After Kentucky’s 85-69 victory over South Carolina both head coaches spoke with the media.
University of Kentucky Basketball Media Conference
Saturday, January 21 2017
Men’s Media Conference
Q. What’s the latest on De’Aaron Fox?
JOHN CALIPARI: I don’t know exactly. It’s not swelled. I think it might’ve been a stinger, I don’t know. Something hit his ankle, so he’s in a boot. But they said there’s no swelling, so I don’t know.
Q. With Fox out and Mychal Mulder not available, how do you think Dominique played?
JOHN CALIPARI: I thought Dominique was great. You know what I’m going to hear as soon as I get home? “Why aren’t you putting in Brad? If you need another guard, he’s there.” So, I’ve got to deal with that when I go home. Just one more thing to deal with.
Q. What are you saying?
JOHN CALIPARI: I’m saying I may have to put him in. But Dom was terrific, and the other thing is, we play with Derek or Wenyen at the three every day in practice. We do. So we can play with those two on the floor. Malik has had back-to-back, you know, kind of bust kind of games. I mean, he’s better than this. And at one point in the first half I just said, “Look, I’m going to go without you now. You got minute.” And what I ended up doing — and Kenny Payne said, “Well just put Dom at point,” because Dom plays point every day in practice against De’Aaron Fox. Every day. So Dom looked fine. Again, Dom had seven assists and two turnovers, and one was late when no one could get open for him. So, he did fine. I thought that Derek and Wenyen, again, they’re just giving us so much now – 23 points, 12 rebounds at that position, making threes, making open shots, rebounding balls. They had 23 points combined, 12 rebounds out of that position, and then I played them some together. But it was, for us to be down that way and against a team that creates havoc because of how they play. And Frank, I tell you what, I said it to him after, the job he does is ridiculous, because he’ll make you play the way he wants your team to play. They make you into a driving team and then you’ve got to be a decision-making team. They’re physical. They make every shot a tough shot, and I thought our guys performed and were prepared, knew where to throw balls because of how they play.
Q. It was 18:29 to go in the game, they scored two quick buckets, I think it was 47-42. You called a timeout. You and Briscoe were barking at each other and then the team got better. What was the barking?
JOHN CALIPARI: I just told him, “You got a minute to get going and you’re out and I’ll go without you. Because you’re not going to do this.” And he goes, “I’m okay, I’m okay.” And I go, “All right, you got one minute, if you’re okay, to play and then I’m going without you.” And then I put Dom at point guard and then he didn’t have every second on his shoulder. And then he started making plays and coming up with balls. I was on him throughout the rest of the game where we’re up again 16 and 17 and one of our big guys rebounds a ball and tries to advance it. Up 16 and we lose it. Why? Just go get the ball from them. Let them know in huddles, we’re not doing that. If a guy’s wide open, throw. If he’s not, give me the ball. We had Malik on a breakout, throwing a ball out of bounds to Bam. Why? Why did you do that? It was too risky. Don’t throw it. And those are things that we just have to learn, because every time we do it, we let the team back in the game. That’s a team that’s going to win a lot of games. There was a lot of stuff that happened in our league today. Crazy. But let me say this, it’s happening all over college basketball. It is hard to be at your best every game and if you’re not, you get beat. And that’s the hardest thing in what we’re doing with all these young kids.
I thought Isaac (Humphries) was terrific today. I told Bam after the game, you’re too nice. I said I would strangle a couple of these guys that aren’t throwing you the ball. If I was you, I would. You’re so nice, you don’t say anything. And we’re throwing him the ball, but it’s like it’s forced. It shouldn’t be forced. He’s that good. I even said, “Is he selfish?” They said, “No, he’s not selfish.” Well, then throw him the ball and if he’s double teamed he gives it back to you.
Q. I think you said there that Malik had had back-to-back —
JOHN CALIPARI: Did I say Malik?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, Isaiah Briscoe.
Q. And Malik today, obviously he bounced back a little bit, what was different about him, other than the ball going in the basket?
JOHN CALIPARI: He’s been doing unbelievable work the last week. Man, he’s put in his time. He’s mastering his craft. We had a great practice film session. I go up to my office and I shower and I look back and he and Isaiah Briscoe are like in a full body sweat getting a workout in. That’s what we need to see. My job is to get them to come together. Their job is to be responsible for themselves. Like Isaiah knows, this isn’t about me or barking, it’s how he played. And he said, I’m not playing well, I got to get this going. And we’re not the team we need to be unless he’s playing well. He had no points today. Come on. He backs into points. He had nothing today. That’s okay. We still won and he was happy as heck in there, but there’s a concern for him. Now it’s like, come on, I know I’m better than this. The kid had seven turnovers. What? Seven turnovers. And he’s not the kind of kid that does that. Not the kind of player.
Q. It seems like a couple of weeks ago that, or a few weeks ago you were hoping Wenyen or Derek would step up. It looks like both have.
JOHN CALIPARI: How about Derek’s dunk? I mean, that was crazy. No, they’re both stepping up. I also held them accountable and said, “Look, if you guys can’t get this done, I’ll play a small lineup or I’ll play a big lineup. It’s on you.” And they’re getting better. I mean, the biggest thing we do here is we make these kids be responsible for themselves and then we bring them together. A bunch of unselfish kids. I thought, again, Malik Monk, you know, he shoots 17 or 14 balls and scores 27. That’s crazy. He’s not out there just jacking balls. But I got to let him go some, because he just does some crazy stuff. Not being selfish, he just can score.
Q. If your son is one of the next options, at what point do you bring Diallo into the mix and why would you resist that?
JOHN CALIPARI: Because I would want to play Brad, mainly. And I would tell you that, if I have to play Brad, we’re going to play some more zone. All you guys out there, you basketball bennies, saying, he never plays zone. I played some zone today, how did it look? Three, three, basket. Okay. Now you know why I don’t play zone. No, we’re not, that’s not even in the cards.
He’s working hard. He’s been here three, four days, and we have a kid on campus who knows him and he says, man, look at him. He’s getting better. He came here for a reason. He wants to be his best version. How good can I get? How good can I be? What I want him to do is, I want him to go after Malik and Isaiah. He’s a really good on-ball defender, like really good. Like go after these guys. Make them better. If they’re not practicing hard, make them look bad. But yeah, he’s not in the mix.
Kentucky Men’s Basketball
No. 5 Kentucky 85, No. 24 South Carolina 69
Rupp Arena – Lexington, Ky.
Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017
South Carolina Head Coach, Frank Martin
Opening statement …
“Credit to Kentucky, obviously. We are a high-powered offensive team, and they came at us. We didn’t do a very good job of defending the basketball early in the game and they just rolled us and kind of put us on our heels. By the time the time the game settled down, we were down 18, 17, something like that and we regrouped and made it a competitive game and then there at the end we just got tired. We weren’t any good in practice yesterday, and I was very concerned. It’s the first time all year we’ve had a bad practice. I was very concerned about our team coming in today to play on this stage as bad as we were yesterday.
PJ’s absence hurting defensively …
“You’re talking about a 6’6” guy that knows how to defend. The bigger problem is now you’re playing a lot of inexperienced guys at Rupp Arena against the No. 5 team in the country that’s high-powered offensively in front of 25,000 people. By the way, we’ve made progress as a program. I remember sitting with you guys a few years ago and telling you that I have been in this building as a fan since I coached a couple of guys that played here in high school and the first time I’ve ever heard this building quiet was three years ago. We obviously have made progress because it was real loud in there today. That’s where you hurt. You lose experience and now you’re throwing guys that are out there for the first time. I could sit here – Hassani (Gravett) had the flu, he hasn’t even practiced, and now he’s got to play. Whatever. No excuse. They beat us. It is what it is.”
The lift that UK got from Derek Willis …
“He always kills us. Willis always gets us. We tried real hard to prepare for those corner 3’s and my big guys didn’t play well. We were bad yesterday in practice and I’m just telling you. We gave them open shots, they made a couple tough ones. Give that kid (Willis) credit. Upperclassmen making plays to help his team. He always gets us, but I knew we were not going to be defensively any good today. We picked the wrong team to be bad on defense against. We went to that zone and it kind of settled things down and obviously (De’Aaron) Fox going out of the game impacts them offensively, but then coming down the stretch, we had some bad breakdowns defensively and they made open shots so give them credit.”
On the bad practice and what was going on …
“I have no idea. I have no idea. I wish I had a better answer for you. It’s the first time all year that we weren’t any good. One thing that I can say about our team this year is that since the summer, they have come in everyday and they have competed, they force each other to work. I don’t think we pay attention to how young our basketball team is. We’ve got a couple seniors, three to be exact. Everyone else – Chris (Silva) is a sophomore, PJ (Dozier) is a sophomore, he didn’t play – so now we get even younger because everyone else is a first-year guy and we just weren’t good. I wish I had a better answer for you. I’m not trying to hide anything, or I would tell you. I just told you we were bad at practice.”
When he knew PJ Dozier wasn’t going to be able to go and who stepped up in his place …
“Sin’s (Sindarius Thornwell) a winner. He’s a winner. He loves the big stage, he loves to compete, he loves to play, he loves to play within our structure and not just do whatever he wants to do. 90 percent of what he did today was through our structure and he’s done so well that he’s extremely effective in it. Yesterday in practice, towards the end PJ went up for a lay-up and it kind of looked awkward, but he didn’t say anything. When we were on the plane on the way here, he started spasming up really bad. Our trainer, Mark Rodger, who is phenomenal, our team physician who is with us, they treated him all night, all day today. I don’t know if any of you have ever had a back spasm. I’ve had seven knee surgeries and I’ll take every one of them before I deal with a back spasm. It’s an uncomfortable thing. We’ve got to keep treating it and hope that it kind of cools off and try and get him ready for Tuesday.”