Monday, January 02, 2017

Video/Transcript: UK Players Derek Willis, Tai Wynyard Pre-Texas A&M Press Conference Interview


Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

#35, Derek Willis, Senior, F

On the importance of his rebounding against Ole Miss …

“I feel like it’s just something we’ve been trying to work on. It’s a necessity in the game of basketball. You have to rebound. We shot fairly well. I think, personally, I didn’t really shoot good so I felt like playing defense and rebounding was kind of the way I could contribute in that game.”

On his missed free throw at Ole Miss to help Isaiah Briscoe get his triple-double …
“I guess what happened, Zay had said something after I think we had lost the ball. The ball had went out of bounds and we ended up getting the ball back. He said something about how he needed another rebound and I don’t know what happened. But yeah, I guess I was shooting free throws and just pointed at him to go that way (left) and then I just tried to bank it and missed real bad and it kicked out to him so he could get a triple-double.”

On how much he practices that …
“Honestly, I didn’t even really know what happened, but I was like I’ll try and do what I can. Just had a good bounce and got to him.”

On if he’s now a late-game weapon if UK needs to miss a foul shot …
“See, I kind of thought about that. We’ve been practicing free throws a lot too, and I was almost thinking about practicing missing free throws, because we’re practicing making them. I don’t know, it could be a circumstance of where at the end of the game you want to hit it at the right point to get it back. It could be a thing.”

On what Coach Cal means when he talks about “trust” on this team …
“He’s been on Wenyen (Gabriel) a lot about it in practice. I think it’s just a thing of where you, as a player, personally you want to outplay the guy you’re going against. So, I feel like in certain situations you have to help out and then you have to rush to get back to your guy. I don’t want to say we don’t trust each other, but on the court I don’t think we communicate efficiently at times, and I think that’s just where we get a little discombobulated.”

On Calipari saying he’s focusing so much on defense and rebounding it’s effected his shooting …
“Yeah, I’m just kind of in a shooting slump right now. I’ve been in the gym a lot more just shooting. I don’t know, I think it’s one of those things too where maybe I need to condition a little bit better. Maybe it’s getting to my legs or something. I don’t know, just hopefully playing at Rupp, a comfortable environment, I can get it going offensively. Hit a little more shots and go from there. But I do want to continue doing what I’m doing defensively with rebounding and all that.”

On how difficult it is to play a complete game at this level …
“It’s very important, especially being my senior year, I feel like this is kind of like you need to start turning it on right now. As we get into postseason stuff I feel like I need to be more consistent, I guess.”

On why the Kentucky-Texas A&M matchups so frequently result in close games …
“I just feel like the past years they’ve been a real well-rounded team. They have veteran players, they play well, they don’t make a lot of mistakes, and if you make a mistake they make you pay for it. I think it was my sophomore year we had the 38-1 team that came down to, I think it was overtime, I think Trey Lyles came through for us and got us the win. They’re just a really well-coached team, really good team to play against. You learn a lot when you play against them. Pretty excited to see what’s in store tomorrow.” 

On if the “trust” thing applies to him …
“Yeah, I think at times it does apply to me too. I think from my standpoint it’s the communication thing. People kind of think one thing and you’re thinking something else.”

On rebounding …
“We’ve been focused on it a lot in practice too. We have these rims, basically, where every time you shoot a ball there’s no way you’re going to make a shot. So, we’ve been doing that. A lot more bumping, being physical with each other. It just became a focus because we know if we’re going to continue far in the postseason you have to outrebound teams and you gotta be able to have an inside presence. It’s just very important to our team right now.”

On Texas A&M …
“They had a really good senior class last year. So, I know they lost some people and I think I heard they had some injuries as well. They’re still a really good team. They have a really good coach and they always have a good game plan for us. It’ll be interesting. It’s one of the games of the year we take a lot away from it and learn a lot. It’ll be a good experience, I think.”

On how he’s playing …
“I’m not really satisfied with how I’ve played. I always nit-pick myself. I feel like I’m doing an alright job. I just really want to be more consistent with each game, kind of put it all together. It’s like one game I’ll shoot good but then I’ll get beat on defense or don’t rebound well. Now it’s like, I’m playing defense and rebounding a little bit better and I can’t hit a shot. I kind of just want to like put it all together and be more complete.”

#14, Tai Wynyard, R-Freshman, F

On whether it feels good to get more of a chance …

“Yeah. Coach has been putting a lot of confidence in me during practice and stuff. He’s helping me a lot more now and I feel like I’m getting more of a chance.”

On whether that builds his confidence …
“Yeah, definitely. When Coach has been putting a lot of trust in you and kind of pushing you, obviously it makes you a lot more confident.”

On how he’s different as a player this year …
“I’m definitely a lot more physical this year. Working with Rob (Harris), getting my strength and conditioning a lot more so I’m feeling a lot better as a player and I’m obviously using my strength well down low and trying to get every rebound I can.”

On whether he was nervous in the Ole Miss game …
“A little bit, yeah. I’m going to be honest with you, I was kind of nervous. Obviously sitting the whole time and just watching, you want to get out there and play. So just a little nervous. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, grab as many rebounds, but that’s all good.”

On what kind of feedback he got after his last game …
“Just rebound. That’s the reason they want to put me in the game, is just to get every rebound. So that’s really what I’m going to try to focus on doing.”

On whether he knew he would be first off the bench …
“Yeah. They told me the day before in practice.”

On what he needs to do to get more playing time …
“Rebound. And just fight, really, because that’s really what we’re all looking for from the bigs and stuff, is just the fight and the effort. Obviously that’s my game, so I’m just trying to really push myself and just get every rebound and fight for everything.”

On why he was confident when he learned he would play more …
“I’ve been working hard and when you work hard you’re going to see results. So obviously I had a lot more confidence in myself and just really wanted to get out there.”

On how much Calipari is stressing rebounding overall …
“He’s definitely harping on it a lot. He’s getting on people. He stops practice all the time if somebody gets an offensive rebound and says, ‘You need to box out,’ and stuff like that. And play more physical. So yeah, he’s definitely getting on the team more about rebounding.”

On what they are getting out of scrimmaging more …
“Definitely getting a lot more game situation stuff down. Obviously scrimmaging helps the team a lot more and people are enjoying practice a lot more too.”

On the difference in his comfort zone compared to last year …
“It’s definitely a lot wider now. I’m a lot more comfortable here. I’m able to get as much work done as I need. I’m definitely a lot more comfortable.”

On whether it was the right decision to sit out last year …
“Yeah, I feel like it helped a lot more, just being able to sit out and watch people and learn how the game’s played over here because it’s obviously a lot different to basketball back home.”

On whether he was ever worried he wouldn’t get a chance …
“Not really, no. I always know if you work hard you’re going to get a chance. So I just kept pushing myself and tried to get extra workouts in and stuff.”

On whether there was a turning point for him in practice …
“Definitely. Maybe a couple days ago, I had a practice and I was really standing out. For me, Coach Cal was helping me a lot more and I was playing a lot better. I feel that’s kind of what started it off.”

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