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Justus Talks About UK and Centre as Cats Prepare for Final Exhibition

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CENTRE-UK PREGAME MEDIA OPPORTUNITY

NOV. 2, 2017

MEMORIAL COLISEUM – LEXINGTON, KY.

Assistant Coach Joel Justus

On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Quade Green competing with one another …
“I think it’s a byproduct of two guys that have come here embracing competition. They come every day to work, and they enjoy that. They’ve gotten better since they stepped foot on campus in the summer. They didn’t ask questions about who was coming in the process. They didn’t worry about anybody else who might be here. They have come in and it has been a ton of fun to watch them during practice, which no one here or outside of our team and staff get to see. But it’s two guys that absolutely love to play basketball. And love to work and I think what everyone gets to see on game day/night is a byproduct of guys that work hard and want to be the best version of themselves.”

On how competitive those battles are with Green and Gilgeous-Alexander
“With what we’re working on defensively, I think Quade or Shai has to keep themselves honest in terms of falling asleep on the backside because that ball can get swung, swung and Quade can step in and get the outside shot. And I think that’s what Cal is trying to get Shai to do is step in and shoot the ball. I think they’re both obviously extremely good basketball players who like I said come to practice every day. And you have to do that here to get better, and that’s what they’ve done.

On Green and Gilgeous-Alexander’s different approaches to the position …
“I don’t know if I would say if they both have different approaches to the position. I think they both have their strengths at this point and I think that’s what Cal is trying to get them to do – get them to play to their strengths and continue to work on how he sees them fitting in to our team and what our team needs. And that comes and goes in terms of as in parts of the game. Is it something where we need ball reversal or where we need Quade to shoot? To maybe dominate the ball or is it we need him to reverse the ball? I think sometimes when you have young kids like that that are adjusting to the college game, adjusting to playing with new players, adjusting to a new system and setting, I think you’re going to have teams where it looks like they themselves have a different approach to the position or to the game, but I think right now its two kids who are loving being coached, love to practice who love competition and who want to get better. And I think that’s why we see them jump daily. I think that’s what we’re going to continue to see. That’s what the fans are going to continue to see, not just with them but with the entire team – a young group of kids who love to practice, love to work and love to compete. It’s going to be a fun group to watch. I know the talk right now is about the point guards, but as a team they’re going to be fun to watch as they grow and grow.”

On players being competitive trying to earn a spot and more playing time …
“That’s a great question. I think our guys have done that in practice. I think for the first time, when you have young kids that come here, this is the hardest that they’ve ever worked. I what Cal has continued to tell them is, “That’s hard, but you need to work harder.” I think for them its finding that point of practice when they say, ‘Man, this is tough. Let’s push past that.’ I think with a group of guys that are competitive, you don’t come here if you’re not competitive. That’s the bottom line. I think we look for that early on in recruiting. The guys that come here want to come here and compete. They know what this is about and this group knew that when they came, and I that’s something we have been pleasantly surprised with throughout practice. Our guys are comfortable fighting for time, fighting for minutes. I think that’s why we’ve seen a jump from week to week to week, especially in games. “

On the lineups during the exhibition games …

“I think it’s been an opportunity for us to see different lineups. I think it’s been an opportunity for us to see who starts. I think we’ve started two different starting lineups and I think we’ve had four different starting lineups in halves; and that’s been something that was thought out before the first game. We were going to start different lineups.”

On if the trend of different starting lineups will continue …

“I think that’s still a work in progress. I think it’s something that we are going to take a look at. I don’t know, we might start different lineups in our first real, you know, our first real game. I don’t know that we’ve come to that. I don’t know if Coach Cal has come to that conclusion, or if there’s going to be a conclusion. I think that with this group it might be a true lineup by game. I don’t know. I’m not speaking for Coach on that. I just think that this is a group that you can see every lineup has a different personality and I think that’s what we’re trying to figure out right now is what individuals mesh the best together and what individuals are going to come together at different points in a game. And how that’s going to play out game by game.”

On getting outrebounded by Morehead State and where this team’s rebounding is going to come from …

“I think the answer is everybody. I think when you have a 6-foot-6 point guard who can rebound, and I think when you have even Quade who is a guy that we want to play fast and get the ball out it starts there. But, it really should come from all five positions. That’s a programmatic stresser for us – everybody should rebound. We chart that in practice. We track that in games. Who is even attempting to rebound? And that’s been something that we have talked a lot about probably from our first couple of intrasquad scrimmages here in the building that no one saw and now you have 10 guys that you’re charting in intrasquads – to know it reduces to five in a game.”

On what they’re doing to help Nick Richards from fouling so much …

“I think it’s tough for all of them. I think for Nick, it’s one, at that position – you know, you have a couple of guys now with Tai (Wynyard) being back in the fold. You have a little bit more depth inside. But, you do have Sacha (Killeya-Jones). You have Nick. Both that need to play without fouling, and we looked at it the other night. I mean PJ (Washington) had a little bit of foul trouble the other night. I think the thing that these guys are going to have to figure out is, ‘OK, what is a foul?’ Especially at the college level. What is a foul, and what is a good foul? What’s a bad foul? I mean, you know, a whack 80 feet from the basket when you have two fouls or when you have three fouls is not wise. A chest in the back, going over the top of somebody is never a good foul. I think when we’re looking at film with these guys collectively, looking at it, at the film, with them individualy, usually those are the types of conversations that are being had in terms of fouling. But, I think for all of them, they all need time, they all need minutes, and silly fouls or pointless fouls or lazy or fatigue fouls are ones that are going to get us in trouble – not only in the games, but individually will get those guys in a little bit of trouble because it’s going to put them on the bench. And they’re not going to get any better sitting on the bench.”

On Richards’ physical play …

“He hit me the other day in the shoulder. I don’t know. I must not be doing that good of a job. No, when you have young guys like this that are being forced to extend themselves to a place that they’ve never been challenged to go, you’ve gotta live with it. I think that has been a fun part for our staff. I think as assistants, and I think Cal would say the same thing. I mean, you go to practice every day and it’s fun. That’s where I think with this team and what we think of this team. I think the fans are going to – and they should come to games and really with an appetite to see a team that’s going to grow. In every game and every timeout, it’s going to happen right before your eyes. There’s going to be a sizeable growth game to game to game. That’s what we’re going to need. But you have a group of guys that love to play, love to compete, love to practice, and I think you’re going to see – and I think we’re all going to get to see – them grow game by game.”

On what they’re on the lookout for early in the season …
“I think with any young person, I think any time they get complacent, if they think, ‘I’m good, I don’t need to get to practice early or stay late or take some extra time to work with an assistant coach,’ (or) take care of your body away from the gym – I think with what we do here in terms of our support staff, that’s something that all of us are keeping an eye on. From what we eat to how much we sleep, how much we lift, how much we practice, those are the types of things we try to give them the blueprint for, and ultimately it comes back on the individual and ultimately I think it comes back on the team of looking out for each other and saying, ‘OK, what am I doing, but how can I help somebody else and lead somebody else?’ It’s a process, and it’s something that there’s always those times that young kids have to fight a little bit more or fight through some fatigue or fight through some challenges. You probably won’t know until they get here.”

On areas he saw some growth in from the exhibition games …
“I think we did a good job as a team defensively. If you look, we forced turnovers. We were active on the defensive end, and part of that is if you look at the rebounding part, that’s because we caused so many turnovers. That then gave us less chances to rebound. We got deflections. I think individually you saw some guys make some strides positionally on defense, from the film and some of the stuff we emphasized collectively and individually. And I think ball movement was great in terms of our lane touches, in terms of “one mores” – some stuff that we chart when the ball gets moving. I think those are the easy ones that jump right off the page at you, and I think you look more for that tomorrow night and the next game and the next game.”

On if anybody that has stood out to him early in the season …
“I think they all have made improvements. I know that’s not answering your question, but I think they all have made improvements, and that’s what is exciting about this group is they all come in to practice every day to get better and they all want to be the best of themselves. I think that we’ll see that daily. Some guys will be better than others. Some guys will be young and maybe a little bit fatigued, but then they go into another section of practice and they respond. I don’t know that you can put your finger on one guy. Outside of Jemarl Baker and Jarred Vanderbilt, who have been injured, I think everyone has gotten better, and that includes Wenyen (Gabriel), Sacha and Tai, guys who have been here before.

On when he expects Vanderbilt to return to practice

“I don’t know about that.”

On Killeya-Jones carving out a role as a rebounder and a defender …
“Yeah, I think (Coach Calipari) said he wants him to defend and rebound. At that position, that’s always been a blueprint for those guys to get more minutes, and I think Sacha has embraced that. It takes time. It takes time for guys to embrace the physicality that it takes to rebound. I think he’s getting there. He’s had a good couple weeks of practices and some good minutes – better minutes – in the Morehead game than the Thomas More game, and he was better in the Thomas More game than he was in Blue-White. So I think he’s in the same boat as the rest of the guys in that it has to be daily improvement. I think if we go at it that way then I think you’ll see a jump for him as well.”

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