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Everything John Calipari Said about Kentucky’s Loss at Georgia

Kentucky basketball
UK Athletics

Kentucky lost their third consecutive game Wednesday, a 63-62 loss on the road at Georgia. John Calipari met with the media following the game. Below is an entire transcript of everything the UK coach said. A video is available following the transcript.

On what he says to the team and if the team was discouraged after tonight …

“I need someone to talk to me because I’m discouraged. What I just saw, the way we finished the game – the shot selection at the end, missed free throws, turnovers, just throwing them the ball for layups. We gave them 20 points on turnovers just throwing them the ball. I’m discouraged. Again, we get beat to every tough ball. We had one ball in front of our bench that Devin (Askew got). Rest of them, we don’t get any. So what happens is, we just have to keep trying and figure out, but if they don’t understand the importance of toughness. That last basket, No. 4 ran down, caught it and just laid it in. Just laid it in? We were telling them on that last play, you can’t get screened on this, fight through it, fight. One guy got screened. Then they got it in, fumbled it and no one blocked it so you just gave them a layup. Come on. This is all stuff—we have to be better. Our guard play was awful. BJ [Brandon Boston Jr.] showed some life, the rest of the guard play was not good at all. You try to open up the court a little bit and you can’t get by anyone so you end up taking a bad shot. We have our hands full, but you know what, I’m not giving up on them. We should have won the game. We’re up six. We have the ball. Come on. But you have to give credit to Georgia. They never stopped. We missed two free throws, they get their chance, he (Tom Crean) didn’t even call a timeout, which I wouldn’t do either, then they get it on the baseline because we didn’t come up with a ball.”

On what worries him more, the lack of mental toughness or physical toughness …

“It’s both. I’m telling guys that if they don’t shoot it, I’m taking them out. Again, we had guys in roles that they we’re comfortable with. Now, you put them in other roles and you see they’re not as comfortable. This is why I always say I know my team. I’m with them every day. I know when they’re going to play their best when they’re in certain roles. When you start putting in other guys and they’re doing stuff–I’ll tell you what, it woke up BJ [Brandon Boston Jr.]. One of the other guards was so bad, I had to start him in the second half.”

On how he will attempt to fix the issues with less practice time …

“It may be good that we have less time on the court. What I keep saying is, these kids are respectful, they listen. They just don’t hear. Everyone had a one-handed rebound. Do you understand every day we’re working on two-handed rebounds? Every day. Not like every other day. Every day. Sometimes we’re doing it in the morning and evening, two-handed rebounding. Do you know how many we went after with one? The last one we got, the guy went after it with one hand, and we were lucky it was on the floor and we were able to pick it up. All that kind of stuff is just, you don’t want to lose because of that. You don’t block out on a free throw. Really? You blank on offense? You’re supposed to go screen the ball, you don’t really screen and the guy doesn’t come off so now it’s one-on-one. We can’t play that way. We can’t get the ball by anybody. We’re not that kind of team. So now, we end up having a tough shot, we go in and now you’re begging for fouls. Like I said, you can tell my frustration right now, but, I’m the coach of the team and I have a job to do and we have to figure out how we’re going to win games. That’s all it is.”

On how frustrating it is to not know who is going to show up mentally for a game …

“It’s not show up. They’re there and ready. It’s mentally, if something goes wrong. And that’s why I like guys, whenever they come off the bench and whatever they do is good, when you start doing different things all of a sudden you’re thinking, well, maybe he shouldn’t. I know. You’re right. The consistency of these players, it’s made it hard, and I told the staff, ‘I’d like to be playing six or seven guys right now and that’s it.’ The problem is, who would they be? Now you’re trying to play nine or 10, you can’t play nine or 10. Why are we playing that many? Who is going to be rough? Who is going to make that play? Who is going to come up with that rebound? Who is going to make that play defensively? A lot of it is based on, if I’m not doing well offensively, all that other stuff slips. I keep coming back to the easiest thing. Forget about all that and do the stuff that doesn’t take skill, because maybe you’re not real skilled. So, do the stuff that doesn’t take skill, or, ready for this word? Talent. Do all the things that don’t take skill or talent and go hard. Now, you start building your own confidence. I told them, fall back on the training, I told them before the game. We even said as coaches that we didn’t care what they shoot, I’m not saying anything, let them see if they can get going and I’m looking around saying, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I know we’re not as bad as we played. Give Georgia credit. I do not want to take away from their win, it was a good win for them. We’re not as bad as we played but you know what, we better start playing better. It’s not getting any easier. Every game from here on in, really hard. So, we’re going to have to step on the gas.”


On Devin Askew’s tough night and how to move forward with him …

“I don’t know. I feel bad for him and I even told him I’m putting you in this last play because I believe in you and that last free throw I know crushed him. And that wasn’t the game. The game was we had a turnover, threw it ahead, threw it back to him, the guy gets a break away layup on the transition basket. No. 4, no one picked him up and they throw it under the basket. Are you kidding me? With a minute to go in the game, how does that happen? You know, you watched. He didn’t play great but I believe in him. This stuff is hard. All I keep coming back to, again, play to the training. Here’s how I want Devin to play so you all know: I don’t want him to have a lot of dribbles. I want him to get it up and get away from the ball. The reason I like that is because away from the ball, he can make plays and he can make shots. On the ball where everyone is watching him, he’s not effective. He’s just not. If we put him in pick-and-rolls, get rid of the ball. If you have a layup, take it. You can’t come off thinking you have to score because now you add two dribbles to everything. Now you understand what I’m saying. Less dribbles, get rid of the ball, go away from the ball and when it comes to you, make plays. Again, he’s a respectful kid, I just don’t know if he’s hearing what we’re trying to get him to do. He will. These kids are good kids. This is a struggle. We needed a breakthrough for this game and we didn’t. What do we do? Now, we go on to the next game. We have a practice tomorrow, we have a practice on Friday and we play a really good LSU team at home with no fans. There were no fans here today though either.”

On whether the team misses former assistant coach Kenny Payne being a good cop to his bad cop …

“My staff is doing it, believe me. They’re there, every day with these guys. They go to the lodge and check them out, do extra work. Kenny was great at what he does but we have guys doing the same thing. Do I miss him? I miss him because he was like a brother, but we have guys here doing that. If you think anybody could change guys’ games or their abilities, I’m not sure there’s one guy that could do that. We’re believing. We’re taking time, and I’m spending extra time with these kids, but it adds up. We’re at Kentucky. This isn’t easy. You start losing, everybody has an answer. Not only that, they try to move guys in and do different things, now all of a sudden you screw up a couple—I am trying to do everything I can to help everyone play their best. They have to hear what we’re saying on the toughness and the mental toughness. Make those plays. I think we will. So we go on to the next folks.”

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