Men's Basketball
InteractiveTwitterFacebook
Kentucky Travels to LSU For Super Tuesday Battle




Jan. 27, 2014

CoachCal.com: No surprise to Cal, Cats rising as players fall in love with grind

The way John Calipari described it after Saturday’s win over Georgia, to become a team you have to break down a team.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky at LSU
Tuesday, Jan. 28 - 9:00 p.m. ET
Baton Rouge, La.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader (Supplement Get Acrobat Reader) | LSU Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: ESPN
Radio: UK IMG
Live Video via WatchESPN
Live Audio
Live Stats
Text Updates

“It is about players first,” Coach Cal said after one of his team’s better performances of the season, a 79-54 rout of Georgia. “You’ve got to get them right. You’ve got to get them in the frame of mind, and then you get your team right.”

For maybe the first time all year, after a half-season of breaking individual players down and redefining their games, Calipari has hinted in recent days about having a team, not a collective group of individuals.

“It took us time to get them to think different, think totally different than you’ve ever thought about this game, and then it’s taken time to define how they should play,” Calipari said on Monday. “You got to kind of define it, and we were all discombobulated for the first month trying to figure that out.”

Read the full preview

Pregame Media Opportunity - January 27, 2014

Head Coach John Calipari

On possible bad weather at LSU …
“No, we’re good. We will practice and leave and get down there. Our fans are going to be there. They were in Dallas believe me so they will be there. The issue will be getting out of there, not getting down there.  So we are practicing, leaving and will be down there ready to play. We are prepared, practiced yesterday, had a great practice. These guys on a day after a game came out and gave us a great hour and 35 minutes. We are getting to where every day you can try and get better because we are not fighting it. DeWayne (Peevy) says, he does not hear me yelling every 12 seconds, ‘play, play.’ I don’t yell that anymore because they are now doing that. But they looked good yesterday.

On players starting to enjoy the “grind” of practice …
“I think that they all are. We have to enjoy it. I enjoy it. You know the game is getting in the way of me having fun. Just seeing guys get better.  I go back to what we do, when you see an Alex (Poythress) who took stock in where he was and didn’t like it and changed. Then you now see him smiling in practice. We are showing him tape of where he had jump shots and didn’t shoot them in front of his team. He is running from jump shots right now. And so he laughed and then we end up in practice, Andrew (Harrison) drives in the middle, jump stops, throws him a ball, he shoots a 3 and makes it. Boom, practice over lets go. It is not that I want him to take 16 jump shots, but he has got to keep the other team honest and he is a good shooter.  And so you know take two or three jumpers a game, four, sometimes maybe more because of how they are playing you. That’s what we are getting from this. Aaron (Harrison) listened to how we wanted him to play, Andrew is getting better even though we still have lapses, Willie (Cauley-Stein) showed what happens with two days of practice of going back to what he was doing and we are now trying to get James Young to stop in the lane, still not doing it, so stopping him and saying to him that is where you have your opportunity to do it. So we are slowly but surely getting better.”

On James Young settling on too many jump shots …
“He settles and he avoids contact. That is what we are trying to get him to understand, you have to go in there to create a foul. It’s good for us, it gets us to the line, stops the game and it gets their guy out of the game. If a team is not deep and you are driving it and getting them in foul trouble, which we are a great team, there is only one game that a jump shooting team, took more free throws than us. The rest of the time, that is what we do. We create fouls and we get to the line because of how we play. Now there are all kinds of ways of doing this. You can decide to shoot jumpers and 3s, which means you are not going to get to the line as much as the other team. That is just a fact except that one game.”

On defending LSU’s forward, Jordan Mickey …
“Oh yeah, he and Johnny (O’Bryant III) are both two of the better big guys in our league. What (LSU head coach) Johnny (Jones) is doing for Johnny (O’Bryant III) is he is giving him space to play different ways, he is putting him in short corners, squaring up shooting jumpers, he is putting him in the high post.  Mickey is just kind of roaming around down there. Every time they need a basket, it is like a shot goes up and he is tipping it in or doing something good.”

On Willie Cauley-Stein’s mental toughness …
“He’s got to play lower. You’ve got to play lower than the other guy’s hips. My thing is prepare in practice to play great. That’s what he did the last couple days and the team knows it. It’s great to see that they are all for each other. They are happy to see that Alex is playing the way he is, they’re happy for what Willie has done, they are happy for Dakari (Johnson), and they’re happy for each other. We’ve got great kids. I just wish we were farther along. It took time to get them in shape. It took time to get them to understand how to play hard, which we are still learning to play with great energy. It took us time to get them to think totally different than they have ever thought about this game. Then it has taken time to get to define how they should play. You have got to define it. We were all discombobulated for the first month trying to figure that out. Now it comes down to, okay, we have to be a better team now. We have got to have better ball movement, which they have started to do by having energy off the ball, and then the biggest thing on the road is mental discipline. We went to Arkansas and we made seven critical errors of just ‘why did you do that?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Did you not know this is how we play this?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘So why did you do that?’ ‘I don’t know.’ That’s all mental discipline. So, we have to have that both on offense and defense because you’re on the road now. You’re not getting calls, you don’t have the fans behind you, and so you can’t make seven critical break downs that are just mental like ‘Why did you do that?’ And that’s what young kids do. So, we are zoning in on that a little bit, it may take us time. The good news for these two games coming up we’ll know where we are.”

On beginning to figure his team out …
“Yes, I am and I am having fun with it. We are playing Julius (Randle) differently than we played him in the beginning of the year because we are just figuring him out. It takes time. We are the youngest team in the country and there are a lot of things we do that other teams don’t have to do because they’ve got established teams. They are just hoping they don’t get injured. They know who they are, they know how they play and that’s not us.”

On helping a young team with mental discipline …
“I talk to them about it and then I said ‘What should I do?’ ‘What would you do if you were the coach?’ I asked them that because it’s the next step, the next level of our team. I said part of it is I’ll just take you off the floor and you’re going to run. You keep breaking down and you’re going to run. I am not running the whole team when you’re breaking down, so get on the side and run. The other part, in the game, I am taking you out. I’m not going to argue with you I’m just saying you broke down again, mentally, you’re out. We’ll go with who has the mental toughness to sustain. We’ve got to force it on them because they have never had to have mental discipline because they’ve always been the best player. ‘I shoot all the balls, and when I can’t shoot it I’ll try one more time to shoot it before I pass it.’ ‘I couldn’t get it off, here.’ ‘Your ankle is too bad.’ ‘Or when I throw it to you I stop.’ ‘Well, you were in my driving lane.’ Well drive another way. I mean all of that off-the-ball defense ‘It’s not my man who scored’. ‘It was you’re man because you were supposed to help.’ That’s all the stuff we’re going through and we’re getting better and better right before our eyes. The last one is can we sustain mental discipline for 40 minutes? Can we have a team that does that? It would be scary to see what that would look like. You have teams I mentioned today, and again I’ve only watched them for about five or eight minutes, but Florida plays extremely hard and they sustain that. It’s not a spurt, that’s how they play. But they have four senior starters. That’s what they know. We’re trying to get our guys to say this is who we want to be, this is the mental picture, let’s go for this and they are trying. Like I said yesterday we walked off and said, man, day after a game and that kind of practice tells me a lot about where they are mentally.”

On mental toughness on the road …
“Yes, you have to because you don’t have anything behind you. You’re not going to get a break. There is nothing that’s going to go your way, so you can’t have the seven errors that we had at Arkansas and win. ‘It went into overtime.’ Yeah, and we lost because of those seven break downs, and they were mental break downs. ‘You just stopped, why did you do that?’ ‘I don’t know.’ And so those are what we are trying to eliminate. We are playing more people, and these guys are not playing as tired which helps us a little bit. I’m happy with everybody giving what they can, so it’s all good.”

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

On how difficult the team is to defend when everyone is playing well …
“We just got so many weapons. If everybody is clicking like that all the time it’s going to be real difficult just because we already have matchup problems to begin with, and if our bench is coming off like that too, it’s going to be real difficult.”

On the challenge LSU’s big men bring for UK’s big men …
“They’re tough. They play a lot like the Tennessee, (Jarnell) Stokes and (Jeronne) Maymon. They play tough and they’re going to try and bully you, but I think we’ll be alright and step up to the challenge.”

On that not being the kind of style he likes to go against …
“They probably outweigh me by like 40 pounds. I don’t know anybody who wants to do that.”

On finding a way around that …
“Try to use my strength, quickness, speed, pride. Step up to the challenge. That’s all you really can do.”

On pride factoring kicking in after slump …
“Yeah, when you start hearing things and people making excuses for you and they have no idea why you (were) in it, it’s kind of like, ‘How do you come up with that?’ So then pride does kick in.”

On wanting to show he’s one of the best defensive guys against LSU’s Mickey …
“Absolutely. Hearing about him is going to make you step up. Anybody in that position would step up and try to prove themselves.”

On liking the road environment …
“It’s different, it’s fun. The crowd is crazy. It’s live, it’s real hyped, but it’s also hard because the crowd is crazy and the hype is real loud and it’s a fun environment. It’s just difficult to play in.”

On whether he looks at his stats after the games …
“Not at all.”

On having a stats-stuffed sheet after last game …
“Yeah, but I didn’t realize that I even had stats like that until I got home and Mike (Malone), our strength coach, was like, ‘You realize what you just did?’ And I was like, ‘No, what are you talking about?’ And then he told me and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of neat.’ I really don’t even look at it.”

On Julius Randle saying the team is falling in love with the process …
“Very accurate. Last year there wasn’t that many people that would stay in and come in at night and work out. Now it’s like that. We’ve got three or four or five guys doing that every night. It shows that we really buy into this and we’re trying to get better every day.”

#30, Julius Randle, F, Fr.

On getting awarded SEC Freshman of the Week …
“It’s humbling, great that I can accomplish that. Of course my teammates were a big help for me doing that. We’re really starting to click and they’re making me look good.”

On it being nice to see his work be rewarded …
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Again, it’s just Coach put me in a good position, getting the extra work in, my teammates helping me succeed. Any one of us could have won it.”

On how much better he is passing out of traps …
“I’m better. Coming into Kentucky, I think passing was one of the best parts of my game. It’s one of the things I enjoyed the most, playing with players like Matt Jones and (indiscernible), who were on my summer team and school team. Those guys could really knock down shots and I really enjoyed passing them the ball and seeing them make shots. I think it’s a big part of my game. At the college level it’s a lot harder, a lot different, but I definitely think I’ve gotten better over the season.”

On the difference between high school and college passing …
“That’s just it, longer, the speed of the game is different. But I think I’ve done a better job adjusting to it.”

On how difficult it is to defend UK when everyone is playing well …
“I don’t know how difficult we are. I play for them. I’m pretty sure it’s a difficult thing because we have so many weapons. So many people can do different thing in the court.”

On how much he’s played against the young players at LSU …
“Two of them. Jarell Martin in the McDonald’s game. I played against him the first game my senior year. Jordan Mickey, I played against him in tournaments and AAU and stuff like that.”

On Martin and Mickey playing well …
“I guess I’m happy for them. I don’t really pay much attention to other teams so I couldn’t tell you what he’s done. I think Coach (Kenny) Payne mentioned that he’s the leading shot blocker in the SEC right now, and I’m happy for him.”

On if he likes playing on the road …
“I do. Just a tough environment, everybody against you. We got to stick together. If we’re going to survive, we got to stick together. It’s kind of that feeling that brings out competitive nature.”

On whether the season’s fun or more of a grind …
“Anything you do is going to be a grind, but I think the biggest thing is we learn to enjoy and love the grind and love the process. It just makes things a lot easier. We’ve fallen in love with the whole process of getting better and changing habits, and because of that, it’s been smooth for us.”

On this road game determining where the team is at …
“Big time. LSU just came off of a tough loss; could have easily won the game at Alabama. Then Missouri, of course, they’re a great team. It’s a big-time test for us.”

On playing better when the team shows more emotion …
“Yeah, I think that’s a big thing for us, having fun. But we could look at it as hard work like, ‘Ah man, this is tough’ or we could look at it as fun and we’re getting better and we’re excited about getting better. If we do that, I think the sky is the limit for us.”

On having something to prove playing away from Rupp …
“Yeah, wherever we go we have something to prove. We know it’s everybody’s biggest game. We know they’re coming in regardless. You can’t take days off. We just got to keep getting better and look at it as the next challenge.”

On what he’s seen from LSU’s film …
“I really haven’t seen any film of them. We’ve worked on some of their offense. I know their players pretty well, Jordan Mickey, Jarell, Johnny O’Bryant. I know they run the offense through him. I haven’t watched too much film of them but I know they’re a pretty good team and they’re pretty talented.”

On the challenge of guarding O’Bryant …
“He’s talented, strong. He’s just a tough matchup for us, but we’re working on it. I think we’re getting better defensively. We should be fine.”

On looking more comfortable on defense …
“Yeah, for sure. Coaches have been really working hard on us with it and the biggest thing is that we’re working hard at it. Not just going through the motions and it’s making defensive confidence for our team.”

On how much easier it’s made it for the guys down low with Andrew Harrison developing …
“A lot easier. As the season has gone on, he’s gotten better and better and that’s a big thing for us. It’s made things a lot easier for us.”

On players knowing where to pass the ball …
“Yeah, stuff like that takes time. We’re starting to play better as a team because we’ve had time to develop as a team and get better. I think we’re growing as a team because we’re getting more comfortable with each other.”


 

 

Kentucky Interactive CoachCal.com