Cal Says Louisville Is Title Favorite

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Contributor: Alex Risen
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Updated: 12/28/2012 4:23 pm

Kentucky Basketball
Pre-Louisville Quotes
Lexington, Ky.
Dec. 28, 2012


Coach John Calipari

On if the freshmen understand what the rivalry means to the fans …
“They don’t, but they’ll feel it when the game starts. You know, I’ve watched tape and they are really good with really good players. That’s most of the tape, I’ve watched some with (Gorgui) Dieng, but I’ve watched a bunch without. The reason is, their guard play, I’ve been saying for years how much I love (Peyton) Siva. I saw him and Eric Bledsoe at the same time in the Louisville Classic and I said, ‘that kid is ridiculous.’ Russ Smith scores with anybody, (Wayne) Blackshear is a big guard who can shoot 3s but a big guard. (Chane) Behanan is a beast, best offensive rebounder we’ll play all year. You’ve got (Luke) Hancock, you’ve got (Stephan) Van Treese and the other guy that all do their thing, what they’re supposed to do and then you’ve got this kid, (Montrezl) Harrell, who is playing 13 minutes a game because the team is that good. If he were playing 20-25 minutes a game he’d be a top-15 pick. He’s on a team that he can get 13 minutes so this is a great challenge for us. If you ask me, I would say what I’m seeing right now, you’re talking about a team that should be or is odds on favorite to win the whole thing. That’s how good I think they are.”

On revealing his biological tactics that he has been working on in practice …
“No, I’ll do that after because it may not work and then I’ll say it was only a joke. Look, here’s what it is for us going into the game. We all know we have to see some improvement. This is a game that if you physically can’t withstand this game then it’s going to show because they are physical, they’re coming after you that way. We’ve got to be able to fight and battle for 40 minutes, be strong with the ball, make sure you’re getting open, those kinds of things. The score will take care of itself for us. This thing is, alright let’s battle, let’s go after it, let’s see what we’ve worked on. Yesterday we had a terrific practice but, you know, see how we do today and then we get on the bus and go down.”

On the team rallying as the underdog …
“I’ve got all young kids so you have no idea. I mean I go in game-to-game saying, ‘I wonder what’s happening here,’ trying different lineups, doing different things trying to figure out my team. They are, again, a Final Four team with everybody returning, a healthy Blackshear, a Harrell added to the team, that just took them another notch. They are a well-oiled machine; we are a work in progress. I still like my team, I like that they’re working hard, they’re getting better, I’m feeling more comfortable, yet really a work in progress.”

On Louisville turning teams over one in three times down the court …
“Got to be strong and play through all the bump and grinding stuff. You’ve got to be strong with the ball. You have to have great spacing, you can’t just be muddled up because they leave and trap. They do a great job of trying to muck up the game. The good news for us is that this is a game of less plays and more players making plays; that plays to our favor. It’s less having to execute, which we are too young to really be a great execution team, and it’s more of reacting to two-on-ones, three-on-twos, four-on-threes, attacking the basket, stuff that we do better. But, again, you’ve got to play through all the bumps and the grinds and all the other stuff, which is how they play.”

On the Southeastern Conference having bad losses …
“We’ve had a bunch of losses so, you know, look at the end of the day when you’re talking to a young team, I don’t care about any other team in the country. I’ll care about the team that’s in the arena with us. You know what our job is; try to be better than that team. That’s it, I don’t care what’s going on in the SEC, I don’t care what’s going on in the Big East. ‘Well, the Big East stinks, the SEC stinks, the ACC stinks.’ Everybody can stink, I really don’t care. All I care about is what’s happening in the gym that we’re playing, in that arena. With a team this young, I don’t know, you’d have to go over scores because I’m not following SEC scores.”

On if this Louisville game is a chance to build a resume for the tournament …
“I’m not worried about that, are you kidding me? I’m more worried about, let’s get better. If we get better that all takes care of itself. We will have enough big games that we will be fine.”

On the difference between the two teams …
“We are at a disadvantage. Come on, I just told you the team that they have, the talent that they have, they are a team that’s been together for a number of years and they have added good pieces to that team. We are at a disadvantage and we’ve got a very, very young team.”

On the difference between the UK team that won at Louisville two years ago …
“We didn’t have that much experience but Josh Harrellson had a big game and Brandon Knight had a big game and DeAndre Liggins guarded like crazy two different guys. So what I basically tell you is you have to make plays on defense and offense. It’s not players running plays. It will be players making plays. Are you making plays on defense and offense to withstand all the craziness?”

On the improvement of Ryan (Harrow) and how he will handle Louisville pressure …
“We’re better. Aside from Ryan we are all better but Ryan puts people in the right spots and he’s really gotten better and better and this will be a great challenge for him because this is going to be a physical body-on-body game. This is exactly what he needs. This comes at a great time for us we just are winding down a bunch of workouts, doing different things, trying to change mindsets, trying to change habits and then you are going against an opponent like this that’s maybe the best team in the country with talented players that at each position they can beat you. This is what we need, let’s see where we are.”

On what they would like to keep (Peyton) Siva from doing …
“He’s good with the ball. He finds his teammates. He’s scoring the ball better, shooting the ball way better. You know, again you are trying to make the game difficult. You don’t want to foul, you don’t want to leave your feet you just want to make the game difficult. If they are making shots and they’re also rebounding, the biggest way they get baskets is getting to the foul line, turnovers and rebounds. Well that’s just an effort game and being strong with the ball and if he’s drawing fouls or creating fouls on passes that you have to help, you’ve got a problem. He’s good at that.”

On a couple of the players working out over the holidays …
“Well, again we take Christmas off because I want to be with my family so everybody goes home. But it’s also a good time for all of us to get away from each other and I know there’s all kinds of ways of doing this, other guys don’t give them Christmas, we’re together, we’re a team and that’s fine, I just have never done it that way. Now what we do tell them is, ‘you need to make sure you try to work out’ and I think all the guys went back and worked out at least one or two of the days. It’s not going to be like your practice but you are going to do some conditioning or shooting or something. It’s just what I’ve always done in all my years of coaching.”

On the matchup of Nerlens (Noel) and Gorgui (Dieng) …
“Again, it will be interesting. We are going to find out where we are on a lot of position and where we have to go. This team is a work in progress; I’m pleased that we’re getting better. I don’t know what that means when you start playing some more games and teams like this but I do know we are getting better and I’m pleased with that.

Kentucky Players

#3, Nerlens Noel, F, Fr.

On what he has heard about the game …
“I’ve felt for a few years back now that it’s a big rivalry in the state of Kentucky.”

On Gorgui Dieng playing …
“Definitely, especially since it gives them no excuse to say we didn’t have this player or that player. It’s going to be a great matchup having him play. I know him a little bit from the summer. He’s a real good kid and a real good player. I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

On going into the game as the underdog ...
“It is definitely pretty fun; we’re definitely looking forward to it and ready to prove people wrong. We’ve been working real hard these past couple of weeks.”

On determining how far they’ve come …
“I think this will be a good test for us. As long as we just go out there and compete and play hard I think we’ll be good either way.”

On Gorgui Dieng’s game being similar to his …
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good matchup for myself. I’m definitely ready for the challenge. He’s a bigger dude, about 6’10. I mean, he’s a physical player and I’m ready for the challenge.”

On what they’ve learned from the Notre Dame game …
“We’ve really focused in on making sure we play hard at all times. That was our main problem then. This time around for an away game, we need to focus on playing hard and competing.”


#5, Jarrod Polson, G, Jr.

On Louisville forcing turnovers…
“It’s a really big key. They really like to get up and pressure you full court press pretty much all game so we’ve been working on pressuring for two weeks now. Hopefully that’s going to work out. We’ve just got to be strong with the ball is really the key and hopefully turnovers won’t hurt us too bad.”

On the history of UK and Louisville…
“I’ve grown up watching it every year, always rooting for UK as a kid so this is really fun for me. It’s a fun game for me but at the end of the day, they know what the rivalry is about, all the other players, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

On breaking Louisville’s defense…|
“Just doing what (Coach) Cal says to do, getting in the right spot, moving the ball and just making sure we’re spaced right.“

#10, Archie Goodwin, G, Fr.

On playing Louisville…
“It’s always a great opportunity to go somewhere where you’re not welcomed and to win. We’re just trying to go in there and turn some heads, let people know that we actually are a good team.”

On playing against a top-ranked team…
“It’s very exciting. It gives us another chance to show how good we are and it’s something we’ve been looking forward too. We’re going to come out strong and try and get the win.”

On the rivalry between UK and Louisville…
“It’s a big game. It’s not just the media that really says it. You can just see it going around town. They even have a little Kentucky and Louisville commercial that I saw on TV in the past couple day so it’s a big rivalry and it’s something we knew coming in here. All schools have their rivalry and this is just one of them.”

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