Kentucky-Louisville Postgame Quotes

Dec. 27, 2014

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Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari



On what it says about the freshmen that they stepped up today ...
"I like my freshmen. I know they are other good freshmen in the country but I'll take mine. I think at one point we played with four freshmen and Aaron for a while. I think it stretched the game out."

On Ulis' impact ...
"He was really good today. That's the best I've seen him play since I've coached him. But again--and this will start the other dialogue, which is why I'm platooning. Andrew didn't play as well today but Andrew hit a huge 3 that basically ended the game. Andrew took us to the national championship game last year. Andrew did. So what I have is I have two terrific point guards, who I can play together if I choose. If Andrew's playing really well Tyler will maybe not play as much or I'll put him as a wing. Tyler's playing well or out of his mind. That's what good about this. Willie didn't play great today. We played without him playing well. I thought our rebounding was outstanding but, again, we worked on it for two weeks, just covering the rims and having to rebound every ball."

On why he liked Ulis as a point guard in the recruiting process ...
"His competitiveness. He can make a difference in the game, even at his size, and that's what you want. And he wasn't afraid of the challenge. I didn't have to beg him. I mean, I recruited him for three weeks. And I said, `I'm hearing about you being a four-year point guard. If you think you're here four years, don't come here.' He said, `I'm coming.' "

On Ulis getting his teammates fired up with his toughness ...
"I don't know. I was happy for him. I was disappointed for Andrew because I just know how good Andrew is. All these kids, you want them to all to perform. Like Dakari couldn't get anything to the basket, but he got like nine rebounds. But he is so much better offensively than he showed today. We had so many turnovers and most of them--some of them were forced, body-to-body stuff. But most of them were just like a look-away, a rifled pass. But that's the most turnovers we've had. But, again, we guarded. We played defense and we didn't let them get to the rim. We made them take a lot of jump shots, which is what our game plan was. We played pick-and-roll different than we've played it all year. We backed up our big man and just went back in the lane and said, `We're going to let you take jump shots.' But it was a good win on the road. It was a physical game. It was a good game."

On whether he saw this start coming ...
"I didn't--look, my thing in these games, and I told our team, I don't know how the other team's playing. I just know how I want us to play. Our players, unless they watch games, they watched tape this morning, this afternoon. We didn't show them a whole lot of Louisville. We're worried about us. Let's just be the best version of us. Let's be the best we can be. If that's not good enough, we move on to the next game. I kept telling them, `Guys, it's Christmas. This isn't the end-all game. Who cares? Let's go try to play well.' And I know our fans go crazy and I said, `Win or learn,' and they go nuts, but it's how I feel. I didn't--I wanted to win the game, but I wasn't going like, `We have to win this game.' We took a great Christmas break. We were going to work out tomorrow. They begged me to take a day off tomorrow so I'm going to give them off until 6 (p.m.)."

On Pitino's praise of UK's defense ...
"We've got a lot of guys doing a pretty good job of defending. We can play the ball. We can play behind. I'll tell you who else was really good today: Trey Lyles. Wow. And that's why I played him as many minutes as I played him. I mean, four assists, nine rebounds and making some jumpers when we were kind of shaky. The only thing we couldn't get our guys to do is I couldn't get them to attack. Devin did it once. Karl did it once. And I'm in the huddles, `Don't pull it out! Just keep going.' And I think, again, they were feeling this game was maybe bigger than I thought it was. I was just telling them play. But, again, I thought Trey played well and Devin made a big 3 and the same with Aaron. Aaron made a big 3 in the corner."

On Ulis being willing to attack ...
"I think we got a bunch of guys. I've got a good team. I really have a really good team and I have nine guys I'm going to continue to platoon. I'm not changing. If a game unfolds like this and I do something different, I'm trying to win the game. I'm going to do it. If one of the guys, like Willie against Texas, plays that well, I'll leave him in. If Tyler played this well or Andrew, then I'm going to let him play. If someone's on fire, I'm not going to take them out. But if they're all playing well, I'd like to play all nine guys. Just play. And let me tell you why platoon. It's easier. I don't have to think how many minutes he's been in, how many minutes. Just four of you, go. You stay. How easy is that?"

On the undefeated talk circulating ...
"They picked the Germans in World War II also. Look, the good news it we have another break. We have nine days to get my team right. We have to put in a different zone because we're going to face some different things. I want to put in a different rotating press. I want to do some different things offensively to try, because we have time. I really want to give Dom(inique Hawkins) and Derek (Willis) an opportunity to see if they fit into that 10-man rotation. Either one. But, they have to elevate their games to do that because I'm not taking minutes away from these nine when all nine deserve minutes. If those two raise their games we'll go back to 10 guys."

On if he's worried that his guys see Louisville as the last hurdle ...
"No, there was some disappointment. Willie was disappointed. Andrew was disappointed in how they played. Aaron wasn't exactly happy about how he played. The young guys are just happy they won a game. Again, you have to think about this, you're coming in, and you all and everyone else has made this like the end-all game. These young kids came in here and performed. They weren't rattled. They stayed focused on the court, and the game was physical. That was more physical than the Texas game and I didn't think that was possible."

On if he would have secured a commitment from Emmanuel Mudiay would he still have gone after Tyler Ulis ...
"If he didn't want to come."

On if he still would have recruited Tyler Ulis ...
"Sure."

On what a game like this can do for his team's confidence ...
"I have a pretty confident team. Here's what my issue has been, and I've been on these guys. I was hard before the game. My point was, I don't want arrogance. I want a swagger. I don't want arrogance. Arrogance is not earned. Arrogance is, `I wear the Kentucky uniform. Don't you know who I am?' That's arrogance. A swagger is, you work so hard. You spend extra time. You have demonstrated performance -- Kansas, UCLA. You have demonstrated performance. And the third thing is, you trust your teammates. Now your team has a swagger. They know they can count on - everybody's counting on one team. I want a team with a swagger. I don't want an arrogant team. I've been pretty vocal and have been on this, especially these young guys, because they mumble under their breath. They're like my son. (Mumble sound) `What?!' (Mumble sound) They do a lot of mumbling. You coach them and get aggressive with them."

On Tyler and Devin playing 54 minutes with zero turnovers ...
"I haven't looked at that, but that's pretty impressive. I thought Devin did pretty good too, by the way. I thought he did some good things. We had some dumb fouls. We just grabbed people. Literally, grabbed people. Then they look at me like, `I didn't do it.' I said, `I was watching. You grabbed the guy. Grabbed his arm.' Those two played well."

On Louisville only recording one assist ...
"We were trying to get them to shoot. That meant we spread out and took those passing - most of the stuff the stuff was going to be on the bounce which means you don't get an assist."

On if he expected to be this good defensively ...
"I wasn't sure, but I knew with Willie and Marcus Lee. I didn't know Karl would block shots like he did and does. I didn't know Trey Lyles could play the 3-position like he has. He's guarding guards, and doing good. I did not think Devin Booker could guard the way he's guarding. In high school he shot every ball. He didn't guard much. I thought that would be the Achilles heel. And then the other guy was Tyler because of his size, but it hasn't seemed to have bothered him."

On what the source of Andrew's problems was ...
"They're not machines. They're not computers. I told him, `Man, I love you. I got your back. You're my point guard. Stop it.' He's down. Look, these kids - it's not fair being at Kentucky and what goes with it, and what the expectations are and then everything you do is analyzed. It's not fair. But it's also not fair when the season ends and you're in the green room. Half the team. That's not fair either. So I tell them all the time, `You want to do this? This is what it is.' "

On if this qualifies as a punch in the mouth ...
"That was a punch in the mouth. One was about right there (points above his eye)."

On if he's worried about not being challenged enough for the remainder of the season ...
"Oh we'll be challenged. You don't understand, every single game we play is going to be sold out. The students are lined up at 1 o'clock. Every team we play you might as well not look at stats. We play Columbia, they shoot 21 percent from the 3. Yeah? They go 4-4 to start the game and we're down 11-0. I mean, we're going to go on the road in hostile environments and we're going to be challenged. And then our league. Everybody then wants to say, `Well, the league.' Well, you still have Florida, you still have Arkansas, you still have LSU, you still have Georgia playing well. Our league is fine. I still think we'll get five teams in. Our league's RPI is No. 2 in the country. Our league's RPI is No. 2 in the country, non-conference schedule. It'll be fine. All I'm looking at is, let's keep trying to see where we can take this. I told individual players. World-class athletes are never satisfied. World-class athletes are self-critical. I don't have to criticize. You're self-critical. And the other thing is, they always look for small increments of how can I - Tiger (Woods), how can I hit my drive another four-five yards? How can I make one more putt a round. One. How can I do that? Where can I make those small - that's world class. I told these guys, `What are you trying to do to add to your game? Just a little bit. What are you trying to do?' I'm keeping them focused on those kinds of things. Look, I'm having a ball coaching this team. There's nothing anybody can say, or write, or do to make me. I wake up every morning whistling and skipping. This is the greatest group. And I'll tell you why: Selfless. Think about today, I changed up because guys weren't playing as well, but they're all fine. I got a bunch guys, and let me say this, I got a bunch of parents too. Think about your son. Your son is a top-10 pick and he's playing 20 minutes a game in college. You happy? Oh you'd be doing backflips. That'd be so nice. Think about that. Kid is a top-five pick and he's playing 20. One game he didn't get any touches. What? Coach, we love you. Thanks for coaching our - I have the greatest group of kids and parents. That's why I want to enjoy it because let me say this: It's not always like this. We just happened to - the moon and the stars have connected, now let's see what we can do with this."

Kentucky Student-Athletes

#1, Devin Booker, Fr., G

On looking at the low score of the game ...
"At halftime I kind of realized that we were only around 20 points and I was like, `it's a dogfight out there. We just have to buy into it.' "

On Tyler Ulis' play ...
"Well, everybody's seen it. He's incredible. He's showing people - you guys - things you haven't seen out of him before, but I've seen it because we've played on camps and teams all the time, so it's nothing new to me. He's a real special player."

On hearing talk of UK going undefeated ...
"We can't focus on that. Every time we go out on the court we try to win. I feel like that's every team's objective, so we're just going to take it game by game."

On knowing people are talking about the rest of UK's schedule ...
"Obviously. We haven't lost yet. Like I said, we're taking it one game at time."

#44, Dakari Johnson, Soph., C

On limiting Harrell ...
"We really backed off the five man and kind of helped the four man, whoever was guarding him."

On Ulis' play ...
"It was great. He really stepped up. He hit a lot of shots. He controlled the offense and he just had a great game today."

On shutting down U of L ...
"We just went with the game plan. Defensively we just sat down and locked down."

On the takeaways from this game and needing a game like this ...
"We did need a game like this, where it's going to be competitive away from home. The crowd was into it. It just shows we're a really tough team."

On the team dealing with 40-0 talks ...
"We're not going to think about it. We're just going to take one game at a time. We're not even thinking about the undefeated talk or anything. (Reporter says, `You know it's there though.') Yeah, but we're just going to take one game at a time."

On the physicality of the game ...
"It was very physical. We knew it was going to be a bump and grind type of game coming in, so we prepared for it. That's it."

#12, Karl-Anthony Towns, Fr., F

On if the referees let the game go more than they expected ...
"I think the refs, just like us, were trying to feel each other out. It's one of those games you don't want to go so quick to making calls, everybody's physical. It was a game that was always going to be physical from the get. They just had to feel it out. I think the refs - some people won't believe I'm saying this - but I think they did a great job of trying to control the game. And also, just making sure they were being as fair as possible."

On how his play is dictated by the way the officials call the game ...
"It depends. Like I said, you have to feel it out. You don't want to be too physical and they call it, but some refs let you play a little more. Today, the refs were great. They let us play a little more. They wanted to set the tone early, called a lot of fouls in the beginning, but I've seen at the end they let the physicality play out and knew how everyone was going to play."

On defending Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell ...
"Our game plan was mostly to play the defense we always know how to play. If we can do that, we can beat anybody. We just came out here and we played solid. We made sure we did what we had to do to make sure we could keep the score as low as possible for Louisville. I think we did a great job today playing defensively."

On how tough and physical this game really was ...
"It was very physical. It reminded me a lot of playing overseas. It was very physical, but they let a lot go. It was one of those games you had to keep playing through the fouls. Don't worry about it. Don't complain. Just keep playing. You're not always going to get everything. You have to keep playing. If they call a whistle, then be glad they called it and at the other time be upset. It's fine. Just keep playing through it. This is one of those games you could have let little things like that affect us and it would have hurt us long term."

On whether he cares about whether games look ugly ...
"It's always about the W. It's never about how we look. It's more about the W. There's a lot of times we're going to be as basketball players--it's a process. It's something that we have to know. Sometimes we're not always going to look good. We're not always going to look the brightest and the sharpest as we always are. As long as we come out with the W, I know that we have that W on our schedule and also we can move on to the next game and fix what we need to fix."

On Tyler Ulis' game ...
"Tyler was great. He played amazing. He was able to--he was allowing us to--he moved the ball. He just led the team. He led the team. That's one of the things: Against a team like this, you need to make sure everything's under control. He kept the game under control. He was hitting shots like he always does. Hit a floater. He was pretty, pretty, pretty good today. Pretty good."

On Willie Cauley-Stein in the second half ...
"Does that surprise any of us that Willie played great defense? I mean, that's his specialty. Willie's one of those guys, it's going to be one time in my life I'll be able to play with a person like Willie Cauley-Stein. It's a blessing playing with him and I just want to enjoy all the time I have with him because you never know when he's going to leave. You never know. I'm just blessed to play with a person like him to learn from him. Possibly one of the best defenders I'll ever play with."

#1, Tyler Ulis, Fr., G

On playing well in his first game against Louisville ...
“It was a great feeling to get that win there, especially because it was a rivalry game. That’s was my first big away game and it was a great feeling.”

On experiencing his first true road game as a freshman ...
“I was more excited than nervous because it was my first away game. Being a freshman I just wanted to see what the atmosphere felt like.”

On relishing the hostile environment ...
“We kind of like that. Like I said, it was exciting. As freshmen we’ve never been in that situation. We just really wanted to see what the atmosphere would be like, see what the away feeling would be like and how their fans would react to us.”

On how physical today’s game was ...
“It was extremely physical. They played rough. They like to get up in you defensively. I got hit with an elbow and had to get (three) stitches. I just felt like we prepared very well for that game in practice and getting ready to play how they played. We were ready.”

On how he got the laceration above his right eye ...
“I got elbowed.”

On whether he knew he was bleeding when he came up the court after it happened ...
“No, I didn’t know I was bleeding until one of the players yelled to the refs, ‘He’s bleeding!’ And then they stopped the game.”

On how a player his size counters the physicality of a game like that ...
“Just trying to use my quickness and my basketball IQ to my advantage and not try to get into all the rough stuff and just play my game.”

On those 3-pointers late and how big they were ...
“They were really big. Three people hit big shots late: me, Aaron (Harrison) and Andrew (Harrison) hit three 3’s late in the game, which really opened it up for us in that point of the game.”

On how much they are looking forward to having a long stretch off before their next game after this type of game ...
“We’re just looking forward to getting better as a team and just trying to rest our body a bit and get better.”