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Cal says Georgia game is hard game to win. Said they just need to be their best, and they weren't at Arkansas. Says if they battle they'll be fine.
Cal: 'At some point the light is going to go on. Now we don't have a whole lot of time. We're pressed for time.'
Cal: 'I believe this is going to be a heck of a story before all is said and done. It's time to empower them.'
Cal: 'Georgia plays well at home. They're going to be aggressive and physical. Mark has done a great job. I called him earlier in the year (and told him). We've got our work cut out for us.'
Cal: 'We have to fight and battle. That's the only thing that is going to work.'
Cauley-Stein: 'Your fate is in your hands. You practice to win but none of that matters if you don't have the right mentality (in games) and match your man's intensity.'
Cauley-Stein, on whether they have reached point of realizing time is short: 'You have to play like it's your last game, because it could be. How do you want to end it?'
Hood: 'What's on the line tomorrow night is a win or a loss. We don't care about the rest of it, Florida on Saturday, SEC Tournament, it's about tomorrow night.'
CALIPARI MAKES IT SOUND LIKE WINNING AND LOSING IS A CHOICE TO MAKE. HOW DOES THAT STRIKE YOU?
"I mean, it's like fate is in your hands. You practice and you workout to obviously win but none of that matters if you don't have the mentality to win, if you don't want to hustle around, get 50-50 balls, match the intensity of your man, it just goes out the window. That's what he means by you have the choice to win or lose."
YOU SAID AFTER THE ARKANSAS GAME YOU THOUGHT YOU ALL WERE PAST THE POINT OF PLAYING THAT WAY, HOW DO YOU GET PAST THAT NOW?
"You grind through it. Watch film. Obviously, you've got to see what you did wrong. During the game you don't feel like you were playing the way everybody was saying we played but then when you go back on film you can definitely see that (Arkansas) was playing with more intensity, playing tougher, they was punking us. You see that in film and you're like you don't want that to ever happen again. You just kind of have to approach it like that."
ALL YEAR LONG THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN TIME TO GET IT TOGETHER BUT IS THERE A SENSE THAT'S NO LONGER THE CASE, THAT IT MUST HAPPEN NOW?
"Yeah you think about that, but at the end of the day you've got to like get past that point like where we're running out of time, and you've just got to take it day by day and get your work in and approach the game like it is your last game. That's exactly what we have to do. This is going to be our last game. You've got to think about it like that. You could potentially have three more games, besides the SEC Tournament, but even then your games are limited and if you want to end it like that fast then that's the choice you talk about. We control our own fate."
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU ALL HAVE PLAYED SO DIFFERENTLY AT HOME AND AWAY?
"I don't know. I mean, a game is a game to me. I don't know what it's like for other people on the team, but like the game feeling is the same, whether you're getting booed or whether you're getting cheered on. It's all the same. You're still bouncing the same ball, shooting it in the same goal. You've just got to execute."
YOU'RE ONE OF THE FEW GUYS WITH SOME PERSPECTIVE AND WERE ON THAT TEAM TWO YEARS AGO THAT TOOK A LONG TIME TO PUT IT TOGETHER, DO YOU SEE ANYTHING IN THIS TEAM THAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE THAT CAN HAPPEN DOWN THE STRETCH?
"I believe any team can do that if they come together. You see all these Cinderella teams in the tournament that are playing their best at the end of the year. Any team can do it, so why can't we? We just need to come together, play as a team, play tough and we'll be fine."
WHAT CLICKED THAT SEASON?
"I don't know, I don't remember. It was just two years ago something happened though because Darius started playing like a man, Josh started picking it up and everybody just started playing well. Everybody coming together."
DO YOU ALL THINK ABOUT THE STAKES ON THE LINE IN GEORGIA GAME?
"The only thing that's on the line tomorrow night is a win and a loss. That's the only thing we're worried about, that's the only thing that's on our minds. We don't care about Florida on Saturday. We don't care about the SEC Tournament right now. We don't care about the NCAA, any of that. All we care about is playing our best, come out playing tough, together and doing what it takes to get a win."
HAVE YOU BEEN FOCUSING ON REBOUNDING MORE LATELY?
"I just want to come in and bring energy and try to bring as much of that as possible and as much toughness and fight that I can. With rebounding, there's a little luck to it too. Yeah, last game they all just kind of fell to me. This game they might not, whatever. I just try to bring energy and toughness and fight."
JOHN CALIPARI (Mar. 6)
ON HIS PRODECURE AND HOW HE’S FEELING:
“I had a double-knee replacement, but I bounced back pretty quickly (grinning). No, I had a procedure done on a tooth. I was out of town Sunday, so I had to do it Sunday night and then Monday … but it’ll be fine.”
ON SAYING THE NCAA TOURNAMENT SELECTION PROCESS IS ON A ‘BELL CURVE,’ THAT SOME TEAMS WITH F GRADES WILL GET IN – AND HOW IMPORTANT, THEN, IT IS THIS TIME OF THE YEAR TO AVOID A BAD LOSS:
“A lot of teams have F’s. A lot of teams have F’s. But again, we’re playing on the road; it’s a hard game to win. But what I’m worried about is just us being the best version of ourselves; we weren’t at Arkansas. We weren’t. They wanted it more. They played more physical. They came at us and we kind of backed away. It’s just – you’ve gotta go out an ball, gotta go out and compete, gotta go out and battle. If we do that, we’ll be fine. I don’t know if that means we’ll win, but I know my team will be fine. It’s what we’ve talked about, what we’ve been trying to stress.”
ON THE DIFFERENCE IN UK HOME AND AWAY WITHOUT NOEL:
“I don’t know. I’d like to tell you that we’re still a pretty good road team. It’s just the last two road games, we’ve been abysmal. And it’s been all about physical play. Our guard play has to be better. It just has to be. You watch Arkansas last night; they get beat by 30. And they didn’t faze Missouri, their guard play, at all. Didn’t faze them. For us, it just took us completely out of the game. And the crazy thing is, that being said, holding them to 34 percent and 25 percent from the three, if we just rebounded the ball and didn’t turn it over – because of the physical play, we turned it over – I think we’d have been fine. But it’s something that we’re still learning and trying to figure out. Like I said, we just, at some point the light’s gotta go on. And when it does, you’re going to see a team – and you’ve seen it at times. But now we don’t have a whole lot of time. You’re pressed now for time.”
ON HOW CONFIDENT HE IS THAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN:
“I still have the same vision. I told them: I believe in the team and I’m going out with the idea that we’re going to write a heck of a story. This is going to be a heck of a story before it’s all said and done – if you want it to. My other comment to them is it’s time to empower them, and if anybody’s letting go of the rope, you gotta get them off the floor. If anybody, the game is too rough or too tough, you as players get him off. Just tell them, ‘Man, you can’t be out here.’ And I don’t think we have one player that’s not capable of being physical and doing the things that you have to do. But sometimes when the game gets crazy, we’ve got guys that let go of the rope. We can’t do that, especially at this point.
“I think our team, whatever they want to be: Where do you want to go with this? How do you want to do this? Whatever you want it to be, it's gonna be. I think we've got a bunch of good guys that are still learning, and when stuff gets a little ragged they're not at their best, and that's where we got to learn.”
HOW HAVE YOU ALL PRACTICED THIS WEEK?
“They've been fine. They've been fine. Today was pretty good. This is more – forget about how you practice. Go in the games, the game's going to get rough. Battle back. If you're supposed to be handling the ball, handle the ball. Go get it. If you're supposed to rebound the ball, guess what? Go rebound. 'Well, that guy's working really hard.' Well then work harder than him. Go get balls. Beat them to balls. Beat them to 50/50 balls. It's not schemes; it's not. We're still shooting a very high percentage from both the three-point line, the two-point line. Our free throw shooting is OK. Our assist-to-turnover ratio only when the games get rough does it go the wrong way, because we got guys that don't want the ball 'cause the game's too rough. We got to get to where we want the ball in a rough game. So the only way that happens is demonstrated performance during games. So it's good that we got another good game, and it's another tough game. They're good at home. They're 8-8 in our league. They're good at home. They play well in that building. We're going to have to play a good basketball game to have a chance to win.”
WILL GEORGIA PRESS AND TRAP YOU ALL?
“I think they'll be aggressive. They may not spread the court like Arkansas, but they're still going to be aggressive and physical and they're going to pressure us when they have the opportunity to. Mark's done a great job. I called him earlier in the year, and I just thought the job he's doing with his team to get them to be in a position to win games, which is what he's done, phenomenal job. We got our work cut out for us.
“But, look, we're a good team. Let's go do what we do. Let's go on the road. It's going to be a tough environment. Where do we want the season to go? Well, fight like heck. Fight. Battle. None of the other stuff's going to work. The only thing that's going to work is you go in and want this thing badly. We can't control how Georgia's gonna play. Arkansas did not play that well. And they beat us. That was, come on, man. You got to play better than we played. And really it wasn't running offense or schemes on defense. It was just, 20 offensive rebounds, 19 turnovers, and it wasn't against the press. It was right there when we started driving or in the half court or that kind of stuff. And we're better than that. I know the team's better than that. Now we're just going to have to go prove it on the court.”
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