Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

TRANSCRIPT: Tony Barbee previews Georgia

On games coming to last five minutes to win and if that benefits them in the long run

“It’s a good thing because this is a competitive sport. You’re fortunate when you can blow somebody out, but that’s not going to happen at the level that we’re playing at in this conference. One of the best in the country, if not the best. You’re going to have games that go down to the wire and then, in the season when there’s a lot of parity all across the country and there’s not a lot of separation from what might be the top and the bottom, you’re going to have a lot of close games. It’s good that we’re getting this experience, and we got quite a bit of it in the nonconference schedule. We’ve learned and we’ve grown from it. Our young guys are a little more comfortable in those situations where it is a nip-and-tuck game at this level.”

On what is the biggest thing they’ve learned about the guys in close games …

“Just their will to win, their competitive spirit. We’ve got a group that hates to lose, and it doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game. But these guys are going to battle, scrap and fight. And if you lose a game, it’s only because we ran out of time, not because we gave up or stopped trying. That makes a special group when you’ve got talented guys like we do that care about winning and losing.”

On having good guards …

“That’s what college basketball is. You can have some mediocre bigs across your frontline, but if you’ve got good guard play, you’ve got a chance. Fortunately for us, we’ve got both. We’ve got good bigs, we’ve got good guards, we’ve got good wings. We’ve got a little bit of everything. When you’ve got the experience, not only good players, but especially with the experience that we’ve got from Ashton (Hagans) and Immanuel (Quickley), when you’ve got that kind of talent and experience, it’s hard for a lot of teams to handle.”

On if Quickley has become the guy who can make the big shot …

“I think we’ve got a bunch of guys. I think you’ve got Ashton who wants that shot and the ball. You’ve got Tyrese (Maxey) that wants that shot and the ball. You’ve got Immanuel who wants that shot and the ball. So, it becomes hard on the other team to say, ‘Alright, you take this guy out late in the game and they’re in trouble. You can’t do that against us because we’ve got a plethora of guys who want that ball in a last-minute situation.”

On the amount of fouls called the last week …

“We did a lot of fouling. We did a lot of fouling. It’s something we work on. One thing we try to do is make a very competitive practice. Coach wants practices to be harder than the game. You’ve guys have heard it forever, and obviously I’ve heard it from him forever: When you are that competitive, you’re fighting. They’re brothers and they’re teammates, but they’re fighting for their opportunities. Our guys are fighting for their livelihoods, so in practice it’s competitive. But, the one thing we try to limit is the grab and the holding and the fouling because that then translates. What you do in practice is what you’re going to do in the game. We’ve got to be more conscious of what we do with our hands on defense. We’re getting our hands on post players, drivers of the basketball too often and it’s too easy for our officials to see and call.”

On using zone at certain points in the game

“I can only speak since I’ve been here, but we’ve worked on the zone every year since I’ve been here. I know Coach iseven when I played for him, we had a zone we would work on for just in case. Obviously, he’s a man-to-man basketball coach. He likes the accountability that comes with man-to-man, but he’s always been prepared with the zone in case you need it for a variety of reasons. Obviously, we needed it last game because of the foul trouble, especially with Ashton having those four fouls and the way they were driving the ball. We could not afford to have Ashton foul out of that game, and that’s probably what would’ve happened if we would have stayed in the man.”

On if Calipari liked how the zone worked …

“He’s always beenas long as I’ve been with him and played for him and worked for him he’s always been willing to go to the zone in kind of an emergency situation. He’s going to go with the man-to-man at all costs until he sees that emergency situation. The last game against Arkansas, we came across one of those.”

On what Ashton Hagans means to this team

“We’ve got interchangeable parts, but if there’s one guy who would be indispensable it would be him just because of how disruptive he is on the defensive end of the floor for the other team’s offense, how much he means to our offense and his ability to make shots for himself, but probably more importantly how easy he makes the game sometimes for the other guys on the floor. Whether that’s getting Tyrese or Immanuel open shots,Johnny (Juzang) open shots. Getting Keion (Brooks Jr.) and Khalil (Whitney) open shots. Or then finding Nick (Richards) and EJ (Montgomery) for lobs. Nick (Sestina) open shots. We don’t have a lot of guys like him that see the game that way with the ball in their hands where they can create one-on-one and beat their man, and then has the vision to see the other nine guys on the floor. That’s a special attribute he has.”

On Johnny Juzang rebounding …

“Absolutely. That’s why he got the minutes he got the last game based on what he did at South Carolina, getting those five rebounds in very limited minutes. Unfortunately for Johnny he got sick. Now he’s back healthy and he’s earning his right to play. That’s one of things you’ve always had to do for Coach is you’ve had to earn the right. Nothing’s ever been given for him, and Johnny’s starting to earn the right to get more minutes.”

On if Hagans gets more juiced played against his home-state school, Georgia, and if they have to talk to him about that …
“No. No, that’s part of his edge. He’s got a competitive spirit like no other regardless of who we play. He’s always going to come on the floor with that same edge. And I don’t think it’s any different just because it’s Georgia, but obviously being from there, it’s not going to raise him any higher than he already gets on that court.”

On what was going through his head when Calipari got tossed at Arkansas …
“I really don’t remember. I don’t’ remember. It was just such an emotional moment. They were making a run. The whistles might not have been going our way at that time and it seemed like the situation just got a little out of hand.”

On if Calipari has come to the realization that the team was fouling a lot …
“I don’t know. You would have to ask him. Nice try.”

On if there is any difference between the Georgia team they played two weeks ago and the one they will play tomorrow …
“Not really. They’re doing—like all of us, they evolve through the course of a season. They’re no different when you watch them play. They’re doing some different things on defense, they’re doing some different things on offense, but obviously with (Anthony) Edwards on the floor, he makes them different because they’ve got a guy who’s capable for 40 at any moment, so you’ve got to pay a lot of attention to him, but then they’re dangerous in other places. I mean, (Rayshaun) Hammonds is one of the best big guys in the league. (Tyreee) Crump is an experienced guard that makes shots, that can make multiple 3s in a game. The (Sahvir) Wheeler kid has made a big difference. He’s really gotten comfortable now on this level and his ability to affect the game with his speed. He bothered us the first time down at Georgia. So, they present a lot of different challenges, but like every team this time of the year, you’re evolving constantly.”

On what makes Edwards so productive …
“He can score on all three levels efficiently. He can pull up from 30 bringing the ball up the floor and make it at a high percentage. He can isolate you going either direction – left hand, right hand – and make hard shots look really easy. Obviously,we’ve had a bunch of those guys over the years here that, they’re special players for that reason. They make the game look easy. And the game becomes easy for him. They’re doing a lot of stuff with Edwards to get him in the post because he is such a physical, strong, athletic guard who can create a lot of mismatches on that block. And he’s a good passer. He’s one of those guys who demands a lot of attention when you prepare to play them.”

On if it was Quickley who guarded Edwards the first game …
“Everybody did. Immanuel did, Tyrese did, Quickley did, Ash did, so everybody. Kahil did. Everybody was on him. You don’t want to give him a steady diet of one guy because he can figure that out pretty easy and that’s what a special player does.”

On how they exploit playing against some smaller teams recently …
“There’s some things we’ve been working on. We’ve worked on it for switching defenses, teams with smaller players. We tried to take advantage of that against Arkansas and I think you saw some of that late. We got Nick to the foul line late in the game where we were exploiting when they tried to switch smaller matches up on him. So, just some things we’re going to keep working on.”

On if two years ago he could have imagined drawing up playsfor Richards on the road in a crazy environment …
“[Laughs]. No, because he probably wasn’t in the game at that point. But he’s evolved. He’s a totally different person. He’s a totally different player. And it’s neat to see it come together for Nick at this point. It’s obviously good for us. Everybody—I’ve always said it: We’ve had so many uncommon freshmen here that made the game look easy, and Nick is a typical player who has evolved from his freshman year, his sophomore year, now as a junior year. You just don’t see that very often, especially around here. Everybody doesn’t come in here ready-made, ready to hit the road and ready to dominate. And because he was a late starter to the game anyway coming to basketball until he was 13, 14, 15, it hasn’t been natural for him, but he’s worked hard, he’s studied hard and now he’s reaping the awards – and so are we.”

On the next step for EJ Montgomery …

“Well, he’s on that same progression as Nick, so to speak. But it went unnoticed in that game how good of a job EJ did on 33 (Jimmy Whitt Jr.). I think the game before he might have had 30, 30-something points coming in the game before our game. And EJ single-handedly made the game difficult on him because of his size and his ability to move the feet. You’re not going to get a lot of credit externally about how good you are defensively – it’s usually highlight, the offensive plays that get the credit – but EJ deserves a lot of credit in what happened in that Arkansas game in what he was able to do to 33.”

On if emphasizing toughness and being physical is a contributing factor to the recent uptick in fouls …
“Yeah, it’s the nature of our practices. We’ve had a lot of competitive teams around here with competitive individuals and this year is no different. We’ve got to try to regulate it in practice so it doesn’t carry over. That competitive spirit kind of goes over the top sometimes because I want to stop my guy and that turns into fouling. And so, the more we can do that in practice the better we will become defensively even though we are one of the elite defensive teams in the country.”

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR