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Pre-UNLV Press Conference Coverage




March 16, 2009

Head Coach Billy Gillispie Quotes

On UNLV …

“It’s a really good team. It’s a hard team to play against. They’re similar to a lot of teams in our league. I think they have outstanding guards and they do a really good job of putting four guys out on the perimeter at all times and using the ball screen quite a bit. They remind me quite a bit of the way Auburn plays, somewhat similar to Florida a little bit with their big guys being able to come out on the court. Their two guards are as good as anybody in our league and that’s no disrespect to the guards in our league (because) I think we have really good ones. They’re just a very solid team offensively and defensively. They spread you out and can beat you off the drive and that’s the reason why they’ve won the games they’ve won.”

On UNLV Coach Lon Kruger …

“He’s a great coach, there’s no question. He’s one of the few guys who has taken four different teams to the NCAA Tournament. He didn’t have much of a chance at the NBA level, but still did a really good job with those guys with the (Atlanta) Hawks. He’s just a really outstanding coach. No matter where he goes, they always do very well. He knows how to game plan and (his teams) offensively and defensively are just sound.”

On the pressure UNLV will try to play against UK …

“They’ll try to pressure us. They usually pick up full court whether they’re playing man-to-man or anything else. It’s mostly a man-to-man team, but I would assume they’ll pressure our guards in the backcourt. I hope we’ll handle it well.”

On UNLV guard Wink Adams …

“I think Wink Adams is 24 years old. I believe he was a 20-year-old freshman. We’ve watched him since he was a really young player back in Houston. He’s an NBA guard, in my opinion. He can pressure. They’ve got other guys who can pressure as well because of their athletic ability.”


 

 

On the type of shooting team UNLV is …

“They shoot a high percentage. We haven’t made a bunch of threes except for one or two positions basically. They have four or five positions where they can play five guys if they so choose to do that, that you have to guard out on the perimeter. Their four-man – if you had to put a number on him – has made the most threes for them in conference (play). It’s just a hard team to guard because their guards are so good that you can’t take the ball away from them. If you get too close to them, they’re going to penetrate and finish plays at the basket. They do a really good job with their schemes – penetrate and pitch and those kinds of things – so it’s a real hard team. They have so many people in their schemes that can make baskets.”

On how much this game comes down to the players just being into playing in the NIT...

“I wouldn’t think that is the case with us. I was involved with the NIT our first year at Texas A&M. I think players like to play. Everyone sets out at the start of the season to make the NCAA Tournament. Sixty-five teams do, the rest don’t. I know our guys are really excited to play.”

On playing in Memorial Coliseum …

“We’re excited to be playing. I think it’s one of the best buildings I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of them. I think it’s one of the grandest buildings ever built for college basketball. There is so much history and tradition and so many great players and coaches have been in that building. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play there. We’d rather be playing in the NCAA Tournament, but that didn’t happen. We didn’t earn our way in so we’re really looking forward to playing in Memorial.”

On what he hopes UK will get out of the NIT …

“We have a lot of guys that have never played a postseason basketball game, including Patrick Patterson. He was hurt last year and didn’t get a chance to play. So when you get into the conference tournament and those types of things where it’s win or go home, it’s a different deal than playing 16 conference games; it’s a different deal than playing a regular-season conference tournament so I hope we’ll get some experience that will help us in the future.”

On what it takes to get to the next step …

“I think there is a very, very fine line. Like I’ve said many times before, last year when we were talking about  the prognosis for the season, we said we’re going to be in a position a lot of times in the last five minutes (to win the game) and it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the last five minutes. Last year we won them all basically and this year we didn’t win those games, and some of that has to do with personnel, but mostly it has to do with experience. We’re not very far away from being a great team, a special team. I wouldn’t doubt if it happened in this tournament.”

Player Quotes

#5 Ramon Harris, Jr.

On being in the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament …

“Well at the beginning of the season you set goals that you want to win the National Championship and unfortunately we put ourselves in a situation where we didn’t make the tournament. Now we have another task at hand and that is winning the NIT.”

On if the team has something to prove now …

“I mean, yeah that is how you think. We fell like we are a NCAA caliber team, but we didn’t win the games necessary that we had to. Now we can prove that even though we weren’t accepted in the NCAA, we are still a threat and can play. We can do that by the games that we have ahead of us.”

On if how they play in NIT will set the tone for how next year will go …

“I always think that a new season is a new season. Obviously, we would like to finish strong and be the champions of the NIT, but if that doesn’t happen, we still have time to fix what went wrong this year and correct them for next year.”

On what it will be like to play in Memorial …

“It is going to be much different than playing in Rupp. Our fan support is going to be there and we are going to play hard no matter where we play. It will be different because the gym is smaller and the effect of the crowd will be different. Either way, our fan support is still going to be there.”

#21 Perry Stevenson, Jr.

On playing in the NIT and not the NCAA …

“We are looking at it as another chance to play basketball; that is why we are here at the University of Kentucky.  It is not for a national championship, but it is another opportunity to play and we will relish it.”

On if he agrees with Coach Gillispie that Kentucky is one step away from being something special …

“Oh yes, definitely. It is not the end of the road because we still have basketball to play. I think that we need some more experience and another year of playing together.”

On playing in Memorial …

“It might be even more of a home court advantage because it might be louder and the fans will be closer. It is still the same measurements on the floor so it can’t be too different. A basket is a basket, I guess. We are in the NIT, but it is still Kentucky basketball and they will show up in numbers. They still support us and we know that.”

On why they have been so inconsistent rebounding …

“I guess that we are not always carrying out assignments. We are always well prepared going into games. It is not always easy to carry out assignments. We just need to be better as players. We have some of the best players in the country. There is always room for improvement. I don’t think that it is anything specific, but we have to work on our overall game and then it will all work out for us.”

#23 Jodie Meeks, Jr.

On playing in the NIT …

“It is disappointing because of the fact that everyone wanted to play in the NCAA tournament from the beginning of the season. We are looking forward to playing in the post season and we are excited to be playing UNLV. It will be good to represent the University of Kentucky at Memorial Coliseum.”

On playing in Memorial Coliseum …

“I’m sure it will be loud and exciting tomorrow night. We are excited about playing and there is nothing we can do at this point about not playing in the NCAA tournament. We will come out and work hard like we have all season. We are ready to play. There is a lot of motivation for this team to come out and play hard. No one is down anymore about not making the NCAA tournament and we are all ready to get ready to play tomorrow night. This is still post-season play so the season is not over.”

On the teams in the NIT …

“There are a lot of good teams and there won’t be any easy games in this tournament. We have respect for all teams in this tournament and we respect UNLV a lot. It will be a hard game and we are looking forward to coming out and playing hard like we have all season.”

On shooting in Memorial Coliseum …

“I really like shooting in there. It is nothing new. I spent a lot of time shooting in there my freshman year. It has great lighting for shooting – just like Freedom Hall and Tennessee, Memorial has really bright lighting and that has a lot to do with it. But to be a great shooter then it really comes down to having a lot of confidence no matter what gym you play in. I have confidence every game.”

#54 Patrick Patterson, So.

On watching the selection last night …

“We knew we weren’t getting in so we just watched the show to see who all did get in. It is good to see who gets in because I could be happy for friends on those teams. We watched and listened to what they had to say about the NIT because we knew we weren’t going to be accepted to the NCAA tournament.”

On the outside chance of getting into the tournament …

“I was hoping a little bit we might show up in that Arizona spot. When they got in I scratched my head and thought there might be a little bit of a chance for us. But when they were done I knew we had to start getting ready to play in the NIT.”

On seeing Tennessee get in …

“I know they have a great basketball team and they made a deep run in the SEC tournament, beating some great teams along the way. I wish them the best in the NCAA tournament.”

On playing in the NIT …

“We have really focused on the NCAA tournament all season, but in the last couple of days when we realized we were going to be in the NIT then we started to really focus on that. We approach this tournament with the will to win and the will to compete. We know since we didn’t make the NCAA tournament then we have to play with a lot of heart and courage. We want to take it one game at a time and play as well as I can. Our job right now is to prepare for UNLV tomorrow.”

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