After Kentucky’s 88-61 win over Utah both coaches spoke to the media about the game.
Transcript from UK Athletics
Q. How much of tonight was shots were simply falling or your guys doing something markedly better to create a better shot?
COACH CALIPARI: There’s both, but Jimmy (Dykes) said on the TV after, “They were clean passes.” Like clean catches and clean shots, which means we had willing passers. Not, “I’m going to try to get a shot or make a play and then I’ll throw you the ball.” Not, “When I catch it, I’ll then recognize what’s there. When I catch it, I’m going to see who is open and move it to the open men.
And second thing is our spacing was much better, and third thing is they played mostly zone, so you had a chance to get more.
Look, I’ve been telling them I want to shoot between 20 and 23 threes a game. If we shoot 30, we will lose the game. Because historically, if you go back over my career of 30-some years, if we shoot 30, my team loses.
We want to get to the foul line, we want two-point baskets and we want to offensive rebound. Hard to offensive rebound, miss threes, because they are bouncing everywhere. But you know, we shot the ball pretty well today.
Q. After the Bahamas, you said that you recognized that you had a bunch of guys that could play but the question that remained is who is the catalyst and who is going to be the guy. Does Keldon look like he’s becoming that?
COACH CALIPARI: I’ve thought, but his focus, he loses focus sometimes, and when he loses focus, whether it be defensively or offensively, it really hurts us.
So, his whole thing is: You know, you can’t just play hard in spurts and then stay in the game. You can play hard in spurts and sub yourself but he’s learning. He’s fine. I was — Tyler Herro made some shots today and we walked off the court at halftime and I said, “Do you know why you made that? Because you didn’t have time to think about it. You just caught it and shot it, and you trusted yourself. You trusted all your hard work.”
And for everybody, I kind of forgot those last four or five minutes that I had Jemarl because I was trying a rotation.
Again you have to understand, Jemarl (Baker) has practiced about two, two and a half weeks with us, in the last two years. But, he’s practiced really well the last couple weeks, and what I’ve told him is: You’re in the game to score baskets, how about that, and he went in the game and he scored baskets and our fans went crazy and I’m happy for him. I would have put him in earlier except I forgot he was on the bench. I did.
Q. You had 34 points today created off of turnovers. The trademark of your defenses since you’ve been here, your team since you’ve been here has been defense. Talk about how much stronger your defense was today.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, you know, we had active hands. We were collapsing on drives. We were anticipating better. You know, the whole thing defensively, if you want to be — you’ve got to be able to stop the drive so that you don’t have to scramble all over the place and get full rotations, which usually gets you beat.
And the second thing is, you’ve got to be an anticipating kind of team where just like a pass coming to you, you’re looking like who is open. Before you catch it, you know what’s going on.
Defensively is no different. You’re on the weak side; where is he trying to pass that ball, and I’m moving in that direction. We’ve got some guys doing it pretty well. I was happy with Immanuel Quickley today. Immanuel’s got to make some shots, and he did today. And Ashton (Hagans) did what he was supposed to, got in that lane, got seven assists. We’re kind of defining the roles a little bit better.
Q. Along those lines, how do you think that Immanuel and Ashton are coming along when it comes to running the offense?
COACH CALIPARI: Getting better, and I’ve just got to do — look, this thing is a lot of tape work. This thing is a lot of individual time. This is a lot of holding them accountable because they are typical freshmen.
Immanuel, I put on the board today, do not try to be perfect, just play ball. He tries to be perfect which puts him on his heels and I keep telling him: You can’t — you’re not going to be perfect. You just try to make less mistakes than the other team. You try to miss less shots on the other team but you’re not going to be perfect.
Again, I thought we had a couple guys today that we just need more from them, energy, intensity, enthusiasm. We should demand that. No need to make every shot. Doesn’t mean you’re not turning it over.
But we should have every guy fighting for every ball in every possession. We’re just not there yet, but the thing that I did for the last three days, literally, worked on offense. And then I said to them: Please, don’t tell me you’re going to let go of the rope defensively now, because we — the only defense we worked on was guarding our stuff. I didn’t think this team would play that much zone, but thank goodness we did prepare some things for it.
But you know, it’s a hard game to play and I told Larry (Krystkowiak) that, you know, they are going to be fine and — but Utah, they didn’t shoot the ball as well as they have shot it today. Like they missed some open threes. But when we’re making threes like that, it’s a hard deal.
Q. When you look at Nick (Richards) and EJ (Montgomery), I think they had 29 minutes and two points and six rebounds between them. Talk about what they are giving you or not giving you.
COACH CALIPARI: You’re saying Nick and EJ? I want to go — I want to play EJ and go to a bigger lineup, so we’re doing some things to mess around with a bigger lineup and I have Nick in that three-man rotation. I thought he did some good things. I mean, you know, he got scored on where I didn’t think he should have, but I think he gets straight-legged and that happens.
But Nick, I’m telling you, we need Nick so that people don’t think they can just drive in there and score. Now you’ve got a team that’s going to shoot more jumpers than driving layups.
Q. The couple of shot clock violations showed, the defensive free throw —
COACH CALIPARI: I think a lot of teams are going to try because we are so young and inexperienced. They are going to try to hold the ball and see who breaks down and with nine, eight, seven seconds on the shot clock to beat somebody because someone stops playing. That’s the history of playing young people, and we didn’t do it today. We just didn’t break down.
Q. Have you had other players who felt that need to be perfect out there? I think that would be detrimental. How do you push a player past that?
COACH CALIPARI: Derrick Rose would get so mad at himself, but Immanuel gets tentative, so it’s different. Like if you want to get mad at yourself, I can deal with that. That means I don’t have to get mad at you. And then I have to more pick you up and say, “Stop, you’re fine. But you can’t get tentative.”
You’ve got to, you know — and again, we’re getting him to see — look, a high school player will catch a ball and if the coach says, “Oh,” and you look at him, and he says, “Tell me where all the players are.”
He’ll say, “What players?”
“Where are they standing?” He’ll have no idea.
But if you ask that to Steve Nash, he would turn and say: “My center’s there, my guard’s on the weak side, my 3-man is there and my 4-man is the high post.” Seeing the court.
So as he begins to do that, he will process less and react more and be able to let loose a little bit. So we’re just working every day, and it’s the last three days, to make us willing passers. You have to see it to be willing, and the second thing is, they are not selfish. They are just used to when they get the ball, I make a play.
Well, think about having five guys think that: “So when I get it, I make a play.” Well, you get no ball movement. You have no willing passers. That’s where we’ve been and we’re moving by it.
I thought we did some great stuff defensively until the start of the second half. We gave them some baskets, and then I went to the dreaded zone. How did that work? All you people saying, “Why doesn’t he play zone,” how did you like that? Play the 1-3-1 coach. “Coach Hall keeps tell you, play the 1-3-1. We need you to take seniors.” Okay.
Q. Coach Pitino Tweeted that he appreciated you inviting him to come. What was that conversation, and why didn’t he come?
COACH CALIPARI: He was with family and he had things going on. But you know, I just said, “Look, you need to get up here.” They will be respectful here, and you know, what that program did to change this back, you know, I mean, we should recognize it. They may be mad he went to coach at Louisville. So what? When he was here and when we needed this program on a different track, he put it, and that group — and I thanked that group last night: “You guys got this thing back going, you guys did.”
You know, I just, like I said, I’d like him to come back and let him — you know, one of the happiest things for me is when I see how Coach Hall is treated here. He’s treated like royalty. I love it when he goes out on the court. I love to see him in practice and I love how our fans treat him.
My guess is, back in the day, they probably weren’t as friendly, okay. But now they look at it and say, you know what, who would have followed Adolph Rupp? Who is stupid enough to do that? He was. He went to Final Fours, won national titles. Think about it.
And now, what Rick did, you know, like I said, he deserves to be able to, you know, get the respect from what he did here, and I think our fans would be great. You know, he may not think that, but I’m convinced that if he came back, that the fans would be great to him.
Utah Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak
Transcript from UK Athletics
On how good Kentucky was shooting from the perimeter …
“You kind of have to pick your poison, make a decision on how you’re going to try to guard them. Numbers wise I think the 3-point shot hadn’t been their strength. They’ve been pounding people on the glass, pounding people inside. So we had a pretty good plan overall and certainly (Keldon) Johnson in the first half hitting five 3’s I thought was a big storyline with the game. Our inability with some of the mindless turnovers in the first half, I think there were 12 points scored off of our turnovers, which was virtually the difference in the game. That was probably the big key. Give them credit for knocking down shots, knew that it’d be a point of emphasis and we played zone pretty much the entire game, and that’s maybe what you’re going to have to give up. I was really proud of our guys’ ability to rebound. Maybe there weren’t as many offensive rebounds for Kentucky because they made enough of their perimeter shots. Regardless, that’s been a focal point for us and to out rebound them by eight on the game, I thought was something that we can hang our hat on. We just have a lot of different areas to improve.”
On what the biggest take away of the game is …
“I think I just mentioned it. Unlike football where you can send 11 guys out there and get stops and take a lot of pride on defense, and defense never really has much to do with offense when you send your 11 offensive guys out there, it’s kind of like reset. Well for us, turning the ball over puts a lot of pressure on your defense. You’ve got an offensive and a defensive issue. It’s hard to guard this team in transition. You can’t defend turnovers and you certainly can’t defend the free throw line. We did a decent job at not fouling, but our turnovers were a little bit crazy. So give them credit for that. That’s a scenario we have to improve in. As I mentioned I think the rebounding and the 3-point shots were the big – we have a lot of internal things we need to work on. There are a lot of different facets and we’ve got a couple games here, we play again Monday, play Friday then we’ve got a little Christmas break. We have to get ready for obviously a really good Nevada team and then our conference play.”
On how much different Johnson was today …
“I think again, we took away some of the interior presence with our zone. We didn’t do a great job when we doubled. When we doubled the big guy we let them skip opposite and that’s where a couple of his 3’s came from just too much in rhythm. We did have some breakdowns within our zone. Those guys stepped up and made some big 3’s. Those things add up fast. We can do a better job, but I think we took away one of the facets of the game and we were willing to live with some of those 3’s, and we made some adjustments. Credit for shooting. No doubt. By the numbers he’s certainly getting to the free throw line, getting to the rim kind of guy more then he is an open 3. When you play a team like Kentucky I think with enough different weapons, certainly those guys have it in them do to some different things. We were trying to play the numbers and it didn’t work out in our favor.”
On how helpful Both Gach was today …
“Both Gach, talented freshman. Seemed like he was ready for the occasion. I think he’s got a super bright future. We’re playing a number of freshmen – (Riley) Battin, Timmy Allen I’m proud of those guys. We just at the end of the day you’ve got to have some of your players step up. We’ve got too many one-for-sevens and one-for-sixes and one-for-fours on the stat sheet. When you play a team of this level, anytime you play a top-20 team, players need to make plays and I thought we made good progress sharing the ball, but shooting air balls and different things with wide open drawn kick shots is not going to get you very far. I know we’ve got that concept of sharing it a little bit more, now we’ve got to get the reps and feel comfortable with knocking down some of those shots.”
On what caused turnovers tonight …
“It’s impossible to quantify those types of things. It was obviously something. The thing I know that we can control is our execution. We had a couple of end out of bounds plays. We had a couple of plays that have a finishing action to them that when we decide were just going make it up on our own you kind of deserve to turn it over, and that’s what happened. There were a few pick-sixes where you throw it to them and you can’t defend a dunk in transition. I don’t know if mindless is the right term. You’ve got to be disciplined to say, ‘Okay, we didn’t get that and how do we finish the play?’ It’s the play after the play. We didn’t want to turn the ball over. We did and I think certainly our offense has a long way to go. We got in late to the shot clock far too many times. I had said it to our team I was hoping they wouldn’t take me literally is, a lot of times a defense will break down if you make them guard for 28 seconds and you can still get a really good shot with two seconds to go. I said early in the week I’m okay with a shot clock violation because at least they have to take it out of bounds and I think our guys actually took that as coaching and we decided to do it about five or six times. At least they are coachable.”
On id there any differences between Reid Travis last year and this year …
“No. I believe he’s the same player as far as I can tell. In the games that we watched, scouting report, physical presence. He’s a load. The new environment, playing with maybe a handful of freshmen having some leadership, some of those things I think are super valuable. He’s been the same player that I can remember. We kind of knew that if he gets the ball in the post its gonna get near the rim pretty quick. I thought we did a decent job with our traps. He’s certainly helpful.”