Friday, October 30, 2015

Transcript: UK Assistant Coach John Robic’s pre-Ottawa presser

UK  Assistant Coach John Robic

On Marcus Lee’s comments of Alex Poythress practicing like he was never injured …

“His confidence has grown. He makes those plays and doesn’t even think about it. The big thing that Coach (Calipari) is telling him is to just trust it. There are times where his explosiveness is there. You just forget how big he is. Having another big player on the court is really beneficial to us. He’ll get there. I couldn’t even give you a percentage of what he is right now. It’s nice to see him do the things that he used to do.”

On how beneficial it’s going to be for the team to play against a different team like Ottawa to get a different look …

“It’s about that time. We’ve been going since October 3rd or 4th for the most part. It’ll be good for us as coaches to see the entire team on one bench and see the flow of the game with substitutions, who’s playing well with who as opposed to really just going at each other every day in practice. I think Monday and the following exhibition game will be really helpful for us.”

On if Mychal Mulder is a streaky shooter and his performance at Blue-White Scrimmage …

“Even in practice he can go through spells like that. It was nice to see him come out and hit his first few in a row. They were all good looks. They’re going to fall for him. He has confidence in his shot and his teammates do as well. For him, it was really the first time shooting at Rupp Arena in front of a big crowd. It was good to see. I thought they were all good looks after going back and looking at the tape. We have confidence in him.”

On free-throw shooting in practice …

“The difference between our practice gym and Rupp is depth perception. We didn’t shoot them well. So we’re just making sure that the guys are shooting more free throws throughout the course of the week. They have to get up to 500 free throws made per week now, and we want to chart it. I think early on in the season, it’s maybe a little bit of an afterthought. I mean, we do shoot them, but not every day. But we’ve put more of an importance on it as of right now. “

On expectations for Skal Labissiere …

“We don’t have any expectations now. You see the talent and you see where he is. Really skilled, really can shoot the ball. I think the other bigger players that we’ve had progressed by shooting the ball – you know, when Anthony (Davis) and Karl(-Anthony) Towns stretched their range out. Skal has that already. He’s a little bit tougher and starting to block some shots out in practice. But by no means do set any expectations for us. It’s a long season, and we really haven’t even played a game yet. So we’ve just got to get a baseline and see where we go from there.”

On comparison of Labissiere to guys like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns …

“He’s really skilled, wants to be coached, wants to be better and is getting better. The coaches’ big thing is that we’ve got to get him to fight a little bit more and be a little bit more aggressive. And that’ll come over time. “

On the progression of Isaac Humphries …

“He’s getting better and better. He’s getting in better shape, starting to battle, doing more things than just shooting the ball. Rebounding the ball well in practice and puts up good numbers. Defensively, after seeing on film what he needed to see, he’s starting to defend pick-and-roll better, which is going to be an important thing in how we defend. Again, it’ll be good to see him play in shorter spurts. Those kids all played 40 minutes the other night and they got tired, especially the bigger players. So it’ll be interesting to see if the production goes up.”

On how often they have games where there aren’t any grand conclusions to be drawn …

“As coaches I think you have to take something out of every practice, every game, whether it’s something we’re doing well or it’s something we’re not doing very well at all because you just can’t waste a day that way. Like, we’re going to get a lot of out of the next three to four days. We’re going to have four or five practices before we play on Monday. Things that we have to touch on and get better with. The team is starting to see us get better as well because the competition has risen a little bit, and I think that’s great. I think the person that’s really leading that is Tyler.”

On the Blue team’s three shot-clock violations and if the shorter shot clock had anything to do with that …

“The shot clock really didn’t have anything to do with that. Honestly I don’t think – in my personal opinion – I don’t think the shot-clock deal is a huge issue. I think what you’re going to see is a lot more teams playing zone. You’re going to see a lot more teams pressing you and then going back into a zone just to use clock. But I don’t think it’s going to be a big factor. The timeouts are interesting even though the referees screwed it up in the first half. I think that’s going to be come into play, and I think there are some other things you have to be aware of with the reduction of one timeout and how you use your timeouts a little bit more strategically.”

On how the referees messed up the timeouts …

“In the first half, right before the 16-minute timeout, the ball went in and they went media (timeout). (Reporter: It wasn’t a dead ball.) Correct. We told them at halftime.”

Transcript: UK Men's Basketball Player Mychal Mulder preview Ottawa exhibition

On if he’s gotten any questions if Ottawa is in Canada …
“I mean, they think it’s all close, so they wonder if we know people in Ottawa. But it’s not usually like that.”
On if he knows the opponent is from Kansas and not Canada …
“Yeah.”
On how he assessed his first game-like opportunity …
“The scrimmage was good. We have a lot to work on. We’re just trying to go hard with each other. We’re really excited to play someone who’s not us. We’re pretty used to playing each other. We all know what we do well and don’t do well. But I thought it went pretty well. I thought everybody showed off what they could do. I thought it was a good time.”
On his two different halves …
“A lot of shooters go through that - someone who predominantly shoots the ball. I feel like it was a little bit of both first half and second half transitioning with the teams switched up a little bit. Playing with Tyler (Ulis) was a lot easier than trying to create my own stuff. So when they switched the teams and the three guards were on one team, they were doing really well and there isn’t so much being created on our side. So I think that’s probably the difference.”
On if it felt good to see some shots fall early …
“Yeah it felt great. I’ve been waiting to put some shots up in Rupp for a long time. Warming up, we were all pretty hot and excited to go. So it was really fun and a good opportunity to play with the guys and play in front of people.”
On how Tyler Ulis helps shooters …
“Tyler helps us tremendously. He makes my job specifically so much easier. He puts the ball in my hands when I’m ready. Not just shooters, but everybody. Tyler is a great point guard and probably the best in the nation. We expect a lot from him and I feel like he provides a lot for us.”
On what has been his best shooting numbers have been in the five-minute shooting drill …
“I think 64 has been my best.”
On what percentage that it is …
“I don’t know. I couldn’t really say. But we get as many up as we can and try to get as many to drop as we can.”
On what the best number anybody has put up in the drill …
“I think Tyler put up like 70 the one day or 72. Something like that.”
On how easy three-pointers are to him …
“The distance is good. I’ve been shooting 3’s for a long time. I feel like every team I’ve played on, I’ve had the green light to shoot 3’s. It’s not really like the hardest shot I can really say.”
On what else he has to do to get on the floor …
“To get on the floor with Coach Cal, it’s not so much about offense as it’s about fight and compete. He wants a lot of effort out of us and I feel like if that’s something you’re willing to do, he notices. So that’s probably the next thing you have to do.”
On what his outlook of Skal Labissiere is so far …
“I’d definitely say I’ve seen Skal take some steps forward as a basketball player and as a person. Coming in, he’s young and he’s handled everything that’s been put on him really well. He’s playing really well in practice and I’m excited to see him play.”
On one team having three shot-clock violations in the scrimmage …
“It was probably just a little lapse in communication right there. We had played a couple good possessions of defense and kind of forced them to do some things they weren’t comfortable with. So I think it was just little slight mistakes by them. That’s all.”
On how fast this team will play …
“I feel like we’ll play pretty fast. A lot of us have the ability to get up and down the court at multiple positions. So I think that’ll be a strength for us.”
On the difference between a 35- and 30-second shot clock …
“Thirty-five to 30, I mean, 30’s a long time in basketball. So I feel like if you can’t get a good shot in 30 seconds, you’re probably going to have to force one up, which you don’t want to do. I feel like you have a lot of options, a lot of opportunity to score within that first 30 seconds. I don’t think it’s a huge deal.”
On the shorter shot clock makes Tyler Ulis even more important …
“Yeah. Tyler’s super smart on the basketball court. He’s got that vision. He sees things two, three seconds ahead, it seems like. It makes his job so much more important. I feel like he does it really well. So we’re really lucky to have him.”
On what it was like to shoot well in the first half and poorly in the second …
“It wasn’t necessarily as easy the second half. I didn’t have Tyler on my team. So that made it a little bit harder. But it felt really good. I’ve been waiting to get some shots to go down in Rupp for a while, so that was a really fun experience for us.”
On the shooting background in Rupp …
“I thought it was great. A lot of—there’s a little bit difference in going to Rupp or playing in the practice facility. The depth perception’s a little bit different, everything like that. But I feel like—personally I didn’t feel like it affected me too much. I felt like it was just really fun, really great opportunity.”
On whether he has heard of Ottawa University …
“I hadn’t. I actually hadn’t.”
On what he needs to do to fit in the rotation …
“I feel like in order to be a part of that I just gotta show fight every day, compete, go hard with my teammates and show that I’m a good teammate on and off the floor. Just gotta do my job, whatever he (Coach Calipari) asks me to do, that’s what I gotta do. I don’t gotta be anything other than myself and I feel like that’s something we’re all working on.”
On what Coach Cal is asking him to do …
“He’s just asking me to fight, work hard, knock down shots when I need to. Those are pretty much the things that he wants from us.”
On whether he has a Halloween costume …
“Not yet.”
On whether he will …
“I don’t know. I might just be a UK basketball player. I don’t think I need a costume.”
On how much he looks forward to playing another team …
“I can’t wait. We’ve been really, really eager to play somebody other than us. I feel like it’s going to be really fun on Monday and we’re all really excited for it.”
On how much Coach Cal is working on defense and him being unhappy with that in the first half …
“A little bit in the first half. A little bit lackadaisical. But we work on it every day to get better and I feel like we’re going to end up being a great defensive team. We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of skill on that side of the ball, so I think that’ll be great.”

Transcript: UK Men's Basketball Player Marcus Lee preview Ottawa exhibition

On playing a different team Monday night …
“It’s amazing. Playing against the same people over and over, I mean, you get to learn how to play with them while playing against them, but it’s good that we finally have to be a whole team and play against somebody else.”
On if there has been any progress made in figuring out the rotation …
“We have all year to figure that out, and that’s usually what happens with us. It takes all year, and then one day it just clicks and we’ll figure it out. We’re still figuring out the kinks of our team.”
On what Coach Cal’s main talking point has been since the Blue-White Scrimmage on Tuesday …
“A lot of it has just been on keep working hard and battling. That’s one thing he’s been stressing is keep battling hard.”
On Coach Cal saying he wants him to block more shots …
“I definitely take it to heart. It’s something that we kind of – that’s who we are at Kentucky. We block shots. I think it was kind of hard knowing that we’re going against people that know how to play against us. There’s Tyler (Ulis) that knows how to shoot a floater, like a really high floater against us. They know how to get the ball above us. I guess in the scrimmage it was a whole lot harder, which makes us better to figure out.”
On if he wants to fill that shot-blocking role, similar to an Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel …
“I think it definitely is, but it’s never just been one person, and I feel like we have many people that are able to fulfill that.”
On seeing Alex Poythress back on the court …
“I’ve seen it for the past three or four months. It was probably a joy for you guys to finally see him in full action, but I’ve been seeing him get better and better and working through his injury.”
On how much he has seen Poythress’ confidence increase …
“In practice you’ll see lapses of him totally forgetting he has an injury, where he’ll just totally jump out of the gym and do something insane. He still knows that he has parts where he has to work on and he’s really excited to work.”
On Isaac Humphries …
“I think he’ll be a really great impact just because he’s a different type of big. He brings such a different perspective into our overall game that it makes other teams really think it through.”
On how much progress Humphries has made …
“He’s made tremendous progress. He’s done so much to up his game and we’re just really excited to have him here.”
On what he knows about Ottawa University …
“I actually had a friend who went to Ottawa. She played for the volleyball team and then transferred somewhere else. I actually knew of the school before playing them.”
On what he has seen from Mychal Mulder in practice after an up and down performance Tuesday …
“That’s how shooters are. It’s hit or miss. That’s one thing that he does really well is that his confidence is so high with his jump shots that it doesn’t matter if it goes in or not, he knows it will eventually go in. That’s what great shooters do.”
On if his tattoo of puzzle pieces is new …
“Yeah, I got it this summer. It just reminds me that I’m different than everybody else, and to always keep that up.”
On what Coach Cal has said about UK’s team defense …
“For a Blue-White Scrimmage, it’s kind of a little bit more laid back than our practices. They’re not so intense, so seeing that we’re not fully going all out as a team, he kind of got a little frustrated with that knowing that we could play a whole lot better. And he just wanted to stress how much we have to go really hard all the time instead of taking breaks.”
On players getting tired at the end of the Blue-White Scrimmage …
“It’s the beginning of the year, we have a long way to go. And sometimes people have to get new wind of not just practice wind, but also game wind, because those are two different things. You just figure out how to get through it.”
On differences in shooting free throws in practice versus games …
“I don’t think it’s so much the crowd. I think it’s more of in different gyms there’s different depth perspectives, especially going from our practice gym to Rupp, it’s very different. It’s something you have to get used to or you have to get comfortable with.”
On how he felt he played at the Blue-White Scrimmage …
“Personally, I think it went OK, but it also taught us the ins and outs of how we should be playing right now, and where we’re at right now. It showed a lot of where we need to go and how we need to get there. It’s something that it really helped us with.”
On what it means to his game, individually, when Calipari says ‘fight’ …
“As a big, it definitely shows we have to get a lot more rebounds, we have to be more dominant on the boards, and we have to figure out a way to establish a post-game, and that’s something that we’re really trying to figure out right now.”

Video: Kentucky vs. Tennessee Pump Up Blackout 15'

Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Transcript: UK Coach Calipari 2015 Post Blue-White Comments

UK BASKETBALL COACH CALIPARI

COACH CALIPARI: How about we give these two a hand.

(Applause.) My wife was mad because her name — “Where’s my name,” she said? So this was from both Ellen and I. So we really congratulate both of you. Questions about what we just did?

Q. You talked about floor general with Tyler [Ulis], 10 assists in the first half, 15, three turnovers for the game. Exactly sort of what you’ve been seeing in practice and how much does he make you guys go right now with so many young guys?
COACH CALIPARI: The good stuff that came out, I thought the guys are going to get minutes, the assist to turnover ratio was good. I thought we had some good shot making.

But we still — the other side of that was, we didn’t fight. We only had two blocks at half and I told them, I said you got to block shots. Marcus Lee, you’ve got to block shots. You got to do more.

It seems to me, this needs to be a team that plays fast. Then the question is — we absolutely were exhausted the last seven minutes of this thing. We had nothing in the tank. So for the last eight minutes it was almost like they were hoping that the clock wouldn’t stop.

We played 10 guys, so they kind of got wore down. But Skal [Labissiere]’s got to fight. You saw when he caught it in the middle of the lane and that jump hook. Well, then, we got to figure out how he catches it right there. So he can catch it in the middle and just, he’s hard to guard.

Q. More of a big picture question. You guys are ranked number one again in the pre-season. How do you manage expectations like that for players who never played a college game before?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you play like you did today and then they know, “Oh my gosh, we’re not that good right now.” I mean, you have guys that made 47 out of 50 free throws, and then go today and go 1-8 when there’s people in the seats and the popcorn’s popping. We probably shot 30 percent from the foul line. How do you do that and win?

So, we — believe me, these guys know where we are. They know the hype of this program sometimes. They know. They all know we have to fight. We just talked about it. Raise your hand if you know we’re not — they got to fight each other. Fight means before you catch the ball, you’re getting ready to play.

Before you have to guard a guy, the opponent, you’re playing him before he catches it.

A shot goes up on a rebound, you’re moving before the ball hits the rim.

If there’s a 50/50 ball, you’re getting that ball. You’re diving on the floor. You’re making an extra effort, you’re fighting.

We don’t do — you fight for position. The ball was thrown back over your shoulder, you fight and hold your man, so we can throw you the ball in the post.

We’re not doing any of that right now. We’re not rotating. When a guy goes to block the weak side guy, we’re not getting down yet. So there’s a lot to work on.

Q. You talked a lot about seeing the guys once the lights were on. Does that go for Alex [Poythress] as well who is trying to clear those mental hurdles to get back?
COACH CALIPARI: He’s still not there yet. But I just want him to focus on rebounding. He made some shots. I’m telling you, if that takes away from his rebounding — get that back first — then I would rather him not make any shots.

Get that rebounding back. That’s going to bring your confidence in yourself physically. Go rebound every single ball, be a beast. Make an outlet. Fly down the court and get that first.

I liked the way he shot the ball and made free throws today, but that’s not — rebound that ball and get back. That’s the basis when you have that injury. Let’s just do one thing right now and get confident before we move and try to do others. But he got tired too. I thought he played well until he got tired.

Q. As a follow-up to that on Alex, was it significant just to see him sort of run and jump? It looked like he was at least fairly confident in his body tonight. And then totally a separate question, have you been seeing the first half Mychal Mulder in practice or the second half 0-6 Mychal Mulder?
COACH CALIPARI: Both. But, no, I’m pleased with where Alex is, and what I want him to do is — you almost have to have a plan of attack. My plan of attack is I’ve got to get mentally right with my body and it’s normal. I’m telling you, the best way to do that is rebound that ball. Defend. Move those feet. It takes no skill. It’s just a mindset that this is what I’m going to do. And then the other stuff comes easy.

I think that’s part of the reason he played well offensively tonight, because he didn’t have to worry, he wasn’t worried about it. But he’s going to be a big key to what we do.

Q. Can you talk about the way you thought Charles Matthews played tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: I thought he did some good things. But he did other things — he looked like a freshman. But I thought he did some good stuff today.

I thought he defended pretty good.

I thought he got his hands on some balls. I love the way he drove the ball.

Again, he missed his free throws. Isaiah [Briscoe] missed his free throws, Skal missed his free throws. You notice, they’re all freshmen. They did hit the rim, but short of that it wasn’t — didn’t look pretty.

Q. Unlike a lot of big men, when the ball goes inside through them, it becomes a black hole. Looked like Skal plays inside outside pretty good.
COACH CALIPARI: At this point, I would rather he be the black hole. I just want him to get comfortable scoring. That’s why in the second half, the scoring went where it was because we were throwing it to him every time if we could. Just — I wanted him to get comfortable, which took away probably 10 or 15 points we would have scored in that second half, if those guards, you just let them go.

But I told him at halftime, we have got to figure out how we get him to the low post area where he can get that jump hook and some of the stuff he does well.

Q. What did you think about Derek Willis?
COACH CALIPARI: I thought he did good. I told him after. If you look at our team, and if Derek Willis will shoot open shots and one dribble pull ups, and eliminate everything else, just don’t do it. Just do those two things. He could help us. Not only could he help us, he could get in the rotation.

You saw him block that shot. He’s long enough to do all this. I was proud of him tonight.

Q. What’s Dominique Hawkins’ situation? It looked like he still has his hand wrapped?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I think he’s still a few weeks away.

Q. If Tyler plays the way you think he can, can he break John Wall’s assist record this year? I mean he had 10 in the first half?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know. I don’t know what John Wall’s assist record is. I would like — again, guys, we’re still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to play. Who we’re going to play, and how we’re going to play. One of the things I told them in there, guys, we need to get better or I end up playing five or six guys. We got to, together, get better or you play five or six and you make sure that team is a good enough team to go. I would like to play more people. I thought Isaac did a few good things tonight. I thought he was big and physical on Skal. Made it hard on him.

Q. Did you like how that three guard lineup played together in the second half?
COACH CALIPARI: They did okay. But part of it you have to understand, I was telling them throw, figure out how we get Skal in on this. We need to get him the ball inside. And that kind of took away from the free flow, here we come, but you saw some of it. Those three, I thought Isaiah did good stuff today. Used his body, got to the basket. He missed one layup. Missed free throws. But I thought he did some good stuff today.

There was good stuff I saw, but at this point as a coach you’re looking at this not, all right, this was okay, what do we have to do to try to win. What do we have to look like. And let me just say, it’s not that, what I saw.

Q. Where do you think you are right now defensively?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, I asked them at halftime, either we’re one of best offensive teams in the history of our game, because both teams shot 60 percent, or we stink defensively. It’s one of the two.

I said I’m not sure what you guys think, but again, when you split the unit — this isn’t last year where you have two platoons, when you split guys up, it’s hard in this kind of setting. I’m anxious to play a couple exhibition games, even if they’re not league games, but they’re still teams that are going to have organization and have played for two months versus our three weeks.

You got to fight, you got to defend, you got to do it together. So we’re going to see.

Q. Is that white team we saw at one point the three guards plus Poythress and Skal’s is there a good shot that that’s you’re starting five?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t know yet. I don’t know. Could be. I thought Charles did some stuff. I thought Derek did some stuff. You look at this and you got to — the whole thing is how are we playing and what are those guys doing.

We’re a ways from that too.

Transcript: UK Players Skal Labissiere, Tyler Ulis and Charles Matthews Post 2015 Blue-White Scrimmage Comments

SKAL LABISSIERE

On what it was like playing in the first game …
“It was fine. It was a good experience. Good to see the fans out there. It gave me some butterflies at first, but I just have to get used to it. I enjoyed it.”

On what he thought of the free throw shooting trouble early on …
“I make them in practice, so I don’t what was wrong exactly. I just have to shoot more and get more reps in.”

On what Coach Cal has told him about fighting …
“Oh I hear that every single day. ‘You have to fight Skal.’ It’s something I have to learn to know how to do. It’s a different level here, so I’m still trying to learn how to get used to it. Trying to learn how to play through contact, catching every ball. He gets on me about it every day, so I’m still trying to get used to that.”

On what he thinks he means by it …
“Just showing more effort out there, more heart. It’s not even about scoring. Just about establishing myself in the paint and being a presser.”

On what he thought he did well tonight …
“I don’t know. I have a lot to work on. I feel like I could have played a lot better tonight.”

On how it feels having 15,000 fans critique him …
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen anything yet (laughs).”

On if he thinks he’s getting better at fighting …
“I think I’m getting better from the first time I came here. I think I got a lot better.”

On how fun it is playing with Tyler Ulis …
“It’s really fun. He’s a great leader out there. He’s always looking for me, always telling me to run and get easy buckets. SO I enjoy playing with him. I think he’s the best point guard in the country. I love playing with Tyler.”

On how eager he is to play other teams …
“I’m very excited about that. It feels like we’ve been playing with each other for a long time. The whole summer until now. Like last year’s team, they had to play against some other people during the summer time, and we didn’t get to do that this year. So I’m very excited.”

On the report of him being cleared to play …
“Like I said before, I plan on playing the first game. So I’m very excited about that.”

On feeling gassed at the end and if it’s the next step …
“Yeah, the next step. Being able to do it for a long period of time. So that’s still something I’m trying to get used to and do is the speed of the game. I’ll get it.”

On the adjustment he’s had to do playing with a loaded lineup this year …
“It’s an adjustment. Last year I had to do pretty much everything. Try to do everything on my team. This year, I don’t really have to do as much as last year because I’m surrounded by a group of guys, great teammates who are all very talented. So it’s been an adjustment this year.”

TYLER ULIS

On the last time he had this many assists …
“It’s been a while. Probably my senior year some time.” 

On whether it felt good to be in control …
“Yeah, it felt good to get out there, control the team, see what we can do and just learn more about our team.”

On how much he and Skal Labissiere have worked together on lobs and running sets …
“We’ve been working together all year, practicing and then open gyms early in the season. I feel like he’s coming along. We got a lot way to go, but he’s going to be great for us.”

On what he likes about Labissiere …
“He’s just a great—he’s a very skilled player on the block, he can shoot the midrange shot very well and once we get him to fight he’s going to be a monster on that post.”

On how important it is to build chemistry with post players …
“It comes with time. Just practicing with them throughout the year, I understand how Skal likes to play. I understand where Isaac (Humphries) can score and how Marcus (Lee) likes to play and it’s just going to come along, more chemistry as we go through the season.”

On how they responded under the lights …
“I feel like we did all right. A couple guys came out a little bit shaky, but once we got it going everybody came into themselves. We played pretty well offensively, defensively. We should get a lot better, but overall I think we played pretty good.”

On how important tonight was for Alex Poythress …
“It’s good for him to come out there and play hard. Just come out there and not worry about his leg and just come out and play. He made some 3s for us, which we were surprised, but that’s always good for him. Once he gets more confidence, keep confident and confident, he’s going to be another threat for us like he was tonight.”

CHARLES MATTHEWS

On his thumb …
“It’s fine. It’s just a jammed thumb. It’s nothing serious at all.”

On how he felt everything went …
“It was fun. Another experience in front of the fans and we’re continuing to grow as a team and getting better and I have great teammates around me. I feel we played well tonight.”

On how he would assess his performance …
“I think I played pretty well. I was having fun out there. I was relaxed. I’m just trying to let the game come to me, but at the same time it’s still a learning phase, a learning process, and we’re going to continue to grow as a team.”

On how he felt in the first half …
“It was fun. I played with Tyler Ulis again. He gets you a lot of easy buckets, a lot of easy shots. We just get in that huddle and compete with one another. That’s what makes it all fun, just continuing to compete with each other.”

On dealing with expectations …
“I mean, you kind of know what to expect by coming to Kentucky. That comes with the territory here, but at the end of the day, ranking doesn’t mean anything. We just have to continue to go out there and play, and play hard and play together.”

On Coach Cal’s message to the team after the game …
“Just to continue to fight, and continue to get better. We have to continue to compete. That was basically it.”

On if he saw anything tonight from someone that he hadn’t seen in practice …
“Not really, just everybody continuing to get better. We continue to grow as a team. We battle with each other and we show a lot of love for one another. When we’re all out there together we’re just having fun and competing.”

On what he’s working on …
“Just continuing to work on my jump shot and my ball handling. Really just trying to become a better all-around player. Trying to continue to increase my knowledge of the game as well so I can make great plays and understand how to play the game.”

On Tyler Ulis’ 10 assists in the first half …
“I wasn’t surprised by that at all. He’s a great facilitator. He gets you open shots. He gets other players open as well. It’s great to play with him.”

On what he saw from Alex Poythress …
“It was great. Alex is just getting back. He made nice jump shots. He’s a handful to box out and be down there on the block with. His game has come a long way and he’s just getting better and better and I’m seeing it each and every day.”

On what it means when Coach Cal says he wants to see more fight from his team …
“Just battle, really. I don’t think it’s macho man or anything like that. Just diving on the floor, going after 50-50 plays, battling position for rebounds – that will to win. I think that’s going to happen over a period of time. It’s growing. It’s not where the coaches would like it to be yet, but I think we’re going to continue to get better at it.”

On if their lack of fight is a product of having so many newcomers …
“I’m not sure. I personally think it’s just how you play, and the environment you play in as well. It kind of comes with that as well, the battles you’ve been in. This is different. This is Kentucky so everybody’s coming to knock our heads off so we have to fight each and every night.”

On the freshmen’s struggles at the foul line …
“Oh my goodness. That speaks for itself. It’s next shot. Short memory. Just keep that kind of mentality. Stay positive. Make the next one.”

On if there were any nerves …
“No, it’s not my first time playing here. I was on the court for Madness. Jitters kind of go away. When I’m dribbling the ball I’m just a kid having fun anyway, so those nerves instantly go away.”

On Coach Cal’s message on the first-half defense …
“That’s all about the fight and the will to win. We just have to become a tougher team, basically. Just continue to battle and compete with each other. That’s all it is to me.”

On how much he can help with that, especially on the perimeter …
“Yeah, definitely. I think I have to increase my role with that as well, kind of be that energy provider that sparks it up on the defensive end, and bring toughness to the team as well.”

On Ulis’ 15 assists …
“Yeah, I’ve played with him when he’s had way more assists than that. He’s a great point guard, like I said. He does his job, we have to do our job and make more shots for him. I’m pretty sure he could have had 20 assists or even more tonight. He’s such a great facilitator. He makes the game so much easier for you. He’s one of those great players that can just slow the game down. He’s slows it down for you as well. Sometimes you’ll be so open, like, ‘Dang, I didn’t know you got me that open.’ He’s fun to play with.”

On how Ulis slows the game down …
“He’s just good. I’m not sure. The game comes slow to him. He sees plays three, four plays ahead of time. He knows where to get people ball. You can tell he’s able to move fast but think slow at the same time.”