Kentucky Basketball Previews LSU – University of Kentucky Athletics – UKAthletics

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LSU at KENTUCKY PREGAME MEDIA
JAN. 22, 2021
JOE CRAFT CENTER – LEXINGTON, KY.
 
ASSISTANT COACH JOEL JUSTUS   
 
On how the players reacted to the loss at Georgia …
“I think it goes in phases. When you lose a game, a tough game, I think there’s the anger, there’s disappointment, it sets in initially. And same thing for coaches. Probably the same thing for fans. Our guys are having to, you know, continue with their resolve. They’re having to continue with a fighting mentality of getting better. With us being an inexperienced team, you know, the only way you become experienced is to go through things like we went through the other night or seasons or games or practices that we’ve gone through. So, I think our guys are understanding where we are and the biggest thing that we’ve got to do is to continue to, you know, have a clear mental picture of where we want to go both individually, but also as a team. When you then settle in after the game and take a look at the body of work and not the last play you then see and get a bigger picture of what, you know, what the game was, as opposed to just one play or the last two minutes.”
 
On what this team’s ceiling is …
“I think that we don’t know that. I think as we sit here on January 22nd, you know, our story is still being written individually, as well as a team. And that’s why it’s a story and it’s a season. It’s not one game. It’s not a collection of games. It’s an entire season of games. Our jobs as coaches is to continue to keep our guys working towards becoming a better version of themselves with the understanding that our team can become a better version when our individuals are at their best. So, for us, like I said, it’s daily improvement with the understanding that it’s a process. And for all of us, it’s keeping our heads down and going to work.”
 
On Brandon Boston Jr.’s improved play at Georgia …
“I think for BJ, as much as it is for all of our guys, he’s a great kid with extreme talent. He’s a young guy who has had a rough start, but like I said, his story is still being written. There’s another few lines or chapter that gets to be written today. He’s a young guy that is figuring it out. It’s why you go to college. It’s why you come to Kentucky. You come to be challenged. You come here to work. You come here to test yourself against elite competition, to be coached by a staff of people that are going to spend time with you, that are going to develop relationships with you, that are going to be with you when things are great, when things are not great. And BJ is taking full advantage of that. He’s taken advantage of an experienced former head coach like Bruiser Flint. He’s taken advantage of one of the top young assistant coaches in the country in Jai Lucas. He spent time with an experienced, who’s known John Calipari, who’s a Hall of Fame coach, like John Robic. He’s spent time with me. So, BJ is doing everything he can to put himself, you know, in a better place mentally as well as you know when he steps on the court for practice. He had a great couple of practices last week. I don’t think anybody was surprised that he played as well as he did at Georgia. So, the key now is to continue to work towards that.”
 
On how this season has impacted recruiting …
“I think the biggest thing in recruiting is getting to know those individuals. That’s the key. I think when we’re talking recruiting, you’re talking about their season. You’re talking about their feelings. You’re talking about their dreams, what they want out of their experience at the University of Kentucky and coming to play for a Hall of Fame coach with a staff that’s going to be with you, is going to challenge you, that’s going to love you. You’re going to be on the greatest stage of college basketball playing in front of the greatest fans that is out there in our sport. So, for us, I think that nothing has really changed whether we were 13- 0, or 0-0, or whatever. We have a great product here, and our thing is to continue to communicate that to families and people that want to come here, that want to be built different, that want to be on the greatest stage, to come to a world-class university and challenge themselves every day. So, it’s more about I think when you’re recruiting the individual, the family and you get to the bottom of what they want to become.”
 
On should the players be playing desperate or still just take it day-by-day …
“You know, Kent (Spencer), we talk about playing desperate every single day. I’ve been here seven years and that’s been something that we’ve talked about from the first second that we are with our young people. You’ve got to play desperate in basketball. You have to play confident. You have to play desperate. It has to mean more to you than it does anyone else. I think we coach with desperation. This is important to us. It’s important to our staff. It’s important to our head coach. It’s important to our players. It’s important to the players that have played here in the past, and I think if you were to ask each one of them, they would say that we talked about being desperate. If this is what you want to do for your profession, whether you’re a coach or whether you’re a player, you have to be desperate. You have to come in every single day with that sense that this is the most important day of my life and I have to get better. Whether it’s 1%, 2% percent, you can control that. You can control your attitude when you wake up. And are you listening to how you feel or are you talking to yourself about how you feel about our season whether your 13-0 or 4-9? This is about coming in today and getting better. This is about challenging myself. This is about challenging my teammates. It’s about being coachable. It’s about listening to our head coach. And when you do that and you have that sense of desperation, good things are going to happen.”
 
On how will LSU rebound after suffering a 30-point loss …
“You know, I don’t know Jerry (Tipton). I know that I’ve been in our practices this week, preparation for Georgia, was in practice yesterday for our guys and I know that we have a group that is excited to play. Much like every single game that we have, we’re focused on ourselves. I know that Will (Wade) and his staff are coaching their team to become better as well. LSU is a strong opponent. They’re going to come in and give us their best shot, I know. We’ll be ready.”
 
On LSU’s Cameron Thomas …
“I think he’s an elite scorer who can score at all three levels. He’s very confident and very aggressive on the offensive end. He presents, you know, an extreme challenge. The second the ball goes from our possession to theirs and that’s something that you’ve got to be alert, you’ve got to be ready, we’ve got to be ready. It’s not just a one-person assignment. It’s a collective group in transition where it starts and then as you get into the half court you’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to be ready. Everybody has a responsibility. I think for the most part, when you’re watching us play defense, I think we’re doing a good job. We’ve just got to figure out how we can score some points.”
 
On how you improve toughness and the desire to win 50-50 balls …
“I think you can look at it a couple of different ways, Larry (Vaught). I think there’s the one school of thought that says, ‘OK, we’re going to come in today and roll the ball out and watch kids dive on the floor and knock each other over and scream and yell. Then we’re going to put a rim, you know, above the rim that forces you to miss and we’re just going to watch them go bash into each other and yell at them and scream at them.’ I think at the end of the day, it comes down to our players executing. Oftentimes you don’t get 50-50 balls because maybe you’re not in the right spot defensively, maybe you’re not on your toes, maybe you’re not bouncing, maybe you’re not engaged. Part of those 50-50 balls is maybe the half a second, a second or two seconds before the shot was taken, so now you’re in a bad position to even come up with a rebound, come up with a 50-50 ball, come up with the right angle to go and what we would say, crack up or crack down. Maybe you’re not paying attention to see that your teammate went to go block a shot, so now as a guard, you’re supposed to go in and cover for his man. That happens sometimes. As a big man, like I said, maybe you’re too worried about your man and there’s a guard driving and you don’t go to block the shot on time, so you missed the block and they get the shot off and now we’re in a difficult rotation. So, there’s a lot of different things that go into it and I think for us, what we’re trying to do is spend time with our guys. Going over the film, showing them the entire possession as opposed to just the 50-50 ball that everyone kind of points to. So, for us, it’s just taking that time and teaching and spending time with these guys to get down to the bottom of why we are where we are and whether it’s a 50-50 ball, whether it’s our offensive execution, that’s just where you’ve got to go at this point.”
 
On Boston being more productive off the bench at Georgia while Dontaie Allen struggled as a starter …
“Well, if you have that book if you could send it over, I’ll put my address in the chat after this and if you could shoot that over because I don’t know that ‘Coaching 101’ manual that I have tells you how to handle a pandemic, how to handle injuries, how to handle everything that we’re going through this year. So, if it’s in the archives over there at the Herald-Leader, you shoot that right over. And if there’s something in there about substitutions patterns, let me know. But, I think what Coach Cal has done with this group is amazing in terms of keeping a positive attitude, of keeping our guys on their toes. When you look at the different starting lineups, I think it’s seven that we’ve had. We’ve had seven now different starting lineups. I think we’re looking for different things. We’re trying to put our players in the best position for them to feel success. I think you talked about Devin Askew, brought him off the bench a little bit and had him take a step back earlier. We’ve talked about getting Dontaie (Allen) some more minutes, maybe playing through some mistakes and then brought him off the bench. He comes to coach yesterday and says, ‘Maybe I feel better coming off the bench.’ BJ has started, what was it, 12 games and then came off the bench for one and played really well. Does that have anything to do with him starting? Or does it have to do with, hey, look, his story is starting to change right now. He’s got 12 games of experience under his belt. He’s practicing with more confidence. So, I’m not sure that starting, not starting, I mean, there’s also guys that start the second half. I think that’s something in the coaching 100 manual that I have. You know, you have to put a starting lineup out there for the second half as well as the first. I think for us, with Coach Cal with what he’s doing, he’s continuing to work with our guys. He’s having individual meetings. He’s spending time, just like Coach Brusier, Jai, myself, our entire staff is working with these guys to figure out, ‘Hey, how can we help you?’ I think that’s the biggest thing when you coach young people, to sit down and we oftentimes tell them what to do, what to do, what to do. Oftentimes you have to say, ‘Hey, how can I help you?’ There’s not anybody better in our business of doing that than John Calipari. In a year like this, it’s been amazing to watch, as I consider myself still as a young assistant, you know, how he handles a season like this. He’s been extremely positive with this group. He’s been extremely, you know, caring with them and spending extra time with them. And like I said, our story is continuing to be written.”  

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LSU at KENTUCKY PREGAME MEDIA
JAN. 22, 2021
JOE CRAFT CENTER – LEXINGTON, KY.
 
#3 Brandon Boston Jr., G, Fr.
 
On what type of difference it made for him against Georgia coming off the bench …
“Coming off the bench, I feel like I could see the game before it happens just watching my team go out there and start the game and just cheering them on and bringing the energy when I got on the court. But it really didn’t affect me coming off the bench or starting. I still bring the same energy and same confidence with me.”
 
On how difficult this season has been mentally …
“This season has been a rough season, a rough start. Not really what we wanted, but it’s the cards we we’ve been dealt. We’re working hard every day. Cal is on us every day just trying to teach us to be better and a better group of men and a better team. We’ve just got come together and fight every game now.”
 
On if this season has been more difficult individually than he would have imagined …
“Oh yeah, for sure. I’ve been struggling, but I’ve just been staying positive and staying in the gym working my tail off and just keeping up good spirits knowing that I’ve been having a rough start. But everything is going to change.”
 
On what is the biggest lesson he’s learned so far …
“What surprised me those first couple of games, I would say just fighting for 40 minutes, competing, just playing as a team, coming together knowing we need each other more than ever.”
 
On if that game against Georgia gave hm confidence and how much he needed a game like that …
“It gave me a lot of confidence, but I feel like I could have done more to help my team come out with a win. That’s the main goal is obviously to win the game.”
 
On the mood of the team …
“I wouldn’t say we’re discouraged. Obviously, everybody would be mad with this kind of record. We should be better, but I feel like we’ve been putting the hard work in. We’ve just got to keep our heads high and keep going.”
 
On if the report was right that he was in the gym the other night shooting until 2 a.m. and what made him decide to go in there and shoot that late …
“Basketball is really all that’s on my mind, so it’s really the only thing that helps me escape reality. So, I just went in there at midnight. I left around 2:30, just putting up shots.”
 
On if he was by himself the whole time …
“It was me and Cam’Ron Fletcher.”
 
On how Coach Calipari has helped him through this adversity …
“Just telling me, just trying to help me create new habits and break all the bad habits I have on the court and just play the game the right way. He’s just been trying to help me do that.”
 
On if there is an assistant that has taken him under his wing and gotten with him extra …
“Yeah, Jai Lucas. He’s getting in the gym with me. Tony Barbee. They’ve been helping me a lot with my shot.”
 
On how difficult it has been to break bad habits from high school …
“It’s been kind of tough because I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s a challenge that I’ve accepted and a challenge I’ve been taking on since I’ve been here. I’m just growing and learning every day.”
 
On playing a team that lost by 30 points last game and how that plays on his mind …
“It doesn’t really affect me. I would say we’ve got to go out there and play team basketball and play to win. Just compete and fight and play our game.”
 
On what some of the bad habits are that he’s trying to break …
“Really just taking extra dribbles when I don’t have to. Just getting downhill and finishing strong. Don’t flip the ball. Just try to dunk it every time I go in there and just go in there and attack the rim hard.”
 
On how much thinking about all the numbers has impacted him instead of just playing …
“I don’t really pay attention to the numbers. I just have a lot of confidence in myself that I know the next shot I shoot is going to go in.”
 
On if there is a big difference between all those numbers and processing it and just playing basketball on instinct …
“I would say I play on instinct every time I step on the court.”
 
On why he flips the ball at the rim …
“I feel like those are the types of shots I can make so I do it, but obviously they’re not going in so I’ve just got to go in and attack the rim strongly.”
 

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