Vanderbilt Head Coach Kevin Stallings Opening Statement "I thought the difference in this game was our inability to guard them off the dribble and the play of their big guy inside. We just weren't as good defensively as we've been. Some of that had to do with them. We gave up 20 to a guy who isn't averaging 20. That usually gets you beat. It's what happened."
On whether Kentucky played any different offensively than in the past couple weeks... "Not really. I though they played well offensively. I thought they moved the ball well. I thought they were crisp. They certainly put it on the floor and compromised our defense, especially the whole first half. If we don't guard well, we don't win. That's the first time we have scored 70 in league play. We're not going to win if we aren't going to guard. We didn't guard them tonight. Again, some of that was them but some of that was us."
On whether he saw anything early on to indicate tonight was not going to end well... "Yeah, they kept going by us. That was the indicator for me. They kept laying it up. They had 12 layups in the first half and so that was the indicator for me. We were talking about it after the second television time out and never stopped talking about it the rest of the game. Usually our team adjusts when they're made aware and for whatever reason they didn't tonight. We had some guys that played awfully well for us but not so much on the defensive end."
On what enabled Willie Cauley-Stein to get into a rhythm tonight... "Yeah, the fact that we didn't guard the ball and they kept breaking us down off the dribble. He was the recipient of lobs and easy point blank shots. We would just stand behind him as if he hadn't scored any points so far tonight and let him throw it in there. Then he'd back us in and jump hook us from two feet. He kind of just did it however he wanted to. We should have just asked him what his preference was. Did he prefer a dunk or prefer to get it back and slam a jump hook? Other than asking, we couldn't have been any more accommodating I don't think."
On the altercation towards the end of the game... "First of all, they left the bench and were walking. It wasn't like they were running into a scrum or anything. The officials felt like they got a little too far out there and that's fine. I told John [Cahill] they threw two of our biggest criminals out of the game. We've got gangsters over there. I'm not saying the officials were wrong, though. Kevin [Bright] just got too far out there and too close to the action. He doesn't know. He's from Mannheim, Germany. He doesn't know the rule. It's my fault for not telling him--it really is. Again, I'm not sure that was an altercation over there in the corner."
On the whether he is pleased with the uncommon determination and fight Vanderbilt showed tonight... "I don't know if I'd say that. We've been badly out played in some places. We've been pretty consistent in our fight, pretty consistent in our resiliency. At this point in the season you play well enough to win or you play well enough to lose. Our guys try hard. They always try hard and I appreciate them for that. They are a good group for that."
On his thoughts on Julius Mays... "I thought he missed a couple open ones that he usually makes. He's a prolific shooter and we did not want him to get loose on us. He had some free throws there late. I thought we did sort of with him what we needed to. He did hit that big three over there against our zone when we got up by two."
On whether a team needs a game to re-orient themselves, generally, after they lose a big player... "I think one of two things generally happens with that. Either the next game the team pulls together and overcomes the loss with emotion, effort and energy where everyone plays above themselves--which it's pretty apparent that that wasn't what happened on Saturday. Then, generally speaking, if that doesn't happen they need some time to re-orient and get used to what else is going to take place. And by the way, I am very disappointed for the young man that tore his ACL. That is a shame. I had a daughter that tore her ACL three times so I am familiar with the injury and my heart goes out to him. Our best wishes go out to him."
On Vanderbilt's second half effort... "It kind of reminded me of the last game we played against them. We did not come out as aggressive as we could have. Our defense was not up to par. We did not play great defense at all. We did not keep the ball in front on the post, and we were not playing great post defense. We were not rebounding as well as we could have. We kind of dug ourselves in that hole. We gained experience and we fought back to try to get that lead, we just came up a little short. Just a couple of plays here or there in the last 4 minutes, we could have done it. We will learn from it again and keep growing."
On Willie Cauley-Stein's play tonight... "He is a great player. We could have played better defense on him. He caught the ball way to easily inside. We just have to work on that front in the post. Also their dribble penetration when they have a guy that athletic it is hard to guard that drive and they throw up an alley-oop to him. We have to be better at everything. We got to be better at stopping the penetration and better at post defense."
On Nerlens Noel's absence from the game and how it affected the game plan for tonight... "He is a great player. He is really good at protecting the rim. He is one of the most athletic guys, he led the SEC in rebound and blocks. It definitely opened up the lane and it definitely took away a big presence they have. We just have to play better."
00, Rod Odom, G On rallying back in the second half ... "Guys fought hard, guys made some big shots. We got a couple of stops that we weren't able to get in the first half and it gave us a chance to come back into it."
On Vanderbilt's defense approach ... "In practice all week, we've been talking about guarding the ball, trying to keep them out of the lane because they have a lot of guys who are capable of getting into the lane. We didn't do that well and it cost us tonight."
On his performance tonight ... "I was just kind of throwing them up and making them and so I felt pretty good. (It) didn't go like that in the second half but that's just how it goes sometimes."
Head Coach John Calipari COACH CALIPARI: They were very coachable tonight. Anybody hear any comments from the bench that we could put on PTI?
They played with confidence today, and that's all we're talking about. We're just saying, you've got to go out and shoot shots you have, make plays you can make. We opened up the court, we are trying to play a little different; you could see it, we have to. Defensively, we did some funky things. I don't know if you guys caught some of what we were doing in pick-and-rolls -- I don't know, did anybody watch the game?
But the biggest thing that got us ready, we did something last night at the shoot around, we did a walk-through last night at 8:00, and we are putting up the video as we speak to tell you what we did last night. When you see it, you'll understand. You've got to enjoy what you're doing. You've got to enjoy this environment. It's a privilege to be here. It not a burden to be here and trying to get them to do that. It will be on the website -- CoachCal.com.
When Ryan (Harrow) played -- our guard play was better today. So what happens is you don't have a whole lot of turnovers. We had aggressive play. We opened up the court for him, and Ryan did a good job. We came out of one time-out -- and I told him, he had three bad fouls, the technical foul and two reach-ins that put him out of the game.
And I said, now you've got to understand, you'd better hope that doesn't come back to haunt us. You're sitting over here and we need you in the game, and they just were not smart fouls. But what he did do is he got to the rim, he played strong. I thought he plot pick-and-rolls and did a good job. He was terrific.
Alex (Poythress) did some good things. Kyle (Wiltjer) hit a big three. Julius (Mays) with the time running out hits a big three. Jarrod (Polson) helped us. Archie (Goodwin) had a couple bad plays, but, he played better. A couple bad plays, like just why would he do that? Well, he's learning. That's why.
But, you know -- and again, let me say this about Vandy. Vandy beat Arkansas by 18. They had beat Texas A&M. They had Tennessee beat at Tennessee, and a one-foot tip-in did not go in or they beat Tennessee. They are playing well. They made ten 3s against us. We let (Rod) Odom get shots off. Kevin (Stallings) ran some great stuff for him. Big kid did pretty good. They put us in a thousand pick-and-rolls. That's how they play.
Q. Yesterday you said the bench was not your friend. Is that why you brought Ryan and Alex back to the starting lineup or did they show you something in practice?
COACH CALIPARI: No, they have been better in practice and Ryan came to me and said, "I want to start."
I said, "Okay, you've got a responsibility, though, if you're going to start." We talked about it.
And you know, any time guys come at me with stuff like that, it's easy for me because it takes it off my plate; now it's on their plate. You want to start, okay, great, here you go. Well start. And I thought he was terrific today. But that's how he's got to play for us.
Now we go on. We have a challenge with Missouri. Their guards are really good. Well, our guards are going to have to be really good to have a chance to win the game. We have to be really good.
Q. In regard to opening the court up, how do you think that would help you all, and how did it maybe help everyone, not just your guards tonight?
COACH CALIPARI: Well, we opened up the court because, one, I thought we needed -- we can beat people on the dribble, and if guys are next to the rim, you can't.
So we were bringing our 5-man up. We are a good enough 3-point shooting team -- you've got to guard people. You've got to guard Alex; you've got to guard Kyle; you've got to guard Julius. You can't just say, well, we'll pack everybody in as you spread the court. You can't do that, because we can make 3s.
But it also gives Ryan room to move and get his confidence. So we opened up the court so he could get into some pick-and-rolls. And you know, he needs to play more confident, and he did today.
Q. You talked about the video. You had a new intro video tonight where the guys are saying let's fight, let's fight, let's fight.
COACH CALIPARI: I had nothing to do with it, though. I had nothing to do with it. They told me about it.
I said, look, I'm just trying to coach my team. You guys put videos together, whatever you want. So I didn't see it.
The things we did last night, though, you will all laugh when you see what we did last night. And Friday we are going to do another competition that will be really -- I'm giving you too much of this stuff. But the group that got beat is not getting beat Friday, let me just put it that way.
Q. Can you talk about the play of Julius, he had six assists tonight, and what that gives you?
COACH CALIPARI: Like I said to him at halftime, the greatest thing for you is you don't even have to make shots. He's defending; he's passionate; he's showing leadership. And if he makes shots, whew. And if he doesn't make shots, it's easy to leave him on the court.
Q. You said a minute ago it should be a privilege to play here and not a burden. When you hit a bump in the road, how easy is it to feel like a burden?
COACH CALIPARI: It's very easy. And these kids, they are so young, and the expectation was so high, which I tried to tell everybody early, you're out of your mind.
And now, with what's gone on, point guards out early, Willie (Cauley-Stein)'s out, now Nerlens (Noel) is out for the year. We are short numbers, anyway. Our guard play was really erratic, at best, and we go get bombed at Tennessee and really got bombed at Florida.
And so for them to come back, it shows what they are about. I mean, they know. I mean, this team, I keep telling, this could be the greatest story in the college basketball season if they want it to be.
But you've got to fight and battle. If you want good things to happen, make them happen. They are not making them happen for us. Do you think there's a lot of people unhappy we are struggling out there? There's a lot of college towns unhappy we're struggling? They are ecstatic we're struggling.
So you want good things to happen? No one's going to do it for you. Go make it happen, and they did tonight. I thought we played hard. I thought we competed, we showed confidence. Vandy never went away; they kept coming.
And again, it's like I say, the playing here is not for everybody. I can't hide guys. If your skill is suspect, I can't hide you, it's just hard. You're under a magnifying glass here.
Q. I'm on this website but I have to watch it on mute. All I can tell is that you're throwing balls at each others.
COACH CALIPARI: Oh, you're watching it already? We played dodgeball.
Q. What made you decide --
COACH CALIPARI: I had to put a helmet on, if you understand why. And they were like, we're going to -- I knew they are down there huddling saying: Let's just all throw at Coach.
And I'm like, you say when you want. There's a couple of you I want to throw at, too, now. I was running; I can't throw like I used to.
I got hit a couple times. And I thought I was throwing it hard but it kind of like looped and they just caught mine. We just were talking, and what can we do? We've got to lighten this mood up. These guys are with the weight of the world on their shoulders, let's do something. We're going to play whiffle ball Friday. I promise they will lose Friday.
They beat us, the dodgeball, Willie has an absolute cannon and so does Jon Hood. And then a couple of them, they can't throw. But they had about three -- it was players against the staff.
Q. There were times where you played Jarrod and Ryan together. Was that about opening up the court?
COACH CALIPARI: No, just a rotation. I told Jon Hood after, I said, Jon -- Jon Hood is playing so well in practice. I've got to get him in games and let him get his feet underneath him, but the way the game was going, our guard play was so good, I just wanted to leave it where it was.
You know, but we are -- I only did that because of the rotation. I played seven instead of eight, which means he and Jarrod are going to have to play together some if I do that.
Q. How much potential do you see in Willie?
COACH CALIPARI: Just he's building his own confidence. And a demonstrated performance is how you build confidence.
Your self-esteem, your self-confidence, your self-worth, you build that yourself. There's no coach that does that for you. You do it by an unbelievable work ethic and then demonstrated performance. You build your own confidence.
And that's -- Willie has just not been out there enough to have demonstrated performance. He did today. He demonstrated what he can do, which is going to help his confidence, there's no question. Ryan's confidence, same thing, demonstrated performance. It's not me. I don't have to say anything to him, and if I'm like, man, you were all of today and he's going to look at me like, what? I was great today. And that's what confidence is about.
What we are trying to do is get them to see, you've got to be in the weight room, you've got to get in the gym extra, you have to go over there at night; you have to build your own self-esteem and self-worth and that confidence that you've got to have to really play this game and create a swagger. Right now, we are not quite there. Thanks.
Kentucky Players #12, Ryan Harrow, G
On how much better tonight felt after going through so much recently... "It felt good. We were all smiling and happy and just trying to keep the energy level up."
On playing dodge ball during last night's walkthrough... "Real fun. It brought us together and just a fun time with the team."
On how much the team needed something like the dodge ball game to take the weight off... "Definitely. We were all having fun and smiling and laughing and just talking to each other."
On how much everyone wanted to get Coach Calipari out in dodge ball... "Everybody did. I didn't get him though. He was trying to get me too. So, I ended up catching his ball and he got out so I guess that was good."
On why he went to Coach Calipari saying he wanted to start again... "The players had our own meeting and they just were telling me that they wanted me to be out there to make plays and I sat down with some other people and talked to them and I just felt like I needed to go to Coach Calipari and tell him that I was going to do whatever he needed me to do just so that I could be out there to play."
On what was different with his play tonight... "I was just more aggressive. He told me he needed me to take shots because when I'm aggressive, everybody else is aggressive and the flow of the game is better."
#10, Archie Goodwin, G
On playing dodge ball and how fun it was to take a few shots on Coach Cal ... "It wasn't about that, it was about us going out and having fun. It was a chance for us to take a step back from basketball and relax and have fun as a team. That's what we did, it was just something for us to get together and it was a bonding moment for us."
On how different the mindset around practice is ... "We are just a lot more focused and tuned in and trying to do everything for our team. That's what we have been really focused on these last couple of weeks in practice. It's another thing that can help us come closer together and another bonding thing for us."
On how the pregame video describes the message of what the team needs to do ... "We are starting over basically. We are missing a key person and this is another roadblock that was in our way again. We feel like that was another way of showing that we are turning over a new leaf and starting over like it's the beginning of the season for us. It was a great video. I actually, in my opinion, like it better than the last one. It was just a video of motivation and we all liked it and it was pretty good."