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November 8, 2013

John Calipari

Kentucy – 89
UNC Asheville – 57

Q.  I think Alex had one double‑double his entire freshman year and had one tonight.  How did you think he played?
COACH CALIPARI:  I thought he was terrific.  I thought he got tired.  He's way better than he was, and the biggest number on there was the zero he had for turnovers.  Think about that.  So now he's defining his game a little bit better, one‑dribble pull‑ups if I have open shots, fine.  I'm not a playmaker, that's not how I'm going to play, and I'm going to go after every ball and dunk every ball, and he's playing to his strengths, trying to be the best version of him, and I thought he was terrific today.
I got on Julius, he had 15 rebounds but he could have had 20, 21, 22 rebounds, so why not do that.  Why not open up with a 20‑20, because when the shot went up he stopped playing.  He stopped.  How about the back doors?  Throw to the elbow, the guy on the wing, stopped playing.  How about three seconds on the clock, they take it out, throw it to the post, the guy spins and throws it to his man and he fouls.  That was Julius.
I mean, we just stopped over and over.  We didn't play one possession defensively.  We played a couple.  We had a couple shot clocks.  But it's what we have to do.
And the other thing we didn't do is we didn't pass the ball.  I don't mind you trying to make a play, but when their defense is down there, don't try to make a play now.  Pass the ball.  But it's all things that we've got to learn.  Didn't make free throws.  We were awful at the first half.  I mean, couldn't make a‑‑ probably missed five one‑footers and every free throw.
Now, let me say this:  Their first college game.  Their first college game.  I thought Marcus Lee was good, though.

Q.  Willie again obviously was on the bench a lot there with some foul trouble but really affected the game, and there was one stretch I think he led to five straight baskets.
COACH CALIPARI:  Now he's got to be able to sustain it more.  But that spurt is who he is.  Now, maybe at this point he can only go 20 minutes.  That's fine, just give us 20 minutes of those minutes because then he started getting beat on the dribble and saying, I'm not tired.  Well, you blocked all those earlier, why do you think you're not tired.  Something is wrong.  You went from blocking them to giving them lay‑ups.  So again, we've got guys, the intensity and the fight that they've got to play with, we're just not where we need to be right now.

Q.  You spent a lot of time in the preseason talking about the new rules and the new points of emphasis.  Is this what you expected from a foul standpoint?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, we do drive the ball, but they sagged in.  They did what every team is going to do, 90 percent of the teams.  They're going to work the clock, work the clock, and expect one of these freshmen to stop playing, and if they don't stop playing, they'll shoot it and expect one of them to stop playing so they can rebound it.  That's what they're going to do.
If hands are down they're going to try to beat us shooting threes.  Northern Kentucky made 13 threes tonight, almost beat Purdue on the road.  I mean, if we play like we did tonight against them, we lose.  I don't care what you're ranked.  I really don't care this guy can play, that guy can play; that's okay, and then you lose.
We've got to, again, play through full possessions, the whole possession play.  If they make a tough shot, fine.  Don't stop, not one guy.  We're not near that yet.
Second thing is if you rush it up and it's not there, don't throw a lob pass into five guys.  Swing the ball and let us all play.  If you don't have a play, don't take two more bounces and throw a slow bouncer out like the play is over.  Swing it, swing it, drive.  Again, we didn't‑‑ I'll tell you what, I thought when I put Jon Hood and those guys in you saw the ball move.  You saw Jon Hood get a wide‑open shot on the third drive.  I don't think we got to the third drive one time with that other unit.  We've got work to do.

Q.  Only seven turnovers.  Is that encouraging?
COACH CALIPARI:  And they were like‑‑ four of them were lob passes.  But again, if you're never throwing the ball and you're just taking it and shooting it, it's hard to turn it over unless you're running somebody over.  I just need them to‑‑ I want them to make plays.  This is hard playing the way we do.  Attack.  It's not there, move the ball.  Attack, go.  If you have a play, make it.  If the elbows are guarded, you don't have a play.  Pass it and cut so your teammate can drive, and we're just not there yet.

Q.  Could you talk a little bit about the way you thought Andrew played and also what you saw from Marcus?  Is that what you want from him?
COACH CALIPARI:  Yeah, he's an energy guy.  I mean, he did good.  We missed‑‑ well, Andrew was five assists, one turnover, and the only thing, again, there were plays where the ball movement will start with him, so he's got to attack and then he didn't have to make a scoring pass, just get us started.  You know what I'm saying?  This isn't the showcase game.  This is a basketball game.  Try to make a play.  You can't make it, then move that ball, and it starts with him and Aaron and James, and I grabbed all three of them after the game and told them.
James made one play where he swung it, it swung, they drove and he got the shot on the weak side.  That's how it is.  You came up, you didn't have it, you swung the ball, it went to the other side, they drove middle, you end up getting the shot.  But you've got to trust that you're going to get it back, and right now we're still learning.
Again, I'll say this:  I don't think they're selfish in any way.  I just think they've always played this way.  If I get it, I try to take my man.  If I've got to go three bounces, I'm going to try to do that.  That's done.  You can't play that way in a good college game.

Q.  We've seen a couple times this year where you guys have had numbers in transition and you've seen lobs go over a seven‑footer's head.  Are you too anxious right now, or what's going on in transition?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, they were anxious today.  First college game.  But I'm glad they tried to throw it.  The problem is if they're three guys, it's a scrum, you probably shouldn't throw it.  The decision to throw it was wrong, but again, I'm not‑‑ like I was on them pretty hard.  I said, I'm not feeling sorry for anybody in here, and I'm not backing up.  We've got to get better, and we've got to accept what we have to do to get better.  That's the first step of this.
How about us leaving our feet and then fouling?  What are you doing?  Well, the reason you left your feet is you stopped playing, then you tried to recover to your man and you didn't want him to score so you leave your feet.  Or how about I grab the guy down low as he drives by me and give him two free throws?  That's all stuff because they're stopping.
We now have a day, a game, a day, a game, so how you're going to rework that now, other than tell them, we are who we are right now, and that's why I keep saying I'm not going to add a whole lot of stuff.  You saw how sloppy we looked.  That's who we are right now.

Q.  I know you said you thought Julius should have more rebounds tonight, but that's three straight double‑doubles for him.  What's he doing right?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, when he's going after it and he's getting the ball by people and getting that third and fourth play around the goal, there's no one better.  He can also score, and how is he shooting free throws?  So what do you think you'll tell him?  Get fouled.  Wow, you guys are basketball bennies.  (Laughter.)
So you get fouled.  So go to the basket and ball fake and get fouled.  Don't avoid and miss a one‑footer.  Get fouled.  Get to the line.  We've told them if you don't have a clear path, come to a one‑two stop and get the ball to the basket.  Get fouled.
But again, he stopped a bunch today, and you may say, here's a guy that had 21 and 15, and you're like, he didn't do enough.  No, for us to be what we're trying to be, we've got to be a bunch of guys out there that are playing the entire time they're on the court, and if they can't go, they sub themselves and we go with someone else, and that's why I said, I thought Alex and Marcus gave us great minutes.  Both of them did.  And that's what you need off our bench.

Q.  Considering the emphasis on fouls, how concerning is the free throw shooting?  You mentioned that, too.
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, if we play the way we did, we want to get fouled, playing through bumps, and again, you understand my three guards went 12 for 21.  So like I said, how do I get you the ball late in the game?  What, so you'll get fouled and miss?  Then I said, is there anybody in the Craft tonight?  Go over and shoot free throws.  Walk 12 steps across the street and go shoot free throws.
I mean, this is‑‑ we've got a group here, everything that happens is new to them, and I've got to have‑‑ there's a gentle balance between patience, and what I said after the game, I shouldn't expect or shouldn't accept you not playing on a full possession, or should I?  I said, no.  And I should look at you guys and say, pass the ball to each other, pass it quickly, give it up early.  You can do those things.  You're going to miss shots, you'll turn it over some, you'll get beat to some balls, but the scrambling, the fight isn't there right now.  It's almost like we're okay, we can come back and just win it anyway.  We've got a ways to go.

Q.  Again on the emphasis, how much more important and critical is a team's bench this year compared to previous years?
COACH CALIPARI:  Well, I'm happy that we're deep because it is going to play a part, no question about it.  So I think we've got enough guys, and you think about the experience of Jon Hood and Jarrod, what they went through last year; how about Dominique, his toughness.  You need to go for a guard, you can put him in and let him guard somebody.
Derek is thinking a little bit too much.  Had that shot in the corner.  Don't think, just play, react, be instinctive.  And what he does is it slows his game down and he's not nearly what he is.  I think we can go to him, and obviously Marcus.  We're fine, but again, I don't want our guys fouling where a guy drives and you try to steal a ball.  Think of our fouls.  How many of them were like grabbing a guy's arm?  What?  How many of them were leaving our feet and fouling a shooter?
I mean, we had a bunch of those, and that means you stopped playing by the time you went to guard him, you know you gave him a shot so you left your feet.  Again, I'll watch the tape, and for our guys, like I said, we've got some stuff we've got to get done.

Q.  Does Willie think of himself differently now?  Does he think of himself as a shot blocker?  You talked about leaving your feet.  It seems like he's got that mentality that even a Nerlens had early last year, trying to go get everything.
COACH CALIPARI:  He is.  He's way better than he was.  He had four assists and four blocks and three steals.  You know, he probably could have scored a few more baskets just forcing himself to go get the ball, but you know, again, in 18 minutes that's pretty good.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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