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Kentucky Continues Homestand with Texas A&M




Jan. 20, 2014

Cat Scratches: Young staying confident as he refines outside shot

James Young had never really thought much about his shooting stroke. Before he got to Kentucky he had always, well, just shot the basketball.

Now, Young is more aware of his mechanics. He can feel when he doesn't keep his shoulders forward. He knows when he jumps or lands or just one foot.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. Texas A&M
Tuesday, Jan. 21 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | TAMU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: ESPN
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Gameday Live: Live stats, audio, blog, and social media
Text Updates

"I think about it a lot recently, how I'm shooting," Young said. "I've just gotta clear my mind a little bit and just let it go."

It's not that Young has been ineffective. The freshman guard is averaging 14.2 points and getting to the foul line nearly five times per game.

"I know he's not shooting at the percentage that he would like, but he's putting the ball in the basket," assistant coach John Robic said. "He's just creative in the way he (scores)." ... read the full preview

Scouting the Aggies

Texas A&M boasts a 12-5 overall record and a 3-1 mark in Southeastern Conference action. The Aggies began the season with a 3-0 league mark before dropping an 81-72 overtime game at Mississippi State on Saturday.

The Aggies have just one player scoring in double-figures in junior forward Jamal Jones who is scoring at a 12.3 clip. Sophomore guard Alex Caruso is notching 9.1 points, 5.2 assists and 2.2 steals per outing. He’s dished out 88 assists in 17 games this season.

Series History vs. Texas A&M

Kentucky owns a 3-2 all-time record against the Aggies, a mark that includes a 1-1 clip from last season. Both road squads earned a victory in the home-and-home series. UK will not make a return trip to College Station in 2014.

Texas A&M Coach Billy Kennedy

Billy Kennedy is in his third season at the helm of Texas A&M. He has logged a 1-1 record all-time in head-to-head matchups with the Wildcats which includes an upset in Rupp Arena in his first career matchup with UK.

Last Time vs. the Aggies

Freshman Nerlens Noel had a season-high 19 points and Julius Mays also scored 19, including five in overtime, to lead Kentucky to a 72-68 win over Texas A&M on Feb. 2, 2013.

The Wildcats led by one point before Mays made two free throws with 15 seconds left. Texas A&M had a chance to tie it after that, but Elston Turner’s 3-pointer bounced off the rim with five seconds left. Mays added another free throw with a second left to secure the win.

The Wildcats opened overtime with a 7-1 run thanks to a jump shot by Noel and five free throws to take a 69-63 lead.

Pregame Media Opportunity - January 20, 2014

Assistant Coach John Robic

On (Texas A&M’s) Jamal Jones and what makes him effective …
“It’s funny. You watch the tapes on him, and everybody uses the term long with him. He’s 6’8”, thin-built, pretty-looking stroke and you look down and he’s averaging 12.3 (points) per game. When you watch the film, it’s like he’s scoring basket after basket after basket, but lately he has been scoring a lot more. (He’s) a dual threat off the dribble and off the catch. He’s more of a three that’s playing the four, so we have to make sure we guard him out on the floor. We have to make him take tough 2s instead of catch-and-shoot 3s.”

On starting faster and the solution …
“If we had the answer to that question, we’d be good. It seems like we’re ready to play. Pregame warm-ups have been really good. I think it was a carryover from a good shoot around that morning. Most teams don’t shoot that early for a noon game, but we do. We don’t go that long, 25 minutes. We thought we were ready. I don’t think they were prepared themselves for how physical the game was going to be. That’s something that you really can’t simulate, and that’s something that cost us early in the game.”

On Aaron Harrison and James Young becoming better perimeter players …
“I think at times, they’ve been good. They have their lapses like all young kids do. But these kids aren’t really that young anymore. We’re almost two thirds of the way through (the season). On-ball defenders, they are solid. If we can minimize them stopping and playing tired possessions and then come out when they are tired --. We don’t need a breakdown like that. That’s what we did at Arkansas. We pointed it out to them on film. We had fewer of those against Tennessee. Obviously the rebounding in the Tennessee game was the difference in a closer game or a game in which we could have stretched it out a little bit.”

On the problems of Willie Cauley-Stein the last few games …
“The Tennessee game was just a physical game. He has to fight a little bit. He really didn’t position himself well on the shot and got thrown around a little bit, with big, rugged jobs. It was something that we worked on just now in practice and it’s something that we will work on tonight when we practice.”

On if he has problems with bigger players …
“Typically no. He is not the strongest (player), but he has to anticipate, he has to make contact, he can’t just worry about out-jumping someone. If you’re not going to get it, don’t let your man get it and keep him off the glass. That’s what (Jeronne) Maymon did with Julius (Randle).

On being outrebounded against Tennessee …
“We weren’t surprised. Don’t quote me on this, but this might have been the first game we got outrebounded this year. If not, it may have been by a one or two margin. To give up 20 offensive rebounds was a ton, but some of those there were three or four offensive rebounds in the same possession so those add up quick on tips. It wasn’t as glaring when you watch tape, but there were still 20. The Arkansas game, we stopped playing. We thought the ball wasn’t going to go in, that was it and we were going to keep playing, but that wasn’t the case.”

On lack of rebounding…
“It’s a tough thing to break, to not ball watch especially when you you’re a guard. Guards have to get long rebounds and guards have to crack down on guys, especially when you’re on the weak side because that’s where majority of the balls go. If a big goes to block or a big is out on the perimeter, it’s that guard’s responsibility to crack down and keep that big off the glass. It’s something that we work on every day and sometimes we’re good at it, but I thought defensively we were really good in the Tennessee game. We were doing some things that we haven’t done before and it’s good to see that they’re carrying some things over.”

On how the team can improve…
“I would say playing entire possessions. Our execution is getting very good, free throw shooting was good the other day, we just got done shooting fouls now, which we shoot them every day, our transition game is getting better, our decision making is getting much better and we could see that the few practices before the last game. I thought Andrew Harrison had a terrific game because he carried over the things that we’ve been working on in practice, not because the stats in his line. That was evident and obvious, but he was doing it here and when your point guard does that, it helps everybody.”

On Willie Cauley-Stein’s physicality in practice…
“We’ve only practiced once since the game. We practiced yesterday for about an hour and a half and he did fine. Julius and Alex are probably our two most physical players, they’re not Maymon and Stokes. They’re on the same team most of the time when we practice, but when we break down individually they can be. He knows he has to fight and if he doesn’t fight he can’t be on the court. Cal has explained that to him and he did fine yesterday.”

On head coach John Calipari saying his assistants talked him out of starting Alex Poythress last year on Elston Turner …
“You’d have to ask Orlando (Antigua) and Kenny (Payne), I think I was sick that day. I just watched that tape this morning and, you know, they’re an entirely different team and so are we. You can’t get a whole lot out of last year’s film for a lot of these teams because we’re altogether new and most of these teams have lost key parts of their team.”

On how extraordinary Elston Turner’s game was after watching it again …
“No, I watched the game we won. I didn’t watch the game we lost. I’m smarter than that, Jerry (Tipton).”

On how you change James Young’s shot but not making him overanalyze it …
“Get in the gym and practice. I mean, big thing with James is having his shoulders, keeping them, not getting them back. He’s a good shooter. I know he’s not shooting at the percentage that he would like but he’s putting the ball in the basket. He’s just creative in the way – he reminds me of the kid we had at Memphis, Chris Douglas-Roberts, just a little unorthodox, it doesn’t look like it’s going in but somehow it finds a way to go in. And we have all the confidence in the world for him and the shot that he made at Arkansas, the one that Andrew (Harrison) made at Arkansas were big shots and it showed us something. There were a lot of good things that we took out of that game as well. But just getting in the gym and repetition.”

On James Young saying he felt his shoulders back on the first 3 he attempted to tie the game in overtime …
“Shooters know. I mean, a shooter is going to feel like it’s going in, hopefully they feel like it’s going in every time they let it go. It’s just a confidence thing, just go shoot shots and just do it the same way every time.”

On Jarrod Polson’s minutes going up and Dominique Hawkins’ minutes going down …
“Well, I don’t know what the factor would be, they both practice really hard but even last game they both – Jarrod played a little bit more –  but when they were both in there they both gave us energy that we didn’t have and it picked us up. That’s something that as we went back and watched the film, that those two kids did that and they may not score a bunch of points and do whatever but it’s getting into the legs of the other team and just bringing that to hopefully pick us all up.”

#2, Aaron Harrison, G, Fr.

On being happy for how his brother, Andrew, played Saturday …
“Yeah, I’m really proud of him. He hasn’t been playing as well as he could the whole season, but this was his breakout game.”

On why Andrew has struggled …
“I’m not sure.”

On being the one guy who missed a free throw Saturday …
“It’s not really a big deal. We shot free throws really well. We’re just happy about getting better at the free-throw line.”

On not missing a free throw until he got to the line late in the game …
“I wasn’t aware at all.”

On the relief of making free throws …
“Yeah, definitely. It’s just basketball, really. Some days you have stuff. We lacked some other things that game but free throws made up for it. Just being a good team is when you’re not feeling something someday, you have something else to fall back on.”

On whether he tweaked his ankle during the game …
“Yeah, I did. It’s alright.”

On what he’s seen from Dakari Johnson
“He definitely needs some confidence. He’s got some confidence off the last couple of games. He’s been playing very well, grabbing every rebound, just playing really hard. He’s a great player.”

On the luxury of having a 7-foot, 260-pound player coming off the bench …
“It really helps us a lot. He’s a really big body. He banged a lot with the big guys Tennessee had and it’s really helped us.”

On where they have improved the most this year …
“Just becoming a team. Just really sharing the ball and playing team defense.”

On having more fun now than they were earlier in the year …
“I guess we’re starting to have more fun and we’re just learning how playing hard together is more fun than playing well individually and not winning.”

On playing more off the ball now than he was earlier in the year …
“Yeah, when Jarrod (Polson) comes in, he pretty much takes over the point guard spot for me.”

On how aware he is of what Elston Turner did in Rupp Arena last year …
“Yeah, they talked about it a couple times and I heard about it. He’s from the same area as me. He went to a high school in my district. I didn’t watch the game though.”

On what he thinks of a 40-point game …
“He was pretty hot, I guess. Everybody has their days.”

On sensing that Andrew was getting close to having that type of game …
“Yeah, definitely. He’s definitely been getting a lot of extra work in lately, putting a lot of shots up. It was going to come sooner or later.”

On why he was struggling earlier in the season …
“Maybe thinking too much maybe. He just went out there and played really and did his thing.”

On how much he and Andrew feed off each other …
“We try not to just feed off each other; we try to feed off everyone really. We just try to make it as a team.”

On motivating each other …
“We definitely motivate each other.  Just growing up and being my brother, it’s just natural.”

On being surprised with their slow start Saturday …
“It’s always a little surprising but everyone comes in and is really excited to play here and starts off really fast and hits a lot of shots, but we always get it back together.”

On how important it is for them to make 3-pointers …
“I guess it’s just extra work that we’re all putting in, just coming after practice and putting lots of shots up. If we do hit 3s, I’m pretty sure we would have much a better record actually than we do this year, but we’ll just take it as we do it.”

On the key to starting faster …
“I think it’s just coming out with more energy than the other team. Teams come into Rupp Arena really excited of course and just really ready to play. We just have to make sure we have more energy than they do.”

On how they can manufacture more energy …
“I think it’s inside of all of us. It’s not something you can just really do.”

On how much free-throw shooting is contagious both when they’re making them and when they’re not …
“We know we lost some games because of free throws. That’s a big point. We all just put a lot in work at the free-throw line before practice and after practice.”

 #1, James Young, G/F, Fr.

On how close they are to playing hard as consistently as Calipari wants …
“We’re getting better every day. We came a long way from where we started off and we’re getting better every day in practice and I think that’s the big thing.”

On how they have made that change …
“A lot of off-the-court stuff, like going to team dinners and stuff, hanging out a lot more off the court.”

On “clutter” and whether Calipari talks about it with the team …
“Yeah. Before practice he talks about it every day and it’s just something we gotta learn to block out and just focus on basketball.”

On what Calipari means …
“Just listening to everybody and just not focusing on what we should be doing. It’s just something we gotta work on blocking out.”

On whether he has done anything different to work on his shot …
“Really just keeping my shoulders forward like I have been and I’ve been struggling a lot jumping off one foot or whatever and landing on one foot. So getting my technique right and getting everything back to form.”

On his confidence remaining unaffected …
“Not at all. He gave me the green light to shoot so whenever I’m open I’m just going to keep shooting it. I’ve just gotta knock them down.”

On Texas A&M …
“They play with a high energy, great defensive team. So we’re just going to have to pick up the energy and feed off the crowd and then we’ll get the W.”

On it being Texas A&M’s Super Bowl …
“Yeah. Every team’s going to play like that. Everywhere we go for away games it’s going to be a white out or a black out so we just gotta be ready for every game.”

On learning that all teams will approach UK that way and Tennessee starting strong …
“Yeah. They came out with a lot of energy and they were hitting a lot of tough shots. We’ve just gotta stay focused and keep going off the energy that the crowd was bringing and I think we did good.”

On needing to take open shots when he has them …
“Yeah, because we get a lot of dribble driving if the open shots are there. Once we get it into the post, they kick it out a lot and we get a lot open shots. So we definitely gotta take the shots.”

On whether he has ever worked on shooting mechanics this much …
“Not really. It’s just about getting better every day. That’s what I just came here to do.”

On whether it is hard to be thinking that much …
“Yeah, definitely. I think about it a lot recently, how I’m shooting. I’ve just gotta clear my mind a little bit and just let it go.”

On whether repetition is the solution …
“Yeah, definitely. Getting on the gun, taking extra shots and stuff like that.”

On being more aware of shooting mechanics during games …
“Yeah, definitely. Because recently I’ve just been landing on one foot or my shoulders have been back. So I have to work on that a little bit more and that means just getting extra shots up. I can feel it every once in a while when I lean back and shoot and it kind of messes up my shot.”

On when that started …
“It started when I got here. I probably think about it too much when I shoot. I think that’s really messing up my shot and I gotta start, like I said, clearing my mind and letting it go.”

On whether his mechanical struggles are a product of playing against better players …
“Yeah. They play a lot more defense than they did back in high school, so it’ll probably affect me a little bit. I’ve just gotta stay confident in my shot.”

On whether missing shots can affect the rest of his game …
“Yeah, it kind of does. I try not to think about it as much and just go on to the next shot and just feed it to the post as much so I can come back and get another open shot.”

On what he brings to the team when his shot isn’t falling …
“Definitely getting to the free-throw line, getting fouled a lot and making the free throws.”

On becoming a defensive stopper …
“Yeah. (Jordan) McRae is a great offensive scorer and I tried stopping him a lot and he hit a lot of tough shots. Cal just said, ‘Keep your hand up every time he shot and that’s what I did. He just made some tough shots.”

On what he saw watching tape of rebounding from Saturday …
“We definitely need to box out a lot more and that’s what we’ve been doing since the last game. That’ll never happen again. We just gotta keep a body on somebody and keep boxing out.”

On whether it’s a pride thing to respond …
“Yeah. It’s just something we gotta take pride of and just not let the guy outwork us, like Coach Cal said. We’ve just gotta play more tough and physical.”


 

 

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