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Everything John Calipari and Terrence Clarke said today

John Calipari and Terrence Clarke met with the media on Zoom this morning to break down Kentucky’s loss to Richmond and look ahead to tomorrow night’s game vs. Kansas. You can read a summary of their remarks in the links below, watch the replays, or just scroll down to read the transcripts.

 

HEAD COACH JOHN CALIPARI

On the atmosphere affecting his team at Rupp and playing a game Tuesday with no fans …

“Well, it affects the game here. Come on now, 24,000 in this building, and when we needed to make a stop or two or get a basket, our fans would have been going crazy. And maybe we come up with an extra rebound or dunk a ball or something good happens. The fans here are a big reason that we have the kind of run at home that we’ve had. Without them it’s going to hurt. But guess what? Everybody has the same issues. The only difference is Rupp Arena is Rupp Arena, and it’s one of those things. I said this a week and a half ago, two weeks ago: It would affect us more than any other team.”

On how challenging it is for a young team against a veteran point guard who can create challenges defensively, specifically for freshman Devin Askew …
“I’ll be honest with you. The issue wasn’t what he did defensively. He did a pretty good job. He had one that he had pushed up late in the game and the kid went and shot a floater and they were up 10. But short of that he did a pretty good job. The issue we had was – and we showed them the tape – we had 21 turnovers and that led to 20 points, and some of them run-throughs. And then the second thing we had an issue with was, we went from a very unselfish basketball team—I’ve never coached a team that had no assists in the second half. Now you could say we missed shots, but we went on the tape and showed them all the extra passes they could have made to get other guys open for shots or 3s. If there is someone in front of you that is not your man, that means someone is open. You go and there is someone in front of you and he’s not your man, you’re passing. So, we’ll work on it today, and hopefully that’s the dregs of, ‘All right, now it’s my time do my thing.’ When you’ve got one or two guys doing it, it leads to four or five or six guys doing it. Spacing was bad. Not their fault. My fault. We’ve got to work on that a little bit. And then there were some other things that I’m going to move around offensively and do some different things. We didn’t screen. We didn’t run the guy into the screen. We didn’t—a lot of little things that cost you a game. But, that game from 18:20 to 16:20 (in the second half) is where they won it. We were up six and we were ready to go up eight and all of a sudden you turn around in two minutes and you’re down three and should have been down six. They missed a wide-open 3. And so, the lesson to them is, that’s why you gotta play. You gotta know how to stop the bleeding. I’ve gotta teach them how to play winning basketball. We’ve got good players, but they’re not ready to play winning basketball the way they’re playing right now.”

On the challenges Kansas presents and in particular when they play four or five guards …
“Yeah, they play five guards and they play their point guard as a five man. They put him inside. I mean, it’s amazing stuff. I will say this: They’ve got some vets. They’ve got some tough (players). Their post player is physically tough and will fight. They’re downhill runners. They’ve got good 3-point shooters. Guys that are supposed to shoot 3s shoot 3s. And they’re in there knowing, I’m searching out 3s. We’re still learning that. I’m still trying to get them to understand that we don’t need everybody to do everything. You do these three or four things, let him do these three or four. We’re still trying to figure it out. The stuff I watched, I think they’re playing well. Two good teams, and Gonzaga may be the best team (in the country), and that was a touch-and-go game. They got down but they would come right back. They’re not afraid. They’re a veteran (team). They’ll fight. It’s going to be a hard game for us. We know it. Just like the Richmond game was a hard game. No fans. We are leaving today because of this weather. I got spooked when you wake up and there is a foot snow on the ground. I’m like, we better get up there or we may be getting up there an hour before the game, so we are leaving today.”

On the way his guys rebounded the basketball vs. Richmond …

“Well, there was a positive with how we defended. I mean, that’s a hard team to guard with a bunch of young guys. And I told them, ‘If you defend like that and you outrebound a team by 20, I’ve really never heard of a team losing that game.’ But I said, ‘If you get five assists and 21 turnovers and you don’t create a good 3 for us – and the ones we created we missed – well, that’s when you lose the game.’ I never thought our issue would be offensively, but when I think back, just about every year I’ve done this it’s been the same. Like, we still haven’t figured out how exactly we’re going to play. We’ve got good 3-point shooters. We’re not going to rely on it. We’re not going to take 40. But I told the staff, we need to take 17 to 22 3s. And again, the guys that can shoot it, let it go. We can do some stuff with even Cam (Fletcher). Cam had three opportunities for 3s and we didn’t throw him the ball. We charged one time. We tried to do a step-through one time. We threw it to the wrong guy one time. It was almost like we tried to make everything hard. ‘I’ve gotta make a play here.’ So, we’ve got some work to do offensively. We did some good stuff but not enough. The ball wasn’t (moving). Like I said, didn’t create enough shots for a teammate. The assists, I’ve never seen a team with five assists, no assists in the second half. So, we’ve gotta work on it. We’ve gotta talk about it. We pointed it out today and now we’ve gotta do what we can to get ready with a quick turn and get on a plane and get to Indianapolis.”

On De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo getting max extensions and if anyone on this team has the potential to be a max-contract player at the next level …
“I would say this – and all these people on this call (know) – when you watched Bam the first week of the season, did you think he would be a super-max player in the NBA, leaving after a year? Or even if you watched De’Aaron Fox the first week of the season. They would probably say no. They would probably tell you, ‘No, he’ll be back.’ The same, whether we say Jamal (Murray), who got a super max. All these kids, it takes time. This is different. I’ve got 10 new guys. No returners. Now, I’ve started five freshmen before. I think it was in 2014. But that team took us until March. Woo-hoo, it was March before we clicked in. We gotta get Keion (Brooks Jr.) back here. Let’s hope in the next two or three weeks he’s back and then we can figure out what we do from there.”

On how he thought Olivier Sarr played against Richmond …
“Better. There were some stuff in the second half, shots that I thought he could make. Missed a couple of free throws. But what he gave us against a really good big guy that he got in foul trouble – he went right at him – showed me, OK, we know where we are there. We know what we got. Now, Kansas will play it a little different. They’ll dig like crazy. They’ll trap. There may be kickouts for 3s. They work on closing that way. But it showed us we can throw him the ball, and when we did, something good was happening. Our spacing wasn’t great, and that’s not on these kids. That’s on me. I’ve gotta do a better job of really saying, ‘This is where you have to go.’ ”

On if the guys, who can run and get up and down the court, are fully aware the quickness and savviness that other teams play with at this level in terms of being able to protect the basketball …

“Well, obviously not, but this was a first time. These kids, most of them hadn’t played in a college game. The first one was Morehead (State) where they weren’t sure so they passed to each other. Then they became sure and they’re like, ‘I’m going to do this. I can do this.’ Versus, ‘We gotta do this together.’ It’s all part of the process here, and I’ve gotta do a better job teaching and what we accept. I played some guys too many minutes. Part of it was they said Davion (Mintz) had two fouls and he didn’t. It took five minutes to tell us that he had one foul, that he didn’t have two. So, he was out of the rotation more than I wanted him to be. And then when the game winds down and there’s five, six, seven minutes to go, I’m going to try to win it and I’m not worried about who is playing what and how many minutes. But we had two or three guys – really three guys – play too many minutes. So, hopefully we get in a better rotation.”

On the Champions Classic, what he likes about it and what he would change about it if he had his say …
“It’s a good event. I think both this and the CBS events are—they prepare you for neutral games. The problem is this year we don’t need to work on neutral games. It seems like every game is a neutral game. It appears as though if they do it (the NCAA Tournament) in a bubble in Indianapolis, it’s all going to be the same. So, the issue we have is, the schedule is a little (bit of a) tough schedule for this group. I thought I would have Keion. Probably shouldn’t have gone this rough, but it is what it is. It’s done, let’s play the games. And the great thing is we’re playing basketball. So, however this is, we’re playing basketball. I look at this group, and again, ‘I’m with you. You’ve gotta listen. We gotta make changes. You can’t be blaming anybody.’ Hard thing for these kids. They get on—the phone calls start happening, and that’s when kids gotta stay the course, man. We got good kids, so I think we’ll be fine.”

On if there has been a setback with Brooks since he said another two or three weeks …

“No. The doctors just want him to take more time.”

On how he deals with the post rotation while Brooks is out so Sarr is not playing 35-plus minutes …
“We’ve gotta get better performances out of some guys. And I tried to tell them today, ‘Normal teams play seven, eight guys, and the way you get into that rotation is in practice and then playing in the game. And when you play in the game, you elevate the game. It’s not like you’re just trying to run up and down (the court). You’re in there to elevate the game, which means you’ll get more minutes.’ But we got to. There’s no way. Even Isaiah (Jackson). I was trying to play Cam some. I wanted to throw in Jacob (Toppin) some. Just trying to get them on the floor. The game got close. We should have been up at half 10 or 12. Missing free throws, dumb turnovers, bad shots and all of a sudden you’re up six. You’re up six with 18:20; you should be up eight. And all of a sudden you’re down three with two minutes into it through the first timeout, and really you should be down six. That’s how we started (the second half). You look at all this and you just say, all right, we want to have a rotation, but you’re also trying to win the game.”

On how much he needs Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke in attack mode and not messing with the ball …

“Were they messing with the ball yesterday? [Reporter: Seemed like Clarke tried to go behind the back a couple of times vs. Richmond and it drove him crazy.] And then it got stolen, tipped away and we got a step-back 3. So, what we’re saying is you gotta be in attack mode before you catch the ball. And yes, we need Terrence and BJ to aggressively go at that rim, and if they collapse, find us. Get easy shots for us. But hopefully this was a lesson. And like I said, I hate losing. But, when you’re talking about a team like this, that kind of team, I mean, it’s a hard (deal). I knew it would be hard before the game, and that’s why I wasn’t crazy and didn’t go nuts after the game. I knew what it would be. You’re waiting for the tape the next day to show them to say, ‘Do you understand?’ And it wasn’t defense and it wasn’t rebounding. And you would have thought it was defense. No, it wasn’t. The second half they shot a higher percentage, but it was breakout layups because of turnovers. They made a couple of 3s when they were up 10. And they’re a good team. They’re well-coached. You have to play better offensively. You know what that means? You have to set better screens. You have to create better shots for each other. You can’t just go try to get your own, especially – you ready? – early in the shot clock. Can’t do it in the first five seconds. If you’ve got a layup or something easy, fine, but if they collapse and it’s early in the clock, give it to somebody.”

On Kansas’ Marcus Garrett and how he compares with Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard … 

“Different. More physical. One is a tiny, quick, water bug, Tyler Ulis-ish. Garrett’s got some size and girt to him. He’ll physically come right at you. Terrific defender. One of the best defenders in the country. And so whoever he guards, you may be a creator because he’s going to lock down. He’s a good defender.” 


#5, Terrence Clarke, Fr., G

On how big the team’s motivation is and wants to bounce back from its loss …

“I think everybody is kind of motivated to come back and bounce back from the loss that we took. After going over film, there’s a lot of things we would have changed. For us, really, we hit on defense. I felt like we played a great defensive game against Richmond. We limited the back doors and layups that they usually take. Tough shots that they made. Coming back from it, we’re just going to bounce back, play as hard as we can and try to get a win tomorrow.”

On what they saw on the tape offensively …

“Well, one of the main things is getting out in transition, especially for me. I think catching the ball in transition, I think our first goal is to try and get a layup. There were times we kind of stopped the offense in transition and tried to run a play where we could have gotten a layup or two or something like that. The other thing is just the defense collapsing and you have to make the extra pass. A one-more for the play that’s in the corner or where the other person is, there’s a lot of help defense coming toward guys. Everybody on the team really likes going to the basket, so the extra pass is there. Those were really the two big things that we tried to hit on. And just taking shots early in the clock is also something that we really have to kind of limit as much as possible. We can use the 30 seconds that we have.”

On the team’s first experience in a close game and what they learned from it …

“Just value possessions more. I feel like we took shots that we can make, but going in against a team like that has a lot of experience and been together for a while, the shots that we took they kind of capitalized off of it. We can get better shots, like they took. The shots that we took, they took that down and scored as much as possible. Possessions like that, we just have to value. Not turn the ball over. Get great shots, that can help us get the lead even more.”

On what the atmosphere will be like tomorrow night without any fans …

“No fans is kind of different, but it is basketball at the end of the day. We have to hoop. I mean, the momentum was definitely there for them (Richmond) as soon as they got it going. It starts on the bench. I think that’s one of the main things that we’re going to hit on too, especially since we don’t have any fans at all tomorrow. We just support each other and being as loud as we can for each other is definitely going to help us for our momentum if we get on a run too. That’s probably the main thing.”

On if he prefers the opportunity to play another game after a loss or if he wishes the team had some more practice days to prepare …

“Honestly, I’m ready to play. I think from yesterday we learned a lot. Going over the film, there’s a lot of things that we hit on that I feel like we’re going to come back and get better from. Practice is cool, but playing against other players that we don’t see every day is also fun too. I feel like we can make our team better and learn as much as we can. We are a good team full of freshmen and we’re just going to do as much as we can. And with the game coming up, we’re just going to play as hard as we can.”

On what the team has to prove against Kansas …

“Right now, for me, I don’t want to make it kind of an individual thing. I just kind of really–I feel like we have a great team and for me right now, after watching the film, I feel like we have a lot of things that we need to work on. Playing on this big stage, there’s going to be a lot of emotions. I’m not going to lie, I’m ready to play. I’ve got a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of stuff going through my head, but it’s basketball, like I said. As a team, we want to go out there and play our best game so we can get the win.”

On if he watched last season’s Champions Classic when Tyrese Maxey made the big shots against Michigan State …

“Oh yeah. I was watching that game for sure. I was actually at Brewster (Academy) in my room watching it with a couple of guys who were my friends. I mean, seeing that game from last year and having the fans that they had, it looked like it was a different atmosphere. But going into tomorrow with no fans, I think right now it’s just staying level-headed, playing as hard as we can. Like I said, just go there and try and play the best basketball that we can. I feel like yesterday, like I said, we played a great defense and played the defense that we had to win. But we didn’t capitalize on the offensive end. Going over the film and going over the things that we know we can fix tomorrow, I feel like we’ll come back a lot stronger.”

On what improvements he can make offensively …

“There was, from the film we watched, there was two opportunities where I could have just took the ball by my man. But when I watched over the film, I feel like I did it more times. Going over the film, that’s really why you watch it. You want to see things that you can fix. Going over the stuff that we went over in film, I feel like I’ve seen a lot more too that I could have fixed myself. Going into that, I just want to be mindful that I can get the ball by my man and go as fast as I can instead of just trying to dribble around and wasting time.”

On how tomorrow’s game is different than others on the schedule …

“Honestly, for me, I feel like this is just another game. I think that’s how we’re going to play it. For us, we’re a great team, and as long as we take care of business, I feel like we can win any game that we go up against. Right now, I feel like there is a lot of emotions, a lot of people think that from the loss that we took that means we have a lot to fix, and like I said, we’re just going to do as much as we can to fix the habits that we need to build on and try and get as many wins as we can.”

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.