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November 27, 2013

John Calipari

Kentucky – 81
Eastern Michigan – 63

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Talk about what Willie gave you in the second half energy‑wise.
COACH CALIPARI:  Willie is playing well.  He still faded away on a couple shots that he didn't need to.  The good news is he's really confident in himself shooting free throws now.  That makes a big difference in how you play 'cause now you'll be aggressive and try and score because you're not afraid to get fouled.
All in all, to play a team, they were holding people to 33% from the floor.  They were first in blocked shots in the country.  They were shooting almost 50% from the floor.  We hold them to 36 and can't make a jumper ‑ James Young ‑ and still played okay.
I thought, again, we got better.  We got better because the twins played harder, longer.  They're still a ways away.  Let me tell you, they're a ways away.
I thought Julius in the second half ran the floor and did what he had to.  I'm going to tell you, we're going back to old school.  Any of you ever played basketball or do you just write?  If you ever played, did you ever see when they used to tell you to put your hands behind your back and defend that way?  That's how we were all taught.  They made you put your hands behind your back, both hands, defend the guy if he's trying to go around you.  The only thing you could do is move your feet.
Guess what we're going to do?  We're going back to that.  You may say, That's seventh grade.  I don't really care.  What we did prior to, legwork.  Do you know what wall sits are?  Do you know?  So when you went away to camp, they made you sit against a wall because you were a bad kid or whatever.
My talk to the team before practice five, six minutes, they're wall sitting and they're carrying a 50‑pound sack that they've got to pass to each other for like six minutes.  Why?  Because I can't get to get them into a defensive stance.  At least seven minutes, they're going to be down.
Then we did legwork.  Remember when you're competing against the guy, slide, slide, slide.  We did that.  Now we're going to put lines on the court and you got to keep the guy in front of you and not let him around you with your hands behind your back.  It's what we got to do.
I mean, again, we're getting better.  We're showing signs.  Coach Hall made me feel really good yesterday.  Said, Would you stop.  You have the youngest team in the country.  Not always going to come on your terms.  It will hit them at some point and you'll say, Wow, they're finally figuring it out.
We're not there yet.

Q.  Based on what you just said, are their fundamentals just that bad?
COACH CALIPARI:  No, it's not fundamentals.  They're good basketball players.  They got good hands, they can catch, they can pass, they can shoot, they can dribble.  Nothing to do with that.  They have always played comfortably.
We're doing legwork.  The one kid says, My legs are burning.  Well, that's what it's supposed to feel like.  Have you never felt that before?
So we're doing stuff.  Because I can't get them by doing things five‑on‑five, to push through that comfort level, so I'm just doing stuff.
Do you know 17 cross‑court in a minute, which is like ridiculous?  We were doing 17 cross‑court, right to a defensive drill that you have to do for 30 seconds.  Now I'm asking you to go a minute and a half.  You cannot go a minute and a half.  It's really hard what I'm asking them to do.  But that's the kind of stuff I'm doing right now.
I trust their basketball.  We made free throws, but we didn't shoot it particularly well today.  We had open shots.  But it's not basketball with these guys.  It's:  Will they compete?  Will they look they other guy and say, I'm competing with this guy?
I thought Alex was good.  I thought he had more points.  I thought Alex was better today.
See, here's the thing that happened.  Last game Alex shot an air ball.  He was done for eight minutes.  Done.  He was so embarrassed he couldn't think, couldn't play.
Dominique shot an air ball.  I went to Dominique and I said, You shot an air ball.
He said, No, I didn't.
You shot an air ball.
No, I didn't.
We're going to go watch the tape.
He said, I'll watch the tape.
He watched it, he shot an air ball.  He goes, Man, I shot an air ball.  He had already forgotten.
You got to play that way.  You have to have amnesia.  Can't worry about a missed shot, a breakdown.
It's where we're trying to go, what we're trying to do with this team.
Again, too many turnovers.  James and Julius had 10 turnovers between them.  C'mon, you're too good of basketball players.
But that zone...  I'm telling you, I'm happy we won the game.  I'm happy they played the way they played.  That's a good basketball team.

Q.  Are you at the point you're concerned about three‑point shooting or not?
COACH CALIPARI:  No.  You know we don't rely on three.  I never coached that way.  If we make 'em, we beat you by 30.  If we don't, we're just trying to win the game.
You know what I'm saying.  The three, I don't play it that way.  I think part of the reason my guys go to the next level and play well, we're teaching them how to play basketball, not a shooting contest.  We're teaching you how to play.
If we make threes, great.  If we don't make threes, we're still able to win the game because I'm teaching you how to drive the ball, play off of one another, play when you're not making shots.
I asked James today, It was your C game, but you still did enough to help us win.  You rebounded the balls, you came up with some balls, you defended better, so...

Q.  Another slow start tonight.  Have you had teams in the past, just the personality is they start slow and there's not a lot you can do about it?
COACH CALIPARI:  Part of it is the other teams we play here.  This is like a big thing.  They walk into that arena, 25,000 people.  I think it's 24, 25 thousand people.  More?  Today we had 26,000 in there (laughter).
But they walk in and they see a packed arena.  How many times have they had that opportunity?  Then to beat Kentucky.  I remember Mark Gottfried told me, You have no idea, Cal.  If we beat Kentucky in Lexington, when he was at Alabama, he said, I didn't sleep for a week.  You don't understand.  Everybody that plays you, that's how it is.
So they're going to come out of the gate.  And we don't understand that yet.  I got too many young guys.  They just think they're playing, it's a nice game.  Why you going nuts?
They're fighting.  We have to figure it out.  We're going forward.  The teams that we're playing from Providence, Baylor, Boise, Belmont, Carolina, Louisville, these next games, we could lose every one of them.  Every one of those guys are going to come out of the gate playing.  You get down 15‑0 to one of these guys, you don't come back.  They're too good of teams.
We got to get guys understanding.  I think they will.

Q.  Julius seems to have trouble handling the ball, out of control.  Is that part of his game he hasn't developed yet?  Are you concerned?
COACH CALIPARI:  I'm not concerned because they're sending like 19 guys at him.  They're saying, Do whatever you have to do to stop him, body him, grab him, foul him, do whatever.
I remember John Wall coming in saying, I'm not having fun.  No kidding.  Everybody is doing whatever they can do to stop you.  Now the game has become harder.  You have to run harder, be sharper.
For Julius, he must sprint the floor so he can get an easy basket or two.  Every other time you catch it you're going to have five guys around you.
You also got to offensive rebound like crazy because you're going to get a free basket there.  Then when we do throw it to you, you better catch it tight and move quickly, would you say?  Because if you hold the ball, square up, Watch this.
They brought five guys, so your only choice now, I knew you wouldn't know, is to pass it and dribble.  You were wrong.  You can only pass it.
My thing to him is a pass can be an assist or if the guy misses it go rebound it, get a rebound and a basket.  But a turnover gets us nothing.  Don't turn it over.  If they come at you, you can't get it, pass it.
He's still learning.

Q.  Talk about the energy that Willie gives you in there.  Can he be taught to win a jump ball so that he can start?
COACH CALIPARI:  He was going to start today.  John Robic screwed with that.  When I sat down, Marcus Lee was there, I said, What are you doing here?  Robic said, I put him in the lineup.  I said, You weren't at the shootaround today?  What were you thinking about?
Willie, he was going to start today.  He'll start from here.  Then the other two, whoever's playing well, will get the most minutes of those two.  Willie can play some four.  But, again, if a team plays zone, I probably could have gone to Derek today.  I had that plan.  I wanted to get Alex going, so I left Alex in there.
But, you know, Derek deserves time.  I'm trying to get these other guys playing.
Folks, have a great Thanksgiving.  I hope you have a chance to be with family and friends.  You have a great time.  Thanks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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