Jan. 25, 2013
Kentucky returns to the friendly confines of Rupp Arena following two-consecutive games on the road. UK has been paced by freshman forward Nerlens Noel who is averaging 11.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and six blocks per game in five Southeastern Conference outings. Noel is just seven blocks shy of moving into second-place on UK's single-season blocks charts. He currently has 76 swats through 18 games.
|Kentucky vs. LSU
Sat., Jan. 26 - 4:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | LSU
|Gameday Live: Online video, audio, blog and stats
TV: SEC Network
Radio: UK IMG
Sophomore Kyle Wiltjer has found a nice rhythm to his offensive game scoring in double-figures in threestraight games. In that span he has knocked down six 3-pointers and shot over .600 twice. Senior Julius Mays is also beginning to heat up from long range and has connected on 10 3-pointers over the last four games.
LSU enters the matchup with the Wildcats owning a 10-6 mark overall and a 1-4 clip in SEC play.
The Tigers under first-year head coach Johnny Jones have rung up a 10-6 overall record and a 1-4 start to the Southeastern Conference slate. LSU is paced in scoring by Shavon Coleman who is averaging 12.4 points per game. Sophomore guard Anthony Hickey posts 11.7 points per game and leads the SEC with 54 steals on the season.
Media Opportunity - Jan. 25, 2013
Head Coach John Calipari
On the players' will to win …
"The ability to go in a game and have a competitive spirit and battle, that's what this will all come back to. Do you want it worse than the other guy? Do you want the ball worse than he does? Do you want to stop him from scoring worse than he wants to score on you? And that's been lost in all this and that's what I'm trying to get through to these guys, bottom line. It's not a scheme or, 'their press would hurt you.' The press helped us. The press didn't hurt us, the press helped us. At the end of the day, can you make a tough layup that they're making and-ones? Or do you miss them all? Are you going to come up with balls and that's, we practiced and went a little rougher and are scrimmaging a little bit more. Normally at this time in the season I won't do that but this team needs some different things."
On the guys having to get sick of losing …
"Just get sick of where you are as a player. We'll see. I said one of the best things for all of us is when you realize that you can change your attitude and you can change your habits. Now you may not choose to because it's hard and it's uncomfortable. It maybe embarrasses you that what you were doing was wrong so you have to change, but when you do change your habits and you do change your attitude, your life changes. Ask Josh Harrellson. Ask DeAndre Liggins. Your life changes. If you choose not to change and then you're looking for either self-pity or blame. I keep telling them, you know why nobody cares about your problems? Because they have their own problems. They don't care about your problems. Do you understand no one feels bad for you? They may, 'yeah, have a good day.' They've got their own stuff going on so I'm just trying, this is more than basketball, we're teaching life skills and I told them, not everything is going to be rosy. We went through this a couple years ago but that team changed, that team changed."
On Kyle Wiltjer being an example of changing …
"I asked Kyle, 'What happened?' In front of his teammates, 'why did you change?' He said, 'because I was mad at how I was playing, I was embarrassed.' I publicly talked about him after the Vanderbilt game. Why did I do it? Because I wasn't getting any change just talking to him and the team. I've done that with a couple other guys. 'But you shouldn't say things publicly about guys.' I'm not deriding them, I'm just making it factual that if you look this is what they're doing and we need that to change. He changed. I asked the guys, 'what changed for him.' He's like an animal in practice, just an animal."
On Willie Cauley-Stein …
"I didn't see Willie today, I saw him at breakfast and he's walking well and all that stuff. He did not practice yesterday."
On being a spokesman for the Coaches vs. Cancer …
"Here's what I would say to you: one, you're put in a position when you're the coach at Kentucky, that you can move people for good or you can stay in your office, I've said it many times. They asked me to do this and I've got a lot on my plate, we've done a lot of stuff for a lot of different things but my mother died of cancer, both of my grandmothers had a form of blood cancer and both passed away from cancer. It's something that I look at and I just say, if we can help here at the University of Kentucky, if that makes a difference in that cause, you can text 'Coach', to 20222 and it's five dollars to (American Cancer Society) and again, the Big Blue Nation is charitable, compassionate, spiritual, so many good things and I think that's why they've asked me to do it, is to engage the Big Blue Nation and I think it's something that is good."
On whether he wants his players thinking about the NCAA Tournament …
"All we have to worry about is getting better. If we don't change, we don't have to worry about all that. If we change, we don't have to worry about all that."
On how Kyle Wiltjer has transformed into an "animal"…
"Dunking every ball. Screaming on dunks. Sprinting down the floor. Blocking out. Going and grabbing rebounds in traffic. He's an animal right now. Screaming on dunks. Trying to get Alex [Poythress] to scream on dunks. Screaming for Alex when Alex dunks."
On whether Wiltjer's change gives him hope for more players' change …
"If you're delusional, you're not going to change. Delusional guys don't change. They just think that, 'I'm good. My stuff is right. It's somebody else.' If you're delusional, you don't change. We just have to have guys go out and accept where they are right now; where we are as a team; where they are as an individual player; what the team needs from them. I told them yesterday, 'Wins and losses will come and go. You're defined by your effort,' and all of those things, 'The success you have is peace of mind, the John Wooden-ism, knowing in your heart of hearts that you've done everything you could, you've worked as hard as you could for yourself and your team. You have peace of mind. You don't have to worry about it. But, if you're the last one in that gym, if you know you're not giving everything, you're never going to have peace of mind, even if we win.' The whole point of what we try to do as coaches is to get guys to understand, 'What we teach you transfers to anything you do in life.' Just like in life, in basketball, you get what you deserve. You get what you deserve. I'm just slowly but surely trying to get through and get guys to accept and surrender to each other and all of those things. We still don't trust each other. Late in the game when it gets hairy, you don't trust that the other guy is near you or that he's not doing what he's doing because we're not talking enough or a guy is not hustling or a guy got beat to a ball or we'll leave our feet or we'll foul. We just don't trust each other. Again, we're still into our own selves and that's what we're working on. You've got to get out of your own self's way. It is so much easier, in basketball and in life, when you play for everyone else instead of playing for yourself. If you're working for everyone else and don't worry about yourself, life becomes easy. For these guys, it's a really hard game. The game is really hard because they're all trying to play for themselves and, 'How do I look? If I miss a shot, I may give up three goals and a rebound, but that's just where I am right now,' and that's what we're trying to slowly change. And, we thought, 'Auburn, okay we've got it. We've figured it out,' but, it's going to be a process. I think we've got great kids who want to do well. There's nobody to mimic. We need some guys to sit right now. There are some guys who should not be playing but about four, five minutes that are playing 30. They really don't deserve to be on the court but, where we are right now, they've got to be out there. Or, we've got to sit them and take the consequences, which is the next step."
On how important putting Wiltjer at the elbow has been against a zone defense …
"Well, that's usually the area that if you can get it there versus zone to a guy that can play, a lot of times we'll put a guy in there that's not a play maker, not a scorer, then they don't have to play him but, if they've got to play that guy, it makes everybody else's job a lot easier. And, he's comfortable in there. He wants the ball in there."
#34, Julius Mays, G, GS
On the state of this Kentucky team …
"Not how we want it. We took a step forward in the Auburn game, then two steps back in the Alabama game. All we can do is learn from it. We can't hang our heads. We still have a lot of conference games to go and to look forward to."
On the growing sense of urgency for this team …
"I think in yesterday's practice there was a lot of urgency shown. It was the hardest practice we've had since I've been here, or the most intense practice. We all went very hard and showed a lot of enthusiasm so that is a good sign. I hope that guys realize that it has to be turned around. We don't have much time left to keep saying the same things."
On the intensity of that practice …
"It was the most talk I've heard in practice since I've been here. Guys were just getting after each other. I do think everyone is tired of the same thing. We are tired of coach (John Calipari) taking the blame when it's really not his fault."
#33, Kyle Wiltjer, F, Soph.
On playing in the low post …
"I have always felt more comfortable playing in the low post. The more I do it, the more comfortable that I feel."
On what has changed in the past couple of weeks for his game …
"I think I have been more vocal in practice. I have been pushing myself harder than I have ever thought I could push myself. I am trying to lead the guys through practice. I am almost practicing harder than I would play in a game just to make the games easier. "
On Coach Calipari saying that this team needs to "get sick of losing"…
"Yeah, definitely, I hate losing. I hope everyone has the same passion to win. Yesterday's practice we just came out and made sure we were on each other to be loud and vocal. We need to embrace this and have fun, and that is what I have been doing the past couple days is practicing hard and trying to have a good time with it."