Cats Play Third Straight at Home, Host Pilots

Dec. 7, 2012

The Kentucky basketball team continues its five-game home stand Saturday, taking on the Portland Pilots for the third-straight season. UK won the first two meetings.

Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Portland
Sat., Dec. 8 - 12:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | Portland Get Acrobat Reader
Gameday Live: Online audio, blog and stats
Radio: UK IMG
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The Wildcats enter the game off an 88-56 win over the Samford Bulldogs Tuesday night. Willie Cauley-Stein tallied the first double-double of the season for Kentucky with 12 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four blocks and three steals.

Five other Wildcats also scored in double-figures including Archie Goodwin who scored a game-high 18 points to go along with four assists and three steals.

UK shot 55.7 percent from the field, including 58.6 pct from the field in the second half.

Scouting Portland

Portland travels to Rupp Arena for the second-consecutive season when the Pilots take on the Cats on Saturday. The Pilots enter the contest on a two-game slide after dropping a 68-60 game to UNLV on Tuesday.

The Pilots are led on the floor by forward Ryan Nicholas. The 6-foot-7 junior is Portland's top scorer (13.6) and rebounder (10.1).

Kentucky captured an 87-63 victory over the Pilots in late November in 2011. It was the third meeting between the two schools.

The first of three straight between UK and Portland was in the 2010-11 season when the Cats beat the Pilots en route to the Maui Invitational.

The Wildcats also defeated the Pilots in the 1990 UKIT.

UK coach John Calipari is 2-0 all-time against Portland.

Media Opportunity - December 7, 2012

Head Coach John Calipari

On how conditioning is going …
"Good, it's really more of a mindset. It's not going for an hour in the morning. A lot of it is the mental part of training in the morning. Mentally tougher, mentally stronger, not letting go of the rope, stuff like that. We practiced good yesterday. It's what we need right now."

On how he decides how to motivate guys …
"You coach them all different but yet there is a bar that they all have to understand, they all get treated to a certain level. How you deal with some guys and how you deal with others, some you're going at guys to see if they are really tough enough to make this. Other guys you're trying to drag them to see if they have more in them. There comes a point when you look and say he is what he is and when you do that, you're basically now just saying let's get this guy to be the best he can be, this is about where he is. I hate to ever get there with players. I want to make sure that we are challenging them and pushing them. Kids are different, they respond to different things. Yet in the same sense, how you get a guy to play like he's supposed to play they're different."

On backing off if he thinks a guy has reached his potential …
"It isn't about breaking, it's about, that's as good as you can get, that's as good as you want to get. If I want it more than you want it for yourself this is where you're going to be. The thing is, what happens to that player in most cases is that you live with the regret. 'Man I could have, if I had just…' and that's what you never want to live with and you sit down and tell them. I've never had a guy break, my guys all get better and come in with an attitude that they want to get better and that's what they do. I've seen guys really get on guys, but there is a big difference when you have a good relationship with kids and they understand."

On Ryan Harrow in the gym …
"He's getting better, he's getting better. He needs to be in the gym with a coach that's pushing him. But he's getting better. He's gotten better in practice. The team is starting to respond to him which is what they need to do."

On the point he reached with Josh Harrellson
"No, Josh, I was all over Josh because Josh wanted to lighten up practice so he'd do whatever he could to make practice funny because if he got everybody laughing they weren't going to rip his head off, dunk on him and take the ball from him and outrun him so let's all laugh. Believe me when I tell you, anytime he stopped and did stuff like that he got buried, buried and then I called him out on what he was doing. Keeping it real means when guys are trying to get over you've got to stop the practice, 'here's what you're doing right now but you're not fooling anybody.' You've got to do it right. This team, we've got a good group of guys, we really do. They just don't know how hard you have to work or what kind of investment you have to make in this sport. I've always had a couple guys on the team that could drag others; we're still trying to find that mix. Part of what we are trying to do now is a forced breakfast club. Now you don't have to do the breakfast club, in this case you are. You hope at some point when we stop that a couple of the guys continue, even if it's two or three days a week that they'll continue to do it. We're hitting a stretch, this game Saturday is a hard one. I just watched their (UNLV) game, they had (UNLV) beat. Very physical, very much a post-up team, they run their stuff, they execute. I hate to tell you but they look like Notre Dame to me and they had (UNLV) beat. I told our team, all that we've been working on we're going to see now if you're only doing it because I'm making it or you're doing it because you want to change. Now it will be for everybody to see because if they're only doing it because I'm making them do it at some point in the game they will let go of the rope. If they're doing it because they know they have to change, they'll play a full game. Now that doesn't mean you win Saturday but it means when everybody watches they leave the building and say, 'those dudes fought for 40 minutes, I can live with that, we're going to be fine.' And I think that's the response we're going to get."

On Ryan Harrow saying Cal was going back to his UMass days …
"Yeah I am (going back to earlier days of coaching), I mean I'm just holding them accountable like I've had to do with young teams. Probably have to hold them more accountable than any other team, the teams that I've had here anyway this team has the farthest to go. It's not schemes, it's not offenses, it's not defenses. It's a competitiveness, a will to win and then holding each guy accountable for that. For example, we're practicing, shot goes up, guy drives, Nerlens (Noel) goes to help, guy doesn't help down, doesn't help Nerlens. Now that's killed us all year, you've seen it …They're running, they're being held accountable. So Sunday and Monday we ran 40 suicides."

On freshmen coming in …
"You have a pretty good idea. Of the freshman I have coached, none of them have worked hard. It's after you get them here and they understand. In most cases, (fear) is what moves the kids. Not me. Fear of 'I'm not good enough. Oh my gosh, I thought I was." The most fearful guy I ever coached was Derrick Rose. Scared to death. He would stay in the gym five hours. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist feared he wasn't good enough. So, after his first game, or a couple of exhibition games, (he said) 'I may have made a mistake. I don't think I'm good enough.' That's what he is texting me from Charlotte. What? Are you kidding me kid? You may not shoot it as well, you may not bounce it as well, but the things you do, no one else does. You just work hard and compete. That's what you do. He was scared to death. The guys that think they are 'it' normally don't make it."

On the team's projections before the season … 
"I knew all along we weren't as good. But, I kept reading we were top five, and we are top three and we are this and that. We are just not there. I don't know what everybody else is thinking, but maybe I'm missing something. Then you see this player is this and that player is that and they are not competing. Talent doesn't even have to be even. The team that wants it the most, 98 percent of the time is going to win. It is who wants it the most. We all became intoxicated that we were good. 'This guy knows who I am, so he's not going to compete with me.' That is the opposite of what happens. They play out of their minds against us and against that individual. So, basically I am going back to my old roughhouse practices, which I normally don't like to do, and now we added in conditioning, and that adds in more fundamentally. We will see. Look, I am pushing buttons now. When you go for five days, six days, people say I need results right now. No. (It) may be a month and a half. That's one of the messages to my guys today, is that you don't change overnight. It took you a while to get like that. You just have to keep grinding, keep grinding and you will see."

On what the team needs …
"Yeah, but it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, the lack of that will fall back to me. I hope they will do it, but if they don't then I'm responsible. I keep saying if this team is empowered, we could sit back. But, right now, we need to work hard and it needs to be tough. That's what they need. If someone doesn't think he needs it, then that person is delusional. This is what we need. This is how we have to play."

On his players progressing … 
"They are all different. There is no set clock. Brandon Knight had a comment about how much pressure there was. We got him to change. We got him to put pressure on himself. That's the combination that works. It's not just him. I don't have a magic wand. I put them in the best position I can to compete. Nothing is given to them here. Nothing is given to them. I like the fact that somebody just told me Anthony (Davis) and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) put out something about coming back to school. These kids are coming here with the idea of 'I don't have any idea of how good I will be, but I am going to work hard both in the classroom and on the court.' It's kind of like Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins. 'Well, this guy is a one-and-done.' Let me tell you, we don't talk that way. Nobody knows. Nobody knew Josh (Harrellson) and DeAndre (Liggins) (would be so successful). They worked their butts off to be where they ended up. They did. They were surrounded by other teammates that cared about them, but it is a combination of all that. It may take us a little longer. We will see. We are going a day at a time. We've got the following week, and the week after that. We have more control of their time and we will try and take advantage of it." 

#3, Nerlens Noel, F, Fr.

On conditioning and getting up…
"It is tough, but we know it is going to pay off for us. Especially with conditioning, it will help us keep the tempo of the game up. Getting up is not that tough; I mean it is tough, but you just got to work through it."

On what is happening in the conditioning…
"It feels like its boot camp, it is a lot of push-ups, toe touches which is tough."

On the guys coming out earlier…
"We are definitely putting in the work. Just getting ready for the game and everybody is getting better."

On being in here on your own…
"We got a lot going on with tutors and classes. Some nights we have late night classes if we don't, we have tutors, but we definitely make time for that."

#5, Jarrod Polson, G, Jr.

On the expectation…
"Just coming off a National Championship, expectations are really high and we might have thought we were better than we really were. I think we have realized that we are not as good as people thought we would be right now or we thought we would be. It has definitely given us more encouragement to work and I think we have done that so far, especially in the last week.

On how hard they have been working…
"I guess a little harder and we have been working all year pretty hard, but at the same time when you win a National Championship you have to work even harder than we did last year. I think we are definitely starting to learn that now."

On early work with more players…
"It has definitely changed a lot. We would normally just text the coaches, and we usually had pre-practice which was mandatory and that has dwindled down a bit, but now if you want to come work just text the coaches if you want to work out and they will be here. Definitely, this past week has been good because we have been getting in the gym every day before practice, about 45 minutes before and getting a really good workout in before practice and that will really help us."

On this break with no mid-week competitions…
"I definitely think this is the time when Cal's teams get better and that is going to help us just practicing for five or six days straight, no games or anything. That is just going to help us get better individually and as a team."

#12, Ryan Harrow, G, So.

On if he is starting to get back into the flow of things…
"I'm starting to feel better. I have been working out a lot before and after practice so I am getting back into shape."

On how Camp Cal has been so far…
"It's just hard waking up in the morning, but other than that it is good to work out with the team and stuff like that."

On if this is a critical time for the team while classes are not in session…
"This is the time where the team is really going to get even closer. We will be together all day since there will be no classes. We have finals next week, so it won't start until the week after that. We will wake up, eat breakfast together, have practice, eat lunch together, come back for practice and then go see a movie together or something. We will be with each other all of the time."