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Kentucky Opens Season with UNC Asheville




Nov. 7, 2013

Scouting the Bulldogs

UNC Asheville returns two starters from last year’s club in senior guard Trent Meyer (9.7 ppg, 125 assists, 64 steals) and sophomore forward Will Weeks (9.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 59.4 FG%). Weeks was named to the Big South All-Freshman team a year ago.

Gameday
Gameday Information
Kentucky vs. UNC Asheville
Fri., Nov. 8 - 7:00 p.m. ET
Lexington, Ky.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | UNCA Get Acrobat Reader
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TV: FS South/UK IMG
Radio: UK IMG
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Also returning is redshirt senior Jaron Lane. He missed last year due to an ankle injury. The 6-4 forward was the sixth man for the Bulldogs during their Big South championship teams in 2011 and 2012. He averaged 11.5 points per game two years ago and scored 16 points in Asheville’s near upset of top-seeded Syracuse in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

Last Action for Asheville

UNC Asheville placed four players in doubles figures en route to an 86-45 exhibition game win over visiting Brevard College Monday night at Kimmel Arena.

Asheville was led by freshman guard Andrew Rowsey with 17 points. Corey Littlejohn added 16 points and seven rebounds. Seniors’ Jaron Lane and D.J. Cunningham added 10 points each.

The Bulldogs had four players in double figures, while starting forward Will Weeks scored only two points but had 10 rebounds and eight assists in the exhibition victory.

Asheville out-rebounded Brevard, 54-27 and had outscored the Tornados 50-25 in the paint.

The Kentucky-UNC Asheville Series

Kentucky and UNC Asheville have met on the hardwood three times since 1996 with the Wildcats winning all three matchups.

UK took on the Bulldogs in 1996 at home in Lexington. The Blue and White rolled to a 105-51 victory in that meeting.

The teams squared off again in 1999 in Lexington. UK secured an 86-41 win in that matchup.

Finally, the last meeting occured in 2009 in a neutral site meeting in Louisville. Coach John Calipari directed his fifth-ranked squad to a 94-57 win.

DeMarcus Cousins had a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and John Wall added 12 points and 14 assists.

UK got 17 points from Patrick Patterson and nine boards, while Darnell Dodson had 15 points with a trio of 3-pointers.

Pregame Media Opportunity - November 7, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On how close they are defensively to where he wants to be …
“We’re not close there. Look, I was thinking about it today, I was driving over here and I started doing – November, December, January, February – I’ve got four months to get this thing right. Four months. But if I try to do it in two weeks I’m going to cheat the kids and drive myself crazy. Yesterday I wasn’t, we got goofy stuff going on so I didn’t get to work out so I wasn’t in a fair mind I need to be in to coach this basketball team. As long as they’re trying, I have to be good with it. The things I can’t accept and won’t ever accept, I need more effort, more intensity, more fight, more concentration. Other than that, everything else is throw up five balls, here we go. Don’t know what’s going to happen. Why did you do that? ‘I don’t know why.’ What do you say to that? My gosh, he doesn’t know why. I’ve got four months to help this team put them in a position of how they’re going to play offensively and defensively to do something special. We are what we are right now.”

On if all the guys were in practice yesterday …
“No, James (Young) did not practice. I made him run up and down the court limping because he was late for treatment. But short of that, no. But Andrew (Harrison) was good. When I watch the tape we’re a different team, which is nice to see. He still doesn’t throw lobs because he hasn’t practiced with us enough. He’s trying to throw wrap-arounds that one, they can’t catch and two, they can’t finish. But that’s OK, I can get that sorted out and he knows when he didn’t throw it. He makes us different.”

On the difference that Andrew Harrison makes …
“It’s like you’re playing your football game and your wide receiver is your quarterback. Now you’re quarterback comes back and you’re like, ‘OK, now guys are in the right spots.’”

On if James Young will practice today …
“Don’t know, until I get in there I don’t know. Alex (Poythress) has been really good. He’s narrowed his game and he’s trying to play harder and he’s not caving in and stopping. There’s no excuses and he knows it so he’s playing. He played well yesterday.”

On if he’s seeing urgency from Alex Poythress …
“I don’t know. I mean, it hits kids at different times. He’s one of those kids, a straight ‘A’ student, you love him to death. ‘I do everything right.’ Well do a couple things wrong and play better.”

On the best thing he got out of the exhibitions …
“We don’t understand intensity and there are so many nuances of defense that we don’t have down yet. The teams coming up, set diagonal screens, we’re awful, just don’t know it yet. We’re not good in pick-and-rolls yet. We did stuff yesterday with pick-and-roll because we thought we’d play a certain way, we can’t so now we have to change it today and try to figure out if something else is good and we have a game tomorrow. We’ve got to go against zone the majority of this practice because that’s probably what we’re going to expect the next few game, so let’s do that which changes practice around. The practice plan I had set last night, when I woke up this morning and thought about it I walked in and changed, tore that one up and did another one. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before. Normally my gut of what we need to do is pretty good the night after but again, they weren’t as bad as I thought they were when I watched the tape.”

On how much Andrew Harrison has been able to practice this season …
“How about this, with he and James on the floor together, probably two or three practices and that’s it. Either ones out or the others out and it’s mainly been Andrew. Now, let me say this, it’s been great for Aaron (Harrison). So one guy’s misery is another guy’s opportunity and it was great for him. James being out gives Alex more opportunity to be on the court, it gives us a chance to play with Willie (Cauley-Stein) and one of those bigs together so that’s been good.”

On the guards going through a process to learn how to throw lobs …
“Yeah, they all have. They’ve all had to do it. I can remember Eric Bledsoe, who by the way is playing great, throwing it off the shot clock and getting so mad he didn’t want to play and I just kept making him throw it and by the end he was a great lob passer. You think of this team, we’ve got to keep the ball up. We’re going to play teams that are smaller than us, like every team so you can’t throw it down here on the floor; you have to throw it up where they can finish the play.”

On motivating Willie Cauley-Stein at halftime of the Montevallo game …
“We have games coming up that are really going to be physical, like physical football games. Then we’ll find out, OK what button do I push now? That game, this game, that game, they’re not trying to play basketball. They’re going to play football. The new rules, just so you understand, if you have the ball, it’s kind of like you’re the quarterback now, you’re protected. If you don’t have the ball, all is fair in love and war. As long as the guy is running and you don’t step in and give him a forearm chuck, which is a foul at any point, you can still get on the guys body. If you have the ball, you’re like the quarterback, you get a red jersey on, don’t touch him.”

On if toughness is still something he’s worried about …
“Oh yeah, and again it’s – look we’re going to be going against just about every team we play and they’re going to have a 21-year old, a 22-year old. We’re going to be 18 and 19-years old. Even our sophomores are 19. So, we’re out there with a bunch of young kids and the other guys are three-years older. That’s big at this age. That’s as big as a 16-year old playing against a 19-year old. That’s huge. The difference between an 18 and a 22 is huge. But, we have the physical presence to do it if we want. So, it’s going to be  - you know – we’re going to have to go do it. I think they’ll be stunned when they really see it.”

On if the re-up of the Champions Classic is what he was talking about or if there’s more planned for next year’s schedule …
“We have another event. That thing is rolling down the pipe the way that we want it to so DeWayne (Peevy) will probably announce something here in the next couple of weeks. There’s another event out there that we may do. We just – the issue becomes playing teams this early is not fair for my team. It may be fair for everybody else, but it’s not fair for my team. Our program is not traditional. So, we’ll have four or five kids come back, but five or six will leave. So, this is not traditional. It’s a program. We graduate our kids. We’re getting good grades. We count on each other. They come back after they leave here. They invest in our community. Marquis (Teague) just called back ‘I want to give money to Lexington, how can I do it?’ So, it is a program and they’re connected, it’s just not traditional in a sense that everybody stays four years. So, it’s not fair when we walk in and everybody is more experienced than us and it’s your first or second or third game out of the gate. We’re at a big disadvantage.”

On playing three games in five days …
“We had too because we needed more than one game to get ready for the game in Chicago. That thing is built  - it’s taken on a life of its own. The other tournament will be the same when you hear it – the other setup, whatever – it will take a life of its own too. Then you still have the North Carolina and the Louisville and the Big 10 (12) Challenge – now all of a sudden you’re like ‘wait a second, what are you doing.’ And you don’t know who your team is going to be. You risk a lot, especially early. It’s just tough.”

On the reports of playing UTEP…
“We’ve been approached about that. That’s in our wheelhouse. It’s something we’re considering. Again, that’s not been finalized. Like I said, every event out there wants us in it. No matter what the event is they’re calling us to be in their event.”

On if he has watched any of the NBA this season …
“Oh yeah. I talked to Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist) last night. I talked to Eric Bledsoe about three nights ago. I told Anthony Davis when he set the record, ‘I said you’d have never done that if I’d have let you shoot more.’ Because that’s his thing all of the time, ‘You never let me shoot.’ You’re saying you were one of the best players in the last decade, what are you saying you should have done more, what else did you want to do? He’s a great kid. They’re all great kids. I want to see Darius (Miller) back playing well. John Wall had a big game last night. DeMarcus (Cousins) has been great. Patrick (Patterson) – Daniel Orton is still in the league I think.  I think DeAndre (Liggins) if he can get that other stuff cleared will be back in the league. They’re all – I’m proud of all of the guys. I really am. Brandon (Knight) I haven’t really followed some of the stuff in Milwaukee I haven’t really followed how he’s playing, but I would imagine knowing him he’s doing well.”

On tearing up his practice plan…
“Usually it is (developed) in the morning before I even get into my car. Here’s what was funny. Orlando (Antigua) let me just tell you – Orlando – because most times I’m in the shower. And I’m thinking, ‘Okay, what the heck,’ because there’s nothing there but the water hitting you and soap and you’re thinking. So, Orlando hit me this summer and said, ‘You won’t believe this, I’m in the shower thinking of stuff getting ready for the Dominican.’ I said, ‘Yeah, when you get all of these thoughts they’ve got to come out somewhere.’ Normally it’s when everything dies down. And you’re sitting there and all of the sudden you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ And then you’re washing your face again for like the fifth time. You’re like, ‘I just washed my face like five times.’ We need to get a group of seven guys. Maybe eight but more than likely seven playing together and let them play. That’s the main thing we’ve got to do. Just let’s get those seven, get a rotation going and get them playing. You’ve got two point guards in that mix, you’ve got guys who can play two and three, guys who can play three and four and guys that can play five and four. So, you can keep coming at any point. You’ve got enough post-up players. You’ve got enough shooters. Let’s go. Now, we’re not a unit. Now when I say that we are not a selfish team. We’re an unselfish team.  We’re just not a unit. We’re not clicking defensively, offensively. We don’t help each other the way that we should. We don’t have each other’s back the way that we should. We don’t create enough easy shots. We don’t make the easy play. We’re trying to make an extra – which makes it tougher on my teammate when I get him the ball – And I’m going to be honest, that may be two months from now. So what? I drove in today and I smiled. I said, ‘I’ve got four months, don’t be panicking.’ Because I had both feet on the panic button.”

On when he wants to find the rotation of seven…
“No, we’re going to have seven we’ll start having a group of seven. And then is that the right seven? Does that change? Does that subtract? There’s foul troubles, there’s injuries. But, we have a nice grouping of players that we have enough guys that we can start narrowing in and – when you’re trying to build a team – when I talked to Coach (John) Wooden in 2010 when he was still alive and I asked him, ‘Did you watch my team?’ He said, ‘I really like your team,’ – and I said, ‘They’re not quite a unit yet, I can’t get them to – they’re not this – and he said, ‘You’re trying to play too many people.’ And then he said, ‘In our time, you played six guys, maybe seven. And you fought in practice to become one of those six or seven. And if you didn’t, you were ready for your opportunity, but you’re not in that six or seven. You have different deals now, now you have recruiting, you’ve got APR, you have all of this transfer stuff, we didn’t have all of that.’ So, he’s right. But, then on the other side he’s right. You can’t try and play 10 guys. Now, you can try and get 12 in the game, but in the heat of a game you can’t play that many guys.” 

#4, Jon Hood, G, Sr.

On looking forward to starting the season …
“I can’t wait to play. I can’t wait to get this started. It’s my last year. Jarrod and I are calling it our ‘Farewell Tour.’ So, we’re just trying to get it started.”

On how he feels about himself going into his last season …
“I feel confident. Confident I can play. Confident in what I can do. Confident that I can contribute.”

On if the team is ready for the season and a three-game in five-day stretch …
“Six months ago half of these guys were playing AAU ball. I think they’re ready. They’re a lot (more prepared) as far as conditioning goes. They’ve played three games in five days, three games in one day a lot closer to today than I have. It’s been four years since I’ve done that. We’re ready to play. We’re just worried about one game at a time. That’s all that matters. We just want to take it one game at a time and have fun with it, and just go from there.”

On the health of the team going into the season …
“We’ll be as healthy as we can be going in. Guys are banged up because we’ve been having physical practices getting ready for three games in five days. We’re just trying to get prepared and get ready to go.”

On the differences of the team with Andrew Harrison running the point …
“He’s a floor general. You guys will see he can play. He’s really good. I guess I had never seen him in a point guard setting where we actually really, really needed a point guard. The only other time I’ve really seen him was in pick-up games. He’s a floor general. I like it. He was on the blue team yesterday going against us on the white team. He went back and forth in practice, competed and just had fun. One day you can’t really make a judgment call (on the difference he brings) just because you have to be consistent on how you play. I don’t want to say that we’re completely different, but he runs the team. He’s a true point guard. He takes control of practices. He takes control of our scrimmages. He’s just an all-around point guard. What you would expect (from one).”

On the differences of playing point guard and being a point guard …
“Yes there’s a huge difference. Like if you look at the NBA, Steph Curry (of the Golden State Warriors) plays point guard. He plays point guard, but that’s not who he is. He’s a two guard. But, he’s forced into that role. If you’re forced into that role you’re less likely to thrive and succeed.”

On the fairness of judging the team thus far without Andrew Harrison having played point guard …
“With the preseason hype you can’t really say anything. You couldn’t judge my freshman year team because John (Wall) missed the first exhibition game so you didn’t know how good we were going to be once we were all healthy and once we were all on the court. We (in 2013) just all have to get healthy, and all get on the same page and go from there.”

On the toughness of this team …
“We have some warriors on the team. We just have to bring them out. Julius (Randle), Alex (Poythress), Dakari (Johnson) are all guys who can fight and guys who will fight. We just have to bring it out of them all of the time. (They) just need to play hard all of the time. Some of that is that this is practice and not a game. It’s not lining up in front of 24,000 with our record on the line. It’s harder to do in practice than it is in the games.”

#3, Jarrod Polson, G, Sr.

On opening the season tomorrow …
“We’re pretty anxious, these exhibitions gave us a little taste of what it’s like to play another opponent. We’re really excited about the actual season starting, and I think we’ve had some pretty good practices so we’ll be ready to go.”

On what the focus has been at practice …
“(Practice has focused on) getting back on defense, running the court wide and trying to get to get our transition offense going.”

On Andrew Harrison
“He practiced yesterday and he looked pretty good. It didn’t seem like his knee was bothering him at all. That will definitely be good for us (getting him back on the court.)”

On what the team learned from the two exhibitions …
“I think probably the biggest thing is just how hard we’re going to have to try, and how much effort we’re going to have to put into each game. Both teams really gave us a run for our money, and we just realized that every game is going to be a fight just like the two exhibitions games; they’re going to be coming at us. So, we just have to be ready and give our best effort.”

On the young players realizing how hard other teams will play …
“I think that is something they have learned. The college game is so much different than a high school game. I think it was good to get those two (exhibitions) out of the way, just to be able to show the freshmen how hard other teams are going to come at you every game. I think it was a good thing, and we’ll be ready. We honestly didn’t know what to expect, especially the freshmen didn’t know what to expect. Every team, if you’re in college every team is going to be good regardless. We’re going to have to battle every game no matter if it’s Montevallo, Transy or UNC Asheville (on) Friday. We’re just going to have to battle every game and I think we learned that lesson pretty well.”

On formulating chemistry with the lineups …
“I think we’ve kind of had two distinct teams in practice, so we’re comfortable playing with maybe a few different lineups. But, at the same time it’s going to be a process because he (Coach Calipari) has been sending in a lot of guys. It’s just a matter of getting that feel with every teammate, what they do good and what they don’t do well. It’s going to be a process the whole season.”

On if he offers advice to the younger players on how to approach the regular season opener …
“Not really, because I feel like the exhibitions are kind of like openers. Obviously they didn’t count, but it’s the first time the fans really got to see us play against another team. I think if there were any nerves that they’re out by now. Now it’s just time to ball really. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice, and we’ve been really trying hard. I think good things will come.”

On the differences between the exhibitions and a regular season game …
“Honestly I don’t think there’s much difference between those two. It just means more because it’s going to go on our record. The crowd is the same. We’re approaching it the same way, so there’s not much of a difference. Coach Cal is the same every game.”

On starting at point guard against Montevallo …
“I’ve been playing the point for three years now, whether it was in practice or in the games last year. I guess I knew more of what to expect than the freshmen did. It was good for me.”


 

 

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