Winningest Programs Meet in Chapel Hill

Nov. 17, 2008

Quotes from the Pregame Press Conference | Complete Pregame Notes Get Acrobat Reader

After dropping a wildcat 111-103 contest in its season opener, Kentucky travels to Chapel Hill to take on the top-ranked Tar Heels in a nationally televised contest on ESPN.

The Wildcats could not overcome a hot shooting VMI squad that struck for 14 three-pointers despite a career effort by Jodie Meeks. Meeks led all-scorers with 39 points while Perry Stevenson recorded his fourth career double-double with a career high 20 points and a game high 14 rebounds. Stevenson also tallied four of the Wildcats 10 blocks.

UK had four players scored in double figures including Meeks, Stevenson, Ramon Harris, who recorded a career high 16 and Darius Miller with 12.

It was the first time Kentucky hit the century mark since Dec. 23, 2003 against Eastern Kentucky.

Cat Scratches

  • Kentucky is in its 106th season of basketball.
  • Kentucky is the all-time NCAA leader in wins with 1,966.
  • Jodie Meeks’ 39 points were the most for a Wildcat since Tayshaun Prince poured in 41 against Tulsa in the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
  • Perry Stevenson recorded his fourth career double-double against VMI scoring a career high 20 points, while pulling down 14 rebounds and adding in four blocks and two steals.
  • The Wildcats’ 100-point output in their season opener was the first time UK has hit 100 in a season opener since posting 124 on UT-Martin to open the 1994-95 season.
  • Kentucky trails the all-time series against North Carolina 10-20 including a 2-3 mark against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.
  • Once again, every Wildcat basketball game will be televised live, including both of UK’s exhibition games.

Coach Billy Gillispie

On UNC playing without Tyler Hansborough…
“I wish he was playing. They have a lot of really good players, but it's impossible to replace a player like him. They have good, experienced players that have done very well and are improving. I sincerely wish he was playing because I don't like to see anyone injured, and if they're deserving of an opportunity to stay healthy it's a guy who decided to come back after being Player-of-the-Year. I wish that he was healthy, and I wish for a speedy recovery for him.”

On UNC's tempo…
They've got really good players and it's one of the best programs of all times. Coach (Williams) has done an unbelievable job of getting his roster the way they need it to be. There is a reason they are number one unanimously in all of the pre-season polls. They have not one good player, they have a ton. As far as the speed of the game, it's going to be fast, it would be fast with or without Tyler (Hansborough).”

On UNC compared to VMI…
“They are faster than VMI. I didn't think VMI was really fast from one end to the other, they shot very fast. That's no disrespect to them they did exactly what they wanted. As far as running the speed of the court, it's not comparable to what we'll see with North Carolina. The speed is totally different. They have probably the best returning point guard (Ty Lawson) in the country and he makes it happen. Their system is fantastic for that. They have big guys and experienced wings that can run. It's one thing to be able to run, but it's another thing to be able to run and make plays. They have really good players and a really good system that helps. Their speed is tremendous.”

On Coach Roy Williams' recruiting strategies…
He gets the best guys he can that fit into what he's trying to do. They are at the point now where they have been really good for a long time, just like Kentucky has. Coach Williams has been there for a few years now and he has the kind of guys he knows will fit into a particular spot of how he wants to play. They make adjustments from year-to-year and game-to-game, but they have a really good philosophy and system in place and he's been able to recruit to that.”

On playing UNC at this time in the season…
“We are excited about playing them, especially after we got beat the other night. We are going to go over there and see if we can improve. We have to get better. Every single player has to get better. We have to coach better. We have to do everything better. That's what you do at this time of the year especially. I am certain that we will. We have some inexperienced players that made mistakes they won't make again. We have some guys that are going to play quite a bit better. I think we are all going to do much better than we did last time. I want to be aggressive, more organized, carry out assignments better, and stick with what we're trying to do. I'm disappointed about how we went about losing. We have to change a lot of things. There are going to be setbacks with individuals and teams as you go, and you just hope that you don't continue to make the same mistakes. I don't think we will. It was a good learning experience, even though losing is never the way to gain a good learning experience. I think we will improve dramatically.”

On improving point guard play…
“It's just a game experience. Everyone talks about how good they (VMI) are offensively, but they are really good defensively, at out of bounds plays, at the free throw line and at rebounding. They do everything well. As far as our point guard plays getting better, Michael (Porter) was nervous and I didn't expect that because I haven't seen that from him this year. DeAndre (Liggins) is an inexperienced player. For the most part they made some really good plays, especially DeAndre; I just don't think we helped him enough, from the sidelines or on the court. We understand that we are going to have a tough time at that spot until we gain experience, but we have to help them. It is my responsibility to help them play better.”

On Jodie Meeks as a point guard option …
“We will do some things with him, but we haven't yet. The other night I would have liked to have someone to be a calming effect rather than a point guard. We will have to worry about taking away from his scoring and shooting a little bit because it would be tough for him. He is very comfortable where he is, but we wouldn't know until it happened. Sometimes you change positions for guys and it's an automatic click, but I don't think it's a natural situation for him. He will initiate offense for us sometimes. When he does he will usually be the recipient of us running a play for him from the point position.”

On why Patrick Patterson didn't get more touches …
“I would say the way the game was played was about 75-percent why and 25-percent was that he didn't get off to a great start. As a sophomore he didn't respond as well as I have come to expect him to respond. In the times that we had opportunities to get the ball to him we didn't do a very good job. When you have 25 turnovers, you're not going to be able to talk about how well you passed the ball. We didn't pass the ball very well, but he could post better and I think that he will. Every time we get a chance to pass the ball to Pat, then we need to. I don't want us to get into a habit of missing him too often when he is open. We are trying to get better. I think our team is going to be able to be a fast past attacking team off the dribble. We will shoot it much better then we have, and we will be a much better rebounding team then we showed. ”

On how much Jodie Meeks has played point guard in practice …
“Any time we get a defensive rebound whoever gets the rebound brings it up the floor. That would be helped by him getting some more defensive rebounds. He has come a million miles as a player. Last year when he was healthy, he would get tired and shut it down some because of inexperience. He plays to exhaustion and that is what you want as a coach. Every single play he plays as hard as you can and fights through being tired. He was as courageous as you could be on Friday night because he never got a break. For him to become the absolute best player he can become he has to handle the ball better and do a few more defensive things and get a few more rebounds a game. I wouldn't doubt that he does that. He has been really coachable and a guy that can make plays. His number one goal is to help this team win, but also to get better as an individual. He has been doing exactly what we want him to do and he will continue to step forward for us. As far as how much he has played point guard, he hasn't played that much except in specialized plays.”

On the team's defensive effort against VMI …
“It wasn't very good. The biggest part was our transition defense was as bad as I have ever seen. We didn't communicate or help each other. They made a bunch of shots at the start, and we had a particular plan that we wanted to do at the start and coaches are always saying ‘stick with what we want to do,' but players panic a little bit. They have to understand that it is a 40 minute game and they are going to make some shots. But, you can't let your mine catch the ball and score. We didn't really help each other enough and we played selfishly defensively more so because of the panic and the way they made shots early.”