Men's Basketball
InteractiveTwitterFacebook
Kentucky Travels to the Music City to Face Vanderbilt




Jan. 10, 2014

Cat Scratches: Hawkins making his name on energy, defense

Willie Cauley-Stein knew all about his soon-to-be teammates when he elected to return for his sophomore season.

He was aware of the hype surrounding Kentucky's top-ranked 2013 recruiting class and his hope was to compete for a national championship with the newest batch of Wildcats. There was, however, one incoming freshman completely unknown to Cauley-Stein.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky at Vanderbilt
Saturday, Jan. 11 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Nashville, Tenn.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | VU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage

TV: CBS
Radio: UK IMG
Live Audio
Live Blog
Live Stats
Text Updates

Dominique Hawkins was the final member of John Calipari's signing class, parlaying a Sweet Sixteen performance for the ages on his future home floor into a scholarship offer into a scholarship offer. He was a decorated player, to be sure, but lacked the five-star billing of Julius Randle or the Harrison twins.

Nearly halfway through his first season at UK Hawkins still isn't a household name, but his teammates certainly know who he is. ... read the full preview

Scouting the Commodores

Vanderbilt comes into the game owning an 8-5 overall record and a 0-1 mark in SEC action after a 68-63 loss at Alabama to begin the league portion of the schedule.

The Commodores recently lost leading scorer, Eric McClellan, but have three other players logging double-digit figures. Senior Rod Odom paces the scorers with 13.8 per outing while also hauling in a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game.

Guard Kyle Fuller is registering 10.0 points per game and has dished out a team-high 48 assists on the season. Guard Dai-Jon Parker has passed out 43 assists as Vandy averages 13.7 dimes a game as a unit.

This will mark the only meeting between the two teams in the 2013-14 regular season.

Series History vs. Vanderbilt

Kentucky owns a 138-46 record in the all-time series, including a 54-27 mark in Nashville.

UK has won five of the last seven meetings between the two teams.

Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings

Kevin Stallings is in his 15th season at the helm of Vanderbilt. He has logged an 11-20 record all-time in head-to-head matchups with the Wildcats including a win in the SEC Tournament title game in 2012.

Last Time vs. the Commodores

Dai-Jon Parker scored 12 points, and the Vanderbilt Commodores beat Kentucky 64-48 in a rematch of last year’s Southeastern Conference tournament championship.

Archie Goodwin led Kentucky with 12 points, and Kyle Wiltjer had 10 as Kentucky was held to a season-low in points. The Wildcats outrebounded Vandy 32-30 with Willie Cauley-Stein pulling in a team-best nine boards.

Vanderbilt hit 18 of its first 27 shots in the game including their first five to open the second half to mount a 48-27 lead UK could never recover from.

Pregame Media Opportunity - January 9, 2014

Head Coach John Calipari

On if he was worried about ‘Camp Cal’ after the first few minutes …
“No, we were really rusty and when you watch the tape, it’s amazing how they revert. If there is game slippage, or when they get tired, the biggest thing they must learn and they just haven’t yet, is that every team that comes in here has unbelievable energy to start the game. We just don’t seem to think that matters. So you’re down 10-0, 12-2, 8-0. Maybe I’ve got to start people that understand it. But this is like every game now and it’s the same reason. They outrun us, they outwork us, they’re more alert to play than we are and then we kind of kick it in. I told them after the game that against a really good team, you’re down 20 and you’re not coming back. You’ll get it to eight or 10 and they’ll push it to 16 and then you’ll get it to six, and you’ll lose by 12. That’s what’s going to happen against a good team.”

On lineup changes …
“Yeah, but right now I look at it and say let me ride this out a little bit because we’re basically playing Alex (Poythress) and Dominique (Hawkins). I’m really proud of Dakari (Johnson). Dakari gave us great minutes. He’s just got to make free throws. I told him you can’t be a guy who can’t make any free throws because if the game is in any balance at all – if it’s an eight-point game and I put him in with seven or eight minutes left, (other teams) will just foul him. Just foul him. If he gets it, foul him. Put a guy in – he goes in, you go in – foul him. So, I told him, until you get this figured out, it’s hard to keep you in the game. He did everything else well.”

On Dakari Johnson’s growth …
“Again, as a Basketball Benny, I have to remind you that if I’m coaching the other team, I put in a guy that never plays and guards him. The minute I throw it to him, he turns to shoot, I foul the crap out of him. He misses two, I take him out, you take him out. That’s what is going to happen. You’ve got to be able to get up there. The same thing goes with Willie (Cauley-Stein). You don’t have to make them all. You just can’t miss them all.”

On Dakari Johnson’s game coming along the last few games …
“He’s running. He’s moving his feet. I told him right at half, ‘Look, I’m playing you this half and we’re going to score. If they double, kick it and re-post.’ I think he was ready for it. Again, he is not a bad free throw shooter. Most of this becomes the mental part of it.”

On the rewarding aspect of seeing a player like Alex Poythress grow …
“Yeah, I love it. Nothing makes me happier. Again, it took him awhile to accept the fact that he had to change. Most of it is just changing how you think and changing how you approach things, and change your mentality about practice and loving the grind and then seeing the results. They have to see results to build on that to get better. He is seeing it. Now, I want him to take some jumpers. He’s a good shooter. I love that he made his free throws.  Now go get fouled. I want him to drive to the middle left to right and shoot his jump-hook that he has taken 9,000 times in two years here. Now do it in the game. You don’t have to go three dribbles, behind-your-back crossover, just take it, get the ball behind the man, take it into the lane and shoot the jump-hook. He’s got more game. I just like how he is settling into how he’s going to play. He’s in great condition, he’s in a great frame of mind, his mentality has changed, he’s changed how he’s thinking. He started the game with a one-handed rebound. He brought it in to go shoot it, and by the time he got it in the guy did rake his arm when you watch the tape. But, he didn’t get it up to the basket. If he would have grabbed it with two, he would have gone up and dunked it and it would have been nothing. But, he grabbed it with one. Those are the kind of things that we’re trying to get him away from. He’s defending better. He’s doing that better.”

On how Dominique Hawkins handles a sagging defense …
“Well he is a good enough shooter, but he knows that’s not his deal. He is going to have to get in the gym more because he is going to have to take some of those shots. The other thing he may have to do is we may have to cut him to the basket. The nice place to stand him may be pass it to the post, cut under the basket and stand right under that goal and then throw it right to him. He can dunk it. So you can do different things if you’re not playing him. I’ve had players like that before. I’m not even worried about that. You keep that energy on, you keep defending. He did some (bad) things in the game. He fouled a kid and gave him two points for no reason. What are you doing? ‘I don’t know, I’m sorry.’ He didn’t get back and he gave a kid a layup. OK, timeout, why didn’t you go back? ‘I was stopping the ball.’ You were stopping the ball? So he threw it to a guy who shot a layup? Why did you do that? ‘I don’t know.’ But he’s not the only one. That’s the answer. That’s like the common answer with these guys. Why would do that? ‘You tell me why I did that. I have no idea why I did that.’’

On changing the way they run the fast break and how he thinks the team did with those changes …
“They did a better job of fighting our post than our post did of creating space so we could throw them the ball. We had one guy that created space so we could throw it to him, who was that? You watched the game? So why did he do it, but our other guys didn’t? I don’t know. Dakari sat down, he made himself big, he yelled for the ball. So we are going to do some things today to get them in a stance. What I think will happen is I think teams will play us sagging to make us shoot jumpers. Maybe an opportunity for Derek Willis, but he hasn’t been shooting well in practice. My thing to him is, ‘I want to get you more minutes but you have to prove in practice you can make seven, eight, nine in a row. And we can go to you and your team is going to have confidence in you and so are you.’ But, I think they are going to sag and they put three guys on Julius (Randle) and that is how I think people are going to play us. But we started the game shooting seven 3s. Now what do you think one of our weakest areas is? So why would you start the game shooting them? Because it is easier than being down and ready and driving the ball. What did we do the second half? I said, ‘If you shot a 3 without a drive to the middle or a post you were out.’ So if you want to play you can either pass it or go like this and everybody is going to say, ‘What is wrong with him why won’t he play?’ Or you can either drive the ball or post the ball and that is what they did the second half. Defended better, but most of it came off that you demoralize them a little bit. Our zone offense was good. Our zone offense against a 1-3-1 was getting dunks and layups. Ran better in the second half because we defended better.”

On advancing the ball with passes …
“Yeah, we did and it showed. The other thing I thought was that we were in better shape. You saw in the second half we didn’t back up at all. But it is not that, do you understand how excited they are to play you? Yeah. You got to be as excited to play them as they are to play you because the one thing their coach is going to say, every coach, ‘You must outwork these guys to beat them.’ Then take that away. That is off the table, they are not going to do that. The second thing is going to be really sag off and hope they settle for 3s. Then don’t settle for 3s. How about that one? I know it is a crazy thought, but don’t settle for 3s. You are in the top one, two, three in the country in free throws attempted. So do that. Now let’s hope we make a few more. We are making 23. We should be making 29-28. We should be scoring five more points a game from the line. So let’s do that. We are on the path to get more steals then we’ve been getting. That is good. Now, let’s keep building it. We didn’t change, we played one defense. We didn’t do anything to confuse them and we still had a few more steals.”

On James Young increasing rebounding…
“We are playing him in a position offensively he just goes to the glass, so he got five. But playing the position he is playing where he is guarding one of the perimeter guys, not even the three, but one of those other perimeter guys. It seems as though those guys go back so he gets a free run at the ball. I think that has helped him.”

On transition offense …
“Because you need to get some free baskets. You get them on offensive rebounds. You get them on your blocked shots and your steals and you get some free ones. We are still bad. They still scored five baskets on throw it ahead, throw it ahead, basket, foul, layup. I mean, and we didn’t match them so we are going to cover some of that stuff today. We still have a ways to go. They show signs. In the second half, if they would have played like that in the first half you would have been up 20-something going into the second half. So why would you do this? Their answer is, ‘I don’t know. I have no idea. Do you know, Coach?’”

On Vanderbilt only having seven scholarship players …
“Stop. I had seven last year, don’t want to hear it. I could care less. You know, everybody felt sorry for us when we had seven.”

On the different bench configuration at Vanderbilt …
“We’ll have to talk more and we’re going to talk about it today. There are some things that if we’re not talking to each other and they’re not relaying calls, we’ll make them run. But the reality of it is that the game is going to start, that team is going to be fired up to play us at home on national television. Are you inspired to play them? Or does it not matter to you? Again, Florida State (football) said it best. In the first half we were playing for me, in the second half, we played for us. A guy said that’s why we won the game. What do you need for the team to play well? And I just keep coming back to that for this team. I’m asking you to do these three or four things. Why not just do them? Your team needs you to do these three things – can you do them? Well, if you don’t you’re coming out. I did a lot of subbing for that yesterday. Out. Next guy. (I’m) not going to keep telling you. Just sit down. So we’ve got a ways to go, but again, you see all these funky scores and crazy scores happening and you start in league play. You go on the road. Stuff happens. It’s hard to win on the road, it’s hard to win in your league. Everybody knows each other. Georgia going to Missouri. How about Arkansas and Texas A&M?  Texas A&M had been struggling and they come back. Arkansas was 11-1 or whatever they were. They hadn’t lost games and they go there and they get them good. It’s crazy. It’s not just our league, it’s every league. You look around and you’re saying what is going on? That’s just what it’s like.”

On his son’s ACL surgery …
“He’s good. They kept him an extra day. I spent some time with him last night. He comes home today.”

#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F, So.

On the Mississippi State game being the coming-out party for dunking all the time …
“I hope so. It makes it more fun, sharing the ball and stuff. But I don’t know, it’s just the opportunity presented itself, I guess.”

On the dunks intimidating the opponent …
“I’d be intimidated if people were dunking like that on us. But I can definitely see it.”

On the differences between him and Dakari Johnson
“He’s a banger. He’s a dude that you can put in games and be really physical and he’ll bang with you inside. It’s been the same thing since the summer. I mean, y’all said the same thing. I don’t know.”

On whether Johnson has grown …
“You know, it takes longer for some guys to get the hang of the college game. I think he’s just starting to figure it out, how to be able to play at this level, do the things that he’s got to do, but learn how to do them and I think the two weeks off we had really helped him.”

On his back-and-forth with the MSU player and whether he was trying to fire up his teammates …
“Honestly I don’t know. It really just happened, I guess.”

On emphasizing transition offense and defense …
“I think Coach Cal would like to be half the game, is transition buckets. Those are the easy buckets that you don’t have worry about trying to run a set in the half-court. At least 20 points of our mass points should be transition buckets and transition defense is big, especially in this league. If you can stop transition buckets, then you’re looking pretty good.”

On why Coach Cal has to tell players to speed up …
“I have no idea. Habits, I guess. Other than that I don’t know.”

On his evolving offensive game and whether he showed that off against MSU …
“No. I just—I really never look to score until they started making the emphasis that I needed to do it. So I mean now it’s just being a first nature instead of a second nature.”

On what he has worked on offensively …
“I honestly couldn’t tell you. I really don’t know. The same stuff we’ve been working on for two years now, it’s just now getting comfortable with it, I guess.”

On what he is most comfortable with on offense …
“I honestly don’t know. Probably just like a jump hook or something. That’s my go-to at least.”

On why he changed his hair …
“I needed to keep it? (Reporter says he was just wondering.) I mean, a new year, Jerry. A new year and a new look. You got to start the New Year off right.”

On Dominique Hawkins’ dunk in practice …
“That saved practice for me, to be honest. It got me a little extra juiced to finish out one of Coach’s practices and it was a fun and hyped moment for everybody. You could see on the video it was really fun.”

On whether he is tired of the media …
“Never, no (laughter).”

On whether he wants Hawkins to shoot when teams sag off him or if that’s not part of the offense …
“No, it’s part of it. Personally, I think he should have shot way more. If they’re going to sag off of you, you may as well shoot it and let us rebound it if you’re worried about missing. In practice, he’s been hitting it. So if you’ve been hitting it in practice, then I would shoot it. I don’t know. He hits it in practice. I really don’t know why he didn’t shoot it unless Coach said for him not to, but I don’t think Coach would do that.”

On how it affects a player to hear the crowd imploring him to shoot …
“I don’t know.”

On whether he hears it when the crowd asks Hawkins to shoot …
“Yeah. I probably was one of them yelling. To be honest, I was probably one of them yelling for it. But, yeah, you hear it but I really couldn’t tell you why. There’s some reason. Dominique is a smart dude and there’s some reason why he didn’t shoot it. Maybe he thought he had something better he could get. I don’t know.”

On whether Hawkins has surprised him …
“I didn’t know who he was coming in. I honestly couldn’t tell you what he looked like, what his last name was coming in. But he can hoop. I love him to death too. He’s a great guy and he can hoop. If he can keep on hooping like that, we’re going to be all right.”

On whether Hawkins just needs to get more comfortable …
“Oh yeah, definitely. Once he figures it out, it’s going to look nice for him.”

 #25, Dominique Hawkins, G, Fr.

On the crowd yelling at him to shoot the ball …
“I definitely can hear it, but I just ignore it because I know Coach Cal wants me to run the offensive plays. I basically ignore them when I hear them say, ‘Shoot!’ ”

On whether it bothers him that they’re telling him to shoot …
“No, it doesn’t bother me at all.”

On what it sounds like to him when he’s on the court …
“It feels like a big echo of somebody telling me to shoot. It’s pretty crazy because I never had that before because in high school I always shot the ball. If I was open I was definitely shooting it.”

On his reaction the first time he heard it …
“I kind of wanted to shoot it because I knew I was open, but I just let it go on the side and kept on running the offense.”

On whether his teammates tell him to shoot the ball sometimes …
“Oh yeah, they want me to shoot the ball if I’m open because they know I got the ability to shoot the ball. We were trying to get it inside because we took too many 3s at the beginning. I think, like, in three minutes we took seven 3s. We were just trying to get it inside more.”

On whether his confidence is getting back to where it was in high school …
“I think it’s kind of a process kind of deal right now because I’ve been shooting a lot of shots lately and most of them haven’t been falling for me, so I got to get my confidence up more and get in the gym and shoot more.”

On where the dunk that he had over Marcus Lee during practice came from …
“It did come out of nowhere. I didn’t even think I was going to dunk when I went up. I thought I was just going to lay it up. I guess my body wanted me to dunk it or something because I wasn’t thinking about dunking it at all.”

On his teammates getting excited for him after the dunk …
“It definitely makes me feel good. It makes me know that I’m part of the team and they care about what I do, and also what everybody else does.”

On standing out by just going hard …
“That’s definitely what I try to do because I’m the type of person that’s definitely going to try to push other guys to become better, and if they’re not trying to compete with me then in practice they’re probably going to get in trouble or something. I’m just trying to push them and make them better.”

On why they are shooting too many 3-pointers …
“I think we get away from feeding the inside because we feel like we’re open at the 3. Plus there’s some players – I used to be a type of player that, if I’m not getting a shot, I’m going to force up a shot. So I think that happens too.”

On all the dunks …
“It was surprising for me. We haven’t had a game with so many dunks like that. We looked like the Los Angeles Clippers with Lob City and everything, so it was pretty exciting just to watch on the bench.”

On what the locker room was like after the poor first half against Mississippi State …
“Cal just told us that we were getting outplayed and that we need to push on the button real fast. As soon as we heard we knew that we needed to do that because if we didn’t, we knew we had it coming for us at practice and maybe even lose the game if we didn’t try to compete as hard.”

On second half being like they have been practicing ... 
"Oh definitely. That's definitely how we've been practicing. I don't really know what happened in the first half, why we were performing so bad like that, but in the second half, that's everything that we did in practice and I'm glad that we were able to perform like that." 

On how big transition is ... 
"It's a big part for us. That's the first thing we do in practice. We do a script transition thing and we push the ball up the court and see how fast we can get it up the court." 

On why transition is a huge part ... 
"Because he knows that we’ve got talented players that can score the ball and push the ball fast. Everybody on the team’s got speed, plus if we miss the layup or anything like that we got bigs that will come and put it back in." 

On him being an example of a player who plays with a short memory ... 
"It's something that I've always been able to do. I know if I make a mistake, I can't take it back and redo it so I just keep on playing." 

On Calipari getting on him during the game ...
"Yeah, it was on transition defense, I didn't pick up the right man. I knew that I didn't do it right so I just let it go. I was going to make up for it just cause I didn't do that."

On it being easy to shake that off ...
"For me it's easy because my high school coach used to get on me a lot because I had bad habits in high school. I still do have bad habits in college, but it's easy for me to shake off if I'm getting yelled at. I don't get frustrated at all." 

On how hard it is internally for him to adjust his role ... 
"It's very tough, to be honest, because I know that I'm open and I want to shoot it bad, but I'd rather play for the team and get other people open shots and get our offense right." 

On him working a lot on shooting ... 
"I definitely work a lot on shooting. We even have a drill in practice where we do a lot of shooting and I just couldn't hit it in the game."

On whether or not Calipari tells him to shoot it if he's wide open ...
"He told me either shoot it with confidence or drive the ball. That's what he told me."

On it seeming like they wanted him to take those shots ...
"They didn't ever tell me it but I could tell my teammates wanted me to shoot it because they kept on passing it to me because they know I was open."

On it being strange to be played with space to shoot compared to high school ...
"It's really weird. It's different. I've never had people sag off me like you said in high school. I just gotta prove that I can shoot the ball so they won't sag off me anymore." 

On friends and family saying things about him getting so much playing time ... 
"It calmed down a little bit but still people are talking to me and texting me saying it's crazy for me, I'm getting all this playing time and stuff like that. I'm just blessed to be able to be on the team and get the playing time that I'm getting." 

On feeling pressure from the attention ...
"I feel no pressure at all."


 

 

Kentucky Interactive CoachCal.com