COACH CALIPARI: I said, let me think about that before I ask you. No, they’re a good team and I’m still fighting guys. I thought Alex — I subbed him four seconds in. He didn’t go after a ball. Athletically, you’re an athlete, explode and go get balls, even if it’s on the floor. And he stood there and watched it. Boom, you’re out.
Then he got back in and he’s a double double and he could be dunking every ball, making free throws, getting fouled. I mean, that’s who he is and that’s where we got to get him back to.
I didn’t think — Skal did some good stuff. He’s coming, but he’s still got some things he’s got to do. Again, we got to make some threes.
And right now Tyler’s not making them. I just told him, you got to shoot ’em. You got to let it go.
I thought Charles Matthews was outstanding. I think he moved into the rotation now. If you ask me, he changed the whole game. It’s not what he just did offensively, it’s what he did defensively and coming up with balls and being active and trying. And I said, look, get in the gym and shoot free throws. If he makes free throws, he’s in that seven-man rotation and he pushes guys out.
Q. You mentioned the early play there with Alex. But there were a couple times he seemed to not be worried about his body, threw himself at people mid air —
COACH CALIPARI: He’s getting better.
Q. Is he forgetting about it more?
COACH CALIPARI: I told the team after, I’m not going to accept anything other than an elite athlete when I watch him play. If he’s not an elite athlete, he’s out. He’s not playing. Because he’s capable of doing it, it’s just really hard. And it’s having to have him break through some confidence in his body.
So, I’m kind of demanding it and he — I love what I’m seeing. We got to make some threes, you can’t go 3-15. I think on the year we’re shooting 23 percent. 22 percent. And we’re still scoring a lot of — think about it, what I’m saying. What if we made five or seven more threes. And we’re capable of that. We’re just not doing it right now.
Q. Was it Boston’s zone that maybe caused you guys to take so many 3-pointers tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: We didn’t take that many. We only took 15. So we just didn’t make ’em. Like some of them were open, but our whole thing was, let’s go inside, let’s throw lobs, let’s offensive rebound, let’s drive the lane if they play zone. And I think they did a good job.
They ran their stuff. I thought we defended really well in the second half. I don’t know exactly how many points they had, but I think — what did they have 30 in the second half? 29? So, the last one was a foul where we gave them a couple free throws.
So, I thought we did a much better job in the second half guarding and kind of wearing them down a little bit.
Q. One thing about Alex, you bring him off the bench as like a sixth man. Are you looking — is there a reason why the sixth man?
COACH CALIPARI: I just said, when I went in after, I think he should be starting, but we’ll figure that out. He’s a starter, it’s just he or Marcus.
Then I said maybe it’s Marcus and he together and let Skal come off the bench with Charles right now. So you got seven. There you go. Just figure it out.
Is there an 8th man that sneaks in? I’m not seeing it right now, but maybe there is.
Isaac, I didn’t play him today only because of his foot. He limped around for a couple days. But I’m thinking South Florida, who won today by the way, beat Albany. I’m thinking that he has a chance, because that’s a game. They have a couple guys that I think he could guard that he can play with.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Orlando. How far back it goes, how did it start?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, he played at St. Raymond’s High School in New York, so. Ended up going to Pitt, but he went after I left Pitt and went to Massachusetts.
But I watched him and got to know him. And when he got into coaching, stayed close with him and had an opportunity at Memphis and he came with me, did a fabulous job, just like he did here. I mean, I’ve not ever met one person that has anything bad to say about him. And I tried to hire guys that that’s how they are, because everybody talks bad about me. So you would like to have, you know, people around me they’re thinking good things about.
So — and he’s done a great job. They lost some games. But if you watch the games, they’re running good stuff, they’re organized, they’re getting the shots, they’re missing a lot of shots, they’re missing a lot of threes. But they’re trying, they’re fighting, and it was a great win for them tonight.
Q. How tough is this job for anybody?
COACH CALIPARI: It’s a very hard job. But he’s up for it. I’m telling you, I’ve watched him, I’ve seen him. But it’s just like anything else, those are the kind of jobs that it takes time. It takes one or two, three classes to come together and then you see it.
But when you’re walking into a situation like that, it’s just hard to say, hey, we’re going to — I remember we, at UMass we were 10-18 and 17-14 my second year and they were saying like, man, I’m not sure this guy can do this.
And then by my third year, we were 21-14. Happened to get to the NIT and still questioning what we’re doing.
And then I got that group of seniors and then we started going and it changed the whole thing up there. But it takes time. It took four years. My fourth year is where we started getting to where we were pretty good.
Q. How often do you talk to Orlando and would you anticipate maybe scheduling him to play a game here?
COACH CALIPARI: They will play here next year, I believe. But, no, he and I, we probably talk once a week, maybe more than that. Like I’ll call him and that. I was — they were, it was a two-point game with two seconds to go while the anthem was playing and I was looking at Chris, tell me if it’s over, give me the thumbs up or down. So I wanted to know that he won that game.
Again, I hope he loses the next one. But after that I hope he wins them all. But, you know, he’s somebody that’s helped me in two different situations, Memphis and here, turn these things around and I wish him nothing but the best. And I think, not only is he a great guy, a good person, a great heart, good family man, he’s also a terrific basketball coach.
Q. Briscoe had three steals, I think he scored off all of them and a block in the first 10 or 15 minutes tonight. Did you see him keep that up?
COACH CALIPARI: He’s got to make a couple more free throws. Four or five out of seven I can deal with. 3-7 is a hard deal. When you’re a guard I can’t have you in at the end.
But here’s what he is. He’s just so disruptive defensively and rebounding the ball. And he really is smart and can see things. And now you have he and Isaiah out there, or he and Tyler out there, they’re mixing it up pretty good and talking to one another and playing off of one another. We just got a different kind of team.
We need Jamal, he needs to be a little more active offensively than he is right now. And we’ll figure it out. I’m watching Skal, watching what Vandy is doing with their big guys, they’re letting them catch it at seven feet and square up and shoot balls and drive. Maybe that’s what we do with Skal. We haven’t figured this stuff out, just so you know. We’re still trying to know, how do we play, how do we finish games, what’s the best way to play.
Do we put Tyler away from the ball at times, so we can give it to him where he can make plays away. But I will say this, we got, you got to make some threes, you can’t win good games being 3-15 from the three-point line. And we have been that now since the beginning of the year.
Q. What causes that? You have good shooters.
COACH CALIPARI: We do have good shooters. We just don’t have good makers.
Q. How did you like the shots that they’re taking?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah, I thought Tyler should have taken a couple others. Like he took a tougher shot on the drive. I said, you got to shoot the first one, we got to live with it. And then you got to get in the gym and make sure you’re getting more confident shooting the ball. Because we all watched him, he was a 43 percent three-point shooter this year. What is he this year? 16 percent. Think about that. He was a 42, 43 percent three-point shooter last year, so he has it, he’s just not making them.
Q. Was tonight the most aggressive you had seen Skal defensively?
COACH CALIPARI: Better. He’s getting better. Look, last year, I think I’m going to get for him to see where Karl was in some of these games, because it may have been Buffalo he had 3-pointers and two rebounds last year, Karl did. Couldn’t get it to the basket, was shooting fade aways, couldn’t get a ball, had a couple blocks and it’s going to take time.
Skal, he’s trying, but this is all new. He doesn’t react like the other guys right now. He’s got to start reacting quicker. React quicker to voices. When someone says something to you, you can’t look at them, what? What? What? You got to react to it. “Switch. Help. Step up Skal, step up.” You can’t be stepping back. And that’s kind of where he’s still figuring stuff out.
And I say that, he had 16 points and seven rebounds and three blocks and a steal. And we’re like, he’s got a long way to go. So, we’re looking for like 25 and 20 and 12 blocks.
Q. What do you do with your kids for Thanksgiving to keep it a family thing?
COACH CALIPARI: We’re going to have a meal down there at a country club with a friend of mine. We’ll leave tomorrow and we’re going to do something at the Alonzo Mourning Center and then we’re going to practice at their Miami facility, take them out to dinner tomorrow night, and then practice probably around noon on Thanksgiving day. Have Thanksgiving at five.
We’re going to have — some of them have parents down there, so we’ll probably have a dessert bar after at the hotel, so we can meet all the families and do all that stuff. Play the game on Friday and I think we come back.