Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari addressed the media following Kentucky’s 105-76 win over Texas-Arlington.
Q. Cal, they were beating you on the boards 21 17 at the half. You won the second half overall. How happy were you about the rebounding in the first half?
COACH CALIPARI: I wasn’t happy about a lot of things in the first half. We talk, but we talk very quietly. Roll up, I’ll switch with you. And the guy says, well, I didn’t hear it. Well, I said it. I just didn’t say it very loud. That’s where we are right now.
We haven’t played against zone that much, which showed, and I was fine with that. My whole thing was an energy level where you had Brandon Edwards just going and smashing the boards and just taking balls out of our hands. Well, you can’t have that. I thought an energy level. Then in the second half, I thought we played with some emotion. But, again, you have the third guy to come with 25 is James Young. That’s what I said. You have different guys.
We have to get Dakari (Johnson) making free throws, because we want to throw it to him. In the second half all we said is we’re posting the ball every single time down the court, which we did. I thought we did a pretty good job of it.
Q. They had a smaller, quicker team. They had some success off the dribble. How concerned are you with where you guys are with that?
COACH CALIPARI: We stopped playing. Guys stood straight up and down. You’re going to get beat on the dribble. The new rules make you move your feet. Well, to move your feet, you have to bend down, you have to get in a defensive stance and get wide and you have to beat them to spots. So what we’re doing is trying to play on the side. Well, then he’s doing straight line drives or they’re going into a pick and roll. Well, you force them off the pick and roll. We try to beat them over the pick and roll, and he turns us down. We had a bunch of those.
Look, we’ve got a long ways to go. There were some good things, 18 assists, eight turnovers. You know, we outrebounded by 12 which means we outrebounded them by 16 in the half. We make free throws by and large. James Young I thought he took about two or three too many 3s. We were running a play where he was supposed to catch it and post it, and he kept shooting it.
Short of those two misses, he would have been five for eight from the three. And we’ve worked on him the last few days because his shoulders were going back. You know, I’ve watched him shoot for two years now, and that’s not how he shot. So we just kind of got him underway. He also made free throws today.
Q. In the second half, Andrew (Harrison) committed a foul. Put his head down and you yelled, Get your head up. How much of an adjustment as a point guard?
COACH CALIPARI: He and his brother, and Alex (Poythress), I’ve got a bunch of them. The other thing is right now they really have answers. What just happened? Well, I was trying to go up and the guy said something. I heard the official and the guy in the third row with the popcorn threw something down and there went the guy. Really? We have answers for everything right now. Did you guys even get what I just said?
I mean, it’s not just one. It’s like every guy. So we’ve got like I said. I’m not changing. I’m going to be as hard as I can on these guys until they start changing. And today in the first half I had every right to be angry. They started playing better, but then we break down. See, they think, well I said, what am I getting on you about? You tell me, all you basketball bennies, what am I really getting on them about? Missing the shot? It’s all effort. It’s nothing else.
Sprint the floor. Stay in a stance. Check out and rebound. Don’t let his effort be more than your effort. That’s all I’m getting on them about. Talk together on defense. I told them, how fun is it when you’re out there by yourself and no one will speak? How fun is it playing? You don’t have any fun. You have to talk. You have to be together. That is the thing about unity and team. These guys are still learning. We’ve got a ways to go.
Q. Cal, rebounding wise it seemed that they had a lot of second chance opportunities. Were you guys not boxing out? Was the ball not bouncing your way?
COACH CALIPARI: No, they outworked us on a bunch. They had 16 and we had 27, or they had 15, we had 20. But with our size, we should. We’re trying to hold teams to 9 or 10 offensive rebounds. But all it takes is one guy, and they had one guy get seven. He got them against Julius (Randle), and he got them against Alex. Just outworked him for the ball. That’s seven offensive rebounds. We were in position, it could have been either guys ball. It’s not where it bounced t they just got outworked.
This is not one of Julius’s better games and I told him that. I said, look, if I’ve got to get you the ball first three times down the floor to get you going, you can’t do this. This is like Michigan State. We can’t have this. You can’t go through the motions and not be in a defensive stance. He’s got to play to start every game.
Love what Marcus Lee has given us to start the game, loving it. Doesn’t even bounce the ball. He just gets it quickly to the rim. It’s nice that we have three of those guys and whichever two are playing the best, you give them the most minutes.
Q. Cal, after the strong start to the season, Alex has back to back games with two points and eight rebounds total. Is this showing that he’s not quite over the stuff from last year?
COACH CALIPARI: Still has a ways to go. What happens is the first rain drop when the sun is shining, it’s all good. All right. Got a couple rain drops, part of this started in practice. He had a couple of bad practices, stopped playing, head down. Okay. Now it’s carried over. When you were a double digit rebounder and you’re looking like a star and then now it reverts. It’s all effort for him.
Then you miss two free throws. Do you really care? Just play. I don’t care about missed free throws. We’re going to miss free throws. But try to rebound the miss, which we did today. But just keep playing. That’s it’s not just Alex now. We’ve got about five guys that way right now. That’s when you’re 17, 18 years old and you don’t know better.
Q. You said before, James Young is the best shooter in the country. Did that first half kind of show that tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, but he hadn’t been shooting it well. You know, again, he was leaning the tape shows that he was leaning his shoulders back. You lean your shoulders back because your legs aren’t under you and you’re trying to get a little more oomph on your shot, and when you do that, you’re basically fading away. You’re not going to be an aggressive consistent shooter on fadeaway shots. He was doing the same thing on free throws. So we stopped him and he shortened his free throw. On the other thing he just I said now that’s your shot that I’ve always seen you shoot. Now he concentrated on straight shoulders.
He’s one of those ones that you’ve got to love to get into the gym more. Just get in there and shoot. You’re 12 steps, you walk across the street. 12 steps from you’ve got eight steps to the elevator, and 30 steps to the door. Go down the stairs and shoot. Get over there. You’ve got managers, you’ve got the gun that can rebound for you. But he did some good stuff today.
He opened up. When you’re 8 for 14 the way he played. He had three assists, no turn(over)s, played pretty good.
Q. Can you talk about the way that Willie (Cauley-Stein) played? Is he one of those guys that’s not giving you everything you want the whole time?
COACH CALIPARI: When he threw that one, he got it in the post and he threw it out, I said that’s it. Throw him the ball every single time. You’re going to make plays. I don’t care if you shoot air balls, you’re making plays. He aggressively made plays. He goes now and ends up 6 out of 8. You remember the shot in the first half, the turning air ball throw? I mean, what in the world? What? Well, you have to want to do this and you have to be aggressive, and he did it in the second half. I mean, he’s a double-digit rebounder also. He had a double double today.
But, like I said, we’ve got tomorrow off, and we’re coming back with four days on a Saturday, we’re going twice. We’re putting in some things that we haven’t been able to put in. We’re shoring up exactly what we have to shore up. You see us defensively in these pick and rolls and other areas, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to do some stuff in the zone, plus us playing some zone.
We’ve just got to get more energy, more talking, more vocal and we’ve got to make them. There is not an option here. If you’re not talking, you’re out. I’m putting somebody else in. We’ve got to get this I just told them. I’m not changing. You know, right now I’m coaching too hard, but I’ve got no choice. I can let them do the things they want to do and win a game and think it’s okay, or correct them and make them do the right thing, and I don’t care.
Be mad, be sad, be whatever you want to be, change. Then you’ll see it’s easier. I’m not going to I don’t get on you except for effort. They’re all effort things, that’s it.
Q. In the first half against their zone it looked like you wanted to get the ball to the big guys flashing high. Is that something because of the link and the passing?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, and then we threw the ball to the guy outside the middle of the lane. I mean, it’s hard. We ran a play that we just put in. Like, we haven’t gone against zone much. The tape I watched, my whole thought was throw it up and throw it in. We kind of got away from that. And in the second half, I said that’s it, throw it to the wing and throw it to the post. Make them guard that first and that’s basically what we did.
So this is this team is the best post up team I’ve ever coached, my team. We should be the best rebounding team or one of the best rebounding teams I’ve ever coached. But when you get it in the post, score the ball and if you get fouled, make free throws.
#1, James Young, G
On tweaking his shot prior to the game…
“When I was shooting against Robert Morris, I kept leaning back and my feet weren’t set. Me and Coach Calipari just watched a couple films and corrected it. It was just my shoulders and my feet weren’t set.”
On coach Calipari emphasizing effort…
“He doesn’t ask us for much, so if we don’t give out effort like we should be, then that’s when he kind of gets into us and really brings out what we should be doing. The effort part is what we have been doing in practice and trying to step up on. We are just trying to get better at it everyday.”
On facing a zone defense…
“I love when teams play zone because it just gets open shots for everybody. If we just drive a little bit more and kick it to the opposite wing, we can get even more shots. Our wings just have to work on getting to the drive more often and we’ll do great.”
On not letting missed shots affect the rest of his game…
“I tend to put my head down a lot when I miss shots, so he has just been getting on me and saying let the shot go and just keep moving on. There will be more shots. I just listen to him and try to not put my head down and keep moving along with the game.”
#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F
On how he thinks he played…
“A little disappointed. The first half was ugly, the second half was a little better. I feel like I could’ve done better. I could have done more. I am not satisfied. I am starting to get aggressive again on the offensive side. It has been a challenge ever since I injured my pinky to try to get that offensive mindset back. But it’s coming back slowly but surely.”
On his feeling about the number of shots he gets a game…
“Getting 10 or 12 shots a game would be nice but it is not realistic here. We have too many guys that have that kind of talent. You know some games if you feel it you get 10 or 12 shots and some games you will get four. It is not a bad thing.”
On Coach Calipari’s focus on effort…
“Being a sophomore I know what he is talking about because it was the same thing as last year. It is more like old habits. In high school you don’t have to play like that. You have to play so much better. You have to get in your mind that you have to play like that (with more effort) the whole game.”
#5, Andrew Harrison, G
On being one of the best shooting teams in the country…
“It’s great for me being a point guard being able to find those two guys (Young & Aaron Harrison) on the wings, it makes my job a lot easier. It’s fun playing with them. This game was James’ night or Julius’ night or Aaron’s like last game, I mean it’s fun.”
On playing a team with smaller guards defensively…
“We just have to talk more. That’s what coach was talking about. We have to talk more and communicate more as a team. We’ll be fine.”
On change in coaching from high school to college…
“Every possession matters so much. Coach Cal is just trying to make me a better player and that’s what I want to become. You just have to be prepared for this type of coaching and you’ll be good. It’s always tough from the beginning, but I feel like I’m getting better and I want to keep getting better every day”