JOHN CALIPARI: We need to shoot more threes; do you still think so? Maybe we should shoot 30 and go 2 for 30. Here’s one thing I will tell you that — I’ve watched the tape of Ole Miss, and I’m telling you that the job — they have done what they did to us to every team. They had Auburn down 19, and Auburn did some stuff, made it close, and all of a sudden they missed a couple shots.
The last three games they won by an average of 20, and I told Kermit after the game, he was Coach of the Year last year in our league, he may be Coach of the Year again this year in our league. Look, to me, coaching is when things go wrong, how are you now. It’s easy when you’re winning games and you’ve got — but when stuff goes bad, well, how do you bring people together, and what he’s doing is amazing.
So we didn’t — I don’t want to take away from them. When you shoot 2 for 23 — at halftime, folks, we were 1 for 13, and from three feet we were 1 for 10. How are you in the game? Like I walked out and said, you know what, I’m happy we’re in the game, and then we have dumb fouls down the stretch and they make them, and we fight to win. Nick didn’t play particularly well, EJ didn’t play particularly well, Keion got bounced around until the last two rebounds, the biggest two rebounds of the game, and his two free throws ended the game.
I’ll give you another one that’s great for him — I told him, it doesn’t matter, you have to play to win. You cannot be into you. You’ve got to be about this team.
The other one was Tyrese, everybody talked — well, how did he shoot it today. Did you see the last wide-open three he had? He bank-missed it left. There was no one near him now. He — it went hard left. Two weeks ago he’d have had his head back and ran back. Two weeks later, playing to win, he runs down the ball and shoots the lay-up that may have won the game for us. Versus I can’t believe I did that, I’m embarrassed, high school. You don’t. And the same thing, you’re down six or seven — who cares? Just play.
Biggest thing I keep coming back to, these teams are trying to out-rough us, and we’ve just got to get lower and we’ve got to be prepared and just say we’re not going to accept that.
Q. Just talk about how good Quickley was down the stretch.
JOHN CALIPARI: Again, he missed every jump shot, too, now, and then he made his free throws, he came up with balls. Tyrese dove on the floor for a ball. Nick made free throws. How many of you were sitting there saying a seven-footer can’t make four in a row, and he makes four in a row, bam, bam, bam, bam. And that’s after they’re making every free throw, and we’re fouling people.
Like I said, this was like a rock fight. Ended up being a great win. You know, I — do you shoot 2 for 22? I can’t imagine how many one-footers we missed but a bunch and still win the game, I’m happy as heck. Move on, next game.
I’ll say it again, these kids are not computers and they’re not robots. This is not a fantasy league, this is not on a computer. This is real stuff. They don’t play great every night.
But you can play to win. You don’t have to play great every night, and you can get pushed around for three quarters of the game, but the last part of the game you play to win. What does this team need me to do?
Q. These last seven games Ashton is shooting about 35 percent. I think he’s had four or more turnovers in five of those seven games. Something is obviously off with him —
JOHN CALIPARI: He was better last game. He struggled a little bit this game. He got beat up a little bit, but he’s fine. He’s the least of our worries.
Ashton is my point guard, and I’m with him. The one thing I do know, he’ll fight to win a game. He wasn’t great at the end of this game. Very rarely does he make mistakes at the end. Usually he will come up with the ball to steal the rebound to win the game. He didn’t today. He and I talked in my office about it, like hey. A lot of it’s just a mentality that we — he wasn’t playing well, and when he fouled out, we won without him, basically, and we were down — he gave him that foul near half court, but like I said, he’s fine. I’ll say this about him: He’s not a robot, either. He’ll have bad games. I don’t know of anybody that every once in a while is not going to cop a bad game. It happens.
Q. At halftime did you have to remind them again about Nick and getting him more involved?
JOHN CALIPARI: No, what I said is you’re 1 for 13 from the three and not one of them contested. You’ve missed nine one-foot shots. You’re 1 for 10 from three feet, and you’re in the game. You’re down two. So let’s go. I mean, basically what I said.
And then we didn’t want to throw Nick the ball because he couldn’t catch the ball. The guy muscled him. Couldn’t get him, couldn’t make it. If they blew on him he was throwing his head around, and I said no, we were going to go back to our guards. It’s not your day, Nick. Let’s go to the guards.
Basically said exactly opposite of what you would have suggested, Jerry. (Laughter.)
Q. You talked about Immanuel wasn’t making shots, yet the last 11 minutes he scores 13 points for you and when he had to make shots he did.
JOHN CALIPARI: We had two breakdowns that he and Tyrese made shots versus the zone, and we just — we broke down, we didn’t screen. We end up having to just throw something at the rim, and they both went in. Again, a will to win. Like a will to win.
EJ on Tyrese’s missed bank wide-open three, fought for the ball, got on his back, and he threw it — that’s a will to win. He threw it to Tyrese, who makes the lay-up.
As you go through seasons, all you want to see your team do is fight. They’re not going to be perfect. They’re not making every shot. They’re going to have bad shooting nights. You just want to see them fight, and I would guess our fans — just fight. Don’t get pushed around, just fight. And we’ve had teams come in here and make every shot, and okay, you lost. You know, it’s — crowd was great today.
I didn’t want to go out to the radio, because I imagine there’s a hundred balls I would have to sign, but this has been — like this was one of our great crowds of the season. So I am exhausted. Going to walk out there and sign all those balls that I — because I just think I kind of owe it to the fans who showed up for this one.
Now we’ve got the rest of the road for us. Whoo. Whoo. Ellen says that. That’s Ellen’s word. Whoo.
Q. This thing you do every year with the young guys, how hard is it to push them past thinking my identity is tied to points per game? How hard is that journey?
JOHN CALIPARI: It’s ridiculous, and it doesn’t stop, because what do you think they’re hearing when they get on the phone? What do you think Brad is hearing? Why didn’t you shoot more? From me. He’s my son. Why didn’t that guy pass it and this and — and if they take Brad out of the game, I go grab something to eat. I’m not watching that game. I could care less.
I’m a father, too. I know what they’re hearing. To be man enough to understand and to not be delusional, know where I’ve got to go with it, it’s hard. But the guys here, the one thing they learn at Kentucky is to fight because everybody is playing us like that team played us.
If you don’t learn to fight, you’ve got to go somewhere — it ain’t working. And the guys that learn to fight, they go from here, and all of a sudden everybody is talking about it.
Q. How good is Breein Tyree, and did your players play the defense you wanted to against him?
JOHN CALIPARI: We did, but he’s playing so well right now. He was scoring 30 a game for three games, and it may have been more than that. It may have been 37. But they were not just threes. He got them from twos, pull-ups, he got them from lay-ups, he got them from free throws, and he got them from threes. Like I watched tape, and I was like — how many did he end up with? 19? I’m so happy he scored 19. All we were trying to do was make it hard. Make it hard for him because he’s going to get points because he’s that good a player. He has really improved. Consistent, defending better. He’s really gotten better.
Q. Against the zone do you feel like you settle too often for threes?
JOHN CALIPARI: Probably, but Nick was so — Nick wasn’t really good in the post, and we did some stuff to go to him, but we did settle for threes. And if you know, I’d rather — this team I’d probably tell you let’s shoot 15 or 16. Let’s not get the 22. If we got to 30 we’d have lost this game. We almost lost it shooting 22.
Posted by Go Big Blue Country on Saturday, February 15, 2020