Cats Carry 6-0 Record to Freedom Hall
Nov. 29, 2009
Cats Carry 6-0 Record to Freedom Hall
The Wildcats head into its annual Freedom Hall game riding a six-game winning streak, the best start to a year since the 2004 season (7-0). The Cats returned from Cancun after going 2-0 and winning the Cancun Challenge. The Cats claimed the championship with a 73-65 overtime win over Stanford.
John Wall scored a game-high 23 points while dishing out six assists en route to tournament MVP, while Patrick Patterson recorded his 25th career double-double tallying 12 points and 11 rebounds. Joining Wall on the all-tournament team was freshman DeMarcus Cousins.
The championship was Kentucky’s second straight in-season championship after winning the 2008 Las Vegas Invitational.
Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
On the team having fun...
"On the other side of it, we have so far to go. We are so young. I'd like to know what other team is starting three freshmen, and their sixth man is a freshman. And then we're playing two sophomores, one that never played division one basketball and one that barely played a year ago, basically that's our team. This next two week period, coming away from home and playing like this is good for us. Seeing the support of our crazy fans, they're nuts and I love it, puts the pressure on us to prepare, not to win, but to prepare."
On the future of games in Louisville...
"If there's support for us playing multiple games here, it does two things. You probably have to move a league game down here, you can't just have all bye games, you have to have a league game, and maybe another good game and then maybe a bye game and sell a package of three games. The reason you have to have that is at Rupp, we know we're getting 24,000 and there's a lot of money involved in this. So if you come here and you don't (get support), there's no way and the powers that be will say `no we're not doing it' and I wouldn't blame them. If people want us to move games down here, you've got to show that you will support it. I know we've sold 13,000-14,000 tickets, but that means that there's three or four thousand left. So I'm urging people if you have an interest in us being down here, come to this game."
On what impresses him about Ramon Harris...
"His steadiness, his toughness, his defensive skill. What I see we need is a couple perimeter stoppers and that guy is going to play. Now we've got to get him to make easy plays offensively, don't try to be a play starter, don't do things that get him in trouble-turnovers, bad shots-and if he eliminates those there's no reason for me not to put him in the game. I'll say this; Darius Miller has really gotten better. We all forgot, he didn't play last year, he never played. And so he gets in the game and he looks like a deer in headlights. Since then you see a steadier player, a player making big plays, big shots, big free throws. He's not afraid, trying to get better defensively and rebounding. He's very far from being adequate in those areas, but he's trying."
On the Cancun trip...
" We were just trying to keep playing basketball games and try to learn about our team. One of the things I talked about to our team is we have so many young guys they don't understand the ecstasy of winning a championship yet. They just know how they feel when they play well and play bad and that's the thing I'm zeroing in on now. I want players mad when they don't play because that means that the mindset they should be playing. If a guy's not mad when he doesn't play, then he probably can't play. I want guys angry at themselves when they don't play well, when they know they're better than that. But that never supersedes the ecstasy of winning."
On John Wall...
"He's been a great leader. I get reports on our weight training so I get a weekly report on how they're doing in the weight room and when you go to him, (the report reads) `comes with an unbelievable attitude to get better in the weight room.' In class he's trying to get all A's."
#54 Patrick Patterson, Jr., F
On the open practice...
"The three-point shooting contest was real fun. Coach Cal just introduced it to us prior to us stepping on to the court. He was telling us we were going to be signing autrographs, possibly have a three-point shootout, going up against each other. (He wanted us) to just joke around, have fun, put on a show for the fans and just have a little competition."
On where the team is right now...
"We're a real tough team right now. We went back and got to work in the gym right after the Cancun trip. We almost had a heartbreaker out there in Cancun, almost lost to a very talented team. Luckily we were fortunate enough to come out with a win at the end. (We are) just watching a bunch of tape from that game and seeing what we did wrong and seeing what we need to improve on. (We're) working hard day in and day out in practice and just improving in all the areas we need the most in. I think we're a very tough team, we have a lot of talent, we have a lot of heart and we have the will to win. We never give up; we never surrender out there on the court. I think my teammates are a tough group of guys."
On what the team needs to improve on...
"Defense, limiting our turnovers, rebounding and blocking out, finishing on the inside."
On the inexperience of the team...
"We do have a lot of inexperience on the team. We have a lot of freshmen. We have a lot of people that haven't played in big time situations. We're not trying to make excuses for ourselves; we have highly ranked recruits who have played in tough games. John (Wall), Eric (Bledsoe), DeMarcus (Cousins) and Daniel (Orton) and so on, we know they've been in tough games in their career and it can transfer over to the college level. They just have to tweak it a little bit and listen to coach a lot more and do what coach wants us to do."