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TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari breaks down Kentucky’s road victory at Vanderbilt

Opening statement …
“This team, the whole point of this is them learning about themselves. And I said it at halftime, ‘They made eight 3s, guys. And we missed five one-foot shots. This is going to be what the score is.’ I said, ‘We’re going through Nick (Richards) and this is what we’re doing and let’s play off of him and see how it works because you guys are missing.’

“And the best thing that happened is for the first time this year, Tyrese Maxey played with a toughness to win vs. just play basketball. First time this year. And you have to understand I’ve been all over this and all over him on not settling. So that’s a good sign.

“I thought EJ (Montgomery) made some strides. And then down the stretch of the game, we’ve got three point guards. We should be making good plays. We just weren’t earlier in the year. But it was a good win. A road win. They beat LSU here. They’re playing so much better right now and if they make shots they’re going to win games. I watched them before we played last time. They had one game they were 0 for 25. They had another game they were 3 for 26. Well you’re not winning those games. Now all of a sudden they make 13 against LSU. What’d they make today, 10? They made 11? Now all of a sudden you’re making 11, you’ve got a chance. But we’re done with them now. I hope they win every game.”

On Nick Richards setting the tone early in the second half …
“Well, their guards were really hurting us. And we’ve gotta figure out — what I said is, ‘How are they beating us downhill and we’re not beating them?’ That was my challenge to the guards at halftime. One of the things we did, and we’re still experimenting on how we’re playing, one of them was just open up the court and forget about the ball screen. If that guy can drive by you then you should drive by him. Or he’s way better than you. How about that? So we opened up the court a little bit and that’s when they fouled, when we started doing that. I’m just being honest, we’re still trying. We’re still experimenting. We’re trying to figure out what’s best for this team.”

On rebounding differential in first and second half …
“Well, they didn’t miss many shots in the first half. They made a lot of shots. You don’t have a lot of rebounding attempts. In the second half they missed and we rebounded. And our guards rebounded. I thought Tyrese, again, stuck his nose in there, which he hasn’t done in games. He’ll go in and act like he’s trying to get the ball but he’s not. He’s hoping someone else will grab it. Today he went after balls.

“Ashton, if you’re wondering why I called a full timeout with two minutes to go, he was cramping. I said, ‘If I have to burn another one I will because I’m not taking you out.’ So he laughed and said, ‘I’ll be alright.’ Then I put Tyrese in ball screens so (Ashton Hagans) could be away. But he has an air about him that the other guys feed off. And he makes the other guys confident. He does.”

On how coachable this team is …
“They are (coachable). I sent them something today: My thing is no excuses and no cop-outs. You are what your stats say you are. If you’re not playing well don’t put it on someone else. I just told Nate (Sestina) today, I had Keith Van Horn. They had no idea who he was. And we were playing the Utah Jazz and they had a guy named Karl Malone. Keith said to me, ‘I can’t guard him. How am I going to guard him? What should I do.’ I said, ‘Hm, I don’t think you can guard him either. Here’s my guess: He’s going to get 30 points on you. Get 32 on him and we’ll even this thing out.’

“I’m telling Nate, you’re getting beat pretty bad on stuff. OK, giving up six, eight points, score nine. Make some baskets. Don’t worry about what you don’t do, worry about what you do for us. And they had no idea Karl Malone is a Hall of Famer.”

On Jerry Stackhouse’s coaching ability …
“They’ve gotten better. But here’s what he’s done: What he’s done to teach these guards how to play in the pick-and-roll. How to go inside-out to get to your right hand, because we were telling two (Scotty Pippen Jr.) you’re not going right and we were telling one (Dylan Disu) you’re not going left. Guess what? They went right and the other one went left. He’s teaching them to snake. So you get in there — he’s teaching these kids how to play basketball. And the other thing he’s doing is spacing the court. They are doing stride stops and ball fakes to get you in trouble. Again, I come back to they’re making threes, they’re going to beat you. They were up on Mississippi State. They were up on us twice at half. They beat LSU. I wouldn’t want to be playing Vandy right now. It’s obvious he has a great connection with them because they’re fighting for him. They’re not letting go of the rope. He’s doing a heck of a job.”

On what was different with Tyrese Maxey tonight …
“He played through bumps today for the first time in his college career. That means you get hit and you keep going, vs. you get hit and throw the one-handed fade. It may go. Really if it goes you look crazy and if it doesn’t we lose. But this one, playing through the bump, you make it and it’s an and-one. And you show toughness, and it feeds on the other team. They’re like, ‘Holy cow.’ But his instinct is to get hit and throw a fade. Not play through bumps. He’s learning. Another thing he did, he had six deflections in the second half with 10 minutes to go. Where’s that guy been? He told on himself. You mean you can play that way? ‘Yeah, but it’s really hard. Can I just get more shots?’ Trying to get these guys to do what the hardest thing is has been the challenge this year.”

On Immanuel Quickley being clutch …
“The last two were out of bounds and then the next play was for him. We started the game and I thought I was running stuff to Immanuel but I ran the wrong side of the floor, so it ended up being to Tyrese. So we started 8-0, 5-0. We were supposed to be going to the other side of the floor and then it’s to Immanuel. That’s who I’d like to start a game with because I have a lot of confidence in him and he’s tougher, just physically tougher. And he makes his free throws. Tyrese made his today.”

On how rare Ashton Hagans’ “air” is and if that’s coachable …
“The whole thing with him is being disciplined as you play so you’re not trying to do crazy stuff because you’re disciplined and you’re focused. He’s had a lot of turnovers the last five games. Well, prior to that he hadn’t had hardly any. So what’s the difference? You changed as a player? You’ve changed how you’re thinking. You’re doing crazy stuff instead of what’s easy. How do I stay focused and disciplined? But what he is physically, they know fighting screens — did you see him push Nick (Richards) out to the corner on that guy? He two-hand chucked him. Nick went flying because the guy was going to the corner and was going to be open. (Ashton) just pushed him. That’s the kind of stuff. No one gets mad. But I’m proud of him. Shooting the ball better, scoring the ball better, making better decisions. It’s a good time of the year for us to do that.”

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR