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TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari recaps Kentucky’s 79-76 win over LSU

Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari
On giving a recent book to Nate Sestina …
“It’s funny. I give them a lot of books. Then I ask them, ‘Did you read this?’ I’m trying to get them to understand that they leave us and if I can leave them with one thing, it’s read. Tweak your mind. Be curious. Most of the stuff I give them is what I think is pertinent to them. So sometimes it’s a parable. In that form it’s easier for them to read. That book wasn’t. I told him he needed to read it because there was a girl that was a college player that got injured and then kind of got demoralized when she wasn’t playing well, and then how she built herself back and how she ended up having a great year. I said, ‘It’s a great story for you to read.’

“He’s a great kid. I’ve been telling him he’s got buzzard luck. Can’t find anything to eat and nothing will die. I told him I’ve been praying for him. I just wanted him to breakthrough. You want all these kids to play well. Johnny (Juzang), he didn’t even know. Johnny Juzang at the end of the game was why we were able to win the game. You say, ‘What’d he do? He didn’t score.’ Because he had a calmness about him taking it out of bounds and we could throw it back and he knew where to go with the ball. Not Keion’s (Brooks Jr) fault. I had never played Keion in that position. Then you say, ‘Well, why did you have him take it out?’ Because I wanted a bigger lineup in and he was the only one left to take it out. That’s when I said, ‘Johnny, get back in there.’

On getting something out of Nate Sestina …
“At halftime I said, ‘We’re up one and we cannot make an open shot.’ We missed 10, like, open, wide open and you miss them. I’m like, ‘We’re up one and I’m whistling, dancing, skipping going to the locker room. We can’t make a shot and we’re still up one?’ In the second half we made the shots, which is why we got 14 or 15. And then Ashton (Hagans) gets hurt and they start pressing us and we have people in positions we’ve never had and we threw it all over. But you have to give them credit. They didn’t stop. They’ve done this all year to everybody.”

On Hagans’ status and what changed with the guards in the second half …
“We had an idea. There are a lot of times that I’ll watch the game from a year ago, unless the coach wasn’t there, but when I watched the tape, I saw that they did not play Ashton in our building. I kind of came in with the idea that they’re not going to play Ashton again. They put (Trendon) Watford on him and basically gave him space and just said, ‘We’re going to help.’ That’s why I had told Ashton if they do that, ‘Shoot the ball, man. You’re shooting the ball great.’ It’s hard though to make shots when they’re not playing you. You may think, well that’s easy. No, you’re looking like, ‘They’re not even guarding me.’ But he made two 3s in the second half. I thought Immanuel (Quickley) was great down the stretch again, just making baskets and 3s. When Nate made that one 3, I went right back at him and he makes another 3.”

On Hagans’ injury …
“I didn’t ask him. I did tell the team, ‘Boy, we played well without Ashton.’ [Laughter.] That will get him back fast.”

On differences in shooting in two halves and Quickley saying those things just even out …
“Did he tell you it didn’t average itself out last game? We were 2 for 22 last game. So, sometimes it averages itself out, sometimes it doesn’t. When this team shoots it like that, I don’t go crazy. As long as you defend and are in the game. They’re not machines. These kids are not computers. This isn’t a game where they’re on a TV screen. There’s a lot of things.

“Right now, I’ve got to get Tyrese (Maxey) down the stretch playing better. I mean, he’s bank missing shots that could end the game. Like, bank missing. We’ve got to get him to where he has a different mentality. That means you can make them but when that point in the game comes you’re not comfortable yet. So, we’ve got to talk him through it, say, ‘OK, what are you thinking? What’s your mind saying to you? We’re saying we want you to score, are we wrong? We want you to the free-throw line, and you went 1 for 2 and gave them a chance. It would have been seven.’ But he’s, again, he’s a freshman that we expect him to be a junior. That’s what it is where we are.”

On what he likes about his team and what he wants to improve …
“Got a will to win. That means you’ve got a chance. I like that we’ve got a big guy. I like that we’re playing three point guards. But when you’re playing with a shortened rotation, EJ (Montgomery), Nate, Keion and Johnny got to add to the game. You’ve got to come in and add. You can’t ever take away. All you’re doing is stepping in and adding to the game. EJ had some foul trouble today and did some good stuff. He and Keion and Nate and Johnny are probably the key to where this thing goes. And they don’t have to be crazy out of their minds, but you’ve got to add to what’s going on.”

On blocked shots making LSU timid …
“I always say if you have no post presence your team is a fraud. And that doesn’t mean the guy has to be 7 foot, but you have to have someone in there that can do something both ways – scoring, dunking, something and also making them shoot more jumpers than driving layups. Now, in the first half, they shot a bunch of layups. We weren’t playing the pick-and-roll very well.

“Let me say this, this team, they’re never out of it. I watched. To be honest, up a bunch and the game gets close. They’ve been down and they come back and win. I watched the Texas game. They’re up big and all of the sudden it’s a close game and they pull away. I’m glad we’re done playing them. Let somebody else deal with this.”

On if we should talk about Immanuel Quickley as an SEC Player of the Year contender …
“I like to have five and six guys have a game with 25. And the reason is you get in the NCAA Tournament and you made need somebody to go crazy to win a game. So, Nick has had 25, EJ has had 25, Ashton has had 25, Tyrese has had 25. Immanuel hasn’t, but he’s playing so steady that I think in his mind, ‘If I have to go get 25 I can, so I’m fine.’ So that means you’ve got five. I’d like one more guy, one of those other three to be able to step up and have a big game. You just want to be able to go into that tournament knowing that you have a team full of guys and you don’t know who can go for 25. It makes you more balanced and makes you even a better team.”

Article written by Maggie Davis

I love sports, podcasts, long walks on the beach and Twitter (@MaggieDavisKSR)

1 Comment for TRANSCRIPT: John Calipari recaps Kentucky’s 79-76 win over LSU

  1. Bluehender
    10:02 am February 19, 2020 Permalink

    I like my team. And I’m a proud member of the Cal Wolfpack or whatever Wrongeous1 calls it. Go Cats!!