LEX 18 True Blue Coverage

Dec 13, 2013 4:17 PM

John Calipari News Conference: December 13, 2013

UK head coach John Calipari and two players, James Young and Julius Randle, held a press conference Friday as the team prepares to play North Carolina.

Below is the transcript of that press conference:

Head Coach John Calipari

On if he does anything extra to prepare the team for the first real road match ...
"No, these guys, you know the games that they've played in and the venues that they've played in, you think about Chicago, it was crazy. It's Carolina-Kentucky, what do I got to do? I need a Knute Rockne speech? It's Carolina-Kentucky. Both programs, the most wins in the history of the game. Think about the players that have gone through there and the players that have gone through here. You think about, from Frank McGuire, Dean Smith on; from Adolph Rupp on; it's craziness. This is why you coach and this is why you play, to play in games like this."
On expecting to get North Carolina's best shot ...
"Look, their frontline players are as good as any we'll play and that's what's giving us trouble. Their guard play is solid, I mean they don't shoot it well but neither do we. (Marcus Paige) will shoot it. Do you expect anything other than the best game they've played all year? We're going to face North Carolina at their best. We have to be at our best, which is our best at this point in time, be as good as we can be for December whatever."
On North Carolina getting a lot of scoring from their bench ...
"It doesn't matter where you get it from. I remember one year, someone said, ‘do you know their bench outscored your bench by 25?' I said, that's OK, our starters outscored theirs by 50, so it really doesn't matter. What you'd like to have is balanced scoring, have five guys. You'd like to have a bench that adds energy, it may not be bench scoring, what if it's bench defense, rebounding and assists; it's not just points. Alex (Poythress), Dominique (Hawkins) and Dakari (Johnson), those guys are important to this team and they know it. You know what's great about it? Even last game; these guys want Alex to get going. I mean, they want him to get going, they do it in practice, you can feel it and see it but he's got to go do it."
On Willie Cauley-Stein revealing that he had the sickle cell trait ...
"Yeah, I was surprised he was that open. There are many athletes that have it. It's a trait, it's not anemia; it's a trait. I'm a little cautious, I've coached other players who have it, have that trait and I'm a little cautious. If I see them get winded I'll make sure they get fluids and all the other things and you don't want them to get dehydrated and stuff, I'm conscious about it. The thing that's happening for him, at times I think, and I've had guys, this used to happen to Marcus Camby, they get so hyped to play and they come out with so much energy that they're exhausted 45 seconds into the game. We played Kentucky in the semifinal game in '95, which should have been the final game, remember they didn't seed right, and I had to sub Marcus Camby 30 seconds into the game, go back and look. We jumped it up, he ran up twice, he was humped over, I subbed him; then from there he was fine. Willie, same kind of stuff happens with Willie."
On Willie getting winded being an issue ...
"I mean, he played 30-how much did he play against Providence. He knows if he gets winded or feels it he'll take himself out, he's pretty good about it."
On Alex Poythress' minutes being down this year but rebounds still at the same ...
"Look, you have to be comfortable going into these practices going nuts and loving it. Breaking through, not dreading practice, being energized that you're going to practice and then going crazy. Then the games will become easier. As soon as he does that he's going to take off. Until he does that, you know there will be some up-and-down games. But it's not just him; I've got half my team trying to fight that right now. You have to love the grind of this, you have to love every day, push me, make me better, try to push me beyond where you think I can go and I'm going to beat the workout. We're not there because these guys have never had to be there. But they're trying, they're getting better. I wouldn't trade my team for any team. It's just that, you know, it wears you out having to continue to teach. Out shoot arounds are like full practices because we need the hour."
On UNC guard Marcus Paige ...
"He's a terrific player. He can get to the rim; he's good in pick-and-rolls. He makes shots when they need one. They set doubles and do different things for him. He gets them in transition. He flies. He's a terrific, terrific player. He's good. Their front line, there are four or five guys on that front line (that) are as good as we will play. And that's exactly, we need it. They're going to be physical. Guess what? We need it. We need to figure out what are we when that other team gets really physical with us."

On comparing the two programs ...
"I don't know if it's better. I just know they are two programs that are storied programs. Think of the history. Think of the players that have gone through these. They are schools and states that really take great pride in their program. I think both programs do it. That's why this is. Look you have 13 National Titles. I can't even imagine how many Final Fours between these two programs. I know you have like the most wins between the two programs. All of the sudden, I bet you the NCAA Tournament wins are the most. I mean you are talking about two of the storied programs, and you're able to go in this game. You're going in this game and they want you bad. It's a white-out. They're honoring (former UNC) Coach (Dean) Smith, which I think is outstanding. They're pulling out all the stops and you know what? It's what my team needs. Let's go see where we are. But I'm excited to coach in it. This is why you coach, games like this."

On preparing for an intense atmosphere at UNC ...
"We need to have a team full of guys excited that way. Now, that also leads to (being) too hyped. Fouling, doing stuff out of control, but I can deal with that. Let's just see if we have grown from the last game. Let's not do what we did between Providence and then the next game. Let's go from Boise (State) to the next game, and let's take a step up. Hopefully we're guarding against what happened last time."


On Willie Cauley-Stein's physical play ...
"As long as he doesn't get five (fouls) I'm fine. Willie's really made strides, but he knows this is the kind of game, can he perform? Now he doesn't have to have 20 (points), 10 (rebounds) and nine blocks. You just have to be able to look and say ‘he held his own now. Those dudes were all over him, and he still rebounded the ball, he still blocked a few shots, he made baskets, he's fine.' That's what he needs to see. The only way you build the confidence in that kind of guy is demonstrated performance. You know they're going to be physical and you perform, demonstrated performance. You can't be ‘I'll be fine, watch this.' No, you've got to do it on that court. And our team the same way, playing in this kind of environment let's see how we do."

On if UK has improved its transition defense ...
"We are going to find out. They fly up and down the court pretty good. Their big guys get up and down the court. They're good. I mean when you watch them at their best, you're like ‘holy cow, they're good.' "

On if UK will play UNC every year ...
"Yeah, It's those marquee programs. It's a good deal. I think both coaches are pretty good with it."

Kentucky Players
#30, Julius Randle, F, Fr.
On North Carolina's size and whether he knows Kennedy Meeks ...
"Kennedy's a cool guy, but when we step on the court it's competition. There's no friends, so playing at North Carolina trying to get a win. North Carolina is going to be a tough challenge and I'm definitely looking forward to it."

On UNC beating top teams but losing to lesser opponents ...
"They're going to compete no matter who they're playing. They've had some missteps but they're a great team, a great ball club and have a great coach, so regardless who they're playing they're going to compete."

On facing their first hostile atmosphere ...
"I'm looking forward to it. I kind of love having that feeling of just us, everybody against us. So I'm looking forward to it."

On the history of the series ...
"I've been informed that it's the two winningest programs, but the history of the series other than the last couple years when they've played I have no other knowledge."


On UNC having one player attempting the majority of its 3s ...
"Is that Marcus Paige that shot 51 3s? I mean, he's a great shooter but Coach (Cal) has given us some things to do against their offense so we just gotta go out there and play hard."

On what he and Alex Poythress bring when they play together ...
"Just a lot of versatility. It's a smaller lineup, but it's still a big lineup. It just brings a lot of versatility on both ends of the floor."

On facing UNC's size ...
"It's a good challenge, a good challenge for both of us. Each team has a lot of weapons. It's just going to come down to who wants it the most at the end. So it'll be a good challenge for both clubs though."

On whether UNC will guard him one-on-one ...
"Doubt it. Doubt it."

On whether UK needs to make a statement ...
"I think this has the opportunity to be a statement game for us, but at the end of the day we're just focusing on us. We don't care what the public (thinks) or other teams are. As long as we know we're getting better and we're giving our best effort, that's all that really matters."

On being frustrated to lose the games on the two biggest stages this season ...
"I wouldn't say frustrating, but it would be frustrating if we didn't know why we're losing. But we know why we're losing. It's stuff that's easy to correct."

On whether he is looking forward to a hostile environment ...
"Yeah, I love that type of stuff."

On why he loves it ...
"It just brings out the best in a competitor."

More on whether UNC will guard him one-on-one ...
"No, I don't think so. I do not think so."

On whether he even thinks about that as a possibility ...
"I do not think so at all."

On whether Calipari has done anything different to prepare for a road environment ...
"No. I'm not trying to speak for Coach, but I don't think that stuff really matters. I think he's just focusing on us and focusing on what we have to do. The rest will take care of itself."


On the last really hostile environment he played in ...
"High school."

On who the opponent was ...
"It was a big rival that thought they were going to win the state championship, but it didn't happen."

On how he played in that game ...
"I had 40."
#1, James Young, G/F, Fr.
On North Carolina...
"They're a really fast team, really good. Their point guard leads them really well. We're just going to have to stop the point guard."

On importance of bench scoring in a game like this...
"Everybody that can score I think is gonna come out (and) provide for the team so the bench is gonna have to come out and do a lot for us."

On what Calipari has told the team about their first real road game...
"It's going to be wild, crazy so we just gotta try to eliminate the crowd as best as we can."

On doing anything specific to prepare for this road game...
"No, just same stuff. We just gotta be a little bit more focused during the games and stuff and put our minds to it, I think we'll be good."

On playing a team like North Carolina with the history they have...
"They have a great tradition and we just gotta come out with as much fire and be able to focus and communicate with each other and I think we'll be fine."

On North Carolina's up-and-down season...
"Yeah, unpredictable. We just gotta come out, play our best game and I think it will be a really good game."

On what jumped out to him after Boise State game...
"Our defense and mostly our communication. We really stepped up on those two and I think that will help us get the win."

On how much Calipari has been working on defense...
"Same stuff, it's just a little more intense, a little longer. I think that's just what we need so I think we'll be fine on defense."

On what gets him going as a shooter...
"I just try not to think about it as much and I just keep shooting. Coach Cal just tells me to keep shooting. If I'm open, just shoot it. And that's what I did."


On it being nice to have the green light...
"Yeah, it really is."

On importance of communication when five guys are trying to play defense...
"It's real important because it really messes up our defense if we get picked or something when we don't communicate and it leads to an easy bucket so communicating is a big part. That's why I think we've been doing it and we've been working on it a lot so I think it's going to be real good for us."

On how difficult it is to communicate if it's maybe not your type of personality...
"It was real difficult for us at first because we really weren't used to it. I think we just get used to, we're starting to communicate a lot more and should be fine."

On going eight or nine deep to keep up with North Carolina...
"Yeah, we really gotta do it to keep us in the game so it comes off with a lot of scoring, just gotta keep my mind focused and come out early before practice and get a lot of shots in so just stay focused."

On the game being a potential shoot out...
"Yeah, they play a zone so it should be a lot of open 3s. If we penetrate a little bit more we'll have a lot of open shots."

On how they can control Marcus Paige...
"Just communicate and try and help out a little bit more for Paige. Don't let him shoot as many 3s and I think we'll be fine."

On how UNC compares to other teams UK has played...
"They're a fast, up-tempo team. We've played against teams like that before. We can slow them down, just play a half-court game and I think we should be good."

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