent in the first half, and you're not going to beat Kentucky at Kentucky when they're a real good team shooting 38 percent in the second half."

On if today's performance expose UNC's physical limitations ...
"The team we're playing's pretty doggone physically imposing, but whoever they play, somebody said that Portland Trail Blazers are the only team in America that was taller. So, physically, they're going to show a lot of people some limitations. You've got to try to counter that with something that you do well yourselves. We didn't do a very good job of sharing the ball and spreading the floor, being patient. We took some of the worst shots today that we've taken all year. But, I think it's because their pressure took us out of our comfort zone."

On UNC junior forward Brice Johnson ...
"They gave him some good looks early because it was on the break, a couple out-of-bounds plays, and things like that. In the second half, I think he made one field goal, I think is all. Their big guys are good. They have 12 steals and five blocked shots. A lot of that was their big guys. I saw Willie (Cauley-Stein) diving on the floor, I saw Dakari (Johnson) diving on the floor. Brice did hurt them in the first half, but most of it was in the open court."

On managing minutes with a lot of depth ...
"This may be even more of a challenge for John (Calipari) than anything I've gone through. I've always said I could get nine guys enough playing time, eight easily. Nine guys enough playing time to keep them happy. John was trying to get 10. I don't know what he's going to do because that's the reason they pay him all that money, to make those big decisions like that. You have to have special kids I'd say is the first thing. They have to be concerned about the name on the front of the jersey. They have to be willing to give in. I've got wonderful kids in my locker room, and we've got to be concerned about the name on the jersey a little more. If I had to pick one thing, I of course would say the size -- or the athleticism, I guess that's two things. But the next thing that's most impressive about John's club to me is how unselfish they appear to be. That's a pretty doggone good trait. When you add the size and athleticism, and add their willingness to work really hard defensively, now you're painting a very complete picture. I think it's the character of the kids. They trust John, John's staff, and all those guys have been around for a while. I think they appear to trust the staff. If you give in, of your own selfishness, and become more unselfish with playing time, with shots and everything, at the end, players will be taken care of. I've really believed that. Our 2009 team, all those guys tested the waters, and they came back and trusted each other, and everybody worked out okay. I think they've done a nice job with good kids."

On what the third key on his pregame locker room board was ...
"It must not have worked, because I can't freaking remember. That's just being honest, give me a couple seconds. Right now, I'm too ticked off to think about any (expletive) like that. Excuse my language."

North Carolina Student-Athletes

#5 Marcus Paige, G

On Kentucky's weakness ...
"You would like to think it was their outside shooting, but they came out and I don't think they hit the rim from 3 to start. We were going to go under ball screens and play zone, but they started making 3's. That's a tough team to beat if they start making outside shots."

On first-half offense trouble ...  
"We were not playing our offense. We weren't screening and moving. And the right guys didn't get the ball and we were rushing too much."

On the Harrisons and Kentucky's size ...
"I was not bothered by it. I played with them a bunch of times in high school and last year. I'm usually not the bigger guard in any matchup, so I wasn't worried about it. I don't think it affected it a whole lot. They got in the lane and make some lobs. I don't think the guard size affected the game. It was the size up front that affected the game."  

#3 Kennedy Meeks, F

On how much of an adjustment he had to make due to Kentucky's length ...
"It wasn't that big of an adjustment. I think I only got my shot blocked one time, when I went to the baseline. It is just something I have been trying to work on, getting more explosive."

On how to describe Kentucky's height and length ...
"You really can't even describe it. It is not normal at all. At the same time, as a team we have to go back to Chapel Hill and really lock in because we have to change some things."

On how the team can improve ...
"Coach wrote it on the board before the game, just defend without fouling. When you put them on the line 31 times you are going to lose the game. We have to capitalize on those plays."