Thursday, December 08, 2016

UK Football Players Jon Toth, Jordon Jones, Mike Edwards named to the All-SEC Team

Video/Transcript: UK Hoops Coach Matthew Mitchell Pre-Middle Tennessee Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Head Coach Matthew Mitchell

Opening Statement … 
“Well, a tough game for us tomorrow. Middle Tennessee is always well coached, Coach (Rick) Insell is one of the great coaches in our profession and we have had a great series with them the past few years and they are always really difficult to prepare for. We will have to work really hard between now and tomorrow night to see if we can earn the victory because we will have to earn it. They are always great at executing their offense. They have an outstanding 3-point shooter in Abbey Sissom, who is just one of the best 3-point shooters we have seen. Ty Petty is one of the best point guards that we will play against. They are just relentless about trying to run their offense and get the ball into the post. So a big challenge for us defensively. They have played really tough pressure man-to-man defense and we had some success last Sunday against it, but we made a lot of mistakes against tough man-to-man defense. We have been working hard at it and we will have to work hard today and tomorrow to see if we can get ready for a really good Middle Tennessee team.” 

On the turnovers vs. UofL and how to correct those …
“Well, Louisville was really aggressive and probably the most athletic team we have seen and I did a poor job of helping the players adjust during the game. We turned it over on our inline out-of-bounds plays seven times. I think the rest of the game was probably pretty – I mean, you are just going to turn the ball over some against a tough, aggressive defense. That is where we fell short was on the inline and that is under our basket on offense. That was a great learning experience for us and Louisville really bothered us with some switching defenses and just pressure. So it was more pressure than we had seen. So really great for us to have that experience. We have tried to work on that and will continue to work on it because Middle Tennessee is certainly capable of playing multiple defenses. They can mix defenses. Coach Insell is really good at that. But one thing they have done consistently good this year is pressure. They have made it tough and one pass away on you. We will have to be ready to take care of the ball. Turnover margin is big for our team and it is really offensively important because we are not creating a ton of turnovers on defense.”

On taking care of the ball and leading the league in assist-turnover ratio …
“Yeah, it has been good. I think that Taylor Murray is doing a good job with it. Makayla (Epps) really had a tough time but she got the bad stats because of how we played. She turned it over seven times and that was all out there throwing it underneath. For the most part, we have done a better job. Our post players are not traveling. We used to travel and just traveled so much last year when we would catch the ball, so they are doing a good job and it is going to need to be a strength of our team as we go forward. But they are smart players and they work hard. When we are down low in a stance, we have good ball handlers and we are not being careless with the ball, we can be secure with it and have good ball security.” 

On Taylor Murray’s biggest growth …
“Well, the things that I want her to do well at and get better she is doing right now. She was fantastic from a leadership standpoint. She has always struggled – admittedly herself – it is difficult for her to project and be loud and be talkative. That is just not her personality. She is one of the finest people we have every recruited here and that I have had the privilege of coaching, she really is a high-character person, but just not real talkative and not real loud. Sunday at Louisville, she really tried to step forward and lead. I was out of sorts on a few things that happened in the game and she was in that environment and I thought Louisville had a great crowd and it was hostile. I thought she was just fantastic in her growth and her leadership. She was calming the team down. She got demonstrative with them one time when they wouldn’t get in the huddle and stomped her feet and said, ‘get in here!’ Those things are not easy for her. I really admire how hard she is working for her team and trying to be a good leader and trying to be a good point guard. That is an area that I am seeing growth and we want that to continue to happen. And she is just rounding into a complete player to view herself as a top-level guard in this league. I mean, she had 21 the other day, I hope people continue to try to take away Epps and Maci (Morris) and think that Taylor can’t do it. I think that is what the approach has been in a couple of games and that would be making a mistake because she is really shooting the ball well, scoring the ball well, taking care of it. She needs to view herself as a top-level guard and keep working hard.” 

On Taylor Murray stomping her feet to get the team to huddle and if they pointed it out on film …
“Yeah, there are a lot of lessons in that game and it means so much to our team and we were so close to winning the game. Some really negative things happened in the game that are so discouraging and you have no control over or there are negative things you cause yourself, there are all sorts of plays in the game that will allow you to get down if you allow yourself to do that and we just cannot be that kind of team. They are not robots out there so they need each other to help. Makayla so many times has encouraged her teammates and so she was down a little bit and that was great because it is hard for a sophomore to say that to a senior, but I think what is good about this team is that there is a true genuine caring and love for each other so I think Taylor trusts that Makayla will receive that and vice versa. So those are all leadership lessons that you are trying to teach that we will not be perfect and have leadership breakdowns throughout this season, starting with me, it happens. But if you got a group that cares about each other, you can always lift each other up no matter what happens. Those are the kinds of things we are talking to our team about. I just want our team to understand that we, through all the hardships and all the difficult things that happened, we are sitting in a spot where we have enough to be a very good team and they just need to believe that and understand that about themselves and we just have to get a little bit more active and value the defensive end a little bit more and rebound a little bit better out of the zone, which is a great thing that came out of the Louisville game. I think we will be better going forward because of the that difficulty we went through. These are all the things that we are going to need to be successful and I really believe our players and that we are going to do it.” 

On what he saw from Alyssa Rice that he liked in the Louisville game…“I thought Alyssa was just so tough for us defensively. She really helped a lot of people get the ball out of the straight-line drive. She played really smart defense. She just played some tough minutes on a day where Evelyn was struggling and I just think that she is getting close to having a real breakthrough. I think she just keeps getting better and better. She’s working awfully hard and I think she can see the improvement. She gave us great minutes.”

On how much of Alyssa’s game is about confidence…
“Well she and Evelyn both, I just need to do a better job. I really have to … this is what’s made all this great for me, I’m learning so much. I just have to coach them and make sure that I am giving them information that’s going to help them. They don’t need to be yelled and screamed at, they just need to be taught. I think it’s really important for both of those to have confidence and it’s important for me to not build them up artificially and give them false hope or false confidence. But every single day, coming in with a plan on this is how we’re going to get better because both of them want to get better. Both of them are not playing their best yet. They both have the best basketball in front of them and so, we just have to do a good job as coaches, starting with me, of giving them information that helps them get better every day and trust that they’re going to give you a great effort. And they’re not going to be perfect. Having a deep roster, sometimes you can pull the hook real quick and then you just put somebody else in there. So, really you’ve got to find out how each player responds best and I think confidence or knowing that the coaches believe in you is real important for Alyssa and real important for Evelyn and we believe in both of them. We just need to do a good job coaching them.”

On the conditioning the team goes through to give them the ability to get up and down the court…
“Well, we’ve tried to take a lot of pride in our fitness and our basketball fitness over the years. It’s been one of the hallmarks of the program and has allowed us to achieve the success we have, one of the main ingredients to it. It’s nothing fancy, it’s just a commitment to it. We have a great person in charge of those efforts in the summer in the way of speed, agility, quickness and conditioning and that’s John Spurlock. So, we start every June, four mornings a week, 6 a.m. workouts, and those are difficult Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. With a combination of speed, agility, strength, basketball fitness, mental toughness, those kinds of things. And then we just have always tried to make our practices as demanding as possible and try to make practice tougher than the game. So, the kids work hard. They have to run a lot. They have to be in great shape and I think it’s in our culture now and we really look for players, as we’re out recruiting, that have that kind of energy. You might be really, really talented, but if you play in a kind of laid back fashion, it’s probably not going to fit here. You’re going to kind of have to be a grinder and somebody who wants to work and somebody who wants to push themselves because it’s hard to get in your best shape. You can get in good shape, but there’s another level you have to go to get into great shape. So, there are a lot of demands on them and they’ve met them. You know, we are not perfect and we had some break downs because we were exhausted and tired. You know, basketball is a tough game, but I think that just our commitment to it and our placing value on it and getting players that are willing to work that hard has been the reason for our success.”

On what the players do over winter break…
“Well, Coach Cal is a lot smarter than I am so he’s got a good name for it. We just try to practice real hard during the break, and in the break for us, we try to take stock of where we are and what we’ve done well through the non-conference. Again, December will be a real tough grind. We’ll get a lot of information in December, and we’ll try to take all that and really try to figure out what’s our identity, sharpen things up and try to go into SEC play being the best we can be. So, it’s a great time to improve.”

UK Football Coach Mark Stoops, UK AD Mitch Barnhart Present a Wildcat Jersey to TaxSlayer Bowl President Rick Catlett

Video: UK Coach Mark Stoops, Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl Press Conference

UK Football Players Benny Snell Jr., Logan Stenberg named to the Freshman All-SEC Team

Happy Birthday to UK Football Player Drake Jackson

Coach Cal - The Mailbag: Volume 8, Episode 3 - 2016

UK Football Coach Mark Stoops, UK AD Mitch Barnhart with the TaxSlayer Bowl Trophy

SEC Men's Basketball Schedule 12/8/16

Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • 7:30 PM Vanderbilt vs Mid Tennessee CBS Sports Network

SEC Women's Basketball Schedule 12/8/16

Thursday, December 8, 2016

  • 6:00 PM (19) Florida vs (8) FSU ACC Network Extra

  • 7:00 PM Vanderbilt vs ETSU ESPN3

  • 8:30 PM (25) Texas A&M vs TCU

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Coach John Calipari Post UK 87 vs Valparaiso 63 Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

Your thoughts on your defense coming off the UCLA game?

Coach Calipari:
 “I thought all we talked about was energy. I worked for two days on our team. I did a little bit of stuff on them. A couple cuts that they do, some dribble drive. They (Valparaiso) are a heck of a team. They're going to win 25, 30 games. They won 30 last year, they may do the same this year. Our whole point of a team that plays a little bit slower, you have to disrupt that team. UCLA was going to play fast, whatever we did. So you're pressing them to get into their legs, you're not pressing them to be disruptive. That's not what you would do. This team, that's what we tried to do.”

“With Peters, it was hard because he still got 23, and he had seven at the half. The minute you let up, the minute we backed up, he scored. He's that good. But, again, that's a team. That was a heck of a win for us. I was worried about that game because when I watched the tape and how they played and what they did, it's exactly what bothered us. Straight line drives, getting people to the rim, isolations, isolating a guy that's struggles defensively; that's the kind of stuff they did. But it was a good. We gave up too many rebounds, too many offensive rebounds and we'll watch the tape on that. But I was happy with the effort.”

“If someone didn't play, I subbed them. You're out. You're either playing like there's no tomorrow, and that doesn't mean foul and go nuts, it means you play with unbelievable energy or you're out. I'm playing somebody else.”

What were they doing well against (Alec) Peters early when he was struggling a little?

Coach Calipari:
 “We were just trapping and going at him and making him think, so he couldn't get into a rhythm. You saw the one he shot on Isaiah Briscoe we he turned and just shot. If he gets in rhythm, he's making baskets. He's that good. I think, I don't know what happened with his legs. My hope is we were running so fast that he started cramping, because we want to fly.”

“Again, we had seven turnovers, unforced, in the first four or five minutes of the game. We're averaging 10 turnovers a game. We had seven unforced (turnover) in the first four or five minutes. I would say that maybe is the dregs from the last game. But, again, we have a ways to go, but this was a good win.”

You talked about bringing energy, that's what you talked about. How do you do that, how do you try to produce more energy from these guys?

Coach Calipari:
 “We practice that way. I put Isaiah opposite De'Aaron Fox so they could go head to head, had two different teams and they competed like crazy. If you practice that way, you'll play that way. If you're casual, you're casual in a shoot around, you're going to play that way. We're getting better. I mean, again, how did we miss all these? Who missed the free throws? De'Aaron Fox. Wow. He and Sacha.”

Can you just talk about the way that Dominique's playing?

Coach Calipari:
 “He was great. Mychal was good, too. Mychal walked in the game and tipped a ball so that we could rebound and get a play. Then there's not pressure on you. If you'll defend, scramble, hustle and dive on the floor, you don't have to make shots all the time.You can stay in the game. If you're not going after balls, you're getting beat on defense and you miss two shots, you won't believe this. We're trying to win. Then you can't stay in the game. I mean, Dom goes in and just changed the whole complexion because of how he defended on the ball and he kind of disrupted what they were doing offensively. Their point guard got those two fouls right away, and then got a third because of how we played. He had to keep people off him.”

Q. Sort of along those lines, did Mychal show you enough tonight?

Coach Calipari:
 “Well, I had planned on being in the rotation, having a rotation and I just said I don't care what happens in the game, we're going to go in a rotation, and I'm going to try to stay with it. What I want to do is have him and Isaiah on the court together because Isaiah makes Mychal comfortable. Isaiah figures out ways of getting him shots he can make and Isaiah will talk to him through defense and help him. He just makes him more comfortable on the court. As we sub, when Isaiah Briscoe comes out, the next time he goes back in, I'll usually put Mike with him.”

“We still, Isaac and Sacha, we still have to get -- Derek made some shots, he missed some wide open shots, and then he made shots. But we, Derek, Wenyen, Sacha and Issac fight more, defend more and rebound more. They just, they got to come up.”

“I thought that, again, like Wenyen, I'm telling him shoot balls, man, just shoot balls. If you're open, let it go. Don't drive and charge, don't try to ball, just catch it and either shoot it or get rid of it. He's a great finisher. And again, he had three blocks today, six rebounds and he played like 19 minutes, 20 minutes.”

Q. What did you think of Wenyen and Derek and the defense they played on Peters?

Caoch Calipari:
 “I'm going to watch the tape. There were some good things and then they just got tired. I think our team's able to play about four minutes at a stretch and then they have to come out. I'm playing some other guys a little bit more than that, because they're capable. All in all, I think it's four to five minutes and that's it. I told them, ‘I can't wait until finals are over so we can start three-a-day,’ and get this thing right. They have finals next week. Get through those by Wednesday, and it's from that, Katy bar the door, right there. Let's go. I said, you get to eat, sleep, video games. I'll give you a little time for your video games, and then we're playing basketball.”

Wenyen said yesterday you brought back a couple things to practice, fundamental things. What were those and did they pay off tonight?

Coach Calipari:
 “Yeah, they did. They're scrambling stuff. Look, we got away. I've done this for 30 years, and the reality of it is there's certain drills that I've done every day. At the beginning of the year you watch us practice, we're doing those drills. At the end of the year, we're still doing the drills. Maybe shorter, but we're doing them, and I got away from a bunch of those, and we reverted. As the players, we didn't pass, we didn't give up the ball like we had been. We didn't defend and scramble and help.”

“To be honest, they played with more energy than us. I had to call a timeout a minute into the game. This game, the way the game started, even though we turned it over, you could see the energy in one team. Energy shows our athleticism. Lack of energy shows all the other warts that we have. We are so fast. ‘Well, why wouldn't you run fast? I didn't feel like it on that play, I'm going to just kind of jog.’ What? Fly every play. When you can't fly, you come out. If I see guys not flying, I'll take them out. I mean, I'm not saying on missed shots or turnovers. I'm saying you don't have energy, you're not flying up and down that court, you're out.”

What did Peters show you after he returned from injury there in the second half?

Coach Calipari:
 “I know how good he is. I grabbed him after and I said, ‘I love watching tape of him play.’ He just knows how to get shots. He knows how to get people in the air. He's a great foul shooter. I'm stunned he only got four fouls off today. Normally, he's getting 9 or 10, as you know. He goes eight rebounds, 23 points, all I said is, ‘he's going to get his, let's make it hard.’ Don't leave your feet, don't put him on the free-throw line, and don't give him straight-line drives. Make him score through your chest. If he can do that, great. That's what we tried to do. There was no -- and I put different guys on him. I went from Bam to Wenyen to Derek to Isaiah Briscoe. We put all kind of guys on him.”

How do you keep your young guys from kind of losing their mind when there are 27 NBA scouts in the building?

Coach Calipari:
 “Probably they didn't know, unless they read the paper, where I said there were going to be a lot of NBA scouts there. They probably don't know. Like I said, there were signs today that we could be really good. Then the question is, how good do we want to be? Do you want to come and practice and get better or are you looking for ways to, I mean, this is hard for these kids. They have never, in their lives, practiced this way. And what I'm saying is, I'm not saying they weren't coached and all, I'm saying they were never in the gym every day with players this good, going against each other, every day. Every day like Dom is playing De'Aaron Fox or Isaiah Briscoe and they're trying to take his lunch. So, Bam is trying to dunk on Isaac. Isaac's trying to score on Sacha. Wenyen and Derek are going at each other, because they're trying to get minutes. So, every day Malik is going against Mychal. Hard matchup, but if Mychal can stay in front of Malik, he can guard anybody. So, it's a way that they need to build and go, but again, let me just say this about Valpo. You're talking about a team that beat a bunch of people already, all on the road or neutral sites. They beat Rhode Island at home, a top-25 team. That energy is how we have to come out every day, and it's hard. But you know what? It is what it is and you're here. We're playing everybody's best shot, we got to disrupt, we got to be the aggressor, we got to attack the basket, we got to make the extra pass and we got to make easy plays. You have to dunk balls that are around the rim. Can't turn it over 17 times. But again, seven were in the first four minutes of the game.”

Video/Transcript: UK Players Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder Post UK 87 vs Valparaiso 63 Comments

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

#35, Derek Willis, Senior, Forward

On them playing with better energy…

“I think we definitely played with better energy. Coming off the loss, we wanted to get things rolling early. We keyed in on the things we messed up last game against UCLA. We came out a lot more focused and had way more energy.”

On the game plan against Alec Peters…
“We were going to shut him down at the top and make him see two people in the post. He is the second leading scorer in the nation, so he’s going to get points but I think we did a really good job defending him. I looked up at one point in the game and saw he had 19. He got to the line and hit his free throws. He’s a good player and will perform, but for the most part we did well against him.”

On Dominique Hawkins being a game changer…
“Without a doubt. He’s an unbelievable defender, he brings energy, pressures the ball full court and he played great. He hit his 3’s tonight, made shots and he overall played really well. There’s not much more you can say.” 

#25, Dominique Hawkins, Senior, Guard

On the 21-0 run and causing 14 missed shots…

“We got really focused. Coach was telling us the whole week after the UCLA game that we need to focus more on our defense disturbing the ball handler, and making sure that we make tough shots.”

On the intensity of practice…
“We basically did what we always do but focused in on defense really well in practice. We did the same drills that we usually always do but Coach was focused in making us go a little bit harder than we usually do.” 

On his reaction to the loss…
“It was just a loss to me. I have lost a couple games since I have been a UK player. Maybe we needed the loss to show that if we don’t come in and play that someone will come in our house and beat us.” 

On having better energy this game than against UCLA…
“Oh, definitely. I definitely felt the energy when I was playing and the fans were really into it and every defensive stop we got we were trying to push the ball into the basket. ” 

On Peters coming in as the nations second leading scorer…
“Yeah. He is a terrific player, very fundamental. Basically, we were trying to trap him once he got the ball in the post. He has a hot hand and we had to make him take a tough shot.” 

#11, Mychal Mulder, Senior, Guard

On his motivation level tonight after not playing against UCLA …
“I go into every game motivated regardless of the game. I was motivated in practice and kept working hard so I didn’t let that bother me at all. I don’t make those kinds of decisions. If coach thought the match-up wasn’t good, then that’s his choice to make so I respect that. I was ready for my opportunity and when that came today, I tried to make the most of it, as I do for every opportunity that I get on the court. I’m just moving forward, continuing to work hard in practice, and prove that I can actually play.”

On the energy level in practice with this year’s team compared to last year’s team …
“Every team is different. There’s a notable difference in the way that we play, but energy level is something that both teams understand. Every game that we go into, this team is jacked up ready to play. You’re going to get the opposing teams’ best every time we play.” 

On being able to focus on basketball over winter break …
“Finals will be over pretty soon, so you don’t have school work to worry about. You wake up and it’s basketball until the moment you go to sleep. It’s a really good opportunity for us as a group. We’re already a close-nit group with a strong bond between us all. We’re going to spend that time together in and outside of the gym. I feel like that’s going to be a great time for us to develop as a team and really grow.”