Friday, November 18, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Players Sacha Killeya-Jones, Wenyen Gabriel Pre - Duquese ~ Bluegrass Showcase Press Conference Interview

SACHA KILLEYA-JONES

On what they’ve been working on as a team since the Michigan State game …
“Still working on defense and everything. Playing long and athletic on the ball. Maul the ball and everything like that. Really just focused on the next game, moving forward, running in transition and getting back on D.”

On what he, individually, is working on …
“All aspects of my game. Still trying to get stronger. Playing with more confidence and everything like that. Trying to go out there and play my game, play athletic, rebound, block shots.”

On his transition to college basketball …
“It’s definitely a different game than high school. Everybody’s faster, longer, stronger, everything like that. I think being here definitely helps you play against that type of talent every day in practice. It’s definitely helped and been a better transition.”

On what they have to do to improve their rebounding numbers …
“I think we just gotta be more aggressive. KP (Kenny Payne) talks to us about that a lot is creating contact first, going after rebounds and everything like that. Just be more aggressive with it.”

On the balance of being more aggressive and avoiding foul problems …
“We gotta be careful with that, especially a guy like Bam (Adebayo). They’re going to call fouls on him just because he’s bigger than everybody else. You gotta be aggressive, at the same time be careful and be extra cautious with any elbows and stuff like that. Just make sure you have your hands in the air so they see you’re not holding or anything like that.”

On how a young team like them stays focused after a blowout win over Michigan State …“Definitely. Coach Cal helps with that just because he’s been here a lot, and the older guys help with that. We celebrate that night and move on to the next game, get back on the plane and focus on coming back here. Got school work to do, got practice, got lifts, getting ready to get back into the swing of things.”

On what the team could have done better against Michigan State …
“Definitely. I think fouls is one thing, but just rebounding better. I think we got out-rebounded or something like that in the first half. We gave up a couple free points. Just closing up small issues and then just getting back in here and working on our stuff for next game.”

On Coach Payne saying it comes down to being active, defense and rebounding with him …
“Definitely. I think I just need to play more active and more athletic on the court, go after rebounds, block shots and everything like that. Just play my game, don’t overthink things, just simplify stuff.”

On playing three games in five days …
“It was definitely a kind of welcome to college basketball, because in AAU you play a couple games in a day, but it’s different. AAU is obviously not high-major division I college basketball. So, it’s definitely a – work on your body and everything like that.”

On if he’ll read Coach Cal’s new book …
“Probably, if he gives us a copy.

“No, I’ll probably go out there and get it. I’m definitely buying it for my dad for Christmas and I’ll probably end up reading it after him.”

On the easiest and toughest thing for him to adjust to …
“Easiest thing is probably just my teammates and everything, and the chemistry. I think we all get along really well. That definitely helps and shows on and off the court. Hardest thing is the physicality and speed at the next level. Just trying to get used to that. I’m playing within the team.”

On playing hard but still having to go even harder …
“Everything here is harder than you’ve ever done. Everything college, in general. Workouts are way harder than you’ve ever done in your life. Conditioning is harder than you’ve done in your life. Learning the plays is harder. Everything is another level. Being here is what we wanted. We wanted this challenge and everything, especially me. I’m looking forward to keep accepting it.”

WENYEN GABRIEL

On his experience playing here so far …
“It’s been really fun. A lot of fans being there at the games and a lot of energy when we’re playing the games is real fun. I’m starting to get more accustomed to it. I’m kind of fitting into my shoes more. I feel like I’ll be able to do more for the team coming up.”

On what Cal said to him after the way he played defense …
“He was proud of me, happy that I picked it up. I know he was looking for someone to pick it up during that spot for the four man position. I think I think of picked up filling that role then. I’m just hoping to build off of that and continue on for my next game and so on.”

On what he needs to improve going forward …
“I can work on my offensive game a little more, trying to find where I fit in there. But definitely still being more alert on the defensive end. I can get some more rebounds. There’s more things I can do on the court that I’m still working on.”

On being a high-energy player …
“I think that’s kind of how I found my way onto the floor and earning more minutes. I’m going to continue to do that.”

On the next thing he needs to work on …
“I’m going to keep improving on the defensive end, being more active, don’t lose my man, more rebounds. I’m going to continue to do that. Offensively, I’m going to try to get more rebounds and to get baskets there, make more midrange shots and kind of find where I fit in there.”

On what he knows about Duquesne …
“Duquesne, we’re just getting ready for them. Going to work at it during practice today and see what we need for that game.”

On what drives his motor …
“Every time I step on the court, I’m trying to win. I kind of feel like I play like my life’s on the line every game that I’m in. Just trying to get better every time.”

On how that attitude was instilled in him …
“I think it’s a lot of it through my family. I got a big family and coming over from South Sudan, coming here with nothing is kind of like—I feel like I’m earning everything that I’m working for. I feel like that’s how I get it, by how I play so hard.”

On coming off the bench …
“I’m not too worried about coming off the bench or starting. I’m kind of just trying to get better every day and at the end of the day that’s what it is about. I’m trying to get better and I’m going to earn what I deserve.”

On how he sustains his energy level …
“It starts with practice. Practice is a lot of work and practice is just as hard if not harder. And just being ready to compete. The adrenaline’s pumping during the game. You just want to win every time.”

On whether he surprises opponents with the plays he makes …
“Yeah. I try to catch them by surprise. My length and my activity on the defensive end has been one of my advantages. I’m going to try to use that to try to find more playing time and define myself as a player on the defensive end.”

On what he watches for as he’s waiting to check in …
“I’m watching to see what we need. If we’re missing out on rebounding, I’m going to try to go in the game and get rebounds. If we need to pick up the intensity on the defensive end, I’m going to try to pick up the intensity. If we need to score some more, I’m going to try to get to the basket and score. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

On how good the win over Michigan State felt …
“It was really good. It built our morale as a young team. I know we probably got a lot of doubters out there, but being able to get that win was a good win and helped us move forward with some more confidence for our next games.”

On guarding against overconfidence …
“We have the toughest schedule in the country, so there’s going to be more tough games coming up. We can’t focus too much on past things. We got Duquesne coming up and we got more games to play, so that’s what we’re working on.”

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