Friday, November 18, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Associate Coach Kenny Payne Pre - Duquese ~ Bluegrass Showcase Press Conference Interview

ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH KENNY PAYNE

On team rebounding …
“I think one of the things that has been a little disappointing with our athleticism, energy and length is that we haven’t dominated teams on the glass thus far. Don’t see that as a long-term problem, but it’s something that we have to focus on and get better at. Again, we’re basically playing with a high school team.”

On Wenyen Gabriel’s progression on defense since he got to UK …
“I wouldn’t just say on defense. I think from the day Wenyen Gabriel walked into this program to today, he’s made major strides. We are a defensive team. Historically with Coach Cal’s teams, defense is a premium here. The kid has learned. The kid has picked up. He still makes some mistakes, but he’s trying. His energy and effort is really good and we love that about him.”

On how much energy and effort is taught to the guys versus how energy and effort comes natural for a player …
“I think it’s a little bit of both. I think being in shape, playing with energy, being active with your hands, active with your feet, keep moving, helping and stunning off of the ball, we teach all of that. A lot of it is a will to fight, and Wenyen has that. Between him, Bam (Adebayo), (De’Aaron) Fox and (Malik) Monk, those guys really at times show that they can be elite defenders.”

On trying to keep Bam out of foul trouble …
“The good thing is that the fouls aren’t happening on the defensive end. They’re all happening on the offensive end. Now, the adjustment for him is to just catch the ball. If you just catch the ball, you’re going to be a problem to guard, so just catch it. You’ve done a good job of fighting for position. You don’t have to get the ball right under the basket. Just catch it and make it a strong move.”

On what exactly Bam is doing that’s creating the fouls …“Two things. I would rather him show his hands with a bent elbow as opposed to an extended elbow. That’s first. The second thing is, once you get to a certain spot on the floor and you beat the defensive guy to that spot, there’s no need to keep pushing him all the way under the basket. He’s literally trying to push them all the way under the basket.”

On Coach Cal getting on Fox for giving up the ball to Bam in a tough spot …
“Just De’Aaron to be a little smarter. Bam caught it in a position where De’Aaron should’ve seen where the defender was, so it was hard for him to make a play. It wasn’t Bam’s fault, it was just you have to know where you are on the floor and know to not make that play.”

On Sacha Killeya-Jones’ development …
“What we’re really trying to get Sacha to understand is that, skill-wise, he’s really good. He’s talented. He’s long. He’s athletic. To be on this floor at Kentucky, energy, defense, and rebounding. You give us that, your offense will take care of itself.”

On how Derek Willis has responded in practice since the trip to New York …
“He’s been good. A little disappointed in the way he played. Obviously he is. But he’s so much better than that. He spends so much time working on his game. He’s came so far as a player. He’s matured. He’s been through some hard times, but you got to go out there and play, man. You got to go out there and play – play with confidence. The one thing that’s really noticeable with this team is that they’re not playing against the opponent. They’re playing against themselves, which is a good thing, but also when you’re that young, is a bad thing. So, we want them to go out and play at their best, perform at their best. You’re going to make mistakes, but play with energy. Play with confidence and have fun with it. You’re a good team.”

On how it’s a good thing and how it’s a bad thing playing against your own standard…
“Because no matter what the defense does, no matter what your opponent does, it’s probably not going to affect you. What’s going to affect you is, are you doing what you’ve practiced? Are you mentally prepared? Are you focused on what you’re doing defensively and offensively? It’s not so much about who you’re playing against. It’s more about your preparation and your focus.”

On if players are trying to just get by with their talent …
“Well, they don’t really know, and they’re learning. I mean, for every one of these kids in this program, other than Isaiah Briscoe, everybody is still learning who they are as a player. There have been times when they haven’t been in dog fights before. So, they’re getting a chance to see.”

On if the collection of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Dominique Hawkins IS the best defensive backcourt in the history of the UK program …“It’s hard to go against a John Wall and an Eric Bledsoe.”

Reporter: But this is a trio …“But, we have three. They’re very good. All I know is, I wouldn’t trade our three in for any other three in the country. And I’m going to put Malik (Monk) in that group as well.”

Reporter: I meant Malik. I meant them all …“We have really good guards that are really talented, athletic and can defend it, score it. Isaiah Briscoe probably doesn’t get talked about enough. The jump that he’s made on the court and off the court from one year to the next is unbelievable. It just goes to show you don’t have to be a one and done, quote unquote. Yeah, the hype was there for him for people to say out of high school (that) he’s one and done. But, he’s came in here and done nothing but gotten better. He was pretty good last year.”

On if anyone has joined Briscoe in dragging the team …
“I think that what De’Aaron Fox does naturally makes us a better team. He’s special. His energy – his not just being vocal, but his presence on the floor makes us different. He’s doing a good job. And he’s learning, again he was in high school a few months ago. He’s running a team. So, he’s doing good. I like what he’s done.”

On Isaac Humphries’ play vs. Michigan State …“I thought he was good defensively. I thought he tried hard. Again, I’ll say this as one of the examples I was saying earlier. He’s playing against his self. He’s skilled. He’s 7-foot. He can shoot it. He can post. He can rebound. He’s quick. He’s in the best shape that he’s ever been in. Now, it’s just – it’s not about the opponent. How willing are you to fight for everything that you get?”

On if this team has too nice of kids …
“I think so (it’s not good to be too nice). They are nice kids, but what’s amazing about these kids is that they have a competitive spirit. They just need to know exactly what that is and when to use it, and when to be nice. On the court you’ve got to compete, man. You’re at an institution where this whole thing has been about competing at a high, high level. Everybody is watching. Everybody – and not everybody – a lot of people are hoping that we fail. Hoping that individuals fail. They have to go out there and play with a fire and a desire to go dominate their opponent.”

On Coach Calipari making sure the team didn’t get too full of themselves after the win over Michigan State …
“Great question. To answer your question, we don’t have to worry about that. The way that we coach, the way that we prepare – those kids know that after that game is over, we celebrate. It’s over. On to the next. The issue is outside of this environment. The friends. The parents. Their families. The friends that are from high school and where they’re from. Now, they might talk to them about, ‘Man, ya’ll are the real deal.’ But, when they walk in this gym – and they walk in our offices, they know it’s on to the next. So, they have no time to relax and feel good about anything. We’re trying to get better.”

On how the coaches get that message across …
“It’s in everything we do every single day. We’re trying to get better every day. Are we happy we beat Michigan State that’s a really good team? Yes, we are. Did we play our best? Not even close. Not even close.”

On the emphasis on getting the ball into the post …“(I’d) like to see it a little more. (I’d) like to see it go inside a little more. I think what happens to us is similar to last year when you have such great guards, it’s hard to like understand that like you’ve gotta get your post guys involved. But, in order for us to be a great team – Bam (Adebayo), Wenyen (Gabriel), Derek (Willis), Isaac (Humphries), Sacha (Killeya-Jones), Tai (Wynyard) we’ve gotta be able to go to them to get something out of them. I think that’s the key to being a championship team, it’s being versatile enough to where you’ve got an inside game and a perimeter game.”

On if that means the guards need to do better getting the ball to the post, or the post players establishing themselves in the post …
“(It’s) a little bit of both – just making it an emphasis that we want to establish how good our bigs are and let them have an imprint on the game offensively.”

On if he’s read Coach Calipari’s book …
“Not yet. In the beginning stages of it when he was putting it together, we all read some of it. It’s really good stuff. A lot of teaching stuff.”

On what his book would be called…
“My book?”

Reporter: Life as a troll (laughter)
“Life as a troll (laughter). Only Rex Chapman and I know what that means (laughter). I wouldn’t have a book. I wouldn’t have a book.”

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