Feb. 15, 2013
Kentucky will travel to Tennessee on Saturday to complete its two-game road swing. The Wildcats dropped a 69-52 loss at No. 6/7 Florida on Tuesday to begin the week. The game with Tennessee will mark the second of two contests this season between the border-state rivals. UK claimed the first matchup by a 75-65 score in Lexington to run the winning streak for the Cats over the Vols to six.
|Kentucky at Tennessee
Sat., Feb. 16 - 1:00 p.m. ET
Game Notes: UK | UT
| TV: CBS Sports
Radio: UK IMG
Senior Julius Mays topped the double-figure scoring plateau for the fourth-consecutive game against the Gators, while freshman Willie Cauley-Stein also reached double-figure scoring in a career-long third-straight outing. UK lost freshman Nerlens Noel for the season to a torn ACL suffered in Tuesday's contest. The 6-10 forward was leading the nation in blocks per game, and led UK in rebounding and steals as well.
Tennessee owns a 13-10 overall record and a 5-6 mark in league play after winning at Vanderbilt on Wednesday. The Vols have three players averaging double-figures led by 13.7 per game from Jordan McRae. Sophomore Jarnell Stokes averages 12.6 points per game and a team-best 8.6 rebounds per game. Stokes is the SEC's reigning SEC Player of the Week. UK won the first meeting this season between the squads by a score of 75-65 in Lexington.
Media Opportunity - Feb. 15, 2013
Head Coach John Calipari
On how different they will play now …
"We had one practice so you can't be that much different but you know, we just want everybody to do a little bit more. Obviously we can make up rebounds and points; those blocked shots are what you're not going to make up so we'll see. This team has a clean slate, it's a blank canvas, it's whatever they want it to be. We just, all of us, any fan, just fight, compete and battle. If you don't, don't go in the game, just stay out. The tentativeness is just lack of competitiveness. It's hard to say when you're playing 31 minutes, 'well, he takes me out.' You're playing 31 minutes but you can't, you just have to go battle. We're playing a good team on the road, a team that plays well at home, that has won their last two games – I think they were both road games they won. They're going to be a confident team. They're a post-up team; they're going to go right at us in the post. They're a grind it, tough, physical defensive team and we'll see where we are at this point."
On Willie Cauley-Stein being ready to take on the increased work load …
"What we've said is, play five, six minutes, sub yourself. He's not the issue of subbing himself. I've got some other guys who will not sub themselves. Whether, you're out there and you're killing us, I want to be out here killing you. He will sub himself, if you watch him, when he's tired he'll come out. All I told him is, just be you. You know what you do well, be you, sub yourself, tell me when you're ready to go, you'll play every minute you can play, stay on the floor, you're not Nerlens but Nerlens is not you, there are things you do well that Nerlens didn't do well so you just be you, you don't have to be anything else."
On Jon Hood saying he told him it was his coming out party …
"Yeah, this also gives Jon Hood a chance. What we'll do is we'll watch the game if there is a non-competitive guy out there, he's coming out. Now you'll have, 'if I don't compete, he takes me out every time.' Just say it. It isn't about missed shots, it's not about turnovers, it's about competing. Jon Hood in practice yesterday, he's competing his butt off. I can see him going in and I said, it's not us believing in Jon, it's Jon believing in Jon. You have to go on that court; demonstrated performance is the only way to build self-esteem, self-confidence. It's not what I say; it's not what we're all saying to him in there, he's got to go in the game and do it."
On experimenting more with zone …
"Maybe, maybe, maybe. We're prepared for it, it's not why we did it this time but we're absolutely prepared to play it and play it for long stretches if we want to. Again, were the defensive numbers all based on Nerlens? We're going to find out because our defensive numbers weren't the issue. We were turning it over, no aggressive play. 'You make the play.' We just have to have guys out there balling and if we're going to make turnovers with aggressive guys, we're making them with unaggressive guys so you might as well have attacking guys out there trying and going at it. That doesn't mean we don't grind it out and play how we're playing but I just want to see guys that want to create contact, not run people over, we've got a couple guys' heads down but I'm saying, create, here you go, you've got a gap, the guy is coming, don't run and flip, create that contact. We're working on it. This is a great opportunity, one guy's misery is another guy's opportunity and that's for all these guys. They have their own picture they want to paint, let's paint it. You can look at this one of two ways, can we be better? Well, let's see, why not chase it? We've got seven games left."
On what the team is capable of now …
"I think we still can be good, we've got good players we've just got a couple that aren't competing at all and you're looking for excuses and they've got to just stop and go play."
On what he says to his guards after the Florida game …
"It wasn't very good. I thought Jarrod (Polson) battled, did some good things. I think Julius (Mays) is doing what he can; Julius is giving you everything he can. Like I said, we have some things to figure out and they do as a team. One of the things they did, I loved in the game, is they subbed a guy or two. They just came over to me, 'get him out, scared to death. Get him out.' And I took the guy out. I said you have to hold each other accountable. They're like, 'we want to be positive.' I said, good, now what if a guy is out there – well, hold him responsible. You guys tell me to take somebody out, he's out. It's never for missing shots or turnovers; it's not what they're talking about. You're not talking on defense, you're into your own thing and they just said, we can't win that way and they know that. It's funny, we win five of six, we do have an injury that can either bring you together or separate you but now we're on the cusp of, 'OK, let's see where we are, let's learn.' I'm not afraid of it, not where I've lost a player, but I've been here where you're up against it and you're not playing well, I've done this long enough. My thing and the whole vision is let's try and make this special and unique. Going into Florida and losing, everybody has this year. A couple of guys showed their colors and now maybe they have to take a step back. The reality of it is that we still have good players we are still in the same position. We don't talk enough; we don't play for the team enough. And what I mean by that is, if we make a mistake, if things don't go right, it's just a couple of guys, it's two, and when they hang their head, they have to come out. The minute you see it, get out. You are zapping us. They have to recognize it is very selfish, very selfish. See guys again think selfishness is I don't shoot every ball, I am not selfish. Yeah you are. You are not helping your teammates. You are not in a position to play two guys when you have a chance. You are not talking you are not switching when you have opportunities. Everything is about how you feel. That's selfish. We are just slowly trying to get that through. Now we can't afford that. I think they know that. And I think you will see guys subbed out by their teammates. Get them out. It's just, let's be an effort team. Let's be an energy team and if you can't play that way, then don't play."
On if Nerlens Noel has the NCAA insurance or private insurance …
"No, he had the career-ending insurance that he is allowed to have and you guys all read what I said. It is disappointing we don't take care of that so they can be fully insured. And then if the kids want to take out insurance for draft position, let them take a loan and do it. Well only rich kids can do that. Have we told the President this yet? I mean I just don't get some of the stuff and this is one of them. And I also think again that it proves the point of if a kid is ready to go, then let them go. Well if we want this for two years then let's do something to make that happen. Let's work with the (NBA) Player's Association. Let's get those guys in a room and figure out how we do it. I made the point; let's let them go out of high school. I just don't agree with that not because I am coaching at Kentucky. I have never agreed with that. The reason is you will have all of these kids thinking they will go directly into the league. Let's do it in football too then. Let's do it in both sports, basketball and football. Or what if a kid gets hurts as a sophomore or junior in high school let them come out of high school. Let's do what is right for the kids. Let's make sure we are putting education on the front burner here and understanding that in my case I don't like the one and done rule. I will deal with it and it's not what I like and I seem to be the only one speaking out about it. Unless you want to say I can't get those kids let them go directly, they are here so what do we do and how do we deal with it."
On how he is straight forward with recruits …
"That's how I recruit every kid. I don't want them coming here fooled because then you are dealing with stuff you don't need to deal with. When a guy is not doing what he supposed to or not playing to the level and they want you to keep it real unless you are keeping it real with them sometimes. But that is how we recruit. I am not here to BS anybody. If this is a great situation for you to prosper and reach your dreams then come. If it's not and if you want something different than this, then don't come here. I have told our team that the adversity that this team has gone through all year, in this environment, Kentucky's environment, which is a pro environment; there is no college team that has this pregame. They have one guy who maybe shows up and he is a beat writer who fishes with the coach. They don't have a guy whose whole challenge is to be the devil. I mean that's not what they have. So here's what I am saying to our guys, this adversity you are going through, you are up against it. It's all public, and dealing with that stuff is going to help you later in life. It's like Tayshaun (Prince) who wins a world championship and they say 'How are you going to deal with all of this stuff?' and he says, "What are you talking about? I went to Kentucky. Dealing with this is nothing.' So this is again a great lesson and I am anxious to see guys step up and play. I think that will happen."
#4, Jon Hood, G, Jr.
On his thoughts about getting more minutes of playing time now …
"I will be ready to play just like I have always have been. I will come in and do what I am supposed to do, whatever that may be; defense, rebound, shoot an open shot. Whatever it is."
On what he has told Nerlens (Noel) after his injury and if he has seen him yet …
"Well, he met with Derek Anderson the other day and DA knows about as much as I do, if not more, about coming back really quick. I haven't spoken to Nerlens. I have texted him saying I am thinking about you if you need anything, let me know. As far as going up to see him, I didn't want anybody to come see me, so I haven't gone and actually seen him yet. I saw him after the game."
On why he didn't want someone to come see him after his ACL injury …
"I don't know. I think it was you don't want that pity from somebody. The biggest thing is, yeah it happened, but now let's not remember it. Don't make me remember it again because it hurts. I saw the footage of him going down and my knee hurts."
On what the team is thinking about going forward with the rest of the season without Nerlens …
"We still believe that this team can do very special things. There is still a whole lot of talent on this team. We just need to come together. That is all."
#15, Willie Cauley-Stein, F, Fr.
On his importance as the only true big man left on the team …
"Everybody is equally important, especially now. Everybody has a little something else they have to pick up on. Our guards have to start getting one or two more rebounds between them. Me and Kyle (Wiltjer) and Alex (Poythress) are going to have to start getting more rebounds between us just to make up for how many rebounds Nerlens (Noel) was getting. Just everybody has to step up in our own different way."
On the defensive responsibility falling on him …
"None really falls on me; it falls on the whole team. We can't play the same defenses we were playing, we have to change the way we play defense because, knowing that we had a shot-blocker, a really good shot-blocker on our team, you can kind of gamble more but now we have to play more solid defense and not let guards drive on us."
On zone defense …
"The good thing is we had our zone in before he got hurt so we still have that zone to go back to."
On if his knee is ready to play 30-35 minutes a game …
"My knee is ready but personally, I don't think my conditioning is ready yet. It's just one of those things I'm just going to have to battle and be mentally strong."
On people writing the team off with Nerlens Noel out …
"You have to accept the challenge now. I like proving people wrong, and I hope our team feels the same way. We don't have a target on our back any more. Everywhere you go; the people are always on Nerlens. You go to Florida, people have posters of Nerlens, you go to Texas A&M – nobody has a target on their back anymore. People are already, like you said, writing us off and now it's one of those things where we can be the addresser coming into a game. People don't think we are going to win without him and we just have to step up as a team and really get together like coach is telling us to."
On the injury bringing the team together …
"It makes you have no choice but to come together. He was such a strong force on the team that, you know, his presence was, it was just an impact to everybody. Without it, more people have to step up and do their jobs and really start focusing on what the team needs them to do to win the next games that we need to win to make it to the tournament.