You’ve gotta love the home games when the good YouTube people at Kentucky Wildcats TV put up videos of highlights, Coach Cal’s post game press conference, and interviews with players. There’s some pretty good stuff this time, with a lot of focus being put on Willie Cauley-Stein’s blonde hair. Definitely worth watching. If you’d prefer to read rather than watch, here’s a full (albeit rough) transcript that we typed up of the videos.
QUESTION: What did you think about the way you guys defended them, obviously, the second leading scoring team in the country, and just what you did with them defensively?
JOHN CALIPARI: We had pressure on the ball, we picked up, like I said, we’re still trying to figure things out as a team and how we have to play. You know, I wished we had played that way [against Baylor I presume], with that kind of pressure against the ball. The other thing we were able to do in this game was we were able to switch–a lot–and there’s other games where you won’t be able to do that. There was a lot of good play. We turned the ball over way too much–just cross court passes, give it up earlier, holding onto the ball with three guys, you know, bad post feed for no reason. We just had a lot of turnovers and it was a sagging man-to-man. It was like they were out trapping us and going nuts. And let me say this, that team is as hard to guard as anybody you’ll play. They spread the court, they can shoot threes, and I told them before the game, I told coach, I said, “Hey, you guys run the dribble drive better than we ran it back in Memphis.” And they spaced the court, Marks who can get to his left hand, #3, and #11. They missed some threes that they normally make. The game would’ve been closer. But we rebounded the ball–you know, did some good stuff.
QUESTION: What did you think of the effect Willie had on the defensive side, he had 9 blocks again?
JOHN CALIPARI: Yeah, but more importantly he was able to switch out on guards and played them, they couldn’t score on him. And that’s a problem when you’re a guard, you think this guy can’t guard me I’m going to drive right around him, and the 9 blocks is, like I said, incredible what he did. I thought Andrew ran the team better. James and Aaron shot the ball better–scored the ball better, I should say. You know, started the game again missing free throws, but then down the stretch made them all. Look, this is a work in progress. We still have stuff we’re gonna keep experimenting with and trying until we get it right. But, whatever we do, you have to take it personal, and look at the other guy and say, “I’m going after you.” You’ve got to take it personal. So, whether we’re trapping, whether we’re zoning, whatever we’re doing, you’ve gotta go and play, and hopefully we will.
QUESTION: Cal you said yesterday you wanted to go to your bench more, that you’re guys played too many minutes against Baylor. How much of a concerted effort tonight did you like the way… giving Willie that much rest?
JOHN CALIPARI: I loved it. And there are games that Dakari it’ll be an easier game–this was a hard game for Dakari, and I told him before the game… look they’ve got 9 guards out there at one time. You’ve got no one you can guard, and they’re going to put you in every pick-and-roll and try to make you guard guards, and they did stuff that you knew that a normal team–they don’t play a normal way and that’s why, you know, what we did today was special. I thought Dominique played well, I thought Alex played well, you know, it’s nice to be able to take Willie off, I like Alex and Julius in together. You know, I mean that’s a good team. And we worked on that yesterday. Like, OK you two are in together, here’s what we’re going to run.
QUESTION: John, you said before that you didn’t think you’d be able to do that switching with everybody. What sort of factors would cause you not to be able to do that, and then what do you turn to in those circumstances?
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, there’s a couple things you can do. You can turn down pick-and-rolls, make them go down the sideline. Play them into your big people. You can trap pick-and-rolls, make us more aggressive. Or you can wall up and make the guard fight over the top. Now that’s what we did at Baylor, and our guard hit dead center of the screener every time–and then ran in place three steps, and then tried to get around the screen. As you watched today, I thought Andrew, Aaron, all of them, fought over the screen. We’re capable of doing it. It’s hard though. I’d rather not do it that way cause it’s harder. But, you know, we have some things we can do. Look, we could be a terrific zone team, too. We’re so big and long, but you’ve gotta work at zone. In other words, you’ve gotta play harder in the zone then you do in the man-to-man because you can’t stop. You’re bouncing, you’re covering. In most cases, you’ve gotta give them low percentage shots, which means short corner shots, you can’t just give up threes that are uncontested even though you’re in a zone, they’ll get some. So, we’ve been working on it. You know, whether we’re able to go to it, I don’t know yet, but I think we’ve got some things–we’re pressing more now. We did a couple different things in the press–this team is a hard to press as they have four guards, so you basically just go man-to-man and try to pick ’em up and ware them down a little bit and that’s what we were doing.
QUESTION: John you said that in future games you might not be able to switch as much with your big guys, why not?
JOHN CALIPARI: Because they may have a center that our point guard cannot guard–that they’re just going to throw to and now all of a sudden you trap and you’re giving up you’re giving up shots and you’re better off fighting over the top, walling up, making it a tough shot, forcing it down, doing something different. Because, the other side of it, you know, with Dakari, you cannot switch because he can’t guard the guard. So you can’t switch. But with Julius, with Alex, with Willie, you can switch.
QUESTION: When you talk about guys going after guys and kind of looking them in the eye, is that something you saw tonight, or not?
JOHN CALIPARI: I think they were better. I asked them after the game, “Did you talk better?” Yes. You noticed we huddled, and how about this one, we touched each other. And in the huddles we talked to one another. And you may have noticed, when a guy came out of the game, they all stood up, expect one time they didn’t, and I jumped the bench, and they touched him. You touch and talk, that’s how you start becoming a team and coming together. And again, you can’t be in your own thing, and it stuff that we have to teach. I thought that we moved our feet better. All the stuff that we’ve been working on, we did better today. It’s just that we’ve got so many areas that we gotta continue to work on…
QUESTION: Cal, you’ve always said with your teams that at some point they’ll be unleashed and that you’ll be able to see it. How far is this team, or how close is this team to that?
JOHN CALIPARI: We’re not close. I’ll give you an example. There were 20 seconds on the shot clock and Andrew just ran in and ran the kid over. PULL IT OUT! But he should know that–he doesn’t know that yet. What I did like was we went to our grind-it-out stuff, and he went on the baseline and he yelled at Julius so he and Julius knew what the play was. And he caught it and drove baseline, got fouled and made two free throws. Game over. Big, big for us. We’re communicating, it’s two of us working together. Three of us working together or five of us working together. But we’ve got a ways to go. And then, we had one of these games, and we came back and we reverted. We stepped back. So this is going to be an every day process. We now have gotta go to North Carolina–on the road–you know, it’s going to be a hard game. We have two days of practice. The good news is, then we’ve got finals, and we’ve got time. So we got, after that, I believe we’ve got a week and after that another week, so we have time. Whatever we’re going to do, and changes we’re going to make, we have time.
QUESTION: Cal, what was your reaction when you saw Willie for the first time after his trip to the barber shop?
JOHN CALIPARI: Um, there are two things I said I’m not. I’m not the tattoo police, and I’m not the hair police. I don’t care how you make your hair look. But I’ll say this, Willie, looking like that, you’d better play. And there was a guy that used to do that to his hair, and he also wore wedding dresses, but he killed you. He would shut you out and get every rebound, play 40 minutes, and then I saw him on the treadmill after the game. In our building. Like I heard (woo woo woo [treadmill noises]), who’s on the treadmill in there? When I was coaching the Nets… it was Rodman. He had just played 40 minutes, had like 18 rebounds, and he went on the treadmill. You can paint your hair all you want, just be like him.
QUESTION: Coach, kind of along that same note, before the season you said that Willie had the potential to be one of the better players you maybe ever coached. What have you seen from him this season, at least the last couple of games… [cut off by Cal].
JOHN CALIPARI: Well, here’s the problem now. What happened last game. All you basketball Bennies? What happened last game? The game was very physical. He didn’t perform. So that’s his last challenge, that’s his last test. When it gets physical, will he get lower and play that kind of game? Because when he gets that, it’s on. Right now he does not have that. If the game gets real physical, he gets tired, he stands up and he gets knocked around. You know, that leverage of getting low, he doesn’t know it yet. And also making shots, he may fade on that now versus the way he’s playing right now, which is attacking the basket. Thanks guys.
QUESTION: So the whole world wants to know… tell me about the hair and why you did it, and who do you think it looks?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I don’t know. Um, what was your question?
QUESTION: Do you like your hair, do you hate your hair, do you love your hair?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I LOVE it. No. It’s boredom. Spent a lot of time in a dorm room, being on curfew all the time, it really gets you thinking a lot. You stare at the wall a lot, and you just get a little crazy thought. I mean, it’s not bad, but I don’t know, I guess I like it.
QUESTION: Did it turn out the way you wanted it?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Yeah. I mean, you put blonde in your hair, it’s going to turn blonde.
QUESTION: Cal said he’s not in charge of tattoos, he’s not in charge of the color of hair, but he said if you have hair like that, you’d better play.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: You’ve gotta ball with it, that’s what he said today.
QUESTION: Some fans were concerned about you going to get your hair dyed was really taking away from your practice time. Do you think you answered that?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Yeah, I don’t understand that. I could say I’m going to get something to eat so I can be energized for the game. WHY AREN’T YOU IN THE GYM SHOOTING FREE THROWS? I gotta get energized for the game, what ‘choo mean? I swear, it be like that all the time. I could tweet hot dogs–some random thing–and they’ll come up with something crazy to say back to it, but it’s fun just to sometimes do it. Say the most random thing and see what people tweet back at you.
QUESTION: Do you have a name for this hair style?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: No. No, I don’t.
QUESTION: What message or what does it say , do you think?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Are we going to talk about basketball?
MEDIA MEMBER: No, we’re not. We’re going to talk about hair and grooming.
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Um… whatever man. Whatever you want it to say. That’s what it means.
QUESTION: Did you think about a triple-double tonight, cause at one point you were kind of close and then it kind of faded away?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Not at all. I was just trying to play hard, but I was having a little Sickle Cell problem. You know, my chest was starting to hurt, so I had to just keep on subbing myself in and out so I wasn’t able to play the minutes that I normally play, but I just try to go as hard as I could, when I could, and come out whenever I started to feel real fatigue.
QUESTION: What do you mean by Sickle Cell problem?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Umm, I have the Sickle Cell trait, so some days it’s just randomly where I’ll have like real bad chest pain, and I can’t, like, breathe, my heartrate won’t come down, so then, I’ve gotta stop and wait for it to come down.
QUESTION: Are you on medication or been tested?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: No.
QUESTION: Coach mentioned Dennis Rodman. How familiar are you with his way he played, the way he looked?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: Um, one thing I take from Dennis Rodman is he played a very, which is kind of smart, psychological warfare on the basketball court. He did a lot of crazy, weird things. I won’t do none of the weird stuff he’s doing, maybe dye my hair, but I ain’t wearing no wedding dress or nothing. I mean, he just did crazy things and it makes people think about him, like you need to be focused about the game, why are you focused on my hair? You know what I’m saying?
QUESTION: You are one block off the pace that Anthony Davis had in terms of blocked shots when he set the record. Have you seen that improvement, are you more comfortable defensively this season in your second year?
WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN: I think I just know what I have to do now. Last year I was in between in what I was trying to do, and this year is just try to fly around and block every shot I can, or at least contest it.
QUESTION: The way you guys switch so much, how important is that communication, have you ever played in a system where you switched that much on defense?
JAMES YOUNG: Not really. Once I got here I wasn’t familiar with it because I was just used to just face guarding the guy all the time. So, it took us some time to get used to it, but we’re getting better at it. Communicating is a really big part of it.
QUESTION: Do you feel like it’s too soon to kind of think about North Carolina now, or do you kind of look at that and say, OK that’s the kind of game we need to play to prepare for North Carolina?
JAMES YOUNG: Oh yeah, definitely. We’re all thinking about the North Carolina game. By tomorrow, by the end of tonight, actually, this game is just going to go in the past and we just think about the next game and just try to play as good as we did tonight.
QUESTION: What do you think about Willie’s hair?
JAMES YOUNG: I like it. It’s real different. My hair was like that actually in the summer, so we all like different stuff, I like different things, and it’s just separating yourselves from everybody.
QUESTION: Would you go back to wearing blonde like Willie if he asked you to?
JAMES YOUNG: Probably not. I like how my hairstyle is right now.
QUESTION: Talk about your shooting tonight. You got back in rhythm.
JAMES YOUNG: Yeah, I got some extra shots before practice. I got in an hour earlier, and once we got here, I got here before a couple of us and got more shots up; and I think that’s what really helped during the game.
QUESTION: It seemed like with the big guys entry to the post allowed you guys on the perimeter to get some better looks, something that’s improved over the last couple of games. Have you seen that entry to the post helping you find some spots on the perimeter?
JAMES YOUNG: Yeah. We’ve been working on that during practice a lot, and I think that’s what helped us in the game. Just getting it to Julius, everybody collapses, and we just got open shots. We just started to get used to it and started hitting the open shot.
JULIUS RANDLE: What? Would I have liked it? I liked it a lot. It was pretty cool, I mean a picture, but I liked it more in person. I like it.
QUESTION: There might be more to come it sounds like.
JULIUS RANDLE: From who?
MEDIA MEMBER: Willie.
JULIUS RANDLE: Oh, yeah, maybe from him.
MEDIA MEMBER: Not you?
JULIUS RANDLE: No, my mom would kill me.
MEDIA MEMBER: In other words, you might be a potential All-American player, but moms are still among us?
JULIUS RANDLE: Yeah, she would be the first one here to Kentucky.
QUESTION: Can you talk about–do you watch football?
JULIUS RANDLE: Yeah, I love football.
MEDIA MEMBER: What about Marshawn Lynch, do you watch him?
JULIUS RANDLE: Marshawn Lynch… I know it’s the running back for… oh, he’s on Seattle? Yeah, yeah, yeah, OK.
MEDIA MEBMER: They call him beast mode. I feel like you’re kind of like beast mode in the paint. Can you talk about that a little bit when you get the ball down there?
JULIUS RANDLE: Uh, what do you want me to say?
MEDIA MEMBER: No one can get it from you, it seems like.
JULIUS RANDLE: Yeah, my mom told me to be strong with the ball, so I guess you can credit her for that.
QUESTION: I think, what he’s asking you is about a mentality of the beast mode mentality is what I think it’s coming from.
JULIUS RANDLE: Yeah, I mean, that’s just kind of the mentality that I have–that killer instinct from watching the others that have done it before me. Other great players, so it’s just kind of rubbed off on me–just an attacking mode. You know, I’m always in an attacking mode. Sometimes that can get me in a little bit of trouble, but it works out a lot.
QUESTION: What did you guys learn about yourselves, about what it’s going to take the rest of the way in Dallas?
JULIUS RANDLE: That we can do this. We’ve just gotta keep building on it. You know, we’re going to make mistakes, you know, we’re inexperienced, but that’s never an excuse for effort, and we’re just going to have to keep building on that.
QUESTION: Was this a step forward, did it feel like a step forward?
JULIUS RANDLE: I think so, I mean the team scores what, 92 points a game and we held them out to 55. So, I think we did a pretty good job, but there were still some breakdowns and a lot of stuff we could’ve worked on; but I think we took a step forward.