Kentucky coach John Calipari saw a change in his team during its 75-73 win over Louisville on Saturday afternoon.
The victory was his 200th as the coach in Lexington, and it came one week after an ugly collapse against Ohio State in Brooklyn. With Christmas in the rear-view and SEC play set to begin, the Wildcats are riding high.
“I really believe having Christmas off for these guys was great,” Calipari said postgame. “Cleared the mind. Let’s come back and let’s do this. I’ve done that every year since I’ve coached. Part of it is for them, the other part is I like spending time with my own family.”
Here were some of this other thoughts on…
Jamal Murray: “Jamal’s got to try to make easy plays. He’s still trying to make the most difficult play. But he’s going to be fine. He made 3s that really broke open the game. He’s a great free throw shooter who went 3-for-6. So his numbers — the turnovers, a lot of the stuff he tried to go all the way into the middle of the lane before he passed. He really didn’t need to. And it’s stuff that just we got to show him on tape and correct and that.”
Louisville: “That team, Louisville’s going to do damage and I don’t know how we’ll finish, but they will be one of those teams left standing. We may have them again.”
Moving forward: “I’m giving them two days off. They get the rest of today off. And they get tomorrow, we’re going to have dinner and watch the tape at my house. And then we start up Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and we’re going, two-, three-a-days. We’re going every — just throw your phones out, throw your computers out, because it’s on. We have to get better.”
3-point shooting: “I’m mad at myself. The 3-point shooting stuff I should have done all year. It should have been who we were. I should have known we were struggling shooting 3s. You got to free up their minds.”
Skal Labissiere: “My staff’s saying I’m too hard on Skal, and I need to back up. But I said, you know, I talked to the team about it and the reason is, if I’m going to be hard on Derek Willis, and I’m going to be hard on Dom (Dominique Hawkins), if I’m not hard on Skal, they got to know why. Maybe he can’t handle it as much. You know what I’m saying? He’s growing, the growing pains of this.”
Isaiah Briscoe (hurt ankle pregame): “It’s funny, we walked in, no Isaiah (Briscoe). What? What happened? He stepped on a foot. What? Where? On the way into the building. What? And then we got to figure it out. But this guy, that may have brought us together, who knows. It may have helped us.
“I was surprised he didn’t play. But I walked in, I said, are you going to give it a try? He said, let me go out there. They came back in and said, he doesn’t want to start. I looked at him and I said, do you think you’re going to play the second half? He said, I don’t think so. Then I had no intention of playing him after he said, I don’t think so.”
Dominique Hawkins: “Never changed his emotion the whole time. He defended, he’ll fight like crazy, he’s got a great temperament, a great demeanor. One of the great kids of all time. I mean literally one of the great kids. He’s kind of like Alex, you want him to do so well, but they got to do it. You can’t do it for them, you could wish it, you could hope it, you could say that’s the guy you really want to make it. But they got to go do it. They got to go fight.”
Technical fouls (he and Louisville’s Rick Pitino both received one): “I think he got a T, too, didn’t he? Mine was not deserved. His probably was deserved. I don’t know. I’ll watch the tape. Merry Christmas, everybody.”