Sunday, March 12, 2017

Video/Transcript - NCAA Tournament: Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis - Selection Sunday Reaction

Video courtesy of kywildcatstv

DEREK WILLIS

On whether they are playing their best right now …“I think I’ve been—yeah. I would definitely agree with that. I think our whole team’s collectively starting to come together. I think we’re starting to, like I said, hit the incline, starting to peak at the right moment and we can take it as far as we want to go.”
On their sense of urgency in the tournament …“This is all it is. You gotta come out, you gotta get the Ws and this is what we prepare for every year, this part of the season. You just gotta be desperate. Everything’s going to be a dogfight and it’s the last game for a lot of people, so it means a lot to us and I know me and Dom as seniors, we’ll be prepared for it.”
On the prospect of rematches with UCLA and UNC and the overall strength of the region …“The only thing I’ve really seen—I’ve only seen like the updates on my Twitter feed. It was typically like UNC and UCLA and people were kind of like griping this and that about that, but, like I said, you still gotta come out and play the games. It’s anybody’s game any night, so it kind of is what it is.”
On having a lot of fans in Indianapolis …“Yeah, we’re familiar with Indianapolis. I can’t remember where we played at up in Indy. Oh, the football stadium, the football stadium, yeah. So I’m not sure if it’s the same place. I think it’s Banker’s Life, probably, but it’s close enough for our fans to travel. I feel like our fans enjoy that city for the most part, so we’ll have a good showing out there, I’m sure.”
On how he found out UK’s seed …“People I think started leaking stuff on Twitter about it and when we got here, I think walking up the driveway I’d see we had already gotten seeded. I was just like, well, we take what we get and then just go from there. Still gotta come out and play, whoever it is.”
On their depth …“You need all the players you can get. It can be anyone any night. I think freshman year it was—I think Marcus (Lee) had come in and had a great game. He had like 10 points, rebounds, blocks I think even. That could be any one of these players that thinks they’re not really getting quality minutes, they could come out and have a night like that and that gets us a win. Everybody’s gotta be prepared.”
On being used to March Madness …“Yeah. I feel like me and Dom definitely have the most experience with postseason play. That’s just what’s going to take us—that’s how we’ve been prepared for this moment. We’re just going to go from there. We’ll be ready though.”
On facing UNC and UCLA again potentially …“I don’t really care who we play, to be honest with you. I feel like we gotta worry about the first two games rather than games potentially. I think our main focus right now is Northern Kentucky and after that we go from there and see who our next opponent is and get ready for them. That’s how we take all the games like that.”
On what he remembers about facing Wichita State …“Their coach is still there. They had that great coach. He’s a really smart guy, just really liked the way he ran his team and his players that year were really talented as well. They had a great season and, like I said, it just comes down to the point of who wants it more. You get in those dogfights and whoever comes out on top comes out on top.”
On whether he knows anyone on NKU …“I think Lavone Holland is about the only one I know and I only know that because he’s a Kentucky guy. My fiancée, they used to be friends or something in high school and she said that’s where he’s playing. You kind of hear that stuff out in public. It’ll be exciting. It’ll be good to play against him again.”
On his reaction to UK’s two seed …“I was expecting for us to get a two seed. It just kind of depended on who fell into that bracket with us was the different thing. I don’t know. Like I said, you still gotta go out and play the games and not worry about who you could potentially play, just take it one weekend at a time.”
On the difference in his defense and rebounding of late …“Just kind of have a sense of urgency. You have to be desperate and it’s the last time playing college basketball and you want to leave it all out on the court. I think the thing with rebounding though is kind of being more aware of where ball’s going to come off on the rim and stuff. It’s really positioning and then just making contact with the guy and going up and getting the ball. So that’s really about it though.”
On whether he has ever seen Hawkins play so well …“He keeps getting better and better each year he’s been here. I think he was definitely the x-factor this weekend bringing energy and just his defensive effort was crazy good. This past game I don’t think he was really hitting shots the first game or two, but he was still—you had to leave him out on the court. He was doing way too much.”
On whether he and Hawkins have talked about their careers coming to an end …“It’s kind of like a little bittersweet feeling, I guess. Even like leaving the SEC Tournament we just won, it was kind of like, ah, this is my last SEC Tournament, whatever, last time I’ll be here. I’m also looking forward to this weekend. I know it’s going to be exciting and being in Indianapolis we’re going to have an awesome crowd show up for us. I’m just looking forward to that too.”

DOMINIQUE HAWKINS

On how he’s feeling about his last Selection Sunday …“I feel good about it. We got a great seed and we’re ready to play.”
On when he found out about the seeding and placement …“Once we got into the house people were telling us we got the two seed in the South Region.”
On if they expected a two seed …“We really didn’t know what we were getting. We all probably thought we were going to get a two seed. That’s what we had been seeing all over the social media and on the television.”
On if he knows anyone on the Northern Kentucky roster …“I actually played AAU with a guy. I don’t know his last name, but Lavone (Holland II). I played AAU with him.”
On if he had a chance on the plane to reflect on his performance against Arkansas …“Nah, I’ll reflect on it a little later. I’m still living the enjoyment of it. It’s incredible. All the hard work and all the patience definitely paid off.”
On how surprised he was of his selection on the SEC All-Tournament Team …“I wasn’t too shocked. People were telling me I’ve been playing really well the last few games. I really didn’t think I was going to win. I thought another teammate probably would get it. But I’m beyond blessed to be able to be part of the All-Tournament Team.”
On if he likes the idea of potentially facing UCLA and North Carolina again …“Yeah. We’re going to be ready for whoever we have to play, but we’re just going to focus on the teams we need to focus on.”
On what’s been special about this team …“This is the funnest group of guys I’ve been around since I’ve been here for four years. Everybody is just coming together. We have a great brotherhood on and off the court.”
On what he remembers of UK’s game against Wichita State in 2014 …“I remember they were undefeated and I feel like we shocked the world that year. It’ll be nice, whoever we have to play, we’ll play them again.”
On if they’re playing their best basketball of the year …“Definitely. Definitely defensive wise I would say that. I feel like defensive wise we’ve been stopping the best scorers and making them take tough shots. Offensively, we’ve been giving it to the guy with the hot hand.”
On if he just played his best game at Kentucky …“I don’t want to say ever, but maybe. I got six more to go. Maybe I’ll play another game like that. To this point, I would say yes.”
On the team maturing and getting closer …“It starts off with leadership. Isaiah (Briscoe), he’s our leader. I’ve never seen a guy so vocal in the huddles and timeouts. He motivates me in the timeout huddle. He tells us we need to get this stop, we need to make these plays and all the freshmen are growing up. They know what they need to do to prepare themselves for the games now.”
On the four-guard lineup they’ve played lately …“I like it. As long as it works for us I would say we’ll go to it a lot. We’ll have to play that way if another team goes four guards.”
On the bond the team has …“Like I was saying, this is the funnest group I’ve been around all my four years here. Everybody just loves each and everybody. As the freshmen came in, they didn’t come in shy at all. They were ready to meet the guys and just able to communicate with us as well. I’m not a really talkative person, but they turned me into a talkative person. When I’m around them I want to talk. I know, right? Just when I’m around them they make me want to talk and talk about basketball and other stuff we always talk about.”
On if he’ll be giving leadership tips about the tournament to those who haven’t played in it …“Yeah, I feel like I can definitely give advice to them. The first game is always probably the most nervous game you probably play in. I remember my freshman year going in I was so nervous to play in the NCAA Tournament game. These guys are great athletes, have great skills and they’ll be ready to play.”
On Indianapolis being so close and accessible to UK fans …“It’s great. I’m pretty sure the fans are going to travel – I feel like they would travel anywhere to be honest. But I feel like a lot of fans will be there to cheer us on.”
On potentially facing a team they’ve already played before, such as UCLA or UNC …“We’re not really focused about all those other teams. We’re just focused on the teams we have to play, but once we have to play them we’ll be really focused on them.”
On if there’s a sense of urgency for him with it being his last year …“Nah, not really. I just feel like if I look at it that way I’ll be too nervous or not trying to be aggressive enough. So, I’m just going to take it just as any other game.”
On the team handling adversity on the court better …“I’d definitely agree with that. All the guys here want to win and they’re doing whatever they have to do to win, like everybody knows that Malik (Monk) and Wenyen (Gabriel) have been getting up early just to go to shootarounds, and that’s preparing for the game to win.”
On if he’ll talk to Holland this week or after the game …“Probably before the game and after I’ll talk to him, but if don’t want to talk to me that’s fine.” (laughter)
On what he thought of the draw …“That it’s OK. We know that we’re going to have to play elite teams to advance to the next round, so any team we play we’re just going to prepare for them and be very focused on what we have to do to beat them.”
On Coach Cal saying defense is what will win games for UK …“I would definitely agree with that. The way we’ve been playing defense is the reason we’ve been winning. If we continue to do that we’ll definitely advance.”

On freshman forward Bam Adebayo’s play …“Our objective is to give Bam the ball in the post. We know that he can score in many ways down there. With him on the block it actually opens up the court for us to score. All the guards love when Bam’s getting trapped (because) we either get an open shot or a drive to the basket easily.”

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