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TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery preview Auburn

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

Head Coach John Calipari

On Thursday practices …

“We only have four left, I believe. Yesterday’s practice was after a game so all we did was condition the guys that needed extra conditioning. The other guys had massages and we had film. Today will be short because we play tomorrow, but the next three or four Thursdays will be good practices. But then again, I don’t know what will unfold between then and there but yesterday was more of a cerebral.” 

On how he rationalizes team massages with his message of toughness …

“[Media laughs.] Probably a good point. I can tell you, I don’t get a massage.”

On how tough it is to keep and improve conditioning throughout the season …

“If you remember, in 2014, normally as practices go on and we get into February and March my practice times go way down. That year they went up and we were going three hours. I very rarely would go three hours in my career. We were going three hours every chance I could that year because they needed it. So, it’s all dependent on certain kids. Yesterday Immanuel (Quickley) didn’t do conditioning because he needed to recover, but we still had some guys that were surrendering from points in the game. They draw back, they stop playing, they grab their knees. Well, it’s an indication of that. It was funny, I was talking to Bam (Adebayo)’s mom this morning and a friend of his was there and he said – you know, his mom and I were jumping back and forth and he jumped on the phone – he said, ‘I’ve heard all the stories, Coach.’ And one of the things he said was that Bam learned to work. He said he can remember being in the gym at 10 o’clock at night practically throwing up to try to get in better shape. You have to fight. And if you think that’s not the reason, it’s because—’Just let me shoot more, play more. Don’t say stuff to me. Just let me go out there and do what I do.’ Where the adage, which athletes would know – and most of you here wouldn’t – no pain, no gain. Now, half of you did not respond to that because you’re notes athletes. No pain, no gain. And so, what I’m saying to these guys–yesterday’s conditioning was funny. They were doing it when I walked in, whew! Some of them would finish and hit the floor. Well, they’ve gotta know, I guess I can do this. You’re convincing yourself. Normally when a kid wants to stop, especially young kids, they’ve got 40% left in the tank. And by the end of the year, we have to have guys, when they’re on that floor, they’re playing as superior athletes. I’m not trying to beat anybody down. I don’t do that. I don’t beat them down in film. We’re don’t have three-hour film sessions. A film session for us, if it’s more than 15 minutes, 20 minutes, that’s long. Most of them are less than that. If I want them to watch tape for two hours, what would the tape be of? Them. Themselves. They all watch themselves for straight hours. At that point, they can focus on that. I’ve kind of done this long enough where I have an idea, but again, we have great kids that are trying. They’re buying in. I mean, they’re knowing slowly but surely, I’m getting where they need to be. I feel close. When I hear those things, I’m really happy.” 

On is there a wearing effect to having big game after big game …

“No. Every game is the same for us. Can’t make one game bigger than the rest, because if I do that, then at some point you’re going to start losing games. The whole thing is, it’s every game is it’s own game. Every team we play–one team (Vanderbilt) just went 8 for 72 from the 3 over a period of time and what did they do against us? Made nine. That’s what happens. You can’t—every game on the road, we understand what it is. I mean, every game is sold out. Every game this is their biggest game of the year. ‘This the game you got to win this to prove yourself. If you don’t win this, you don’t—.” – And we know. And our job is to go in, do what we do, play how we play. You’re going to have to play with great energy every night. Every night because if you don’t, you get beat. Doesn’t matter who it is. You could be down nine or 10 if you’re not playing, so I don’t change. No Knute Rockne. If I have to do that, then we’ll probably–it’s going to be a shorten season. This has been an empowered team now. This is a player-driven team. They know what’s at stake. They how hard this game is going to be. For us to win a game in that environment on (ESPN College) GameDay where they need it, hard game for us. I understand it. But let’s go in there and see where we are right now.”

On what is making the team so good on the road …

“Well, we played a lot of road games early this year. Oh, we didn’t? So maybe that doesn’t matter. The athletes in the room will understand what I’m saying. The whole thing is how do you prepare your team? I think, again, you can look at playing on the road and be inspired by it or you can overwhelmed by it. You can be excited about playing on the road and have fun with it or you can be, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve got to go into that environment.’ I think a lot of it starts from we as a staff and how we feel about road games. I’ve said it before, If I don’t get thoroughly – and they know this – if I don’t get thoroughly booed when I’m introduced, I am mad and it gets me close to retirement. If I walk in a building and they don’t even know I’ve walked in and there’s no booing and they just, ‘Yeah, fine,’ I know it – I’m winding it down.”

On what Nick Richards needs to do to stay out of foul trouble …

“We’re going to talk about it today. So, if you’re their coach, what do you think you’re trying to do? So, you guys do understand this isn’t brain surgery I’m doing here? The other guy, ‘How do I get him out? How do I flop around? How do I tell my guy to flop, flop, flop? How do I get him to do that to draw fouls? What do we? Do we post him 12 straight times?’ We’ve got to be prepared as a staff. We’ve got to talk to him. But, it’s not just him. Who else’s gotta stay out of foul trouble? [Media: Ashton Hagans.] Yeah. He can’t have dumb fouls. You can’t foul 72 feet from the basket. You can’t foul. I keep telling these guys, ‘This isn’t football. It’s not a touchdown. It’s two points that we’ll score in eight seconds. Calm down. We’re fine.’ But they think—they take it personal and they get embarrassed. ‘I got beat and I got embarrassed, so I’m going to grab a guy.’ You can’t be in that moment. You have to learn, ‘OK, I got embarrassed. Let me not get embarrassed next time. I’m going to force him a different way.’ But it’s stuff we’ve got to talk about and address.”

On if he’s confident he’s getting through to Richards …

“He’s been good. How many games has he fouled out? One thing I’ll tell you, where these kids want to go the best players up there, don’t foul out. They understand. Now, I am not fouling out. It’s just, you’ve got to be alert. You’ve got to be aware and you’ve got to be focused.”

On Austin Wiley and what he brings to Auburn …

“He’s been good. Really good. Physical play and being able to score around the basket. He runs and plays hard. Great, great kid. I had him on the (U19) USA Team. I love him to death. He’s a beautiful person aside from being a heck of a basketball player.”

On how he thinks the new emphasis on flopping has gone …

“The whole thing is – my point – if you’re going to call it, call it. Or let it all go. When your post player gets it and he turns and that guy flops, let it go. If you’re going to let a guy come off a screen and throw his head back, let it all go. If you’re going to let a guy kick his foot out and fall down and you don’t call it, I’m fine. Just don’t call any. I really don’t care. What the rules are, I don’t care. Whatever it is, just make it consistent. And you should never say, ‘I didn’t make the (last call).’ You’re a team too, the three of you. You saw what he’s doing. You do the same. You’re a team. It’s not one guy. ‘I didn’t call it. I was here.’ ‘Well, why did you call that one from 30 (feet away)?’ ‘I’m not in the position.’ That’s my whole thing. I don’t care what they do. They’re not going to have an effect on the game if [mimicking a whistle sound] duh-do, duh-do, duh-do, duh-do, duh-do. There’s no effect on the game. There’s an effect on the game if there’s 15 fouls to one. Then you’ve kind of gotta say something, I think. Any of you athletes agree with that? [Media laughs.] Or should you just, you know, ‘I’m not an athlete.’ ”

On how Auburn compares to last season …

“Different players but they play the same. They play hard. Bruce (Pearl) has got them doing what they do. They’re tough on baseline out of bounds. If you get it in, they’re tough on sideline out. They run their little actions into isos and, you know, different ways of getting easy baskets. They’re good. They’re a top-20 team for a reason, and they won their first, what, 18, 19 games for a reason because they’re good.”


#23, EJ Montgomery, So., F

On if there is any thought of payback after Auburn knocked UK out of the NCAA Tournament last season …
“I don’t think it’s payback. I think it’s just another game. We’re just trying to go out there, compete and win.”

On if he looks forward to playing in front of an excited crowd on Saturday …
“Yes, definitely. It’s a great atmosphere there at Auburn. It’s just going to be a very fun game.”

On if opposing crowds pick on a particular Wildcat this season …
“It’s everybody, everybody this year. Great fans and great competition.”

On how he feels about his game at this point in the season …
“I’m just trying to get better every day, trying to get in better condition and just trying to go out there, have fun and help my team win.”

On how much of an impact conditioning is at this point …
“It’s a big impact. Just trying to go out there and play my hardest every time I step on the floor. When you’re not in very much condition, you can’t do that.”

On UK facing a third straight “big game” on the road for the opposition …
“No, I just think it’s fun being in that environment. Just great atmosphere and just great competition. Just trying to go out there and just compete.”

On if his experience can help him handle road crowds more effectively …
“Last year, I didn’t really know what I was getting into. Just going out there, just shocked that all of the fans were like that. But this year, I’m going out there and knowing what I’m getting into, just going out there and trying to have fun.”

On if practices have changed since Kahlil Whitney left …
“Not really changed, just still everybody trying to compete. Trying to get after each other and make each other better.”


#5, Immanuel Quickley, So., G

On whether there is a sense of payback entering this game …

“I wouldn’t say payback. Just more looking forward to a really good game. Auburn’s a really good team. I think they’re like 18-2 or something like that, so they’ve won a lot of games this year so far. So, we’re just going to have to be really locked in and hopefully get a win.”

On how the returners have improved since the game vs. Auburn in the Elite Eight …

“I think you can see it, honestly. Ashton’s (Hagans) gotten a lot better. He’s improved his offense. Everybody knows about his defense. Individually for myself, I feel like I’ve grown in a lot of areas: as a leader, helping this team trying to get wins. EJ’s (Montgomery) gotten better. Nick’s (Richards) gotten better. He’s blocking shots. EJ’s playing with a lot of confidence now. So individually I think we’ve gotten a lot better.”

On looking forward to playing at Auburn …

“I think all our away games have been really good this year. Coach Cal’s always taking to us before the game to go see the tents and stuff, people camping outside trying to see us play and things like that. Every environment so far has been really good and I don’t think Auburn will disappoint either.”

On what he thinks when he sees opposing fans eager to host UK …

“It really just shows how prestigious this program is. Everybody wants to beat Kentucky. It shows how dedicated their fans are. It’s really cold outside and they’re out there waiting for a game six, seven hours before a game. It really just shows their dedication.”

On whether past road games will help them Saturday …

“Arkansas was really good. The floor was actually shaking in warmups when the music was playing. When Coach Cal got tossed, I had to put hands in my ears because it was so loud. I think it’s really prepared us for Auburn. Auburn will be another great environment to play in. The student section is right behind the court, so it’ll be really good to play in that type of environment.”

On getting motivated to play a game like this …

“I think it’s easier to get pepped up for that type of game. I think that’s the next step for our team, is after playing a really big game, we gotta come back and have the same type energy vs. a team like Vandy or something like that, which is really capable of beating you. Coming back from games like that, we gotta be really locked in.”

On some of the things opposing fans have said to him …

“Nobody’s said anything too crazy, at least individually to myself. And I really don’t hear a lot of the stuff the fans say anyway. If they did say anything, God’s with me. So, I would hope I would just try to handle myself in a way that I’m supposed to handle myself.”

On Auburn’s team this year …

“They really play tough. They play physical. They play fast, as usual. Shoot a lot of 3s, as usual. And like you guys said, it’s a really tough place to play. Everybody’s better at home, so they’ll be really fired up to play.”

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.

2 Comments for TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari, Immanuel Quickley, EJ Montgomery preview Auburn



  1. michaelb
    9:33 pm January 31, 2020 Permalink

    He didn’t we also SMASH auburn a new butt hole last season too? Nick & ej smash