From whistle to whistle, the Cats got dominated in Gainesville Saturday night in a 88-66 loss to the Florida Gators.
Nobody in a blue uniform seemed ready to play in the first game in which they were not favored to win all season. It seems obvious some things need to change.
What things need to change, specifically? Read below for a full transcript of Coach John Calipari’s post-game comments, courtesy of UK Athletics.
“Congratulations to Florida. They played great. Kids fought. You shoot 30 percent in the first half, we’re down 20 rebounds and we still have a chance. Just, you can’t have three, four guys not play well. I think having guys out kind of got us a little screwed up, but I don’t want to take away from what Florida did. They just beat us from the tip to the end of the game.”
On if he thought the defensive breakdowns were attributable to communication
“I’ll have to watch the tape and see. But they shot 76 percent, maybe at the end they shot 80 percent because they were getting layups.”
On what happened on the boards
“Just beat us. Beat us to every ball.”
On if that’s due to “heart, desire or talent”
“Maybe a little bit of everything and you have an off day. You know, we gotta go back and get in the groove of how we’re playing. That’s the first time De’Aaron (Fox) has played in six days. The other side of this is, what I don’t think they get yet is that every game we play is like this. And it gets to where every game you walk into you’re trying to get going.
“I just want to see them fight and try. We did for a while, but Bam (Adebayo) can’t start the game the way he did, Malik (Monk) can’t play the way he did in the first half. Isaiah (Briscoe) again had four turnovers. That’s 10 in the last two games. Probably has the ball in his hands too much. So, there’s a lot of things we have to deal with, but we can’t have a bunch of guys – right now the four position is back to where it was at the beginning of the year. We have to get that guy back. We have a lot of stuff we have to do.
“I’ll say it, I still love this team. I think we got a talented group. We gotta get back into what we have to do and be real specific with them and then hold them accountable. I mean, if they’re playing defense like that they think that’s acceptable and that comes back to me.”
On how much he attributes UK’s lack of rhythm on offense to Florida’s defense
“They did a good job. Again though, we missed one-footers and (Isaiah) missed three layups. Bam got the ball next to the goal and couldn’t get it down. I mean, they were coming off their four and did a pretty good job of just trying to block shots.
“Like I said, we’re down five and four, we have a chance and all of a sudden you just let go of the rope. It’s a long season. I’m glad I got the team I have, but it’s a long season.”
On what he said to the team afterward
“Very short. I mean, very shot. I just said, hey, either you’ll get back to work and we’ll do this – I said I’m not crackin’. I’ve been doing this 30 years. I’ve seen everything. So, I’ll go back to figuring out what I have to do to coach them. Like I said, I’m not crackin’. I don’t know if anybody in here is, but I told a couple guys you’re not playing well. You gotta play better. And part of that is you’re trying to do stuff you don’t need to do.
“Sometimes you gotta hit bottom, and maybe we have hit bottom, maybe we haven’t hit bottom. But I knew after Tennessee we had an issue. I said, ‘You’re going to lose the next two or three if you don’t change. We’re not passing the ball, we’re turning it over, we’re making hard plays, we’re making cute plays. We kind of got away, and we gotta get it back. At the end of the day, we know how they can play because we’ve all seen it. Now we see them at their worst. OK, now it’s a choice: do you want to be at your worst, do you want to be at your best?”
On whether this group reminds him of any he’s had before
“No, every group I have is different. This is my – how many years? – eight. Totally different team. They’re all different. They gotta grow up faster. They gotta understand, like, this means something to other teams when they play us. And their fans. And their students. It means something. So you can’t just go in and play. They were tipping balls from us, grabbing rebounds from us, sticking a guy—the big guy grabs the ball and it’s an and-one the minute you come in the game. Come on. I mean, come on. We had a lot of that. And now it’s, OK, what do you want from this? And I, again, the greatest thing is I got a talented group and they’re great kids. And we got no bad apple. We don’t have any of that. We’re just—we’re not playing well right now. And that’s—I’m coaching 17-, 18-, 19-year-old kids. It’s on me to figure this out. You think they can? They were just playing in Vegas eight months ago, playing three games a day. This is on me to figure out and if it means changing lineups, it means doing different things. My guess right now, with De’Aaron out, that has had an effect on us, but, you know, we’ll see.”
On the defense
“I have to watch the tape. To be honest with you, until I see the tape—I didn’t know they shot 76 percent or higher – because they may have shot higher. But I know at one point it was 76. I didn’t know that. I’m watching the game. I know that we’re getting beat in pick-and-rolls, but the biggest thing is, you can have a team come in and get hot. OK, Kasey Hill is not known as a jump shooter. He hit five straight shots. That happens against us. Guys have beer muscles. All of a sudden, they’re better than they are. I’m not saying—because I really like Kasey Hill and I like him as a player. I recruited him. But I’m saying that’s an example. It’s not that. It’s, why wouldn’t you fight for balls? Why don’t you think it’s important to go get these? Are they just better than us? Are they more active, more athletic than us? Why aren’t we? And a lot of it is you gotta watch the tape and show them. So, this didn’t just come on. This has been a month now.”
On whether they have any locker-room leaders to say this is not acceptable
“Yeah, but, again, it’s kind of like hard to make the club in the tub. If you’re not playing well, it’s hard to say something. So we have a lot of guys that aren’t playing real well right now, but, look, I’m going to go back to this: Florida outplayed us, out-coached us. They did everything sideways. It was a great environment. The new building looks great. They deserved to win. They wanted it worse than we wanted it, or at least it appeared that way.”