John Calipari transcript after Belmont Bruins game

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Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Q. What did you think of the way your guys played, especially in that second half?

COACH CALIPARI: We still have things we’ve got to get better at. I thought we fought, we battled. But, you can tell how young we are. When you have a scouting report that said when (number) 1 catches it, he must bounce the ball, you watch the game and say, ‘Did they even know the kid could shoot?’ And then the game gets going, and he makes a couple, and you say again ‑‑ but that’s the lack of focus for young guys. But we fought like heck. It’s a hard team to play. They’re going to shoot 30 3s. If they’re making them, you lose. Against (North) Carolina they made 14. (North) Carolina lost. And they
make 14 against us, we probably lose, and we guarded it well enough and kind of got into their legs a little bit.

I was really proud of Jarrod (Polson), and you say, ‘What did Jarrod add to the game?’ All you Basketball Bennies, I love asking you questions because you look at each other and you really don’t know. What did he add to the game? Energy. Energy. Nothing else. So now you understand what energy does for our team, and if you’re sitting there and you’re not one of the guys playing, you’re saying ‘Man, I’ve got to play with energy.’

What does Dominique (Hawkins) add ‑ again, all you Basketball Bennies ‑ add to the game? Energy and toughness. I put him in for James (Young) and he dives on the floor and gets that ball that basically ends the game. Alex (Poythress) played OK today. Alex the last two days has been our best player. He went after every ball, he outworked guys for rebounds, and then today he got back into just putting his body on somebody and letting the ball go over his head, and I don’t know why. So all I can tell you is what we’ve just got to stay on him and hope that what he’s doing in practice carries over. He’s playing with energy. He’s playing and sustaining it, which he’s never done. He’s talking more. He’s playing smarter. He’s making easy plays. He could be a difference maker and needs to be a difference maker and should be a difference maker for this team.

Q. When you decided to go with Jarrod Polson down the stretch in the first half, what kind of reaction did you get from Andrew (Harrison) on the bench? Was it positive or pouting?

COACH CALIPARI: He had foul trouble. He was fine. He had foul trouble.

Q. Did it surprise you at all the way that Jarrod (Polson) and Dominique (Hawkins) did respond for you and they got that many minutes today?

COACH CALIPARI: No, they’re doing it in practice. I mean, Dominick’s exertion rate and heart rate is incredible to the point where I say, like, kid, stop. But he just keeps busting to the next level. And we get other guys that never understand you have a long way to go. What he does is he gets everything he can out of his body. It’s incredible. Everything. How about the play late where my man went off the ball in the middle of the lane with two hands and looked down so he fumbled it, and Dominique got it and laid it in? He didn’t run back on defense. He stuck his nose in there ‑‑ the other guy was 6’7″, 6’8″ and he looked down and fumbled it, he grabbed it and laid it in. It’s great for our guys to see.

I thought Julius (Randle) was outstanding today again. But we get up nine and he wants to bring it up the court and throw a scoop pass. Oh, my gosh, that is being a freshman. Andrew (Harrison) didn’t play particularly well, but he’s going to be fine.

And my thing, I sat him next to me so I could talk him through what Jarrod (Polson) was doing because he can do everything Jarrod can do to another level, but he’s not. Do you see what he’s doing? You know, I’m just going to keep working with him because at the end of the day, I want Andrew (Harrison) to be the best point guard in the country. I don’t want there to be any question. Right now, most games, he’s not the best point guard on the court. We’ve just got to get it changed. He has the talent, he has the ability, he has the mindset, I’ve just got to keep working with him.

Willie (Cauley-Stein) was terrific today. I thought Willie did good stuff.

Q. Who the best player was today for his team.

COACH CALIPARI: Let me just say, Aaron (Harrison) was ‑‑ I don’t know what this thing is. I don’t think people who watch the game know which one is Aaron and which one is Andrew, I really don’t, because there are times where you’re looking at our team, who would you say is our best player?

Q. You sort of took my question there. You tried to tell us that this summer, all the time that one of the twins was better than the other; you didn’t understand it from seeing Aaron. Is some of that that some of the pressure is off of him by playing off the ball?

COACH CALIPARI: No, I think he is 12 minutes older so he’s more mature (laughter). You can laugh. We don’t have to be mean and nasty and The Grinch. You can laugh.

Q. You talked about what Dominique and Jarrod brought to the game. Are those traits that can be taught and how critical was it for that to kind of spread throughout the rest of the guys?

COACH CALIPARI: Well, in a normal situation what happens is you’re playing veterans who are teaching young kids, and then the young kids get it, and it kind of flows through the program. I’ve seen programs this year, top-10 programs, just bench people. You’re not playing. I’m not playing you this game. Just sit guys out.

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