JOHN CALIPARI: We’re still learning about ourselves. I mean, I thought we defended better, and look, if one or two guys break down, you cannot play defense, because we could all hustle and dive and scramble and all this and then you stop playing, they throw it to your man and he scores. And it becomes demoralizing.
I like how we started the half. I like how active we were. I liked how we were deflecting balls, how we were flying and spacing the court. I liked that. But look, we are what we are. I keep saying it. What is this, November what? We’re a November 5th team.
Q. Question regarding the lengthy practices over the weekend …
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, if they played bad they’ll tell you that’s why they played bad. It was a two and a half hour practice. Look, it’s just going to be a process. That’s the best thing I can tell you. It’s going to be a process. I’m still trying to figure out, like we spread the court and went pick and roll in the second half just to see, because I’m trying to learn. I like the two bigs in together. We’ve just got to figure out if we’ve got seven guys we’re playing, Jon Hood, eight. That’s who we’re playing. So who starts out of that seven? The others will come off the bench and we’ll just play it from there. Someone is playing better than someone else, they’ll play more minutes. Still turning the ball over. Like at the end I liked that we had 14 turnovers because in November to have 14 turnovers as fast as we play and as much as we attack that basket is a good thing. But we had 10 at halftime.
Q. Can you update Julius Mays injury?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think he’s okay. They knocked knees.
Q. Talk about the way he played.
JOHN CALIPARI: He played good. He played good. He’s just steady, talks, he’s not afraid to lead a little bit. He got tired, he subbed himself.
Again, let me just tell you, the guy that’s working the hardest in our practices right now is Nerlens (Noel). Is it showing? It’s showing. I said to him, have you ever been coached like this? No, man. He’s excited about being coached this way, challenged and pushed, and now I’ve just got to get a team full of guys accepting the fact that you’ve got to let us define your game a little bit. Alex (Poythress) was okay, didn’t rebound and didn’t do all the things he’s capable of doing. You’re going against a 6’1″ guy, you don’t leave your feet, you come to a jump stop. Just score. If you miss the first one, rebound the second one and stick it in.
Archie (Goodwin), the first half, Archie was awful. Second half, Archie was really good. First half he was awful. He had two turnovers and he threw two more turnovers to other guys, or three, where he threw the ball in a place where the guy was going to turn it over. The second half he played better, but that’s what freshmen do. Willie Cauley(-Stein) was good. Ryan (Harrow) was pretty good. I thought Ryan did all right. But he still not enough energy out there. He’s got to play like the 5’2″ guy from Northwood, just go nuts, bounce, run, trap, run, and you’ve got to play that way, and that’s how you got to play and that’s what we’re asking him do. He shot the ball well today. I was proud of him them. He’s getting better, it’s just a process.
Q. Question on starting the second half with a different lineup …
JOHN CALIPARI: I just wanted to try something to see. I was not very happy with how we were playing. We had 27 points. We didn’t post the ball enough. I told them we should be coming down there’s two things in this: One, we have got two tough games coming up, and either one you’re not just going to throw to the post and score. These guys got big guys, too. But you can still attack through that. Second thing is you’re going to have teams that are going to try to beat us at the three point line. Out of the 40 games we’ll play, I am guessing 15, 18 will try to beat us solely at the three point line. Well, we’re showing we can guard the three a little bit, as a matter of fact better than we did a year ago at this time. Later in the year we guarded the three really good. Early if you remember we teams were shooting threes on us left and right.
Q. Question on the start of the season and opening in the Northeast after Superstorm Sandy …
JOHN CALIPARI: They canceled the marathon. I was hoping maybe they’d cancel this game. But I guess we’re going to have to go up there and play it.
Look, I said after, November and December when you coach new teams, which we seem to be doing every year, it’s a learning time for you as a coach. Like today I learned some stuff about my team.
It’s winning or learning, it’s not winning or losing. It’s all learning now, because by January we’ve got to be right. So you use November and December and the only way you can really learn is play against good teams, and those two teams are well coached and they’re talented, and they’re veteran teams, so they’re going to be hard games for us.
Q. Question regarding Julius Mays …
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, he’s not afraid to be vocal. He’ll talk to the guys defensively on the court, where they should be, what they should have done. If a guy doesn’t come up with the ball we all dove around and the ball went right near Alex and he didn’t dive on the ball, the one where Julius tipped it from behind. I’m like, great we’re getting it, but Alex just didn’t dive for it, just let it go. He went up and said something, come on, man, dive on the ball, go get that ball for us. So he’s not afraid to say it and I think these guys really respect him.
Q.Question regarding the play of the guards …
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, we’re still…Ryan Harrow left a guy three times, went way in, and you can do that if someone is rotating to that man. He wasn’t. So there was about four or five that were directly on him that they shot they probably made two of the five.
Alex broke down a couple times where he wasn’t ready to play. Willie at the end of that shot clock, the guy was going to shoot a three and couldn’t drive it, so push up, don’t back away, and he gave it. And that was a deep three, beyond an NBA line, but when I watched those other 29, there were simple exchanges, we left corners. Today, Kyle (Wiltjer) left a corner, Archie left a corner. When you leave a corner, they score. You know that bomb is going down, and we did it again today three or four times. But again, it’s all new to these guys.
So we got better, and it’s nice that you have Nerlens’ arm like Spider Man and Willie’s arm like Spider Man and then Alex’s arms they’re coming at you, and if they’ll scramble, we could be pretty good.
Q. You said you were when you were saying you were going to define Nerlens’ game, what kind of specifically have you told him along those lines?
JOHN CALIPARI: I want him to be a basketball player who happens to block shots. I don’t want him to be a shot blocker, I want him to be a basketball player that happens to block shots. Did you kind of see that today? You’ve seen a basketball player who happens to be able to. And we’re defining his post game. Kenny Payne before practice just told me how hard this kid is working. We’re trying to do the same with Willie. Those guys are really accepting it. We’re trying to do the same with Alex and Archie, they’re fighting it a little bit and that’s why at times you’ll see things like why would he do that, why would he leave his feet, all the stuff that we’re trying to help them define what they do. I want you to attack and play within this realm, because every time you get in those out of reaches, you’re turning it over, you’re taking a bad shot, you’re making a play you don’t need to make. Doing all that stuff within that realm, that’s what we’re trying to do. You just define a little bit more what’s effective at this level. They’ve never played Division I. They don’t know what’s effective. They think they can do stuff they did in high school. You can’t.
Q. What did you think about having Lane’s dad George on the bench with you tonight?
JOHN CALIPARI: That was neat. We took a picture and said a prayer with him after. We gave him a picture of all the players, and George had his thumb up. We all were like that, and it’s a hard deal. He lost his son. But I think this was fun for him. Probably wasn’t fun in the first half. He had to sit there near me. May have been fun for him after. But nice man. He was at practice today, at our shoot around. He was there with us. I think he went to the pregame meal. So he spent the day with us.
Let me say this: I really need all of you to help get the word out about the telethon on Wednesday. We’ve got some money together for matching funds kind of like we did with Hoops for Haiti. We’re trying to make it more for the players, the guys in the NBA, we’re reaching out, those guys are all helping us. We’re doing some stuff. We won the national title, and even at the time I told my wife, I wonder how do we use this opportunity we’ve been given to reach out, and we did the tour and all that, and that was nice. It made a lot of people smile. But you think about it, we’re able now to come back and use that, and I’ll tell you how, to help the people of this hurricane. We won the national title. We’re going to auction off some of the floor. We’re doing different things to that are all geared toward this championship to say we’re going to use all this stuff that we’ve been given through this championship season last year, now we figure out how we can use what’s been done for us.
So if you get a chance to write about it, talk about it, get people we are going for two hours. One hour will be the state wide television, the second hour will be on the computer and on CW. So we’ll go two hours. We’re going to auction off, one of the things will be one of the blocks of the championship floor signed by myself and Anthony and Michael, the No. 1 and 2 picks. I don’t even know why I’m signing it but I’ll sign it. There’s only going to be 30 of them, and that’s it. There’s 30 of them. And those three blocks will be 12 by 18. We’ll let them auction them off. The highest bid gets the one and then the 30th bid gets the 30th one. We’re also going to cut up some of the floor in different ways that we can use it for that. We also have some different things we’re going to do to try to help and deliver a check when we go up there Friday. So if you can help us with that, we’d appreciate it.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
#34, Julius Mays, G
On how the team played in the second half in comparison to the first …
“We came out with a lot more energy. We started getting more aggressive, scrambling, rebounding and running.”
On if he was worried when the collision initially happened …
“Anytime you hurt your knee, you are always thinking ‘Oh my ACL, my MCL.’ I was scared at first just because of the way I landed. ”
On how relieved he was when he got the prognosis from the doctors …
“I don’t like being injured. I hate being injured. I hate when people get injured. I was glad to hear the doctors say that it wasn’t anything serious, and that everything would be alright.”
#3, Nerlens Noel, F
On being the most improved player on the team…
“Yeah, Coach Cal told me that. He told that I just need to stay focused, work hard, be energetic and just bring what I have to the table.”
On not being able to attend the extra practices in the summer …
“Yeah I wish I could have gone, but it definitely pushed me when I got here. It put (myself) in the mindset of when I got here that I would have to put my all into it get where I need to be as a player.”
On areas that he has improved the most …
“It would definitely have to be my confidence. I know that I can go to hoop and score from the block. My confidence came from all the drills and repetition in practice.”
On what are they doing as team that helped them improve in the second half…
“It really comes down to our unity as a team. The first half we struggled, but we came together in the second half. At halftime we figured it out and really got it going.”
#12, Ryan Harrow, G
On the teams improvement …
“I thought everybody played hard today. Coach was stressing Kyle (Wiltjer) and I to have more energy on defense and I thought we did that today.”
On the difference between the first and second half …
“Coach told me to be aggressive. It starts on the defensive side and if I got energy on the defensive side it will translate to the offensive side.”
On tonight’s performance…
“I think it was a step up. We played good defense in the second half. We were scrambling and making sure that they weren’t able to shoot 3’s because that s what they wanted to do.”
#15 Willie Cauley-Stein
On what changed in the second half..
“Effort. We just put more effort in the second half to get a stop. Making them turn the ball over so that we could get transition points. Coach had a big part in it, but we had to realize ourselves that this is not acceptable at the higher collegiate level.”
On how this game helped prepare for Fridays game…
“When we go back and watch film, it shows you what we have to go back and work on, even the strides we’ve made since the last game we played. “
On defending the 3-point shot…
“We knew coming into the game that last year they put up around 30 3-point shots and that was a big emphasis.”