Three-Game Homestand Begins Wednesday vs. Vandy

Feb. 19, 2013

Kentucky will begin a three-game homestand starting Wednesday when UK plays host to Vanderbilt. The matchup marks the second of two meetings between both teams this season. Kentucky garnered a 60-58 win in Nashville to open league play in early January in the first game.

Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt
Weds., Feb. 20 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Rupp Arena
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | VU Get Acrobat Reader
Gameday Live: Online video, audio, blog and stats
TV: SEC Network Get Acrobat Reader
Radio: UK IMG
Text Updates

Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer poured in 18 points in UK's last time out at Tennessee. Junior Jarrod Polson scored a career-high 11 points in his first career start against the Vols, while senior Julius Mays reached double-figure scoring in a fifth-straight game to lead the Cats.

UK leads the series with the Commodores by a 137-45 margin including a 76-14 clip when the game is played in Lexington. Vanderbilt is coming off a 63-56 win over Texas A&M and has won two of its last three.

Scouting Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is 10-14 overall on the season and 4-8 in Southeastern Conference action. The Commodores have won two of their last three including a 63-56 triumph over Texas A&M on Saturday. Kedren Johnson leads two players in double-figure scoring at a 13.7 points per game clip. Guard Kevin Bright leads the team in rebounding with 133 on the season and an average of 5.5 per outing.

Media Opportunity - Feb. 15, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On how is practice going …
"It's alright. We had some people come in and watch us a couple of weeks ago. Then two weeks later he came back and said he had never seen energy like that in the building before. That guy is going to be here today to see what the energy is like now. You have to prepare yourself to play great. That means you go knock out in practice and go unbelievably hard, talk to one another, and have great energy. In all my years that's how you do it. There's no individual meetings. Hopefully today we will step on the gas. They're ok; we were doing some things to make them think a little bit."

On how he feels about his team's listening skills …
"Well you don't know why. We don't have bad kids. Their habits are so bad that they just keep doing the same things. When you are looking at young guys this is what happens. You do whatever you can to get guys to listen but after a while people are watching and saying, 'why aren't these guys listening?'  I think it comes down to being overwhelmed by the situation, now we have the injury.  Now it's time to change and they are trying to take stuff in on their own, 'let me do this' you can't play that way.

On whether he's dealt with it to this extreme …
"I have made some crazy statements. That was nothing, saying a guy is not coachable because you won't listen; you won't listen to anything. When I was younger, that was a very kind statement. So if you were close to me at that point, you would have said 'I can't believe he says this.' You know what's amazing?  I'm like (Federal Reserve Chairman Ben) Bernanke and the President, I make a statement and the Stock Market starts to move. We have to close down borders."

On how he hears about how popular his statements become …
"Somebody said that they are talking about you saying this, and I said, 'I said that on the bench.'  Here is the crazy thing, you have coaches that will go after their team and publicly do it really nasty, and those teams respond. There are all kinds of ways of doing this. Right now, maybe that's what I should do because me taking it pm, I think they are accepting it (and saying) 'yeah, it is him.' There are all kinds of ways of doing this. You are trying to hit buttons. The frustrating thing is the bench isn't my friend. What do I mean by that? You shouldn't play like four games in a row, now are you ready to do this right and we play without you and we play well. We don't have that luxury. So right now we are just trying to get it done, and trying to get them to accept how they're going to have to play. I think they now it. I think they were embarrassed by what happened up there. But, I'll be honest; if Nerlens (Noel) were here, it would've been the same way. That team came out of the gate chewing nails. We weren't ready for it.  Whether Nerlens was behind there I don't think it would've mattered.  It may not have been the score that it was but it still would've been a big number. Our thing is okay how do we play now? What do we do? And I think they understand."


On the risk of using a smaller rotation of only seven or eight players each year …
"You're risking. The whole thing here too becomes you lose your whole team and have a great class, but there not quite to the … (hand gestures like climbing a ladder) you know what I'm saying? But that's part of the risk you take. That's part of the deal here. The other risk you have is I don't like having 12 guys on scholarship who all deserve to play. If you have three or four injuries, or this or that happens, or a couple guys just don't have the mental makeup for this even though you've talked about it. This isn't for everybody. (I) can't hide you. All of the things that I've said for four years, you get exposed here. Sometimes it happens. Now, the issue for me as a coach is just keep coaching them. I'm not going to change. I'm going to keep coaching them. I'm going to do everything I can, try to push whatever buttons, I'm reading any book, trying to give them anything, but the reality of it is they've got to go out on the court and start performing better. What happens to us right now, one team wins a one-point game and a three-point game. We go to Florida where everybody's losing, you lose another game pretty big, now it's the psyche of are you tough enough to walk through that? Are you tough enough to put that all behind and understand what the feeling is when you have a great game? Great games don't always lead to wins. I mean two teams battling, and executing and playing well, you can walk off the court and feel disappointed but really good about yourself. It's a piece of mind. It's not just winning and losing. We have to get to that point and worry about the process, have an enjoyment in practice, all of those kinds of things. It's late, but this is a new team. What we're doing here has never been done with young guys. It's not what we want to do; it's just how it's all played out. The second thing is there's not been a team that's been one of those teams that's lost their best player the last six-seven games and have the guy be the kind of player that you have to change a little bit and tweak how you play. The only way you can learn what's working and not working is in the games. Then you have some time to adjust, a day or two. Then you've got to throw it in the next game. That's where we are. You can't just skip steps. But I'm accepting it and saying to these guys, 'Let's go.' We're still getting after it."

On the change in defense with Nerlens Noel no longer around the basket …
"It's a big change. You have to change a little bit how you're defending, which we are. Yesterday, you know, again, you're just starting up and 'Okay, here are the adjustments we're going to make.' It's tough because guys, their focus and concentration, they're 18 years old. 'Why are you out there?' 'I thought we were.' 'Oh, my fault.' We've had more 'my faults' this year than I can tell you. It's just a lack of concentration and discipline and again, when you don't have the bench to just say, 'Boop, out.' You can't do it and force them to concentrate a little bit more; it makes it a little tougher. But I'll say this, all of that aside; we can make what we want of this season. Whatever we want we want to make of this season we can do. We could be the story of the year of recovery and all that. We can do that, if they choose to do that. We don't have to win every game. We just have to know that we've got to keep getting better and figure out how this team has to play, and then see how we can do it and how we march on. But our guard play is shaky at best. We've got toughness around the basket, getting balls, we're not doing that. Obviously, defensively it was poor, so we're changing a little bit. We've got some issues to deal with, but the biggest thing is just battle, fight. You've got nothing to lose. Go after. But we'll see."

#5, Jarrod Polson, G, Jr.

On coming off a loss and believing the team can win without Nerlens Noel
"I don't think it really affects our belief. I think we think we're a good team. Maybe we were a little shocked or didn't realize how much he affected on the defensive end but we're trying to go over it and see what defense we can do now without him. I think we're going to have a good scheme so hopefully it will work out."

On taking more charges …
"We weren't really focused on charges much before. We had Nerlens down there and you don't really need to. But a lot of us haven't taken charges our whole life so it's something new for us, but we've been working on it. A charge is just as good as a block or even better – it gets a foul on them. If we start doing that more, that'll take the drives down for the other team."

On being the same Jarrod that's gone up against former UK players and current NBA players like Marquis Teague and Brandon Knight

"I'm trying to be more aggressive now. And now that Nerlens is out, maybe a little more scoring, looking for my shot more and being more aggressive on offense – not just trying to run the offense all the way through."

#34, Julius Mays, G, GS

On the team's mindset after loss to Tennessee …
"(We're) not looking back to Saturday, we are only looking ahead. We know the task in front of us and we're just ready to get started."

On the practice before Tennessee …
"I just don't think guys minds were right the day before leaving for Tennessee. That was the worst practice of the year by far. We were just out of it mentally and we really didn't get anything accomplished."

On rebounding …
"We just have to be a lot more physical, have to put more bodies on people. Everybody has to rebound because we can't depend on just Alex (Poythress) or Willie (Cauley-Stein) and Kyle (Wiltjer) to try and get rebounds. Everybody has to do their part to get two or three rebounds."

On playing Vanderbilt …
"We're looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. Definitely want to rebound after a two-game losing streak so we're looking forward to a home game."