Kentucky has followed a consistent pattern at Rupp Arena this season: Pull away in the second half, win big and still make John Calipari as angry as possible.
The Wildcats coach was not pleased with Saturday’s 14-point victory over Arizona State.
“We just have a long way to go,” Calipari said. “I mean, we really do.”
His team is now 9-1, but it still has several question marks before a big game against Ohio State in Brooklyn next Saturday. Here were the rest of Calipari’s notable postgame comments on…
…Alex Poythress’ hyperextended knee: “When they told me knee, I was literally physically ill to my stomach for him.
“I mean, at halftime did you all think, if they don’t get Alex back, they have no chance of winning this game? Raise your hand. Is anybody with me on that? Then I saw him walking out at halftime. I said, ‘Are you going to play?’ He says, ‘Yeah I’m going to’ — I’m like, wow. And then I said, OK, we can do this.”
…Arizona State’s performance: “They didn’t play as well as I’ve seen them play on TV. They went to Creighton and won. They beat Texas A&M. They were up 25 on Texas A&M. They beat North Carolina State. They had Marquette beat. They were up 10; they should have won the game.”
…Skal Labissiere’s struggles: “What were the fouls? Were they like hard fouls? No, they were fouls because he doesn’t want to bend. He wants to use his hands. See, if you bend, I’m going to tell you what happens. Like you people all stand and bend. Go ahead and bend for a minute. Go ahead, bend. Now stay down there for a minute. You know what happens? You don’t want to stay down there. I’d rather stand up and push. It’s easier. And this is all a process, and he’s got to accept, OK, now there’s no question I can’t play this way and play and stay in games.
“You know, I love Skal. Skal is going to be good. If you think it’s tough on you to watch it, think about, I’m watching it, too. And I want so bad for him to play well. We were running plays for him to shoot jumpers later and he wouldn’t shoot them.
“You understand he came from Haiti. He played basketball for a year and a half and then he played church league for two years. He’s never been through any of this. This is all new to him … See, he’s playing against men now. The kid he went against was a senior and just bulldozed him, and he couldn’t play against a man. Well, this is all part of it.”
…pressure-packed environments: “We’re going to go on the road in the SEC, and they have tents outside of every building we play because their students were there a week waiting on those tickets. What, do you think it’s going to be easy? If you can’t take me, a guy that loves you and is about you personally, you picked the wrong school.
“This thing here is — this is an animal, and so — and I understand, you can tell me they’re 18- and 19-year-olds and they’re fragile and all this. This is a tough place to be fragile, as a player, as a coach, as an administrator, as a coach in any sport.”
…Marcus Lee and Poythress: “He’s more confident. There’s nothing that I say that rattles him or Alex. Like, I’m on those two as much as I’m on the other guys, but they look at me and they say, ‘I’ve got you,’ and it has no effect what I say. I try to tell these guys, being Italian, I’m loud and I’m demonstrative. ‘Get that ball!’ ‘I’ve got you.’ And then other guys, ‘Get that ball!’ ‘Oh, my God, he yelled at me.’ Now, I could say it another way. ‘Could you please get that ball?'”
…Isaiah Briscoe: “The way he’s shooting the ball at the foul line, it’s great for him. He’ll figure it out. You didn’t shoot 35 percent in high school; you shot 72 percent. How in the world are you shooting 35 percent? Figure it out. Are you just doing this so that you can play in the rec league in four years and five years, or are you trying to do something special with your life and yourself? Figure it out.”
…his postgame message: “I just sent all of them a text, every player on the team, that there are a lot of times for you to make it you need somebody to believe in you more than you believe in yourself, and I sent that text to them, and I said, “And I believe in you. Time to ball.” Sent it to every kid. I want them to know I believe in each one of these kids. I wouldn’t have recruited them here if I didn’t.”
…the big dance: “The thing here, and I’ll saying it again, coaching in this program, it’s about March. It’s about getting your team right so that you can make a run in March. That’s what this all is.”