Kentucky Opens Keightley Classic with Robert Morris

Nov. 16, 2013

Scouting the Colonials

Robert Morris owns a 2-1 record thus far into the season with wins over Savannah State and Lafayette. Senior Karvel Anderson leads three players averaging double-figure scoring with 18.3 points per game. Classmate Mike McFadden is posting 11.0 points and a team-high 5.3 rebounds per outing thus far.

Gameday Information
Keightley Classic
Kentucky vs. Robert Morris
Sunday, Nov. 17 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | RMU Get Acrobat Reader
Radio: UK IMG
Gameday Live: Live video, stats, audio, blog, and social media
Text Updates

The Colonials have logged 141 wins from 2007-08 through the 2012-13 campaign which ranked as a school record. RMU returns six letterwinners and a pair of starters from last season’s NIT run including 2013 All-Northeast Conference third team Lucky Jones. Jones is averaging 13.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game through two games in 2013-14.

The Robert Morris - Kentucky Series

Robert Morris and Kentucky have met twice in program history including last season’s matchup in Moon Township, Pa., for the opening round of the NIT Tournament.

The squads have split the two meetings with both teams earning a victory on its home floor.

Mike McFadden hit two free throws with 8.7 seconds remaining and the Colonials stunned the defending national champions 59-57 in the opening round of the NIT in the team’s last meeting.

Robert Morris led almost the entire way. Lucky Jones led Robert Morris with 15 points but was ejected for a flagrant foul on Archie Goodwin with 3:41 to play. Kentucky, which trailed by 13 in the second half, managed to tie it twice but could never grab the lead. Goodwin scored 18 points to lead the way for the Wildcats.

Pregame Media Opportunity - November 15, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On the tape of last year’s game vs. Robert Morris …
“I haven’t watched. I had Robes (assistant coach John Robic) look at it and I’m trying not to look back at it, but I probably will watch it before we play. Mainly to see how they guarded some of our stuff. The game I watched already, they’re still playing just as hard, just as physical as they did. They faced. They were down nine and came back in one win. They were down last night, playing against a zone for 40 minutes is really hard and Eastern (Michigan) plays 40 minutes of zone, no matter what you do they’re playing zone so that was a tough deal for them.”

On if he’s seeing what he wants from his team after facing adversity …
“Well, the one thing is when you out-rebound a team like Michigan State; you’re way tougher than we were a year ago. But still, our guard play is not where it needs to be physically. The rules dictate some of that, but some of it is just us. We’ve got a ways to go with this team and I’ve said it from day one. We fought like crazy to get back in that game. We had to run one play 16 times. Just keep running it. Same play. We found one thing that worked and it was like, we’re not changing. One coach said to me, ‘let’s run…’ I said are you watching the game? We’re running one thing here ‘til the game ends. We’ve got to do some other things as a team. We changed some things, the way we were playing we had to change a little bit of stuff and we’re trying to tweak some stuff to see what works for this team because this team is different than the others that I’ve coached.”

On if it’s a positive to have a guy they can run a play 16 times to …
“We have a couple guys that have to, we need to run pick-and-roll. We need to run things for our wings. You always have Julius (Randle) to go to. Alex (Poythress) is playing out of his mind. You know and it was a great thing, kids, especially young kids, their egos, Alex went from a starter to the sixth-man. Way too many minutes to probably a few minutes less than he needs. Less shots and all of a sudden he’s not even, he’s like, his stuff is sky rocketing. So that stuff doesn’t matter. Your shots and points, that’s all ego. It’s how you are playing. He and Julius carried us (against Michigan State). The other guys were kind of out there, but those two carried us. And so you’re trying to tell the other guys, you know, you’ve got to sink into your role and then be the best at that and that is how you help our team and help yourself.”

On how Andrew and Aaron Harrison reacted to the Michigan State game …
“Well, again (there were) a lot of people crying in the locker room after that game and they both knew, the guys that didn’t play well, knew they didn’t play well. So, you know, we did some things yesterday and it comes back to the same thing like, wait a minute, you didn’t know this? We started working on some things yesterday that I saw on tape. If you think they know you’re going to make a mistake. They’re no different than any other young team, young freshman. But Aaron is going to be fine, so is Andrew. From this you have to change though and I said that yesterday. Just saying, OK they’ll learn from that, I need to see that there is change, there is a change in their attitude, there is a change in their approach, there is a change in their effort level, there is a change in their focus, as long as that’s happening then it was a good experience for us.”

On Andrew and Aaron Harrison’s body language …
“They’ve got to learn. They get upset with themselves but you can’t, you know, you just can’t do it. They’ve got to learn, this stuff doesn’t, when you’ve had a habit that you’ve had for 17 years, to say OK, within two months you’re going to change. You look at Alex, it took him a year, took him a full year, to realize if I don’t change this I’m not making it. He’s changed.”

On what has changed with Alex Poythress
“More mentality, it was more mentality. He just wasn’t emotionally ready to do stuff and right now I’m just telling these kids, let’s worry about being good college players because we’re not right now. Just worry about being good college players, worry about being a good college team. When the season is over we’ll worry about all that other stuff. Let’s worry, unpack the bags boys, unpack the bags, let’s start playing some basketball, let’s get better.”

On saying before the season that when he watched this team he thought he better start calling next year’s recruits …
“I know and I probably, some of it is probably me. But I did right, I probably just shouldn’t have said anything, but I did right; you know it’s a hard thing here to keep them in the moment and if we were in their shoes and they knew four months from now this could be happening to me. If it were us? We probably couldn’t talk to us. We couldn’t talk to us. These kids want to be coached. They want to be taught. They want to please me. The big difference between what we’re doing is this team is really skilled. They’re basketball players; they have a physical presence to them. We just have to get it right. I’ve got to make some things simpler for them. I’ve got to get Andrew really being the quarterback for this team and he wants to be. Got to talk more, our team didn’t talk, I had more comments about, your team is quiet, your team, well they’re not but I think they were like deer in headlights, what happened to them. But to say that you have 17 turnovers and only create seven because you’re playing defense like that. To say that you missed 20, you go 20-for-36 from the line, you miss 16 free throws. To say that they got 22 points in transition and you got two and you had a chance to win. What just happened? How in the world did we have a chance to win? Again, there was nice will there, the guys kept fighting. They kept trying, so we have something to build on. They had a chance of letting go of the rope. We should have been down 20 at half. Now as we go into this game, this team (Robert Morris) is really aggressive. They get up in you. They play really physical. The rules should affect their play a little bit because you can’t do some of the stuff that you could do a year ago; they’re not letting you do it. But they’ve got a team that’s coming in here that’s saying, we beat these guys, let’s go. They’re not afraid, I watched this team, they’re not afraid.”

On how Dominique Hawkins played …
“Played really good, he played really good. I think I’m going to slide him into the rotation to get Andrew off of the floor some and probably slide Marcus (Lee) into the rotation and have he and Willie (Cauley-Stein) play together some. So just, we probably played, Julius played too many minutes, he’s cramping up. Andrew played too many minutes which meant he’s trying to pace himself, you can’t, you just go and then sub, and then go again and then sub yourself. We’re trying, again, we’re going to make adjustments the whole year. I’m still trying to figure out the team. I know we’re big and I know we have pretty good players but this is a team, it’s not just a collection of players and we have to figure out what’s the best way for us to play.”

On if there are any more needs for the 2014 signing class …
“Probably need to sign about two more, maybe one or two more but at least that I would say. You know we’re involved with some kids that we want to be involved in and again, you’re going after kids that you want that want you. That want this, that walk out and you’re judged from, your third game you’re thrown in the game that’s the highest rated game, second highest rated game in the history of ESPN for a non-conference game. The highest, second-highest, what was the highest? What was it? Jerry (Tipton) knows, he just didn’t want to repeat it. That’s your third game of your career and you’ve got Magic (Johnson) and all these people watching; now you’ve got to want that here now. And every player is coming after you personally. Gary Harris wanted to prove, I’m better. What do you think (Keith) Appling wanted to prove? I’m better. You’ve got to want that. If you don’t want that you don’t come here. And then the other thing is, this isn’t the only place you can go and play basketball. We don’t get everyone we want. Kids go other places, I think it’s always been that way but we get who we want in the end of the day, guys that, the four that we got are all skilled, great students. Really, maybe the best students that I’ve recruited in all my years of coaching but they’re also really skilled players. They’re really, you know, 7-foot, 6-10, I mean they’ve got size. For us, I’m excited about them but we’ve got to finish the class and as the coach telling you you’ve got four guys and you’ve got to finish the class, let me just say, is not normal. It’s not traditional. But that’s what it is here.”

On the team not being happy they almost beat Michigan State …
“This team, this team cried let me just put it that way. This team cried. Last year’s team in that game fought like crazy and did some good things but we were who we were. The good news is, guys are a year older, other guys have their opportunities and this team is a totally different team. Again, whether it’s a win or a loss, probably the worst thing for this team and this staff would have been coming back and winning at the buzzer. I know it would have been great for TV and it would have been great, it probably would have, for me I was literally physically ill for a whole day, not because of No. 1, that’s how I am after we lose. I was physically ill and it got me back to saying, OK what do I have to do with this. And if you win, sometimes you look through all the stuff and it’s hard to get through to those guys. The only thing that brings about change is a crisis and in this sport that I coach it’s a loss. You lose, there’s a crisis, there’s a crisis in the staff, there’s a crisis on the team, there’s a crisis in the program. We’ve got to change this and to survive everybody has got to accept a different role and do things a little differently and go after it. That’s where we are right now.”

On if he’s heard any basketballs in the gym late at night …
“Guys are coming in, I mean guys are, guys were, you know, a couple guys were really devastated. A couple other guys didn’t have an idea of exactly, you know, where they were. But they know now. And, you know, for me it gave me a better grasp of where we have to go with this team. I told you, we didn’t have much in, think about what I said; we ran one play 16 times. We don’t have much in, they’re running plays and curl cuts and back screens and lob passes. We’ve got one play. Well, we have to add to it, we have to get the others more involved in things; we’ve got to play maybe a little different in transition. So we’ve got some things to work on, we’ve put in the press; we’ve got to do some things.”

#4, Jon Hood, G, Sr.

On if he thinks about how the season ended last year …
Do I think about Robert Morris? I think about what happened last year, yeah. Last year was on my mind up until we started practice this year.”

On Sunday’s game against Robert Morris and if it’s a revenge game …
It is just basketball. It is not a revenge thing. It is about us getting better. We are coming in here just like Northern (Kentucky) did, just like Montevallo or whoever. It’s just another game to us. We are here to get past it and to get better. We want to pour it on to every team. We want to win by as much as possible and get better while doing it.”

On Alex Poythress
He does look like a different guy. He understands what he has to do now. He understands how hard he has to play, and the coaches have done a great job in helping him in practice to do that. He’s been held accountable. (He is definitely a different player), just in his body language alone he’s different.”

On Coach Cal’s advice to the team …
He talks about it being a good thing that we lost (to Michigan State). So that the guys have to understand where they are and what is happening in the program and in their lives. So that’s something he’s talked about. It might be a good thing that we lost? Yeah. Guys have to understand and learn now.”

#30, Julius Randle, F, Fr.

On Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo’s admiration for him following the game on Tuesday …
“I just felt like it was necessary for me to step up at the time, and I feel like my team needed my help, needed a lift. It was only right for me to do it.”
On how he was feeling after losing despite his performance …

“It was just upsetting. I hate to lose. Whether I had 27 and 13 or if I had one point and we won I’d be happy, but I just hate to lose.”

On the difference in his performance between the two halves ...
I was just more decisive. First half I was holding the ball for too long, instead of making quick moves and quick decisions. The second half I was more decisive, and things came a lot easier.”

On how well they are becoming a team …
We’ve learned a lot. We’ve kind of started to establish how we want to play. and we’re just getting better. That game we grew up a lot and matured a lot and we’ll be fine.”