Thursday, March 23, 2017

Transcript: UK Players Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Mychal Mulder At Podium Pre #2 UK vs #3 UCLA - Sweet 16 ~ 2017 NCAA Men's Tournament South Region FedEx Forum - Memphis, Tn. Press Conference

Q. Dominique, what's the difference between the Kentucky team that lost to UCLA in December and the team that will face them tomorrow?

 Yeah, I feel like this team, we definitely focus more on our defense, and our defense has definitely improved. Earlier on, I felt like we just broke down a lot, and it was early in the season, so you have a lot to change early on.

Q. Derek, what does playing tight tournament games do for you guys, particularly the last game against Wichita State? Do you derive anything that you can use going forward?

 I think it just started back in the season. Honestly when people were kind of concerned we weren't beating teams by 20, 30 points, and we'd come away with probably six, ten-point margins, and not typical leads we would finish games with, but still, I think it just prepared us for postseason play and being in environments. Every environment we went and played in was crazy. It all just prepared us for postseason. And taking away from last weekend, the same exact thing, felt comfortable in situations, and I think that's just kind of how we've been prepared all season long, so yeah.

Q. Derek, it seems like you guarded TJ Leaf quite a bit in that first match-up against UCLA. What do you remember about his game, and what do you have to do better this time around against him?

 Yeah, I think after the UCLA game, I think back in the fall or whenever we played them, I kind of like -- I don't want to say I took him for granted, I just didn't know all the things he could do. And he kind of surprised me in a sense. I feel like we played sort of similar, and he's a good player. So just got to take it how it is, and I feel like we're peaking at the right time. We're playing really well, and a lot of us are playing the best basketball we've ever played. It'll be a fun game tomorrow, though. It'll be fun.

Q. Derek, this is kind of an interesting location, just for you guys' head coach, Coach Cal. He spent a lot of time here in Memphis. What's the reception been like for you guys as a team and how have you enjoyed your experience the last few days?

 Reception for us has been great. I feel like everybody that we've passed by, they've been smiling and saying congratulations, good luck, all that type stuff. Went out to eat the other night, people were fine there, and in public, everything has been awesome, honestly. It's just been cool, yeah.

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