Friday, February 24, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Head Coach John Calipari Pre - Florida Press Conference Interview


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Head Coach John Calipari

On what first place and winning the SEC means …

“Well, I told the guys yesterday: ‘It’s a big game if you win. It’s a huge game if you win. If you don’t, then it’s the next game and we march on. It’s not the end of the season. We have to play on.’ I’m trying to get these guys focused on what we have to do. They looked great yesterday. I thought the guys were really focused and locked in, and that’s the best that we can ask go from there.”

On De’Aaron Fox’s status …
“He didn’t practice yesterday. He did a little bit of stuff and I haven’t been in there to see. But I would guess that he’ll be a game-time decision.”

On what Fox’s condition is …
“Game-time condition. I don’t know. He got his knee. He hit his knee. It’s nothing. It’s not sprained or anything. I think it was a bruise.”

On if the team is inconsistent …
“Not this team; just a couple of guys on the team. And if you have a couple of guys on the team that are inconsistent that way, it’s hard to get rhythm in how you’re playing. So I’m saying to the guys, ‘You have to come with this mindset. You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to be in the same area – in the same area code. You can’ be here and then the next time we don’t know (where you are).’ Again, I’m trying to let these guys know. The biggest thing is prepare to play well and letting it go. You have to let it go. You can’t have all this other clutter hanging around that’s slowing you down, that’s keeping you from being aggressive, keeping you from playing with great energy. You gotta wipe that stuff out and be ready to go.”

On talking to the team about just having fun …
“That’s all we’re talking about. You gotta go out – and I’ll say it again: The inconsistency makes it hard to have fun because sometimes that’s demoralizing. One guy, you’re like, ‘What in the?’ And I’m not saying for me; I’m saying if you’re on the court. You need a team full of guys – they don’t have to be great; they don’t have to be at their best – but you have to be in that range of what you are as a player so we know what to expect. And I think we’re getting closer to it. Look, you want them to peak at the end of the year. That’s what you want, and we haven’t peaked yet so that’s not a bad thing. Now the question is we gotta get them there to where we start playing a little more aggressive, more energy, more 50-50 balls, we play tougher, make easy plays, stay connected defensively and offensively, lock in more. All that kind of stuff is what we need to do.”

On what they need need to do to rebound better … 
“We have to rebound the ball better. They beat us to every ball and every 50-50 ball tipped.”

On Kentucky having more turnovers in the later part of the season and if that goes back to playing anxious … 
“No. I think, here, again, you guys that have followed us in my time here – and some of you haven’t paid any attention but you followed us for all this time: You know early in the year we got our thing because no one knows our team. We’re new. But then there comes a point they say, ‘Alright, here is what you got to take away and this is what you gotta make hard.’ And then you’ll have guys at that point say, ‘Well, this isn’t fun anymore.’ No kidding. They just made it harder. So you gotta figure out how do I have fun when the game is rough and tough and they’re taking away our best stuff and we got to figure out now what do we do? And it happened this year the same way. It was fun to run up and down the court throwing hook passes and reverse dunks. And all of the sudden they shoot the ball and the coaches ran back, the players ran back, and the guy that shot it before it left his hand, he was running back. OK, now you’re not getting as many layups and makes it a little harder. Not playing a couple guys. ‘We’re not going to play these two.’ Now it becomes, ‘OK, how are you going to play now?’ And that’s this team. We have gone through this every year and then we make adjustments and they get it back and then we get going. We just have to do it with this group. Like, I’m, you know, I said to the: ‘This is, this is what you play for – this kind of game where both teams have something to lose.’ Every team we play has house money. They’ve got house money. Well, we all (have house money now). When we went to Alabama and Tennessee, we both had something to lose. Now, this game, we both have something to lose. They have something too now. They’ve played great, and so we’ll see. We’ll see. And again, I keep telling them, there is going to be a time this season when you lose your season ends. This ain’t it, so just play. If you win, it’s huge! Big! If you don’t, you lose the game. Next game. Who do we play next? If you win, it’s huge. ”

On how Florida looks without John Egbunu … 
“They’re still good. Their guard play and what they were (hasn’t changed). They’re missing one big guy but the other guys, they – the games I watched, the two without him, I mean, they beat South Florida and they beat them pretty handily. So, they’re good. They’re what they’re ranked. They’re one of those top five, eight, 10, whatever they have them there. They’re good and they’ve been good on the road, too.”

On Isaiah Briscoe being more confident …
“He was better yesterday. Yesterday was a good practice for him. We did some stuff. Stuff’s not easy. Every game’s what it is and you can’t--you’re trying to get better as you’re trying to figure out what we do here. I’m going to say this: I don’t think anybody’s feeling sorry for us, that’s one. And the second thing, I’m telling everyone out there, every team at this time of the year has issues to deal with. Every team. There’s something that happened that their program is having to deal with or their coaches or their team. Every team has issues. We’re trying to figure our issues out better than they’re trying to figure their issues out. And we’ve got a bunch of good guys that want to do this that we’re trying to do what we need to do as coaches to help them.”

On who the point guard will be if De’Aaron Fox cannot play …
“I don’t know. We’ll have to figure that one out. What do you think?”

On Dominique Hawkins being the first one off the bench …
“That’s not a bad idea.” 

Video/Transcript: UK Players Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo Pre - Florida Press Conference Interview


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

#5, Malik Monk, Freshman, Guard

On getting another shot at Florida …

“Another opportunity. Like (Coach) Cal said, if we win it’s a big game. If we lose it’s on to the next one. It’s just another opportunity.”

On playing for first place in the SEC standings …
“We’re playing for first place, but like Cal said, if we lose it’s on to the next game. We gotta focus on who’s next.”

On what it would mean to win the SEC …
“It’s good, but Cal plays for the NCAA Tournament. He’s told us that before. We’re just fighting for the NCAA Tournament. If we lose, we care about it, but we gotta move to the next game and the next game is going to be there.”

On how much this game means after losing by 22 in Gainesville …
“We want to come out with a lot of energy. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine. But like I said, if we lose we gotta be ready for the next game. But they did put a whoopin’ on us down there. We gotta bring something back.”

On how embarrassing it was to get beat like that …

“Super. I mean, we didn’t really get beat like that. We watched film and we were down six, we were down four sometimes, we were down eight and then we just let little mistakes slip up on us. We did that to ourselves.”

On Florida’s guards …
“They’re great on ball screens. They read everything great. They can get to their spots great. They do everything great off the ball screen. We just gotta focus in on that.”

On what he says out of Florida’s guards defensively …
“We just gotta, like I said, have a lot of energy and a bunch of ball pressure and I think we’ll be fine.”

On why they didn’t have the energy the first time against Florida …
“I can’t tell you that. We don’t know, but we didn’t have it, so that’s a bad thing.”

On having the video put out promoting him for All-America …
“I didn’t even see it yet, but (UK assistant director of media relations) Deb (Moore) sent me the link and stuff, but I haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet.”

On if freshman guard De’Aaron Fox practiced Thursday …
“He did a little thing but you gotta ask Coach on the rest.”

On what they’ve done to get more together as a team …
“Ran. Ran a lot. A lot of running.” [Laughter.]

On getting beat on the boards by 25 the first time they played Florida …
“Bad. We gotta come out with energy and we gotta be way more physical than they were. They were more physical than us down there.”

On Florida graduate senior guard Canyon Berry shooting free throws underhanded …
“I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it before. I don’t care, he makes them. Whatever it takes to make them.”

On if he’s ever tried shooting free throws underhanded …
“I’ve tried a couple times. That’s pretty hard to do. I don’t know how he does it.”

On where the team’s confidence level is after five straight wins …
“We always have confidence, but sometimes we come out with confidence and no energy and sometimes we come out with confidence and energy. That shows us who we are when we come out with energy. But we always have confidence.”

On why a team can ever come out with no energy …
“That’s a good question. I really don’t know. I don’t know what to tell you. Not focused is the only thing I can say.”

On who on the team will call others out if they don’t look like they have energy …
“Everybody. We can say anything to anybody and nobody takes hard feelings. We’re alright.”

On it being a good thing they can do that …“Yeah, for sure. We can do that now. We got to that point where we can tell anybody anything and we’ll say, ‘Alright, we gotta do something and get better.’ ”

On Adebayo saying he didn’t do anything different at Missouri …
“Yeah, he didn’t. We just threw him the ball more. That’s all. We got him the ball.”

On if they’ll look for Adebayo more against Florida …
“For sure. For sure. I think Florida lost their big, so yeah, I think we have an advantage there. So, we gotta get Bam the ball.”

#3, Bam Adebayo, Freshman, Forward

On whether he did anything different vs. Missouri …

“I didn’t do anything differently. My routine’s the same. I went out with the same intensity, the same fight I had, and just came up with a little more rebounds, a little more points.”

On whether that builds his confidence …
“Yeah, it should add to anybody’s confidence. Not just mine. We all have high confidence so it keeps carrying on.”

On the confidence level of this team right now …
“We’re at an all-time high because we’re getting it together. We’re coming together even more and we’re buying in.”

On what they want to prove vs. Florida …
“Just that we just got fight, we got determination and we got heart.”

On what he remembers about the first game vs. Florida …
“We just came out sloppy and they came out with intensity. That’s pretty much it.”

On whether that’s easy to fix …“Yeah, we just all gotta have the right intensity, the right mindset. We gotta all be ready for the game.”

On whether a sense of urgency is kicking in …
“For every person that’s just getting into college like us, we’re eager to get to the NCAA Tournament, but we gotta take it game by game.”

On whether the goal is to match Florida’s 22-point margin of victory …
“The goal is to win, pretty much. If you look at it, a W’s a W no matter by 22 or by one.”

On what Isaiah Briscoe gives the team even through struggles …
“He still brings leadership. He’s a high-profile guy. We look up to Zay. He’s a good defender. I know he gets in the right spot on offense. He just helps us out in other ways.”

On whether they say anything to Briscoe when he struggles …
“We all just cheer him on. We don’t bash him or anything like that. We just try to build his confidence.”

On rebounding vs. Florida …“It was pretty much we all just gotta rebound and just come up with boards.”

On whether he can explain why Florida dominated on the glass …
“They just got more 50-50 balls than us and it just turned out they had more rebounds.”

On whether there is a revenge factor in this game …
“You want to win every game. We lost down there, so our expectation is to win.”

On whether they think about winning the SEC …“I just want to win, so winning an SEC title is something to me just like it is just winning another game.”

On whether he can play the rest of the season like he did vs. Missouri …
“I think I can be that every game the rest of the season. I just gotta put my mind to it and be more confident.”

On whether consistency is all about confidence …
“Yeah, and then my intensity and my confidence and just seeing how the game’s going.”

On what he attributes inconsistency in rebounding to …
“When my teammates rebound, it’s hard for me to rebound. We’re all fighting for rebounds so you’re going to have to share some.”

On what he remembers about the last Florida game …
“We came out lackadaisical.”

On why that happened …
“I don’t know. I have no idea. We just came out slow and they came out hot.”

On whether that’s the biggest change that has to happen …
“Yeah, that’s the biggest change. Just coming out with intensity, everybody’s game ready and ready to go.”

On what winning the SEC would mean to them …
“Winning is everything, so we just want to win. Losing doesn’t feel good, so I’d like to be on the winning side.”

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Pre-@South Carolina Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell


Opening Statement…


“Well, we have a tough game ahead of us Sunday against a very talented South Carolina team that played very hard against us here at Memorial and we did not have the outcome that we wanted. We will have a great two days of preparation and get ready to go over and earn what would be a really hard-fought victory. That is what is on our mind right now, is trying to get ready for South Carolina.” 


On needing a similar effort to last night’s performance on Sunday …

“Yeah, we need a very good effort against South Carolina. They are so big and physical and athletic. I think the thing that makes them so unique is the mobility of their size. Obviously with Coates and Wilson, that is a really unique combination of athletes that can move and have such a large presence in the paint. You really have to work for your offense and when you are on defense you have to play smart and play together. So effort will be important for us. We will have to give a great effort. I am sure that is what will be on our minds as we try to get prepared.” 


On if he worries about the team’s energy coming off such an emotional game …


“Yeah, I think our team has done a great job all year of sort of bouncing back and they do not show any signs of physical letdown. I think everybody understands that this is a really important game for us and they need to get ready. We will be ready to play.” 


On the team’s 3-point shooting …

“I don’t think that we have been shooting the ball great from the 3. We continue to get together and talk about our team – all of us here – and one thing I would remind you all of is that if we can every put a night together where we really shot the ball. We have had some nights where we have shot 50 or 55 percent, but I think it is going to be one of those games where we would need something like that. I think to beat South Carolina time after time, you know one single 40 minutes game a bunch of things can happen, but I think a formula for success against them is hitting some perimeter shots. They just have what I think is the two best shot blockers and it is so hard to get to the rim consistently. The way that they play, where Mississippi State really came out of the paint last night and guarded everybody really closely and that gave you some driving lanes to get to the rim, South Carolina stays more in and says come to me and see if you can score that way. You can get to the rim some, but I do think making some 3s would really help us out and that will have to be part of our gameplan going in. We will try to spread the floor some and if they don’t guard our 3-point shooters try to knock those down.” 


On if it is good to go into tournament time and feel like you have a lot of upside left …

“I think we are playing really hard from an effort standpoint and where the players really are and how much they care and are wanting to win, I think we are at a maximum there. What I am saying is there are little things and points in practice where you can see us progressing. Like Alyssa Rice, I think over the last month, she is trending up at the end of the season. That is where our upside is where I still think players are coming to practice hungry every day and trying to get better. I think it is a great thing. We need to travel those last few feet or yards or whatever it may be so we can play our best at the end, but I think it keeps kids very hungry to come back to practice when they think they are getting better and I think that we are.” 


On where last night’s Senior Night ranks …

“Last night was among the best. You love all these players and you love all the seniors and each one of them is unique, but from what those two were facing last April and May, I don’t know how it gets much better than last night for them. They will always have that. I am happy for them that they do.” 


On Makayla and Taylor being one of the top guard combos …

“I don’t know. I don’t know. But I am glad that they are playing for us and I don’t watch a whole lot of people play besides of who we have coming up. I am sure there are some great backcourt combos around the country, but they are playing well and playing hard and playing for each other and working hard in practice trying to be better. I think where our best improvement has been since the South Carolina game is just been our effort to try to communicate better with each other: coaches, players, player to player, player to coach. All of those things have improved and everybody has had to work at that. I am proud of everybody for putting in the time and working hard enough and caring enough to try to get better.” 


On Taylor Murray talking to him during the games …

“A lot of it is strategy. Like, ‘Hey, this is what is happening on the court,’ and I cannot tell you how helpful that is and how that aides me in trying to aide them. So there are a lot of strategic things. Then I have been asking them to try to help me. I want it so bad for them that sometimes that works against me. I get a little too amped up, whether it be a call by an official and then you go back and watch it and the official made a good call. But in the moment, you are wanting it so bad. I have been honest with the team to help me with that. He is helping there too, like, ‘Coach, it’s fine. Were OK.’ So they are helping me with my poise and then there are times where I can help her with hers. So it is just a real good collaboration right now and I am grateful that we kind of found that because we needed each other there. It is working out in games and it has been really helpful. She is really, really engaged on what is happening at the time and what can help us have some success the next play. She is doing a great job with that.” 


On Epps looking to facilitate in the first half and then scoring more in the second …

“Well, I think that last night that is a hard game. You are playing a very good team. They are highly ranked and talented. They had only been beat once before and everybody knows that going into the game. Then you are dealing with the emotion of 7,000 people cheering for you and you see what the place means to her, she kisses the floor before the tip, which I love and think is fantastic. But that is a hard game. I just think Senior Night here at Kentucky is so special and it is just a hard game. I don’t know how much of it was trying to get settled down from that. But at halftime, I think she knew what needed to happen because you saw her come out on the attack right away in the second half. I don’t know if there is every a plan for her to ease into the game, but I think last night was a big moment for her and I think it is hard to process all that. I think she did a good job of really locking in when we needed her and she was good.” 


On this team limiting foul trouble …


“I just think early on there were a few things we knew we had to do. We had to take care of the ball and we just don’t have the luxury where you can check out mentally and get careless fouls. I just think they know that. Early in the year, we really called the scrimmages in a realistic fashion to imprint it in their mind. And again, we had a 3.5 team GPA in the fall. There are some smart cookies out there. We are not dealing with people who cannot process information, although we do have some mental errors at times. But overall we are a pretty intelligent group of people, but Evelyn is a year older and more experienced. She used to really take some bad fouls. Alyssa Rice has just worked so hard. She fouled out last night, but she didn’t score a point last night but she was big for us in that victory with her defensive presence and defensive intelligence. I think we all knew that going in and we have done a good job with it.” 


On taking care of the ball …

“That turnover margin for us has been positive. It is has been important for us to have a chance to be successful in the league because we have not been a team that could really cause the volume of turnovers of what we have done in the past. Last night was a great time for us to go against that norm as we forced them into 22 turnovers. We have had to approach it in a different way. We used to have to cause a bunch of turnovers, this year we have tried to keep that turnover margin positive by taking care of the ball. I think turnover margin is a big indicator of your ability to win a game and we did a great job of that last night.” 


On what makes each game so unpredictable …

“I think with our team we clearly have some talented players but we are not walking on the court and marking it down because of our talent. So we do have some flaws. We are a team that sort of – we have a core group that gets some things done and then it is kind of a hodgepodge. Listen, Makenzie Cann came in last night and her 3 was at a time where we could not score and were out of rhythm and she had a steal at the end of the game. You just never know where it is going to come from. So Makenzie Cann was huge in the game last night at critical times. If we don’t have those plays we lose. We have got to do it together and make plays at critical times because we are not just going to blow you away at talent and talent alone. We are not just going to show up and win games. So for us, I think it is helpful because it keeps us in the moment and we cannot get our heads too high in the clouds. For every game we have won, you can go back and see some flaws and mistakes that we made that we feel like we can improve on. I don’t know, it is just a healthy self-awareness that we know who we are. I think Makayla said it in her senior day press conference. We know who we are and we know what we have to do. That self-awareness has helped us.”

UK Coach Calipari Pre-Florida Twitter Comments

UK Basketball Players Malik Monk, Bam Adebayo Pre-Florida Twitter Comments

Florida Head Coach Mike White, Player KeVaughn Allen Pre - @Kentucky Twitter Comments

UK Promoting Freshman Guard Malik Monk All-America Nominee

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Post UK Hoops 78 vs Mississippi State 75 Senior Night Press Conference Interview


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement ...

"This win is a big one, for a lot of reasons, but the one that matters most - for me and our team - we did it together and it's a great gift to our seniors. They were huge in the game. Our team pulled together tonight. We won on Senior Night, and that's a special thing. I'm proud of our players. They battled, hustled, and found a way to win against a really good team."

On Makayla Epps’ put-back to win the game … 
"It was a great hustle play. She just kept playing. She just kept battling and found a way to get it in the bucket. A lot of times when people see a shot miss, they're loafing back and not going to the boards. She just hung in there, and it was a huge play in the game. I thought she and Evelyn (Akhator) really stepped up on Senior Night. It's pretty amazing." 

On Taylor Murray's performance ...
"She's becoming quite the floor general. She's starting our offense and defense. She's all over the place making plays and pressuring the ball. When she came to us, she didn't talk very much. I can't get her to stop talking now during the game. I try to get her to sit down and rest for a second, then she calls me back over to the sideline to talk to her to make sure we're doing what we need to do. She's doing a great job as a floor general. Really proud of her."

On Mississippi State and Akhator's focus for the game ...
"With the way that they play, they give you some driving opportunities. They're probably the only team in the league that we've seen do that. We thought we had an advantage there if we could get the ball to her. We worked hard over the last couple of days to try to get in our mind what we needed to do to win. One of the keys for her was to not post up, sit on the block, and try to play a power game with them. Try to step off the block, get to the high post, and try to step out on the short corner. It was an incredible performance from her." 

On if he told Akhator anything before the fourth quarter to try to get her going ...
"At halftime, we were just trying to keep our poise and composure. (Mississippi State) shot the 3 well in the first half. We were right there where we needed to be. We get it and tie it up in the third. We said, 'We're right here.' We were trying to talk to Evelyn and the kids that were being guarded by the players in foul trouble - they seemed to be a little tentative, so we were trying to drive it at Mississippi State in the fourth quarter."

On his message to the team at halftime ...
"I'm telling you guys it wasn't a real fired up or impassioned locker room. We were poised and in control. We felt like we had hustled in the first half. I think (Epps) did not want to lose tonight."

On the Wildcats' hustling tonight ... 
"I'm really proud of how our kids hustled. I thought Mississippi State played fantastic. How could you get a better game than that other than being on the winning side? We could barely stop them. We made one more play than they made. I don't know how much we outhustled them. I think we just made one more play at the end of the game. We're fortunate to make that play, but our kids did hustle tonight. I'm proud of our players and Mississippi State has a fantastic team. 

On how big forcing turnovers was for Kentucky…
“It was probably the game. Victoria Vivians is so explosive. All their players are just really, really good players. Really talented team. We had to flip something in our advantage in this game. We had to play real tough. We had to play real tough. Definitely had to take care of the ball. With them they have great rebounding margin and great turnover margin. We were able to get in there and disrupt and hustle. I thought the kids did a good job. That’s a good night's work, 22 turnovers.”

On fighting back in the first quarter…
“Well I thought we were a little disjointed offensively. I thought we were forcing a couple things. I didn’t feel terrible about the 10 points, two of them were 3s. Vivians’ was really deep, although we need to try and close that, that was really deep. I think it was (Ketara) Chapel that made the other one, she can shoot the 3 but I don’t think that’s how they’re running their offense most of the time. So I wasn’t overly concerned with our defense but I thought we needed to settle down a little bit and we did. Makayla got the good steal and got her first two points and then Maci drove the ball and got to the free throw line. I thought that settled us down. It was really good when we started getting the pace where we wanted to.”

On what this win means to the program and where the program is now from a year ago…
“Well, just a lot of negativity swirling around the program. I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand what all was going on. I thought we had a great program. I thought we treated people with respect and had an opportunity to grow as a person. It was very tough, difficult time. People were leaving left and right and there was a point where I just didn’t feel like I could get it stopped. When those six finally said ‘we’re in’ we finally had a point where we could march back forward. So I don’t know how many months it’s been, nine or 10, or whatever it’s been. But to be on a night where we had to hustle, fight, work and you know we won that game over the course of 106 practices. I mean we’ve been practicing, working hard and so it means a whole lot. Thank God for giving us strength to hang in here and play and win an important game down the stretch. Now we’ve got a bunch of basketball left. We’ve got to keep going. We got to bounce back and get ready to compete against a really talented South Carolina team. For tonight, I think for me, the best feeling for us is Makayla and Evelyn will always have tonight. You only had one chance at it and now that they have it you can’t take that from them ever. To have that moment with them at half court with just a jam-packed building. Just thank the fans for coming out and honoring those kids. That will be one we don’t soon forget if we ever do. I don’t think we ever will.”

On winning on eight straight senior nights…
“I’m just so grateful for that. A lot of kids, you know, it’s not a guarantee. On year we made a layup against LSU and save Victoria (Dunlap) and that crew’s senior night. It’s not a guarantee you’re going to win on senior night. You’re thrilled they can walk out of the building in their last regular season game and know they did well on senior night so it’s a big moment for these kids.”