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A big thanks to KYForward.com's Jon Hale for sending these along. I was traveling today so we swapped out quotes from last night and today. Anyways, here are Calipari's thoughts from today:
On importance of Saturday's game versus Florida
This is a one-game season. And it will be every game we play from here on out. It’s a one-game season. We’ll talk about it today. That’s what it is: a one-game season. Now are you going to fight like heck, play through the ups and downs of a game, or are you gonna die? I can’t put it any more plainly or bluntly.
On how confident he is about which one they will do
You don’t know until the game starts with this group. But I think when you starting figuring out, ‘I’m going to die,’ you start figuring out ways to survive. That’s normal. Unless you’re so delusional you don’t know you’re about to die until you’re like, ‘I’m dead.’
But this team, we’re going to make it real simple what we’re trying to do. I watched the tape of (the previous UF) game on the plane coming back. Gotta be better versus the press, and we gave them four threes just not talking. Just a handoff up the sideline twice; Alex got screened twice, never said a word. Bang-bang, those four threes put us down at half 12 or 13. Other than that, we played good. I watched the tape. It wasn’t Nerlens playing that great. We were fine. Got it to 10, had our chances, did some stuff, but we’ve got to have better structure against the press. We’ve got to be more consistent and disciplined in what we’re doing defensively. And we just can’t have the breakdowns we had down there.
On if he's glad the last regular season game is a chance for a quality win
I just want to win games, so it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. To be truthful, if we beat Georgia, we still had to win this game. I didn’t want to say that down there, but that was the truth. We had to win. This is the game you’ve gotta go and say, ‘All right, it’s a one-game season. How are you going to play?’ And you’re playing against a team that’s vying for a 1-seed. They’re playing for something, too, now. They’re trying to get a 1-seed. So it’s going to be a hard ballgame. But that’s what we need.
We need to keep the eye on this program, the far-reaching parts of it, not just tomorrow’s game. Where is this going? Who can be a part of it? Who can’t? When this kind of game comes, this is what playing at Kentucky is about. You’re at home. You’re going to have 25,000 crazy fans with you. Go ball. You’re not holding anything back.
On what assist he wants from the crowd
Our crowd has been great. They'll be there. I'm not worried about our crowd. That's the least of my worries.
On if this team sees it as life or death
I don't know. I don't know. The best compliment I had as a coach was from the players from Manhattan College -- when I was coaching at UMASS -- said, 'You know? Playing Massachusetts, it's like if they lose, they're gonna go to the electric chair.' The greatest compliment ever paid my team. I've told every team that. You've got to have that kind of fight, and my teams normally do. This team does not right now. You can turn it on at any point.
It's kind of like, 'Uh Oh. If I go under one more time I'm gonna drown. I better start swimming.' Then all the sudden you start swimming. The cars laying on you, it's on your leg, you gotta lift a 3,000 pound car. It's funny how you figure out how to lift it to get it off your leg so you don't die, so you can get out of there and get help. This team can do what they chose to do. I would say they're tired of how we're playing, but we're going to have to go out a do it.
On Julius Mays' recent offensive struggles
They've kind of taken him away. I'm not worried about Julius either. They're gonna guard him. If we play the way we should against pressure and all the other stuff, he'll get shots, and I have confidence that he'll make some. We need him to score to be as good as we can be.
Again, Georgia, the whole thing was we're not going to put them on the foul line. That was the whole thing: we're not putting them on the foul line, they're going to beat us shooting balls. So we hold them to 36 percent…Fouling jump shooters. What? I don't understand. That's the kind of stuff…We can't, this game, here's the gameplan. Let's go for it. Let's do it. I think, again, the couple guys -- it's not the whole team -- you have a couple guys that break down and they're just going to have to step up and play. No choice.
On where this team would be without a guy like Julius Mays
We would struggle, but we needed everybody. We needed Nerlens (Noel), we needed Julius, but you also needed guys to be the best version of themselves, not getting mauled over. You needed them to be what they could be. Now, I'm just saying, 'You're up against it. That's what you're going to have to do now.' This is…I'm good.
This is part of what you do, the exciting part of what you do as a coach. How do you get your team – when they're in this frame of mind – how do you switch this thing over and get them ready to play? What do you do? And so you rack your brain and try to come up with some things. There's no rabbit in the hat – 'Yah! We got one!' It's simply going to be, 'We're up against it. Are you willing to ball?' You're up against it. Are you willing to ball? Are you going to? Or are you going to have man-made excuses before we start the game? Let's just go. Nothing to lose. Let's go for it.
On if Scottie Wilbekin's approach is what he'd like to see from his players
What are you saying? We've had that. We've had Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist), we've had Marquis Teague. We've had guys to do that. DeAndre (Liggins). We've had guys that did it. We're just, no one wants to take on that role (this year). It's a hard role. But (Wilbekin's) done what he's supposed to for that team, which changes up the game. Now, the question is, he didn't do that to Missouri, Missouri's guards. And Arkansas didn't do that to Missouri's guards. They got beat by 30. Just, 'You're not gonna do that to me.' And that's what I'm saying. We're capable and we've shown signs, so this is one of those ones, let's get out there and play.
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