Kentucky-Samford Postgame Quotes

Dec. 20, 2011

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari

Q. Cal, what happened to Doron (Lamb) there and how is he?

COACH CALIPARI: He's fine. I think he got tired. He played a lot of minutes, 31 minutes, so I think he was getting tired.

Q. How much has Doron (Lamb) given you the kind of consistent production?

COACH CALIPARI: He's been good. Let me just tell you, the extra time that he's spending on that basketball court before practice, after practice, you're all seeing the benefit of it. The guys that are going in stretching and lifting and doing things before breakfast, that is another group of guys. You'll see them start to get better.

I like to say it. You get what you deserve in basketball and in life. You want to spend that extra time, there is going to be a result from it. It doesn't happen in a day. But when you start linking days together, weeks together, months together, you start seeing it.

Darius Miller, same thing. Darius was better. I'm glad he made shots today because we need him to make 3s.

Look, we're a good 3-point shooting team, but that's not how we play. I thought Marquis Teague did a tremendous job of running our team. He had some turnovers there at the end, but he did a tremendous job of running the team.

He had two or three balls that I said he should have passed that he tried to score, but he's learning and he listens. Everything I'm saying, he says, "I got you. I got you."

Q. Speaking of Marquis (Teague), where is he in terms of his learning curve and where you want him to be or expect him to be at this point in the season?

COACH CALIPARI: He's fine. He's fine. What we're saying to him offensively shooting the ball, you're shooting it to keep them honest. You shoot jumpers to keep them honest. If someone's on you, you're not shooting a jumper. Drive the ball, get it started up. If they're not on you, you keep them honest, and it makes it simpler.

If the guy is on you, you're not going to shoot up, pull the jumper. I'm going take you out. The reason is you've got the ball 75% of the time. You've got the ball the whole game, so you can't take the ball and shoot all the balls. You can't do that.

But like today, he had drives and he had plays. There were two or three plays where he should have passed the ball. He reverted a little bit, but short of that, I thought he did a good job.

Defensively, you've got to give Samford credit. They shot better against us than just about any team we played this year. Why? And that is with shooting 18% from the 3, because we stop playing. They're a team that's going to pass it four or five times, and then back cut you, back screen you, and a group of freshmen stop playing.

So they beat us on back doors. They beat us on back screens. They beat us on diagonal screens. All they had to do was throw it four times and someone was going to stop playing, and they did. But that's what happens when you have a freshman team.

Q. Referring to what you were just talking about the way they back cut you, how valuable is it to have this experience against that particular offense when you may see it down the road maybe even in the NCAA Tournament?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, it happened last year. We had to play Princeton. After playing in it, I think now if we had to play a team in the NCAA Tournament that plays this way, I think the game preparation, they'll understand why we're preparing the way we are. I'm not sure they understood when we did it today (or) in the last few days to prepare for this game.

Q. Darius (Miller) steps up and has a pretty good game. He was out there early shooting almost before the lights came on. Just a little on his effort and how he's playing.

COACH CALIPARI: I thought he was good. He had lapses of being unaggressive and being passive. He had lapses. But the majority of the game he played aggressively. We still needed him to come up with more balls.

He had two rebounds in 30 minutes. Come on now. You're 6'7" and you put your head on the rim. Why weren't you getting those balls? Because I've got to go in there and there are people in there. Go in there and get eight rebounds. Go do it.

In 30 minutes at his size, the way he is athletically and his build -- I'm going to say this again -- as he starts playing more and more aggressively, rebounding, defending, bumping, grinding, he will make more 3s. He will be more of an aggressive 3-point shooter, and he was today. He missed one and he and I both thought it was down or he would have gone four percent.

Q. I think the fans are wondering about Terrence (Jones) and what his status is long-term? What are your thoughts on that?

COACH CALIPARI: I'll probably make him the 13th man now that we won without him. He'll be fine. We've just got to get him back. It's good that he wasn't here for Kyle (Wiltjer) , for Eloy (Vargas), for Darius (Miller), and it ends up working out well. It's fine.

When he comes back, he's an All-American. He's one of our best players. There is the other side of the Kentucky effect. The Kentucky effect is you could present it in a way that everything happens in a good (way) -- but when something goes wrong, it goes the other way a thousand times over. So the Kentucky effect works both ways.

You don't play well, and all of a sudden the world is ending. Oh my gosh, he stinks, and that's the other side of this.

Q. Speaking of Kyle (Wiltjer), what are you looking for from him in this stretch, and how did you think he played tonight?

COACH CALIPARI: He didn't make shots, and I thought he needs to be better defensively than he was. But he's fighting and trying, and I'm getting on him, and he's responding to it. When he missed all those shots, I told the team, we're going back at him because I want to see if you have the courage to make a shot now that you haven't made one and he came back and made that 3.

We were trying to get Marquis Teague to get him some shots, and Marquis kept going and driving it.

Now Darius (Miller) got him the shot. He came off the screen and threw it back to him, and he was wide open. But, you know, he's going to be fine. He'll be fine.

Q. On Darius (Miller), what you were talking about earlier, how has playing aggressive defense connected to being a better 3-point shooter?

COACH CALIPARI: Because it gets you here aggressively. If you're getting pounded and can't come with the ball and you're getting beat on defense, when you go to shoot the ball, you're like a deer in head lights. Believe me. I've done this a long time.

So when you're out there, stopping somebody, you dive on the floor for the ball, you rebound one above the rim, they throw you the ball, you nail the 3 and as you release it, you start running back. The other guy, oh, my gosh I've got to shoot this. And that's why you dive on the floor and take a charge, you come up with a tough rebound. You want all of that to happen before you get the 3.

Q. Coach, you had said previously leading up to this game you want to see a more vicious team. Earlier you talked about the freshmen giving up. What's it take to get that all out, crazy, pound and beat them by 50 kind of thing?

COACH CALIPARI: It's not beat them by 50; it's just sustain an effort, and we're just not ready. We've done a lot of conditioning here in practice time. Our execution was better because we're working on it.

Defensively the biggest thing we've been working on both ends of the floor is talking. We talk much better today. We're trying to get them to start bouncing on defense, so we're more active to where we were today, more alert to back cuts and those kind of things.

We've just got a long way to go. Our press, we probably need to start working on it if we're going to use it more. But I'm going to say this. You can't be great in everything. The teams that press normally can't guard you in the half court, so they've got to press.

If you get over the half court and pass it four times, you're going to get a great shot. We want to be a team that can press you, but when we get in that half court, we lock you down, but that's hard. It's hard to do.

Q. Can you talk about the way Eloy (Vargas) is playing? Are you seeing signs and getting what you want out of him?

COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I like what he did today. He kept a lot of balls free. He had 7 rebounds in 17 minutes. We even went at him offensively, and he scored the ball. He's getting better.

Again, the hardest thing for a guy like Eloy (Vargas) is can you wait for your opportunity? I was coaching UMASS in 1996, and who did we play in the Final Four? We played Kentucky. I played a kid that didn't play all year. He played well in that game, if you remember. Edgar Padilla's brother who did not play all season.

Billy Packer in that game said he's putting in Edgar Padilla. Edgar Padilla's stats -- oh, my, this kid doesn't have any stats. He has no stats, and the kid went bonkers. From that game, he got a contract to play in South America. He played one game on that stage.

Eloy Vargas is going to have his opportunities. Can he stay focused so when they come he's ready to go and he's ready to prove that he should be playing more? The other side of it, and I'm not saying he's doing this, but the guy pouts, or he should be this, or you start making excuses or you're embarrassed. Then when your opportunity comes, you're going to blame somebody because you're going to drop the ball, and it's going to be someone else's fault.

What Eloy's doing is he's biding his time and he's waiting. I just want him to do well. By the end of the year, he's one of those guys when we go to him, he physically can play. There are going to be games where Kyle (Wiltjer) cannot be in there because of who he has to guard against. Who he has going to have to guard, and Eloy can. That's what's good about our team.

Q. From a human interest standpoint, what was your reaction to Sam Malone, another major thing?

COACH CALIPARI: He's had four knee surgeries now. This is his fourth. Obviously, I know his family very well. I called his father and mother last night and talked to Sam last night. I was in Florida and called from there.

I feel bad for the kid, but like I told him last night, life throws you curves, man. Fate intervenes in our lives sometimes and you have to deal with it and use it as a positive. I said, the greatest thing is you've come here and established who you are in a short period of time, and you're still going to be part of our team and part of our family.

You're in one of the best programs, if not the best in the country, and you're a part of that team. So, he did well. All of our kids. He did well in school. We ended up having a 2.7 grade point average this term. It's not the 3.0 that we want, but a 2.7. Here's what's crazy about basketball. Basketball only has 13 players. So what happens if two guys screw up? It drops that overall.

Now football you have 90 guys. You have to have 40 of them screw up to drop it. I'm not trying to kill football, but I'm just saying in basketball, you have 13. Now last year, obviously, we had 10, and all 10 did well. One was a little shaky, but the other guys did well, and we were at 3.16, 3.14. This summer we were at 3.16.

2.7, oh, it's okay. Not what we want, but like I said, I'm happy with the guys.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Kentucky Players

#20, Doron Lamb, G

On possibly injuring his wrist …
“I just jammed my wrist a little bit. I think I bent it on someone’s back or something. It’s all good, though.”

On getting to the free throw line more often this year…
“I’m just going to the rack a lot more. I know if I get fouled then I can knock those shots down. So I’m just trying to drive more and create for my teammates.”

On putting in a lot of extra work…
“I’ve been putting in a lot of work before and after practice; especially before practice. I get there a little early and get a little workout in on the treadmill. I’ve been putting up a lot of shots while I am tired and it is paying off for me now.”

#25 Marquis Teague, G

On Coach Calipari demanding more team communication in the game …
“I think we did better, but we still need to do a better job. We got beat on some back doors that shouldn’t have happened. We were relaying calls and plays, but we still have to do a better job.”

On the “Breakfast Club …”
“People come on different days. The whole team will come on one day, but last time three, four, five guys came. Coach Cal said something about it, he basically told us about it and we just said OK and we did it. It brings team chemistry. You don’t even have to do anything spectacular, just go in stretch together and lift weights or something like that.”

On his first half performances compared to his second half performances …
“The first couple games it took me a half to calm down and relax but now I feel like I’m OK from the jump. (The second half of the Indiana game) really helped build my confidence. I had success against a good team. It helped me get more confidence and showed me how I need to play and the pace I need to play.”

On his feelings toward running the team …
“I think I’m doing pretty well, but I’ve got a lot to work on. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and keep listening to what Cal’s telling me.”

On the approach to the game without Terrence Jones
“We still played how we would’ve played if he was there. Having him in the post means a lot of points and we miss him down low, but we’re still the same team.”

#1, Darius Miller, G

On shooting comfortably …
“I was kind of holding it at the top instead of releasing it on the way up. I was kind of rushing shots too. Just hurrying up to shoot instead of taking my time to shoot the shot. … I still feel comfortable, but I feel like it opens up a lot for me and my teammates. So when I got that going, I feel like it’s another dimension to us, another threat to us. It really helps out my team, helps out myself getting to the lane and other things like that.”

On playing a team with a lot of backdoor cuts …
“We have to play disciplined. They take advantage of every opportunity we gave them. They knocked down open jumpers and they did a great job of getting us on the backdoors. They were very disciplined with their offense. They did a great job of running what they needed to run. Like I said, we just got to stay disciplined when we play teams like that.”

On finishing games out until the end …
“That creates bad habits for us, especially when we’re playing good teams. We might mess around and do the same thing, kind of quit towards the end. So you got to continue to develop good habits and continue to do that throughout the season starting with games like this.”

#14, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F

On leading the team and pre-game huddle …
“I’m trying. I’m still a freshman. I’m trying to do my best. … I’m just dancing, just having a good time. I just do it just to do it, to have fun.”

On the Breakfast Club …
“It starts at 8:30 in the morning. It’s just weights and just shooting. We’re just having a good time. That’s all we do. …I think it was a team thing. I don’t know how we started it. We just want to get better. (It adds) a lot of chemistry still and we’re just having a good time. It was Coach (John Calipari) and we just wanted to do it, so we did.”

Samford Head Coach Jimmy Tillette

Opening statement…
“I told Cal (UK head coach John Calipari) before the game that this is a good gig for him, this program has a chance to take off and move in a positive direction so he should stay here as long as he can. They proved that tonight, they are an outstanding team. I was actually proud of our team, the way we were able to run our offense against their pressure. We were a little bit behind the eight ball, our starting point guard had the stomach flu and could only play three minutes, and our backup had a limp with a bad leg. We are obviously looking at it from two different perspectives. I thought we competed throughout the whole game; we actually got better from half to half, that’s our measure of the game for our team. Personally, I’m in the witness protection program so my goal is to make sure nobody notices me.”

On what caused Kentucky’s hot start…
“Good coaching, superior talent and our team being a little nervous to start the game. I thought we got it right a little bit after that. We were a little starry eyed, stuck in mud with a Rupp Arena kind of aura. I thought we settled in and after that competed.”

On Doron Lamb’s performance…
“What can you say, they are without their best player and he is a really good player. Not saying I’m prophetic about things but I told my team, ‘How do you handle your own success and setbacks in a game and how do you handle the other team’s setbacks and success.’ A team like Kentucky, they are well-coached but they are athletic enough that when they make a mistake defensively they erase it. They erased about five balls off the boards that in our league nobody is erasing. On the other end they are going to get in to a comfortable mode of shooting so they are going to feel freer and be more in rhythm to make shots that they might not normally make. I don’t really see a weakness for their team.”

Samford Players

#5, Jeffrey Merritt, G

On playing in Rupp Arena …
“It was pretty cool, and more importantly, it was a great experience for our team. It was a once-in-a-lifetime deal for us. When we came out of the tunnel with 10 minutes until the game, we were shell-shocked. It was one of the greatest experiences a basketball player could have.”

On what Samford learns from this game …
“We learned a lot. We showed a lot of character by fighting and battling for 40 minutes. I mean, we don’t have the guys blocking shots at 6-foot-10, 6-foot-11, but it shows that we all can compete. If we play for a team, you can succeed.”

On what his team did well tonight …
“We ran the offense pretty well. We shot 45 percent from the field, so we are really pleased with that.”

#35, Tyler Hood, F

On the experience playing in Rupp Arena...
“It was a memorable moment for sure. We were all very excited for this game and we will definitely remember it for a long time to come.”

On what Samford did well during the game...
“We ran our concepts very well. That's one of the things that coach stresses, to make sure to run the concepts. We run well under this system. Get guys in good spots and knock down shots. In this case run guys off the three and try to make plays.”

On trying to slow down Kentucky's offense...
“They shot really well, I think they shot about 10 percent better than they normally shoot. That is probably because of the fact that they kept cleaning things off the glass and they were a little more relaxed on the offensive end to put in shots.”