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Kentucky, Ole Miss Tangle in Oxford




Feb. 17, 2014

Cat Scratches: Goals unchanged, UK taking positive approach to Ole Miss

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Kentucky at Ole Miss
Tuesday, Feb. 18 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Oxford, Miss.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader (Supplement Get Acrobat Reader) | UM Get Acrobat Reader
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TV: ESPN
Radio: UK IMG
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If you were thinking doom and gloom would set in following UK's loss to Florida on Saturday, think again.

As painful as the defeat may have been -- and look no further than postgame interviews with the players for proof of that -- Sunday was a new day for John Calipari and the Wildcats.

"Everybody from the players to the staff to Cal was very, very upbeat, really positive," assistant coach John Robic said. "That's the most positive I've seen Cal and our staff after a defeat in a long time, and we haven't had that many defeats so we don't have that many opportunities to be like that."

It wasn't some false motivational pretense lifting the mood in practice either.

The coaching staff broke down tape of the loss to the Gators and saw all the good work the Cats did for nearly three-quarters of the game. The issues, of course, were plain to see in crunch time, but there was plenty of reason to be positive.

"What happened down the stretch was that mental discipline that I talked about before the game," Calipari said. "But it showed me that we can beat anybody in the country. We've got to shore up how we finish games off. It showed me our goals do not need to change - at all."

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Pregame Media Opportunity - February 17, 2014

Assistant Coach John Robic

Opening statement …
“Just to let you know, obviously coming off of the game on Saturday night, yesterday was a really, really good day for us as a program. Everybody from the players to the staff to Cal was very, very upbeat, really positive. It’s the most positive I’ve seen Cal and our staff after a defeat in a long time. We haven’t had that many defeats, so we don’t have that many opportunities to be like that. We learned a lot as a team. I think we grew up as a team. We learned that we can play with anybody in the country. That’s really evident. We played very, very well for 30 minutes. What we did for the guys was we watched the last 11 minutes and 12 seconds of the game, dissected that because that was the game, saw what (Florida) did. In a lot of ways, that’s what we need to do. We saw what we did and we now know the adjustments that we have to make and the players really, really understand that now. It was a very, very positive day for our players and our program.”

On keeping the players upbeat after the loss …
“Well, everything about the game was really good. The crowd was great. Our players were prepared. They gave us everything they had. At this point in time of the year, you have to remain upbeat. If you don’t then we shouldn’t be doing this and those players shouldn’t be playing this game. We took a lot away from it and it was mainly all positive. Now we know what corrections we have to make. The kids were great. Cal was great. The rest of the staff was really good. We had a good workout yesterday, we’re getting ready to go practice today, hit the road and play a very, very good Ole Miss team.”

On if there was a theme to Florida’s offensive success down the stretch …
“The reason we showed 11 minutes and 12 seconds was one, because we were up seven at the time. But, from the 11:12 mark to the end of the game, they scored on every possession, whether it was a breakdown, whether it was a good shot, whether it was a contested shot or they got fouled. They converted on what they wanted to do. They did it very, very well.”

On how hard it is to convert on all possessions for 11:12 in game time …
“I think it’s extremely hard. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it was very well done by them. It was a combination of players. It wasn’t solely one player. We saw our breakdowns. There were a couple key breakdowns, some long rebounds, some miscommunication I believe one time and the tide turned right then. From that mark on they converted like they wanted too.”

On what he is most encouraged from after the game …
“The attitude of the staff and the players on Sunday. To play a game like that and to come back and be ready to work the next day – you can’t ask for anything more than that.” 

On if he is expecting a bounce-back game at Ole Miss …
“I hope so. We will find out tomorrow night at six o’clock. These guys understand that we only have six regular season games left. Our goals are the same regardless of Saturday’s outcome. We know that we can play with anybody in the country. And you know what, there were a lot of years it was flipped, where teams would play us close and they would think that they could play with anybody in the country. Our goals have remained the same as a team. Cal talked about that yesterday. Our players want those same goals. We’re getting ready to play Ole Miss tomorrow.”

On the SEC regular season championship being out of grasp …
“Well, I think right now, Florida would really have to stumble. All I know is that they play Auburn at home this week and they play at Ole Miss on Saturday. That’s about all I know at this point – and we go there. At this point in time, they have a three-game lead. It would be pretty tough to catch them. But, you never know.”

On what Florida did to try and keep Julius Randle at bay …
“We looked for him all the time. They did a really good job of doubling the post. We knew that they were going to double the post no matter what big guy we tried to post up. They doubled Dakari (Johnson), they doubled Willie (Cauley-Stein). Really happy with how he attacked the offensive glass. If you come away from the game getting 13 (points) and 13 (rebounds), that’s pretty tough. We knew they were going to double and they doubled. They do it against every single team, not just Julius or the bigs.”

On the rebound Casey Prather got at the end of the game …
“It was a heck of a play. It was like that picture behind you right (points at picture on wall) there is what it is. He went up and got it and that gave them an extra possession and it’s one of the things that we watched yesterday.”

On how good of a team is Ole Miss at home …
“Well, they are undefeated at home in the SEC. I believe they’re 5-0, so they have four home games of their last six. I think typically every team is better at home than not. We went down there last year and Nerlens (Noel) had a huge game. They’re a different team.  They’re a perimeter-oriented team with (Jarvis) Summers and (Marshall) Henderson and LaDarius White, (Derrick) Millinghaus – so their top four scorers are guards. They started a different lineup last game out. They started really big with (Anthony) Perez, (Sebastian) Saiz and (Dwight) Colbey at the post. So they started big. They are predominantly a zone team. I would say we would probably see 98 percent zone whether it’s 2-3 or a 1-3-1. They’ll do some pressing. They seem to press a little bit more at home. I like how Andy (Kennedy) coaches. We have to do a good job like we did in the first game here. We were effective in our game plan; we carried it out very, very well. There were only two breakdowns and Marshall Henderson hit two 3s on the breakdowns, but that’s what we’re getting ready to go into practice now and make sure we’re sharp on that.”

On if he’s ever seen a player with a green light like Marshall Henderson …
“Yeah, me. But that was at the Division III level. You know what, for two years, you give Andy (Kennedy) a lot of credit. You’re giving up a lot because you know he’s going to take the shots. He’s taking 12 3s a game. But he is shooting a decent percentage with those shots. One of those is going to be from 35 (feet), the other is going to be an inch behind the line. When he makes them, he’s really, really good and their team is really, really good. We just can’t give him any open looks because he works extremely hard. He never stops moving to get a shot off.”

On if Marshall Henderson is an X-factor …
“Absolutely. There’s no question. It’s like some of these teams, you look at him, you look at (Jordan) Clarkson and Jabari Brown from Missouri, you look at (Chris) Denson and KT Harrell from Auburn and those are your top-five scorers in the league. So, when you’re getting close to averaging 20 (points) a game, I think Julius (Randle) is averaging right around 16 – 20 is a big number. They need him to score, there is no question.”

On where Aaron Harrison at right now when his shot isn’t falling …
“He took shots that we wanted him to shoot. We really want him to work on his one-dribble pull-up shots. He had a great day yesterday. Sometimes when he’s not making his shots, he’s being a little bit lazy and not really elevating, and that starts with how hard you dribble it and get by a defender. He had a really great workout yesterday. We’re confident. They didn’t go, but you know what, we hope they go in tomorrow. But he had a great attitude about it and all of our kids did. We’re excited to get back in the gym today and start working.”

#2, Aaron Harrison, G, Fr.

On Calipari saying the Florida game showed him they don’t need to adjust their goals …
“Yeah, I mean, it just showed that we can play with anybody. We just got to fix a few things down the stretch and just finish games and we’ll be alright.”

On what happened at the end of the Florida game …
“I think we just had some mental breakdowns, some rebounds we didn’t come up with, some free throws. Florida is a very good team, but we definitely can play with them. We just made some mistakes down the stretch we shouldn’t have.”

On what it says to him when he saw Casey Prather rebound a ball over four Wildcats …
“It really just says that we need to stay focused throughout the game when we get tired. When we get down, just stay focused.”

On staying positive after the loss …
“I think we learned a lot from that game. We talked about how, yesterday, if we would have won that game we probably wouldn’t have learned as much as we should have from that game. Since we did lose, I think we learned a lot and just took a lot from it.”

On whether there were things they learned earlier in the game or just the way it ended …
“We were playing pretty well for the most part. It’s just down the stretch when it’s really most important and nothing else matters – down the stretch when it’s winning time.”

On how they fix those mental breakdowns …
“I think just, like I said, keep mentally focused.”

On how difficult the environment will be at Ole Miss …
“Road games are always tough no matter where it is. Ole Miss is a great team. I’m pretty sure it will be a great environment and a great game.”

On whether he expects a better game from Ole Miss than what they got in Rupp …
“Yeah, definitely. Everyone’s motivated at home and we’re coming in there, so we definitely expect a lot from them and for them to be motivated and just play hard.”

On how they deal with missing a chance to make a statement Saturday …
“We just take it as it just helps us with motivation. It just taught us a lot of things that we need to know about winning down the stretch.”

On thinking they had finally put everything together when they were up in the second half …
“Yeah. I mean, we were playing well as a team and we were getting it going and had some energy going, but then it just started to break down and had one mistake and it piled up on us.”

On how impressive Florida was not making mistakes down the stretch …
“Yeah, they’re a veteran team and they’re really, really good. Just down the stretch they showed how they’re a veteran team.”

On feeling like their window to get it together is small …
“Yeah, but we all knew that coming to Kentucky. It’s not like basketball is supposed to be fair or anything like that. I think we just got a few minor things to get together and we’ll do just fine.”

On whether he thinks this is just a one-season window for this team …
“I have no idea. I don’t know.”

On how important and realistic the SEC championship is now …
“I think it’s really realistic for us. We just have to stay focused and fix the few things that we’ve broken down on and make sure we’re aware of them and just try to fix them.”

On how much he’s thought about coming back next year …
“Not at all. I haven’t thought about it at all.”

On whether he monitors draft stock …
“No.”

On whether he pays attention to whether the experts say he’s in the draft or out …
“No, not really.”

On where his game is at personally …
“I’m trying to just feel my way through it. I missed a lot of shots last game, but Coach talks a lot about how when your shot’s not falling, what do you do for your team to win. Just playing D and just trying to rebound and communicate with my teammates.”

#3, Jarrod Polson, G, Sr.

On the mood of the team …
“We’ve just tried to stay positive. Coach Cal was really positive after the—not quite after the game, but yesterday. We just kind of found out that we could play with anybody in the country, but we just have to shore up some things and just work hard again and see where that takes us.”

On what they talked about on Sunday …
“Just developing a winning habit toward the end of the game. Just talking about what we have to do to win the games toward the end and I think we got our minds right and focused and hopefully that’ll pay off tomorrow.”

On whether it will be tough to bounce back …
“I don’t think so. I mean, we’ve lost before and it just depends on how we take it. I think we’ve taken this loss pretty well so far and I think we’ve gotten our minds mentally prepared for the next game. So I don’t think that’ll hurt us that much.”

On whether he expects Ole Miss to be desperate having lost two straight …
“Yeah, I mean, I definitely think losing back-to-back games will make you a pretty desperate team to get a win, especially when they’re at home. But we don’t really look at it like that. We just see it as another game and going into their house we know it’s going to be hard, but I think we’re mentally prepared for it.”

On whether facing a good team on the road helps get their minds off of Florida …
“Yeah, that’s the good thing about the college game, is even if you lose you can’t really think about for it too long. We’ve got a nice turnaround right here so the Florida game is behind us now and we’re just worried about Ole Miss and we’re going to scout them today and see what they’re doing. So I think we’ll be ready.”

On what he remembers from the first Ole Miss game …
“They have a lot of good guards. (Marshall) Henderson, of course, is going to shoot a lot of balls so we’re going to have to key in on him. But they like to drive a lot I think I remember, so we’ll definitely work on the scouting report today and just shore up some things.”

On how long it usually takes to get over a loss …
“It definitely hurts, especially the night of and then the day after it still hurts. But like I said to them, being in the college game it doesn’t take long to rewind and go back to the next game. So we’re not really focused on that right now. We’re turning over a new leaf and we’re ready for tomorrow.”

On what the tape said about why they lost to Florida …
“Just towards the end just making little mistakes. Little mistakes on the defensive end, maybe not boxing out like we should have. In the end, they just hit more shots than us, more tough shots and they hit free throws. They’re an old team and they’re more experienced and I think that’s what got us (Saturday) night. But I think we’re mentally prepared for the next game.”

On whether he remembers seeing similar late-game issues on the 2010-11 team …
“Yeah, I guess they were the same issues. We definitely had a hard time on the road that year. So yeah, I think just trying to develop that will to win is what we’re working on right now and I think we’re getting better at it. Obviously we didn’t succeed on Saturday, but I think that game will teach us more than it will hurt us.”

On why that 2010-11 team eventually found the will to win …
“Honestly just experience. The more the young guys experienced those games, the more they knew what it was going to be like. I think that was the biggest thing: just taking the losses and realizing how bad it hurts to lose and taking that to the next games and wanting to win so bad.”


 

 

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