Some late-night reading for your Saturday evening indoors…
Q. Is it time we drop the disclaimer and just admit he’s as good as he is?
COACH CALIPARI: He is a good player. He also took on a challenge because everybody is talking about their guard. And I knew did it, I laughed. After the game I said, I know what you did and in front team he smiled. But I don’t have enough other guys that want to do that. I don’t have enough other guys and I’ve had them in the past, like a team full of guys like that.
We need more guys that look at the other guy and say, I’m going to show who is the better player here. We don’t have that right now. We’re just kind of playing basketball.
First half was terrific. I thought great energy, we had one guy break down, give up nine points. Nine points. Other than that, they struggled scoring.
And I thought we did a great job of rebounding, doing what we do.
And then the second half — and again, I know it’s hard being up 29 or whatever and then finishing a game off. But I was disappointed for some of the guys.
Like Alex, you’re finally breaking through, you’re becoming that elite All-American that we all knew you could be and then you come out and kind of play like, well, what?
And Isaiah in the second half did the same. Kind of backed up. Well, wait a minute. You’re playing as well — don’t do that. And that’s us individually. I thought the start of the first half, or second half, we did it and then we kind of let go of the rope. Which I guess when you have a lead like that, that happens.
Q. You said you’ve seen it in practice, but to see Skal have some good things happen to him in a game as his coach —
COACH CALIPARI: It’s a first step. It’s the first step. There’s still a lot of other stuff still there. But like, I want him to smile and have fun playing.
But I’m telling you, when you get in the ring, and you start, and the guy hits you in the head five times, it’s hard to smile. If you hit him in the head five times, and you’re moving around, now all of a sudden you’re doing the walk, yeah. But when you get hit five times, you’re not smiling. That’s part of it.
Second thing, just got to come up with balls and react and do it. I thought that we had a couple guys look tired in that second half and he was one of them. He looked tired. He shouldn’t have been, he didn’t play that many minutes, but I’m just happy he took that first step. He’s been better in practice, he’s got a bunch of guys cheering for him on this team. And we do need him to play. We need his size, his ability to block shots. But I thought Marcus Lee and Alex are playing off of each other really well right now.
Q. You mentioned some of the others, the bad stuff still there, but when you see him reach over a couple guys, rip a rebound away. I think it’s the first time in a long time we have seen him do that?
COACH CALIPARI: The whole place went crazy. He dunked the ball. Now he did push the guy, I think, but he grabbed the ball and he dunked it and everybody went crazy. This whole state — I believe the whole country wants this kid to do well. I told him, you got to unpack the bags, live in the moment, enjoy this thing, don’t — there’s no timetable of this. It’s just go do the best you can and have fun. I told him, you’re going to get time, I’m going to put you in. Now if you want to play a lot, you’re going to go get balls and rebound. I told him after the game, has nothing to do with what you could do offensively. It’s that you hold your position, you catch balls on offense, and defensively, block a shot or two and just rebound the ball. But he did get three offensive rebounds, which were good.
Q. Late in the game, Tyler tries to feed Isaac when he’s got a wide open layup. As a coach, is that something you like to see or would you prefer he just threw it away?
COACH CALIPARI: No, I like what he did, because that’s — he even looked at me like, I forgot, the kid just walked in the game. Because he looked at me and I’m like, you’re fine. And I felt bad for Isaac, because what I’ve been saying, you have Isaac, you have Mychal, you have Ty, you have EJ, you have a bunch of guys on our team that are all getting better. But they’re behind other players. Which means when you get your opportunity, you got to show that you should be playing more.
Now Isaac didn’t, and he knows it, he felt bad. I said it’s hard being in that position where you only get two or 3 minutes to show you should be playing more.
But I think Tyler, the way he’s playing, the way he’s defending, the way he’s scrambling for balls, he’s making us roll right now.
Q. Do you have any update on Dominique? And then also, when you said the whole place went crazy when Skal got that rebound. Is that your definition of what you did when you proved the first step?
COACH CALIPARI: I just wanted him to know everybody, including me, is happy and that we want you to play that way. But he’s got to do it. It doesn’t matter what we hope for. He’s going to have to go do it. I’m telling you, guys, it’s all fight. It’s — fight means as the shot goes up, I’m fighting for position. That’s what fight means. The shot on our team goes up, and I fight to get even so I can rebound it and lay it in quickly. And I’m in a position that when I do rebound, I don’t bring it down, I’m seven foot tall, and bounce it and gather myself and then I can’t it off or I walk. I’m not doing that. I’m in a dog fight, grabbing, straight up and go. He’s learning all that. He’s never played that way. This is all new. He’s going to be fine.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH CALIPARI: He hurt his ankle. They said he’s going to be fine. I didn’t see it. They told me it looked ugly, but he’s such a tough kid.
Q. What exactly what happened to Marcus’s face in practice and then how —
COACH CALIPARI: His nose has been bleeding and we don’t no if he’s getting hit and that’s why his nose is bleeding, so we just put the thing on so we don’t have to deal with him walking off the court, going in the back saying his nose is not stopping and, so.
Q. A few moments ago, Andy Kennedy said that it’s no secret that Moody’s the guy that you have to contain. How much did you guys focus on him and how did you frustrate him, it looked like.
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we worked all week on us, but that meant high hands, because he can get a shot off and jump over you. And then staying down on ball fakes.
We also in pick and rolls said, we’re going to stay a little longer to make him pass, or we’re going to switch and let our four play him. And when you have to go into a game like this and all you’re saying is just make it difficult, he’s still going to get points. I don’t know what did he end up with? 23? He’s still going to get points. But we made them difficult points. He had some layups in the end. Isaiah let him go twice and — but he, we just tried to make it difficult.
Q. You said you knew what he was doing but did Tyler actually come out and say to you, I want this guy?
COACH CALIPARI: No, he wouldn’t do that. But I knew when I watched how he was playing and what he was doing that — you know, he’s out to prove who he is, too, now. I just want a team full of guys that way. I’m going to prove who I am as a player.
We made some strides where not so many heroes plays today, where guys are trying to make the and one tape. We’re playing or bounce it off their knee and cross it over between and spin. We didn’t have many of those. We had down from 12 to 3. I can deal with three. 12 lead to seven turnovers. Can’t have 12 of them. I thought all that kind of stuff was better. 18, 12, and especially when the game gets a little wider, guys will start doing crazy stuff. But we’re getting better.
Q. Andy said he wants you to invite him to Camp Cal next year. Did you see things from Camp Cal tonight that carried over to be the?
COACH CALIPARI: Yeah. Yeah. Here’s what I said, Bob Rotella and I talked on the way over to the game. You get time to really work on stuff. Because I have three sessions a day. So, we really worked hard on screening. Both ball screening and screening. Our bigs. We really worked hard defensively on playing step-up screen, how we were going to play, how we play, not just playing against Mississippi. But you also have the chance to work on free throw shooting. Now, obviously what did we shoot today? 50 percent. So we really worked hard. But you get a chance to really spend 20, 30 minutes versus all right we’re going to practice three hours and spend a half hour on free throws. You can’t do it all. And when you’re doing what we’re doing here, first of all, you have to make it so you can play a basketball game. How you’re going to play an offense against man, what are you going to do versus zone, what our out of bounds plays are, how do you defend pick and rolls, what are your schemes. With a brand new team. So you don’t have time to really break down all the stuff situational. We’re going to be down two, we’re going to be down three at 20 seconds, they make a shot. How are we playing? You have time to do all that stuff now. And that’s what I like. Plus, you stretch them out a little bit. Like you go that hour and 15 you come back and you go two hours and then you’re going an hour in the evening. And it’s not all body to body stuff. Some of it is cerebral, but we’re together. And they get closer as a team. There’s nothing, they have no class — when we’re in class, I don’t like practicing more than two hours and a half and it will even get shorter. The reason is, I don’t want to occupy all their time. They’re here, they’re getting an education, we go in and get our work done and move on. But the issue is, I’m not dealing with veteran teams. So this is an important time. And we’re going tomorrow, I’m having individual work with the guys that did not play a whole lot. Then we’re coming back and practicing. We’ll go on Monday before we travel to LSU. I mean, this is it. I think we go until next Wednesday, is that right? Yeah, so we won’t take a day off until next Wednesday when we got to start taking that one day a week off.
Q. I wonder what the progress you’re seeing from Jamal Murray what you need to see from him, what he needs to work on, where he’s at in his development.
COACH CALIPARI: He’s getting better. He’s still — I’m trying to explain degree of difficulty does not get you more points. Like the harder shot you try to take, there’s no four-pointers, unless you get fouled on a three-pointer. So, that’s a hard one for him. I’m trying to get him to just make easy plays. How about the pull up at the foul line? Was everybody happy that he just went right to the foul line and shot the ball? “Yeah, but I only got two points. If I would have gone in and spun and throwing it over my head with the lefty I could have got five. No. No. There’s two points or three or if you get fouled. So he’s learning all that. And he laughs, he can’t help himself. I don’t know if you saw, he started the game in transition, he went between his legs and I went crazy. Like what are you doing? He’s got habits he’s got to break. But let me just say this, he’s one of the best players in the country, he gives us another guy that can make three-point shots, that spreads the court out, he’s a terrific passer. This is all new to him. Like it’s just new. And but he’s doing fine.
Q. Do you see, would you have a rotation set and roles are defined a little bit more that?
COACH CALIPARI: I don’t, I don’t because Derek just, you can’t — I couldn’t keep him in the game. So now I don’t know if I move Derek out of the rotation, maybe play Charles Matthews as a four man. Let him play some four. He’ll defend, he’ll rebound. It’s not making a shot. You got to — the things that we’re breaking down on, that position, that one’s a hard one. So, we’ll have to figure out what we do. But we’re not. Now Dom’s hurt. Now what do we do? Do we maybe go to Mychal. Mychal gets his opportunity now. This is a quick turn. We play Tuesday.