As the leader of this current Kentucky Wildcats basketball team, there is a lot expected from sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe and he knows it.
One of the key terms used after the loss to now #2 UCAL Bruins was “energy”. Many of the players and John Calipari noted that there was a lack of focus and energy on their part compared to UCLA.
Assistant coach Joel Justus had this to say on the subject:
I don’t think I can say why it was lacking against UCLA, but I can say that Isaiah Briscoe was a big part in getting that back for us the other night against Valpo. He was tremendous. He had a big smile. One thing that Cal wants us to do is talk, touch, and he was all over the place. He was engaged in the huddles and pregame. That’s Isaiah at his best. As someone who’s on the team with him, it was great to see. I was happy. It was great to have him being his best. That was a lot of fun, and he was a big reason why we were who we were the other night.”
Isaiah Briscoe agreed:
“After the game (UCLA), Coach (Cal) called me into his office and he just told me like, ‘What happened today? You weren’t yourself. I didn’t see the energy or anything like that.’ Me, being the leader of the team, I had to accept it. I told him, ‘Yeah, I didn’t bring energy.’ I felt like that one was on me. But coming out when we played Valpo they were just making an emphasis on me bringing energy. In practice, the time we had in between (games) in practice I was going hard, giving it my all and he was just saying, ‘That needs to be you every game, and that needs to be you every day in practice.’ That’s just what I’ve been focusing on.”
What did the ‘Cats learn from the loss:
“That we can be beaten. I think that some of us thought we were so good that we can just come out and play and they’ll see that it’s Kentucky and think we can just get the win based off that. UCLA is a good team. I’ll give them credit. But also we didn’t have our best game, and we didn’t play to our full potential. We let that one slip away from us, but like I said, that one’s over with. We’re judged on what we do from here on out.”
What about Camp Cal:
“This time coming up is very important because we only really have to worry about one thing and that’s basketball. If that’s what you want to do for the rest of your life, this Camp Cal – or whatever y’all call it – should be fun. Last year it was fun for me. No school, just all basketball and getting better. That’s the things I live for and I’m sure the freshmen, great group of guys and I know that they love basketball, so I’m sure they’re looking forward too.”
On his relationship with Mychal Mulder:
“I think I make everybody more comfortable on the court, just by talking and being there for them. But Mike’s my guy, we’re cool. That’s my roommate when we’re on the road. Mike, he just needs somebody to encourage him because Coach is on him pretty tough because he’s a senior. He’s expecting a lot out of him. I think Mike likes the message when it’s coming from me rather than Coach. Whenever Coach is getting on him I’ll pull Mike to the side and let him know, ‘Yo, just do this and this and you’ll be fine. He won’t say nothing to you,’ and things like that. Mike’s been playing well, he’s been getting after it, and he’s been working on playing defense. Like I said, I’m the leader of this team. I’m trying to keep everybody on board and trying to get Mike better.”
The more I read about how this team has reacted after the loss to UCLA, the less I’m worried about it. They can pinpoint exactly what was lacking and how they were beaten, and are now looking to continue to improve.
I’m still not convinced that Mulder is going to be a large part of the rotation until I see it from Calipari. He plays the senior against opponents that are less than stellar, but the two games in which the stakes were really high, Michigan State and UCAL, Mulder barely saw the floor or didn’t see it at all.
I like Briscoe going to bat for his teammate. Mulder is a great shooter and he does more on the floor than many give him credit for. After Hofstra, we will see what kind of trust Cal has in him.
For more quotes from Justus, De’Aaron Fox and Briscoe, click here.