Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Video/Transcript: UK Players Dominique Hawkins, Malik Monk, Derek Willis Pre-@Louisville ~ Battle of the Bluegrass Press Conference Interview

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

#25, Dominique Hawkins, Senior, G

On what stood out to him about Malik Monk’s performance against North Carolina …
“Just the way he gets open to get his shots. It’s insane. I’ve been here for four years and I’ve never seen somebody shoot the ball and score as many ways as he did during that game.”

On how Monk gets open …“There’s a lot of ways he gets open. He just pops out to get open, or we set a staggered ball screen, or he’s just coming off one ball screen to get open.”

On if he ever thought about the UNC defenders watching Monk knowing he’s been through what they were going through that day …
“Definitely. We’ve seen it in practice. Malik, he’s a great player. The shots he put up, it seems tough, but to him it’s so easy and effortless. In practice, it’s tough guarding him so we knew that one day he was just going to go out and get a 30-point game, even a 40-point game. I’m so glad for him because I know that everybody was talking about how great of a scorer he is and he actually got to show it.”

On how the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry has met or exceeded his expectations …
“It’s been good. Louisville is a great team. They always came out and played hard against us. During tomorrow’s game I’m pretty sure they’re going to come out, play hard against us, fight and try to beat us.”

On the difficulties of the freshmen playing in their first true road game …
“It’s probably because everybody gets a little nervous during their first true road game. But once you get going the butterflies go away. Louisville is a great team, they’re a top-10 team, so it’s going to be hard coming in their place and win.”

On preparing for this game emotionally and if there’s a difference compared to other games …
“There’s no real difference for me. We basically just do whatever we would have done to any other team. But we know they’re a really good team and they’re going to bring it at us. We’re just going to fight back at them.”

On how he expects Louisville to defend them …
“We really haven’t talked too much about them yet, but we expect them to come out and pressure us, make us take tough shots.”

On what he remembers from the 2014-15 matchup at the KFC Yum! Center …
“I can’t really remember. I think Tyler (Ulis) had a really good game. That’s all I remember – Tyler getting cut right above his eyebrow or something like that, and he had a really good game.”

On what he remembers about last year’s game …
“I had my best performance that game. But it’s going to be different this game. I feel like they’re going to be out, come ready to play and not give up any open shots.”

On avoiding a letdown after an exciting win over North Carolina …
“We just gotta come out and play, basically. We gotta come together as a group and say, ‘Let’s take it one game at a time,’ just like we did with North Carolina.”

On how the three-a-day practices in Camp Cal have progressed …
“They’re going really good right now, really tiring, but we’ve been fighting through it. We’ve been enjoying the process as well. Each guy loves waking up and just being able to focus on basketball.”

On what the rivalry means to him being from Kentucky …
“It means a little bit more to me since I’m from the state. I guess other guys that are new here or from different states don’t really know about the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry, but it’s going to be a great game tomorrow.”

On what he’s told his teammates about the rivalry …
“I really haven’t told them much about it because I expect them just to know it’s another game for them, and hopefully they can perform at a top level.”

On what UK-UofL games stick out in his memory …
“I would probably say Peyton Siva and the DeMarcus Cousins-John Wall team when DeMarcus Cousins threw an elbow. I remember that. That’s one of the top moments for me remembering the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry.”

On if it’s weird to think he’s now a part of the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry …
“It’s a blessing for me and I want to thank the man above for that. It’s crazy to be able to say that I’m a Kentucky player because I always dreamed that. Now, tomorrow, hopefully I get a chance to play and do well.”

On UK’s first true road game coming at Louisville …
“It’s just another game to us, really. We know that they’re a top-10 team and it’s going to be hard to go in their place and win.”

On if it really is “just another game” or if they really want to get after them …
“We definitely want to, but as a team we’re just looking at them as another team. We’re going game by game, so that’s why we’re taking it one game at a time.”

On how the neutral court games have helped prepare them …
“They definitely prepare us for road games because we know that our – well, we have a lot of fans that come on the road for us, but the North Carolina game felt like a tournament game when I was there. Neutral is kind of different from a true road game because tomorrow is going to be a true road game and there’s just going to be Louisville fans there most of the time. Hopefully if we do get some fans we can hear them.”

On how much they watch other teams play …
“I would say we don’t really have time for that, but once we’re playing the team that we’re focused on we watch a little bit of film right before the game on them.”

On what he tells the young guys about the environment they’ll face at the KFC Yum! Center …
“That it’s going to be a tough environment to play in. It’s going to be loud and everybody is going to be cheering against us except for ourselves.”

#5, Malik Monk, Freshman, G

On the aftermath of scoring 47 points …

“It’s been crazy. I’m just trying to stay levelheaded and stay focused on Louisville.”

On who he enjoyed hearing from …
“All my family and friends back home.”

On what he has heard about the Louisville rivalry …
“I haven’t really heard anything, really. I knew they’re both from Kentucky. I’m from Arkansas so I didn’t know much about it so I hadn’t heard much about it. I know Dom and Derek talk about the rivalry.”

On playing on the road …
“We haven’t had a real road game yet. We’re just going to go out there and focus on the game plan.”

On enjoying a hostile environment …
”They (UNC) had a lot of fans out there. We had a lot of fans out there too, though. You’re going to have away games and the fans are going to be on you a lot. That’s basketball. You just got to get used to it.” 

On being familiar with the Louisville defense …
“Like I said before I’m from Arkansas. I’ve seen them a little bit but I never paid attention to them. We’re going to watch film today and tomorrow and I’ll see a lot.” 

On how he is being played …
“Coach Cal will know how to play me. He does a great job in practice of giving me plays, getting me open and getting experience. Whatever they do I think Coach Cal has something for them.”

On if teams will now play him differently …
“Of course. I know they will have some kind of defensive trick for me, but we just have to run through our offense and let the game come to you.”

On how he would guard himself …
“Foul.” 

On what Roy Williams said to him …
“Yeah. He recruited me hard. He told my family he loves us and stuff like that. He said he really didn’t want to shake my hand because of what I just did. He said ‘tell my family he loves me’ and stuff like that.”

On Cal’s advice on how to follow the performance up …
“Cal told me to do what works. He said, ‘play my game.’ If I’m on my own it might be (De’Aaron) Fox’ game or Bam’s (Adebayo) game, just feeding them the ball.”

On If it will be difficult to follow that game up …
“Yeah, because a lot of folks will be on you. If you just play basketball do what the coach says and let the game come to you and play how you play.”

On if he passes up open looks …
“I don’t think I pass up that many open shots.”

On how much room he needs to shoot …
“Like an inch. Just enough room to get a shot up.”

On if it was the best feeling he’s ever had playing basketball …
“Yeah. On the bigger stage, yeah. One of the best feelings.”

On expanding different areas of his game …
“If they play me different, I’m going to show the other tools I have. It’s just how the defense plays me.”

On how life has changed …
“A lot of attention has been coming to my phone. It’s not just attention, but more people are focused in on me.”

On if it is more fun now that he scored 47 …
“Playing basketball at Kentucky is fun.” 

On scoring 47 against UNC ...
“I’m just playing basketball and trying to win. But I know it’s a big deal.”

On if getting to line more and if that’s less attractive than the three …
“Coach Cal’s right. He’s always right. He’s the coach and he knows what he’s talking about. If I get to the line, it’ll save me more energy.”

#35, Derek Willis, Senior, F

On whether they approach this game the same …

“We take the same approach to every game. We always have a routine of stuff we want to get done, so we look at it in that sense. But I think just personally it means a lot more to me.”

On the freshmen playing their first road game …
“We’re playing a top-10 team in their own place and we did just come off a great win, so just want to keep that rolling into it and hope for the best.”

On what it took to win at U of L two years ago …
“Just bring energy and bring the fight to them. Don’t get punched in the mouth first, basically. If we do that then—just want to get it rolling early, start penetrating, getting fouls and all that. If we do that, then I think we’ll be fine.”

On Tyler Ulis’ performance in that game …
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that actually. He just plays incredibly hard, plays with a lot of energy, does so much on the court and it just happens when you’re playing. But yeah, it was a pretty iconic moment (when Ulis bled in the game). I still see the little pictures around here of it.”

On whether they have a player like Ulis who can do that …
“I feel like we kind of have to have that. Definitely in practice with the stuff we’re doing. We’re being a lot more physical with each other. Rebounding drills, we do every day now. Defensive stuff. Just a learning process of trying to get where we need to be.”

On whether this is the most physical regular-season game of the year …
“It just depends. There’s teams where—I think usually in the beginning of the season we play like—Michigan State, I feel like they were a physical team. I think just being a rivalry in general it’s going to be one of those games where it’s high intensity. You almost have to play physical and want to fight somebody if you want to have any chance of winning.”

On how to address opponents picking on individual defensive matchups …
“Just gotta develop defensive confidence then. Getting it done in practice translates to on the court. I feel like once that happens, then collectively our team can be defensively sound I think that’ll just put us over the top and separate us from even the (best) of college basketball because our players are so much more talented than all the teams I feel like we’ll play against this year.”

On whether Calipari is talking about the four spot when he says that …
“Yeah, definitely. I agree with him. I think that’s the weak point. I feel like everybody else gets it done. Bam (Adebayo) can switch off onto guards, so I feel like with me personally if we can lock up on that four position then it’ll kind of put us forward even more.”

On whether he feels like he’s being targeted by opponents …
“Yeah, I feel like that could be a thing. Because I feel like if the opposing team has any chance to win, it’s going to be making 3s or getting fouled. And I feel like that’s the best opportunity, is to attack someone they feel like they can score on.”

On whether he’s surprised they haven’t been better defensively …
“Yeah. I just think we need to focus more. I know personally myself I just need to get back to where I was. I know I can play defense. It’s a confidence thing, so getting it done in practice and just having it translate onto the court.”

On whether he was one of the people who hugged Malik Monk postgame …
“Yeah. Yeah, I was. Yeah.”

On how that unfolded and whether Cal told him to do it …
“Yeah, pretty much. And I knew it too. Coming out of the game, I knew I didn’t—or at least personally I didn’t feel like I really contributed last game. I was up there and gave him a hug because he did have a hell of a game. That was crazy. I looked up at halftime, he had like 30. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ I knew has was going to have like a 50-point game.”

On what that’s like to watch and whether he’s seen a game like that …
“Honestly I haven’t, aside from maybe like Jamal (Murray) last year, something I can vividly remember. But it was just nuts. I didn’t even realize it was happening. Half the time Malik has games like that—like even in the 20-point games I don’t know he has that many points. I don’t know. Just the best thing you can do is get him the ball and just let him do his thing. He was on fire.”

On whether he can sense when someone is going to have a game like that …
“It’s like one of those weird sixth-sense things you kind of have with basketball. I don’t know. It’s just like an instinct and everybody collectively kind of—when you kind of get that feeling, you try and get them the ball a little bit more. They take a bad shot here and there and you’re OK with it. Everybody wants Malik to take shots. He’s shooting great right now. He has all the confidence in the world offensively and defensively. I think he’s probably been our most consistent player, one of them this year, easily.”

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