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Kentucky Travels to Brooklyn to Face Providence




Nov. 29, 2013

Scouting the Friars

Providence enters Friday’s matchup with Fairfield owning a 6-1 overall record which includes wins over Vanderbilt and Vermont. The Friars dropped their first game of the season by four points to Maryland on Nov. 25.

Gameday
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Kentucky vs. Providence
Sunday, Dec. 1 - 8:30 p.m. ET
Brooklyn, N.Y. - Barclays Center
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | PC Get Acrobat Reader
Coverage
TV: Fox Sports One
Radio: UK IMG
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Four players are averaging 12.0 or more points per game for Providence. Bryce Cotton leads the way with 17.7 per game while also leading the team with 35 assists on the year. LaDontae Henton nearly averages a double-double with 13.9 points and 8.1 boards an outing. He also paces the squad with 11 steals on the year. Kadeem Batts and Tyler Harris round out the scoring with 13.6 and 12.9 respectively.

Reserve man Carson Desrosiers leads the team with 22 blocks, but no other player has more than three.

Providence will play Fairfield on Friday at 12:30 p.m. ET before heading to Brooklyn to take on the Cats.

Kentucky-Providence Series

Kentucky and Providence have met just once before in program history resulting in a 79-78 victory for the Wildcats on March 18, 1976 in NIT Tournament semifinal action. Kentucky would go on to win the event by securing a win over Charlotte in the Championship game.

Kentucky vs. the Big East

Kentucky is 171-75 all-time against teams that make up the Big East Conference. UK has played three opponents more than any other members of the league throughout the history of the conference. Kentucky owns an all-time mark of 43-18 against Notre Dame, a 27-10 record against Cincinnati and a 30-15 mark against Louisville.

Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley

Following his eighth season as a head coach, Ed Cooley has posted an impressive 132-102 mark (.564).

It did not take long for Cooley to turn the Friar fortunes around. In just his second season, he led the Friars to a 19-15 record overall and a 9-9 mark in league play. Included in the 9-9 BIG EAST record in 2012-13 was a 7-2 mark over the last nine games of the conference season. That impressive record marked the second best turnaround over second half of the season in BIG EAST history. He then guided the Friars to the NIT where the squad posted a 2-0 record before losing in the quarterfinals to eventual NIT Champion Baylor.

In his first season at Providence, Cooley led the Friars to a 15-17 mark overall. The team posted an impressive 11-3 mark in non-conference action, which included an 8-0 record at home. Cooley guided the Friars to three true non-conference road wins. It marked the first time the squad had accomplished that feat since BIG EAST was founded in 1979-80. In league action, the Friars defeated No. 14/15 Louisville, 90-59. The 31-point win marked the Friars’ largest margin of victory ever over a ranked team. The squad also posted a 72-70 win over defending national champion Connecticut.

Pregame Media Opportunity - November 29, 2013

Head Coach John Calipari

On what kind of test Providence will be …
“Well, they beat LaSalle who is a pretty good basketball team. They beat Vandy who is a good basketball team from what I saw and Vandy had them down 16 and they came back and won. They beat Boston College, they lost to Maryland, the only game they’ve lost is Maryland and it was like a four-point game so they had a chance to win that. They run good stuff, they play hard. It’s the next step up for us. It appears as though every game has been like a stepping stone if you take out Michigan State.”

On what he’s looking for to take the next step …
“We’re just continuing to do, I’m adding different things to practice to get them to stay in a stance longer, to move their feet more, to make us more aggressive. We showed signs last game, I liked that our guards got up and moved their feet. You don’t have to body them, just move up there and move your feet and hands a little bit, get closer to them and bother the ball, we did that. We stop less, we still stop 30-percent of the time, just stop playing. Like, why did you do that? ‘I don’t know.’ We’re not a great execution team but we’re good enough to win. We should be a better team shooting wise than we are even though we’re a good free throw shooting team which usually implies that you’re a pretty good shooting team but right now it’s not carrying over. I think part of the reason is we’re probably, for me, shooting too many 3s. I mean, the most a guy should shoot is four or five 3s, that’s the most. And that’s like, you were on fire. The rest of the time we’ve drive the ball, that’s how we play. Everybody will say, how do you get to the line so much? Are you watching the games? The last game was the most fouls we’ve had. We’ve always played the same way, try to get in the half with six fouls. For all you ‘Basketball Bennies,’ why only six? They’re not in the bonus. So you only want six, you don’t want seven or eight, you want six. And then at the end of the game you only want six fouls so that they’re not in the bonus, so that they can’t beat you shooting free throws. I’ve always coached that way. The other day, just keep fouling, we’ll get enough people, get up there and body check, hand check. It’s OK, you can win however you’ve done this but the problem is the rules have changed now so you can’t really play that way unless the officials don’t call it. But we’re driving the ball and posting the ball and we’re big. We should be shooting 40 to 50 fouls a game, we really should. And there will be games coming up we may shoot 60 if they keep calling them all. Well, then shoot 60.”

On if there is something consistently not happening leading to the slow starts …
“I just think they’re so young, we’re out there with five freshmen. I told the staff today, I can’t get caught up with winning and losing right now and I am, I want to win every game. But what it’s causing me to do is try to make these guys better than they are at this stage. Just coach the games, watch the tape and let’s get better. Of all the teams in the country, we have the most upside so deal with that. If you didn’t want to deal with it, either convince kids to stay or recruit bad players, they’ll all stay, you won’t’ have to deal with this. But the reality of it is, we are what we are, a bunch of freshmen trying, I’m trying to figure them out, they’re trying to figure each other out. We’re still not locked into how we’re going to play. The problem is I go watch tape and then I get 17 more thoughts in my mind that I want to give to them and they don’t have the seven thoughts that I taught them right now. I almost, that brings anxiety. Like I got more I want to give you but you don’t have this yet and we can’t. The biggest thing for us, forget basketball, effort, staying in the stance, talking more, being more aggressive, fighting through screens, don’t stop. How about this one? Sprint the floor on offense. We rebound it, sprint. We’re a great rebounding team right? So run, sprint. I mean everybody that doesn’t get it, sprint. If you’re the point guard, don’t jog it up, sprint it up and if you don’t want to sprint it just throw it immediately to a wing and then you jog. The rest of us will score; you’ll end up with two points. That’s OK, nothing wrong with that. But we’ve got to go because of how we play. Those are the basic things. Give up the ball earlier than you think you should. Right now we’re holding it ‘til the last minute and I told them, when I played I knew all the tricks. I’d throw a slow bouncer to the guy that was open. Why would I throw a slow bouncer? Slow bounce pass to the guy that is wide open. Why would I throw that? He’d be guarded; he had to throw it back to me so that I could shoot it. I’d always give it up early. Why would I give it up early? ‘I’m here, I’m here.’ And I’d shoot that one. I got all those tricks, so I know them when you’re using them. I played that way. Late in the game they’re fouling. Do you pass it or ball-fake it? You’re up eight, there are 28 seconds to go, they’re fouling, do you pass it or ball-fake? I ball fake. ‘You’re not, foul me. Foul.’ OK, and then I’d go shoot free throws. I knew all those tricks because it’s how I played. Couldn’t guard anybody so I had to score, knew my guy was going to get 18, I better get 22. I was a selfish player. So I know what selfish looks like. They never saw me play, that’s the greatest thing about being old.”

On if the team will be doing anything special in New York …
“Yeah, well we want to but I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to do. One of the things we’re doing because they’re changing the rules so that we’re able to do things. We’ve done a lot of stuff that people don’t know. I mean we bring in NBA security to talk to them about all of the pitfalls that they’ll get early but most kids if you end up having a professional career what you have to watch including getting stopped in a car because you are either speeding or nothing, or they’re just checking on you, how to deal with it. We also we brought in sports psychologists to meet with each one of them. We’re doing stuff talking to them and training them in different ways, giving them books. We’re bringing in financial people to talk to them. And on this trip and other trips, I want to take trips for the sole reason of teaching whether we go to the stock exchange and do stuff. If we’d have left today we would have done that. If we had left earlier today or last night and we didn’t, so, but we may go to a theater or we may go down to the district. We’re not sure what we’re going to do yet, but we’ll do something. We’ll be there early.”

On if the team is finally getting the sense that they’re every other team’s Super Bowl …
“I don’t know. That’s why I keep coming back to that we need to probably lose a few games and see where they come. Because these guys have the will to win and they don’t want to lose. So, then start better. How about that simple thing? Then start better. And part of it may be how we start and then how we are playing to start the game which is on me, which is let’s do something a little different. But, these guys it’s more it’s not just the start. It’s an effort and a stopping or breaking off doing what you’re choosing to do. My thing, the last game was do your job. We’ve been very clear with each player what their job is. Do your job. If you can’t do your job you shouldn’t be in there let somebody else go then. And it’s been clear so that each player knows exactly what to do to help our team.”

On if Willie Cauley-Stein starting would help fix the slow starts …
“No, it has nothing to do with that. Marcus (Lee) the kid goes in there and if you look at his per minute rebounds, per minute points it may lead the nation. So, it had nothing to do with him. It’s just that Willie is playing so well, now if Alex (Poythress) or one of the other guys, or if Dominique (Hawkins) stepped up then one of them would be starting. But, they’re not playing as well as the guys in front of them right now and at the end of the day it’s still a rotation. I wanted to get Derek (Willis) in last game. That was my plan to try and put him in as a four because he can really shoot it, and I haven’t played him as much but we need to figure some of that stuff out too.”

#22, Alex Poythress, F, So.

On what the team did for Thanksgiving …
“We got to go to (Coach) Cal’s (house) and then went to the Salvation Army to help some of the homeless people, so that was a pretty good experience.”

On the reaction they got from the people at the Salvation Army …
“They were just so happy, a bunch of smiles. You’re just so happy to put a smile on their face really.”

On what he knows about Providence …
“I just know that they’re a great team. I think they’ve got a couple good guards, so it should be a good test for us.”

On how he’s playing right now …
“I like what I’m doing. I think I’m playing good defense out there. I think I’m rebounding good. I could probably make some more jumpers, but it just comes with me getting in the gym, just keep on shooting.”

On letting an air ball in a previous game affect the rest of his game …
“I was kind of out of it, but you’ve just got to learn to keep on playing so I’ve just got to put that behind me.”

On the adjustment of coming off the bench …
“I think it’s just something you’ve got to adjust to. It really doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter. You still get your minutes. Just coming off the bench you can analyze stuff better. It doesn’t really matter.”

On seeing stuff from the bench …
“You see that. It just gives you a different outlook.”

On going on the road …
“We feel pretty good. Ready to travel. Ready to see some different cities and stuff. We’re happy about that.”

On what he remembers about Brooklyn last year …
“Not much. I remember that it was cold, but other than that I really haven’t been to New York. That was my first time going to New York. It should be a pretty fun experience with going a couple days early this year. We might get to see a few things.”

On what they might see while they’re up there …
“I have no idea. I don’t know the schedule. I just know we’re leaving today after the practice.”

On this game being a test of how much they’ve grown since Michigan State …
“We just want to show how much we’ve gotten better, how we’ve made strides so far. We want to come out and play a great game, have each other start from jump. We’ve got to pick up the energy early and keep on fighting for 40 minutes.”

On how he’s playing this year compared to last year …
“I think I’m playing good. I think my energy is better this year. I think I’m hustling, rebounding and playing better defense this year, so I think I’m playing really good this year.”

On what he attributes the better energy to …
“I’m not sure. I guess just going out there and playing harder.”

On the wall sits Coach Cal has them doing in practice …
“It’s been crazy. The wall sits, the bean bags, all that stuff is crazy. It kind of takes a toll on your legs, but it shows you the importance of getting down, playing defense, moving your feet so it’s teaching us something. It’s teaching us to stay disciplined, so it’s a good thing so far.”

On Cal making them guard with their hands behind their back …
“I think we’re doing that today, so we’ll see once we start doing that.”

On the new rules and how they have affected the game …
“It does seem different because the game can’t be as physical as it has been the past couple of years. I guess they just want you to move your feet more and play better defense and quit hand checking really.”

On driving more so than last year because of the new rules …
“Yeah, because if they’re going to call it, might as well put them in a position to make a call.”

 #44, Dakari Johnson, C, Fr.

On whether he had a good Thanksgiving …
“Yeah, I had a real good Thanksgiving.”

On what he ate …
“Mac and cheese, stuffing, cranberry sauce. All the good stuff.”

On going back to New York …
“Yeah, I’m ready for it. My whole family’s up there. They’re real excited to come watch me play because they haven’t really had a chance to see me play, so just happy to get to play in front of them.”

On what he knows about the team they’ll play Sunday …
“Providence? We don’t know much about them. We’re just now watching film on them, but we know they’re a good team. Coach Cal told us they’re going to be one of the better teams we’ve played thus far, so I’m just real excited to go back home and get to play a good team.”

On the way Calipari prepares his teams for opponents …
“You know, I think he prepares us well for the games. We watch a couple clips of their players, we go through walkthroughs pretty often of their plays and stuff, so we’re real well-prepared for the games.”

On Cal’s message after the game on Wednesday …
“We played well. We still stopped on defense a couple times. We’re still learning that aspect of it, but just to keep on playing hard. We’re progressing each and every day.”

On the wall-sit routine before practice …
“Oh, I don’t like it at all, but it helps us stay down and that’s how low we have to stay throughout the whole game.”

On how long it will last …
“Probably forever, actually.”

On what the team will do in New York …
“I’m not sure what we’re allowed to do in New York. I think we’re going to go sight-seeing in the city, so I’ll probably show them around a little bit.”

On how he feels about his game …
“I think it’s progressing each and every day. I think I’m getting at the things Coach Cal wants me to do. That’s the main thing I’m focused on right now.”

On Julius Randle saying the light bulb hasn’t gone on for him yet …
“Yeah, it hasn’t gone on. We still have a long way to go, but it’s a learning process.”

On whether he’s looking forward to going to New York …
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it a lot. My whole family’s coming, so it’s very rare for them to come see me play. They don’t come to see me play a lot, so I’m real excited just to go up there and play in front of them.”

On whether his adrenaline will be pumping …
“Yeah, of course. I just want to play good in front of my family. They’re really excited and I’m excited too. I’m going to be ready.”


 

 

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