LEX 18 True Blue Coverage

Dec 9, 2013 5:38 PM

John Calipari News Conference: December 9, 2013

UK head coach John Calipari and two players, EJ Floreal and James Young, spoke to the media in a press conference Monday afternoon. Below is the transcript of that press conference.

Head Coach John Calipari

On why some players played too long instead of being substituted ...
"You just get in a game, the heat of a game, and you forget. There are times I forget guys are on the bench and I look down and I go, ‘What are you doing, get in.' So it happens. Sometimes it's the flow of the game and you're just trying to get out of the game, which is what happened there too. We get up, we are ready to blow them out, I didn't want to make changes, and I wanted to keep going. Like I told them after, we didn't play enough people. So we are going forward with the idea that, look, some of you guys have to play. We are going to buy time and hopefully you are going to play well and you deserve to play well because of how you practice and you deserve more minutes and we'll go from there. But that had nothing to do with them out rebounding us by 18. It had nothing to do with their physical play versus our lack of physical play. That happened early, not just the last four minutes. I don't know if I could have subbed when we missed those first six free throws, we were 0-for-6. But I come back to playing guys too many minutes. They are not ready for that. And that means they go in and stop playing so they can try and make all of their minutes."

On balancing playing time based on chemistry ...
"That is one of the reasons you play less people. What we have is some guys playing with no real intensity that did not deserve to be out there that long or were just getting pushed and shoved. Then you don't deserve to be in there so it is a fine line, but you can't play that way and stay on the court."

On surrounding expectations for how good this team should be ...

"It's my own expectations. No one else's expectations I even listen to, or look at, or read. It's my expectations. This team, what they seem to do is get it going and do it right and then they get arrogant, then they step back. The first five minutes of that game (we) had no pressure on the ball, none. No talking and just got shoved out of the way. Where did we go from where we were to how did we step back? Well that's what young teams do. Look, the way we do it is really hard. The way they have always played has been really easy. Now which way do you want to do it, the real hard way or the easy way? And every chance you can revert back to see if it still works, you do. It's just how it is coaching young teams."


On if his displeasure was voiced in practice ...
"We talked to them about, here's where we are right now. We probably went longer yesterday because the bottom line is, we don't have enough time to teach all of the things that these guys don't know or we would have seven hour practices. So we have to narrow into what is really important for us as a team and we can't even worry about the next game. We have got to worry about us. The next game we play, Boise is 8-and-0. They are the second leading scoring team in the country. They shoot 3's at a high clip, they run the dribble drive better than we ran it, and they spread the court with four guards. They have four guards so somebody is going to have to guard a guard who is not used to guarding a guard. It's just how it is."


On his belief if this is a good defensive team ...
"We need to be. I don't have any other thoughts, but we need to be a great defensive team. We don't have team confidence right now. The reason is because they are not relying on one another. They are not talking to one another and we are not a great defensive team. When you become a great defensive team and rebounding team, you take great pride in it. We are not taking great pride. Like when we played Providence, Aaron (Harrison) took great pride and he guarded that kid and all of a sudden that game changed. When you take great pride in your defense and rebounding, you have confidence. You know we're fine. They can make a couple crazy shots, we're fine. We haven't built that yet and we are just trying to get them to understand. That is the only way you build it. They never needed that before because I'm just going to do my thing and I'm fine. Now you have to change. These are all habits that they have to change."


On whom the defensive stopper on this team may be ...
"Aaron has shown he can do it. James Young has shown he can do it. But you need a team full of guys who are guarding. I mean it starts with your point guard. If he can't pressure the ball then somebody else has to be playing. It's just how it is. It starts with your interior defense. Is Willie (Cauley-Stein) really the only guy who is going to block shots? Some guys just stand there and I'm not involved in this. Well you can't. Then the other thing is, for as hard as we try to play offensively, we have got to rebound the ball defensively the same way, because if we do we can get out and run. We are not getting any easy baskets. When the other team gets that many offensive rebounds, why? Because they are down and ready to go and anxious to go get the ball and you are like, ‘I hope someone grabs this.' That is all stuff we are just learning."


On how much credit Baylor deserves ...
"They weren't in awe of our team. They just said. ‘Hey, we're good too. Let's go see what happens.' And they played physical. I think the whole game plan was to beat them up a little bit. Just about every team that I have had here, that has been the M.O. Until you can withstand that, you are not going to have confidence. Like going into the ring, you are real confident until the first shot to your nose, your eye, your chin, and your ear. You are not so confident anymore. Now if you give him a shot to the eye, the ear, the chin, and the nose, you are very confident."


On how much this team has grown with this schedule ...
"This is why we did this. We knew it was going to be hard. We knew we would lose games. We knew. You may have had people thinking we're going to win all those games and win every game and all that. That's not what I was thinking. I knew coming to this point they were going to have to find each other or we're not going to be as good as everybody thinks or I think we should be. Until they find each other, until they understand they are absolutely locked arm and arm with each other. Yesterday, I taught them how to huddle at the free throw line. They didn't know how to huddle at the free throw line. How could you not know how to huddle? Because they never played that way. If we got fouled, I was thinking my thoughts and he was thinking his thoughts and he's thinking his thoughts. This is all new. We did some other stuff, it's like, come on now. Just teaching them how to be a good teammate and what you do. How about this, a guy comes out of the game, everybody gets up and touches the guy, isn't that like we all played? You touch the guy, ‘hey, you're good.' We sit, ‘come here, touch me.' Just things to become a good team they don't know yet, some of it I expected and any time I expect them to know something, I'm wrong. I'm wrong. Well they know this, I am wrong. And that being said, we don't rebound, we can't make a free throw and we still should have won the game. Top-20 team on the road, the women had nine overtimes, we came out, we're back in, came out, come back in. If we ever do a double-header (with the women) they will play after us, I don't care if it's 11 at night, you will never play before us again. Basically still start the game sluggish, they make seven-of-eight. Still should have won the game. We're fine. I haven't lost any confidence in the team, I have a lot of work to do as a coach and they have a lot of work to do changing and buying in, we're not near what we need to be. I mean the game Tuesday is going to be a hard game for us to win, they spread the court, they play, they sag. It's going to look like the team, I can't remember the couple teams that played us, everybody is in the lane. They run back and no one is outside the 3-point line, that's how much they sag. They back off the ball handler on the perimeter so you can't throw it to, what they do, they do well, the way they play and that's why they're 8-0."


On what he thinks his team does well now ...
"Well you would say rebounding but we didn't last game. You would say offensively we're being pretty efficient and that we were getting so much better, I'll give you an example of free throw shooting. We were shooting 100 free throws a day and the first day one of the kids made 97 out of 100. Then the next time we did it he made 86, the next time 82, next time 80, well why is that? Why would that happen? Basketball Bennies, why would that happen? Because it's not that important to him so he goes in the game and misses two. Another guy shot 100, did well and then I'm watching him shoot them quick just to get them over with like it doesn't matter. Game on the line, missed two. Because the importance of everything with young guys, they don't get it. Everything is important, you focus on what the task at hand is, that's the kind of stuff we're dealing with. Yet, I know they want to play together, I know they want to win, I know they have that desire, I know we have the talent we need, just all 18- and 19-year-olds, really young team."


On why they played Baylor in Dallas as opposed to say Indiana ...
"We offered to play Indiana twice in Indiana and they said no. I said, we offered to play them two years in Indiana and they said no. We played Baylor, where did we play them? So we move on. Our schedule is one of the best in the country and we've got other stuff coming up. We offered two years in Lucas Oil. They won't do it, what do you want me to do? I can beg them, ‘please, we'll play in your state twice.' They won't want to do it, it's OK. They've got a great program, Tommy (Crean) has done a great job, we're hanging on down here. It hasn't hurt either program."


On if this is a John Wooden ‘tying the shoe' lesson ...
"I don't think they know how to put socks on, they're having blisters."


On the team not having a steal against Baylor ...
"There is not enough pressure on the ball which is the main reason. My teams historically have been low in steals. I'm just saying, so what's the difference between three and zero or four and zero? You're not talking a big number. But we had no pressure on the ball and the second thing is my teams are always high in blocks so when they say turnovers to baskets, they never include a block so you don't really get the true gist of how many blocks did we get and how many run outs did we get from there. But, that game was low. It's not like we get 11 steals and now we have none. We have three or four steals; it's not how I coach. We're not out there trying to steal every ball, it's not what we do but we want pressure on the ball so that you give us some balls so that those four or five balls lead to baskets. Had no pressure on the ball whatsoever."

Kentucky Players
#24, EJ Floreal, G, Fr.
On the Baylor game and trip to Dallas ...
"Just disappointing. We really thought that we had that game but we just gave it to them at the end. It was really hard to even talk to anybody because we were so disappointed in ourselves and the way that we performed down the stretch."
On what happened down the stretch ...
"Just down the stretch it just seemed like we lost focus. During the game we were running our plays pretty well and exploiting them and then they got on a little bit of a run and we just kind of cracked under pressure. They went ahead of us."
On what the weekend was like once they got back ...
"We knew that we were going to have a tough practice coming back. We got stuck in Dallas so that just added insult to injury. We were ready for a hard practice and we knew we had so much to work on if we want to reach our goals."
On whether effort is a problem with this team ...
"I don't know if it's a problem. I think it's just sustaining it. I feel like we all give effort, but we've just got to do it for 40 minutes, and that means all of us. If that means some people can't play as much, then they can't play as much."
On possibly being a guy that could come off the bench and help ...
"I'm just going to do what he (Coach Calipari) says, so if that's what he wants then yeah, but I think he knows what he's doing. He's done this for so long. He's had so many great teams, winning teams, so we've just got to trust what he says and listen to what he does."
On how long the Dallas trip was ...
"It felt like it was a week. It was honestly terrible. Just being stuck there, it was so cold. I didn't even know it snowed in Dallas or anything. It was something for me. It was awful."
On what the team did there to pass the time while stuck in Dallas ...
"I went back to sleep. I didn't really talk to anybody. I was rooming with Tod (Lanter). We literally just went in the room, put our headphones on and went to bed. I'm assuming people watched movies maybe, but no one really went to anyone's room or anything. We kind of just stayed by ourselves."
On staying longer amplifying the loss ...
"That probably added to it. We just had to kind of reflect. Some of the leaders were taking over and they were talking to us and just saying we've got to change if this is what we want to do and this is where we want to go."
On how upset Calipari was with them ...
"I just feel like he was disappointed that we weren't even playing that great and still had a 10-point lead and we should have buried them, and instead we kind of just gave it up and let them take a win that they didn't deserve."


#1, James Young, G/F, Fr.
On the team's mentality after the loss ...
"We've recovered. No pressure at all, we've just got to get in the gym and just work hard."

On how surprising this is ...
"It's kind of surprising, but we just didn't play to our full potential. That's what can happen if we don't come to our full game. So we're just going to try to let it go and try to recover."

On Coach Cal being mad about the loss ...
"Oh yeah, he was pretty mad and we were too. We just have to get in the gym. Yesterday we were in here for a couple hours and just keep practicing."

On why they got outworked ...
"I think it was just the lack of communication that we had. We did not come out with as much fire as we should have and just really we were supposed to pick it up in the beginning of the game and we really let that go. They got a little lead and we had to come back."

On free throws being a problem ...
"Not really. We just probably lost focus and we've got to stay focused. Mental discipline and Coach always points that out. We need to stay focused a little more."

On what they worked on Sunday ...
"A lot of defensive stuff, rebounding and at the end some guys just got in here and just shot some more free throws."

On how big a concern defense is ...
"We can play defense, it's just we tend to stop sometimes and that's what will really get us. We've just got to keep playing through the whole possession and not stop."

On whether he is more eager to play after a loss ...
"Yeah, definitely. We love big games and we've just got to come out and show everybody that we do. We just can't let stuff like that happen anymore."


On fans expecting the team to play like veterans ...
"Yeah, we're young just like some of the other teams and we've just got a lot to learn. We just take it day by day and Coach just gives us a lot and we try to take it in."

On fans' strong reactions to early losses ...
"I don't know. I've never seen stuff like that happen before, but it's just another loss, I feel like. We only have two, so I feel like if we just keep moving we'll learn."

On hearing from fans on social media ...
"Not really. I don't really bother much with Twitter. I didn't really hear anything."

On how strange of a setting AT&T Stadium was for a game ...
"It was kind of weird because there was just too much open space and seeing there were only fans on one side of the court, it was just kind of weird."

On the importance of December ...
"It's pretty important to us. We're just going to take it game by game. I'm pretty sure we can get the W if we just play hard the whole game."

On his free-throw shooting ...
"I just tend to lose focus when I'm tired, so that's what it is. I just need to work on my conditioning more, get my fatigue up and I'll be fine."

On Boise State ...
"They're pretty good, like Coach said, and we've just got to play hard. We've just got to out-tough them, muscle them a little bit. We have a height advantage, so if we use all our height I feel like we'll be good."

On what Calipari has said about Boise State ...
"That they're really talented. We have to worry about everybody on the court. It's not just our offense we need to worry about. We need to worry about defense as well."

On whether Calipari is different after a loss ...
"No, he's the same. He tries to let it go as well as we do and we just try to keep moving forward."

On what advantage veteran teams have ...
"They've just been together longer so they have that chemistry. So we've just been working on ours because we haven't been together for a while, but we're getting stronger and I think we'll improve more."

On Rico Gathers saying UK was "stunned" when Baylor got after them ...
"They came at us with a lot of intensity and we just try to not worry about it as much. We let it go and just keep moving forward."

On what they are still learning about each other ...
"Our play style. A lot of guys have different play styles, so once we get everybody's style down I feel like we'll be a real good team."

On whether it felt like they might never make it back from Dallas ...
"Yeah. It seems like every time we go out of town there's always a delay in our flight. But it took a while to get back and I was just eager to get back here."

On whether the delay was especially hard after a loss ...
"Yeah, because we just had to sit there and dwell on it more sitting there on the plane. It was a long day."

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