John Calipari was in a pretty festive mood following the Kentucky Wildcats' win over Ole Miss in their SEC opener.
His Cats stormed out to a commanding 41-16 lead and led by as many as 29 points in the second half before notching an 83-61 win over the Rebels for win No. 1 in conference play. While there was plenty to smile about, some second-half lapses and Dominique Hawkins' injury had Cal a bit frustrated after the win.
Here is a recap of what Calipari had to say about UK's win over Ole Miss:
On Tyler Ulis being so good:
"He is a good player. He also took on a challenge because everybody is talking about their guard. And I knew did it, I laughed. After the game I said, I know what you did and in front team he smiled. But I don't have enough other guys that want to do that. I don't have enough other guys and I've had them in the past, like a team full of guys like that.
"We need more guys that look at the other guy and say, I'm going to show who is the better player here. We don't have that right now. We're just kind of playing basketball.
"First half was terrific. I thought great energy, we had one guy break down, give up nine points. Nine points. Other than that, they struggled scoring. And I thought we did a great job of rebounding, doing what we do."
On second-half letdown:
"And then the second half and again, I know it's hard being up 29 or whatever and then finishing a game off, but I was disappointed for some of the guys. Like Alex, you're finally breaking through, you're becoming that elite All-American that we all knew you could be and then you come out and kind of play like, well, what?
"And Isaiah in the second half did the same. Kind of backed up. Well, wait a minute. You're playing as well â don't do that. And that's us individually. I thought the start of the first half, or second half, we did it and then we kind of let go of the rope. Which I guess when you have a lead like that, that happens.
On Skal Improving:
"It's a first step. It's the first step. There's still a lot of other stuff still there. But like, I want him to smile and have fun playing. But I'm telling you, when you get in the ring, and you start, and the guy hits you in the head five times, it's hard to smile. If you hit him in the head five times, and you're moving around, now all of a sudden you're doing the walk, yeah. But when you get hit five times, you're not smiling. That's part of it.
"Second thing, just got to come up with balls and react and do it. I thought that we had a couple guys look tired in that second half and he was one of them. He looked tired. He shouldn't have been, he didn't play that many minutes, but I'm just happy he took that first step. He's been better in practice, he's got a bunch of guys cheering for him on this team. And we do need him to play. We need his size, his ability to block shots. But I thought Marcus Lee and Alex are playing off of each other really well right now."
On Skal's big dunk that had Rupp Arena rocking:
"The whole place went crazy. He dunked the ball. Now he did push the guy, I think, but he grabbed the ball and he dunked it and everybody went crazy. This whole state, I believe the whole country wants this kid to do well. I told him, you got to unpack the bags, live in the moment, enjoy this thing, there's no timetable for this.
"It's just go do the best you can and have fun. I told him, you're going to get time, I'm going to put you in. Now if you want to play a lot, you're going to go get balls and rebound. I told him after the game, has nothing to do with what you could do offensively. It's that you hold your position, you catch balls on offense, and defensively, block a shot or two and just rebound the ball. But he did get three offensive rebounds, which were good.
On Dominique Hawkins' Injury:
"He hurt his ankle. They said he's going to be fine. I didn't see it. They told me it looked ugly, but he's such a tough kid."
On Marcus Lee's injury in practice that led to him wearing a mask:
"His nose has been bleeding and we don't no if he's getting hit and that's why his nose is bleeding, so we just put the thing on so we don't have to deal with him walking off the court, going in the back saying his nose is not stopping and, so."
On slowing down Stefan Moody:
"Well, we worked all week on us, but that meant high hands, because he can get a shot off and jump over you. And then staying down on ball fakes. We also in pick and rolls said, we're going to stay a little longer to make him pass, or we're going to switch and let our four play him.
"And when you have to go into a game like this and all you're saying is just make it difficult, he's still going to get points. I don't know what did he end up with? 23? He's still going to get points. But we made them difficult points. He had some layups in the end. Isaiah let him go twice and we just tried to make it difficult."
On the impact Camp Cal has had:
"Here's what I said, Bob Rotella and I talked on the way over to the game. You get time to really work on stuff. Because I have three sessions a day. So, we really worked hard on screening. Both ball screening and screening. Our bigs. We really worked hard defensively on playing step-up screen, how we were going to play, how we play, not just playing against Mississippi. But you also have the chance to work on free throw shooting.
"Now, obviously what did we shoot today? 50 percent. So we really worked hard. But you get a chance to really spend 20, 30 minutes versus all right we're going to practice three hours and spend a half hour on free throws. You can't do it all. And when you're doing what we're doing here, first of all, you have to make it so you can play a basketball game.
"How you're going to play an offense against man, what are you going to do versus zone, what our out of bounds plays are, how do you defend pick and rolls, what are your schemes. With a brand new team. So you don't have time to really break down all the stuff situational. We're going to be down two, we're going to be down three at 20 seconds, they make a shot.
"How are we playing? You have time to do all that stuff now. And that's what I like. Plus, you stretch them out a little bit. Like you go that hour and 15 you come back and you go two hours and then you're going an hour in the evening. And it's not all body to body stuff. Some of it is cerebral, but we're together. And they get closer as a team. There's nothing, they have no class, when we're in class, I don't like practicing more than two hours and a half and it will even get shorter.
"The reason is, I don't want to occupy all their time. They're here, they're getting an education, we go in and get our work done and move on. But the issue is, I'm not dealing with veteran teams. So this is an important time. And we're going tomorrow, I'm having individual work with the guys that did not play a whole lot. Then we're coming back and practicing. We'll go on Monday before we travel to LSU. I mean, this is it. I think we go until next Wednesday, is that right? Yeah, so we won't take a day off until next Wednesday when we got to start taking that one day a week off."
On Jamal Murray's progress:
"He's getting better. He's still, I'm trying to explain degree of difficulty does not get you more points. Like the harder shot you try to take, there's no four-pointers, unless you get fouled on a three-pointer. So, that's a hard one for him. I'm trying to get him to just make easy plays. How about the pull up at the foul line?
"Was everybody happy that he just went right to the foul line and shot the ball? "Yeah, but I only got two points. If I would have gone in and spun and throwing it over my head with the lefty I could have got five. No. No. There's two points or three or if you get fouled. So he's learning all that. And he laughs, he can't help himself. I don't know if you saw, he started the game in transition, he went between his legs and I went crazy.
"Like what are you doing? He's got habits he's got to break. But let me just say this, he's one of the best players in the country, he gives us another guy that can make three-point shots, that spreads the court out, he's a terrific passer. This is all new to him. Like it's just new. And but he's doing fine."
On setting the rotation:
"I don't, I don't because Derek just, you can't. I couldn't keep him in the game. So now I don't know if I move Derek out of the rotation, maybe play Charles Matthews as a four man. Let him play some four. He'll defend, he'll rebound. It's not making a shot. You got to, the things that we're breaking down on, that position, that one's a hard one. So, we'll have to figure out what we do. But we're not.
"Now Dom's hurt. Now what do we do? Do we maybe go to Mychal. Mychal gets his opportunity now. This is a quick turn. We play Tuesday.