Watch: Kentucky basketball prepares for Michigan State

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LEXINGTON, Ky (WYMT)- Watch Coach John Calipari, Ashton Hagans, and Immanuel Quickley preview Tuesday's matchup against Michigan State.

John Calipari:

On anything he will change from last year’s State Farm Champions Classic game to this year in preparation for the game …

“I don’t think it was quite us. They were really good. They deserved to win by 50 the way the game played. Their guys played better than my guys. But, I would also tell you that at the end of the year, if you think that we would have had three guys go in the (NBA) draft and then go into the league doing what they’re doing, if you had watched that game you would have said it’s never happening. These guys know. I mean, this is so early in the season, I can’t predict what goes on. They have a veteran, a couple of veterans, but really their veteran quarterback (Cassius Winston), which makes them go. It can be like, if you remember Tyler Ulis went up there (to the 2015 Champions Classic) and just dominated the game. You’re at the mercy of that guy a little bit. But I’m anxious to see really where we are right now. I wish we didn’t play this game the first game of the year, but I’ve said it before. Why don’t we have a couple of games under our belt before we do this? But, you know, everybody agreed to do it.”

On Winston …

“He’s a good player. Plays with great pace. Plays with patience. Knows what he does well. And he’ll play for all 40 minutes. You’re not going to take him out. The first five minutes of the game are not going to dictate how he plays.”

On the matchup between Winston and Ashton Hagans and how nice it is to have Hagans …

“(It’s nice) if he doesn’t foul. If you’re trying to keep this kid (Winston) from scoring, you’re going to foul. What you’re trying to do is if the kid gets 25, just make them a hard 25. I expect our guys to be anxious. I don’t know what will happen with the young kids. You just don’t. You can’t predict it.”

On Nick Richards’ status …

“It’s still day-to0day. We’ll see if he can give us a little practice time today, but probably nothing live and see what he can do tomorrow. If he’s timid with it, he shouldn’t play. Not in this game. We’ll just have to see.”

On his relationship with Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo on and off the court …

“Well, he and I have been friends for a long time. I respect the fact that he not only is about Michigan State, he’s about the kids and he’s about the game. If there’s anything that needs to be done that’s going to make the game better or the game better for the kids, he’s all in. He also speaks his mind,

which I appreciate. I think he and I are of the age at this point where you say things you kind of wish at times you didn’t say – you say them anyway. As a basketball coach, you know, he’s as good as they get, and his teams, just watching the tape, it’s the same deal. They’re going to play. You’re not beating them just by saying, ‘Well, we’re going to take their lunch money.’ You’re not, and they’re not going to beat themselves. You’re going to have to play a heck of a game to try to have a chance to win just because of how they play, how they defend, how tough they are. All of the stuff that we try teach these young guys and it just takes us a lot of time to do it.”

On the other team taking UK’s lunch money …

“Well, the only thing that we’ve been working on is them understanding what toughness is, and it’s not pushing and shoving. Are you in the kind of shape that you need to be in mentally and physically? Are you beating workouts? Are you conquering yourself? Before you can try and conquer someone else you have to conquer yourself. Are you in the frame of mind that you can be tough? That you’re not going to get pushed off a screen. That you’re not, on a shot, you’re going to run to the rim. That you’re going to have enough discipline and toughness to go hit a body before. Are you going to, on an offensive rebound, run to go get it or are you running back? Are you going to put your chest on his back on an offensive rebound because it’s easier? Are you tough enough to try and get even? Are you tough enough to set a screen? Are you tough enough to dive on the floor? How about, like, take a charge? We just showed them the tape of LeBron James taking two charges in the game. The best player in the world, he took two charges. Then we showed them the five opportunities, six opportunities that we had that we turned sideways. I mean, all of the toughness things, you don’t know what’s going to come out in this game. You just don’t. I knew we’d have a tough time with Duke last year. I didn’t know it’d be (by) 50, but I thought it would be tough. So, you just don’t know. I didn’t know when we beat Duke (in 2015) that we were nearly good enough to beat Duke. Which we did. Or Kansas (in 2014) when we beat them like we did. You don’t know walking into these games because they’re so early.”

On finding what lineups are effective …

“At some point I’d like to put those three guards in together. You guys know I liked doing that in the past. We’ve become pretty good teams. But again, Kahlil (Whitney) played way better. Keion (Brooks Jr.) is playing pretty good. We need to keep giving those guys opportunities. The other thing I told these guys today is, ‘If someone really has it going, you may get less minutes because he’s playing so well, and you’ve got to accept that. The flip side is that when you’re playing that well, you’re going to get those minutes and he gets less. It’s just how this stuff works.’ This will be another one that they’ve got to understand that you’ve got to get in there and fight and perform. At the end of the day, if you go into this game and your whole mindset is ‘Wait until they see me try to get 30,’ I know what will happen. I’ve been there and seen it. But if you come into the game to say, ‘I want everybody to know how hard I play and how well I played defensively, that I’m a tough rebounder and I run that floor every time’ – those are things that don’t take skill. It’s effort and toughness. Do those things and then your offense happens. But these are all young guys. I mean, they’re used to—like, they’re judged on points. I mean, the newspapers put their high school – how many points they scored in the state. Who scored the most points in Tuesday’s games? Forget about who played best. It’s how they kind of grow up with this stuff.”

On Nate Sestina’s good start against Kentucky State …

“He played good. He played good. But there were also four or five balls that he needed to get that I said, ‘You have to get those balls.’ They went to him and he didn’t bring them in or someone else jerked them out of his hands. I just said, ‘Look, for us to do anything with you, you have to be able to get balls.’ Then I told the guards, you’re going to have to go get some balls. Look, I told them, ‘The pressure is on us to prepare.’ That’s what it is. That was my message. ‘The pressure right now for me and you to prepare, it’s not during the game. When the game starts, you let it fly, you have amnesia and you help each other. That’s what it is. You’re going to make mistakes. You’ll be wrong 60, 70% of the time in this game, so cover for each other. You’re going to make the wrong cut. You’re going to make the wrong defensive move. Cover for each other. But have amnesia and move on. You can’t let play to play bog you down.’ It’s new (to them). It’s nice that we have some veterans, that we’re not walking in—I’ve walked in with five freshmen before. Started five freshmen. And, ‘Oh, they’re going to win every game.’ I think we were down 20-2 (in the last Michigan State game where we were 1-2 in the Champions Classic in 2013). I believe it was. So, you know, at least we’ve got some vets here. So we’ll see. And that team, by the way, we were down 20-2 to start the game, looked like we were going to get beat by 100, and I believe that team was in the championship – the national championship – game (in 2014). That’s why this—and I think we lost that game (to Michigan State), if I’m not mistaken. We may have won it; I can’t remember [UK lost]. What’s my wife’s name, by the way [joking]? But anyway. What was I saying? I can’t remember that either. But anyway, we were down 20. Anyway, go ahead. Next.”

On the hype of the Hagans-Coby White matchup in last year’s North Carolina game and how this compares with Hagans and Winston …

“Totally different situation. Coby was a freshman. This kid (Winston) is a senior. Totally different situation. I don’t even want him (Hagans) thinking about how I played in that game because he would speed White up. He’s not speeding this kid up. This kid is going to play at the pace he wants to play. Now, he’ll play fast but only because he wants to play fast. And when he wants to play slow, he’s going to play slow. So it’s a different deal. It’s more of, I’ve gotta make this difficult. And if he’s making baskets, I can’t change how I’m doing this. Just keep playing and hope he starts missing some.”

On how more of a challenge a guy like Winston is for a player like Hagans because he can usually game on a handful of plays and change the game … “The discipline. He’s gotta be disciplined. It’s going to be, you know. It’s November. How disciplined can he be? I just don’t want him to get two quick ones (fouls), so now we’re playing short-handed because I won’t him in the first half with two fouls.”

On who the point guard is when Hagans isn’t in and if it’s Immanuel Quickley … “No, it’s Tyrese (Maxey). Immanuel is playing so good off the ball. He’s running, he’s scoring, he’s flying. I want—just be who you are. There are no more point guards anyway, so what’s the difference? Be who you are. What do you do best? And we’ve got to get him to defend and stay engaged. He’s good until there’s about 10 seconds left in the clock and then he’ll turn his head, and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘You did great for 20 seconds. Finish it out.’ He’s another one—he’s a veteran. If we all would run like he runs, this would be as fast a team as I’ve ever coached because he’s that fast. And our guards, both

Tyrese and Ashton, will fly and throw it ahead. You’ve just gotta run. They can’t (outrun you). Like we’ve had times where our point guard’s outrunning our wings – unless it’s Immanuel. Like, he’s flying.”

On what he saw from EJ Montgomery in the exhibition games … “He’s just gotta get better. I mean, I’ve had so many players go through, ‘I’m going to be able to do this this way,’ and then you figure out (you can’t). Great. Learn them in those kinds of settings. Gotta get in better shape. Until you do that and until you conquer yourself in some different areas, it’s hard to change anything else. Think about rebounding and blocking shots and nothing else. Just do those two things. And then all of a sudden you start changing. But it’s hard to accept that until you get in and you don’t really do the things you’re capable of doing. And then you’re all ears, ‘Talk to me.’ PJ (Washington) went through this, if you remember – especially his first year. Oh my gosh, his first year! Do you remember he lost 17 pounds in like January? Like, over a 30-, 40-day period he lost all that weight and then he started playing. These kids all go through that stuff.”

On how good the Champions Classic starting the season is for the promotion of the sport … “Not as good as playing in August would be. If we had two weeks in August where we’d televise games and exhibition games where you play good opponents. You play Michigan State in an exhibition game and it’d be televised and everyone in the country could play two games, three games, whatever it is, with four or five practice days. Kind of like spring football. And you do it in August. That is the best way to promote – in a dead month – to promote college basketball. And you do it late July, early August when you have a chance to really have people see your teams. And I even said, you could have doubleheaders, tripleheaders. You can do whatever you want. But I think it’s what we need to do. It’s, again, something I’ve been talking about for seven years, eight years, six years. The NBA Summer League. The 3-on-3 stuff (BIG3). The million dollar—is it $2 million now? The $2 million game (the Tournament). I mean, it’s all in a segment that should be college basketball for those couple weeks. It’s not money It’s not taking them out of school. It is, here is why we’re doing this. And most of us are practicing our teams in the summer, and then it eliminates this European stuff where people are going—you know, we’re all taking foreign tours because it’s educational [sarcasm followed by a pause and media laughing]. Did I say that? So I lied. I admit I lie. It’s not educational. It costs $250,000 to go to Spain, Italy, Croatia, wherever you want to go. Let’s go to two sites and kids are sleeping on the bus. They get up, ‘Can I just stay on the bus?’ ‘Yeah, stay on the bus.’ I mean, let’s just do this stuff here. Why? Everybody gets to play in August. You take seven days. A few practice days. We’re practicing anyway. How about this: Take one day a week off up until that point and you don’t add any time. It’s the same amount of time and you’re playing games. Television. You think the SEC Network would like content in August? How about that? You think all these other networks – the ACC, the Big Ten, the Pac-12, ESPN – they all would like content. It wouldn’t just be us playing; you’re televising the whole league, so now you’ve got another 50 games, 60 games.”

On not knowing all about the museums in the Bahamas on the last two foreign trips … “[All sarcasm} Yeah, we did. Four guys didn’t get off the bus. But they did learn about dolphins, shells on the beach. We talked about the different kinds of shells. We thought that was a good lesson for them, teaching them stuff.”

#0, Ashton Hagans, So., G

On matching up against Cassius Winston …

“Just going out there, play it as the same game. But they’ve got him as one of the best guards in the nation. So, I’m going to go out there and have my game plan, like any other game. Just go out there and get the W.”

On what goes into his game plan …

“Just locked in, that’s really it. I’m going out there with a group of guys that’s going to fight with me, and that’s all that matters.”

On if he likes the challenge of playing someone like Winston …

“I’m taking any challenge there is. I’m going to go against anybody.”

On what he has seen from Winston on tape …

“I haven’t really looked at too much. What I’ve heard is that he’s a smart guard, a good guard. So, I’m just going to go out there and stay locked in and try to focus on that.”

On how similar this game is to the North Carolina game last year when he faced Coby White …

“Coby was just fast. They are probably the same size. Same game plan. Go out there and stick to the game plan and go out there and do what we do best.”

On having the top four teams in the country in the same building …

“It’s going to be a packed house, so we’ve just got to go out there, stay with each other and just fight.”

On playing in Madison Square Garden …

“We played there last year against Seton Hall. The outcome wasn’t how we wanted it to be. This year, we’re going to go out there and try to make it different.”

On the atmosphere in Madison Square Garden …

“It was real special. It was my first time playing in there. This year is going to be my second. I’m going to try to go out there and play my game.”

On how the team played in the two exhibition games …

“I feel like, as a team, we played good. Seeing where everyone was at, seeing what role everyone needs to play for this team. Actually, in the first game, some guys didn’t play how they wanted to play, so the second game, we just went out there and fed them the ball. They stepped us for us big time, like EJ (Montgomery) and Kahlil (Whitney). We’re going to need those two guys for this team to be at our best.”

On what he means to this Kentucky team …

“A lot. I would say as I go, the team goes. It’s a big thing for me to be out there on the court. I’m going to try my best to stay out there the whole time.”

#5, Immanuel Quickley, Fr., G

On what he knows about the Michigan State players …

“I’ve seen Cassius (Winston) play at USA Basketball. He’s pretty good. Even from what people are saying around the country and from what they’ve seen last year, he’s a pretty good point guard. He’s on a lot of All-American lists and stuff like that so it’s going to be a good matchup for us.”

On the three guards viewing themselves as the head of the snake and being the catalyst to the team …

“It’s going to be really important. Basketball a lot of times is a guard-driven game, but we also have some really good bigs. Nick (Richards), EJ (Montgomery) and Nate (Sestina) have been doing really good in practice going at each other. Well, Nick’s hurt right now but before his injury. We think we’re ready whether it’s guards or bigs. We think we can compete.”

On what he remembers from last year’s Duke game and what they realized after the fact …

“We thought we were a lot better than we was and we ended up being in contention for a national title. We learned from it. Eventually we ended up being an Elite Eight team that had a chance to go to a Final Four and win a national championship. So, we’re always playing for March and April. But we also always want to come out and represent Kentucky really well.”

On what the four returners are doing to help change the result for this year’s Champions Classic …

“Well as a team, well as veterans, we understand what this game is like going into it. The nerves and the jitters that we had last year that we probably won’t have this year just knowing what the game is going to be like. The energy, everybody screaming and hollering and things like that. I think we’ll be ready for this game.”

On whether he cares if he starts or comes off the bench …

“Not really. I don’t care if I start. Whether you start or you come off the bench, you want to be productive with the minutes that you get. Whether you start or come off the bench, like I said, you just want to be productive.”

On any advantages to having already played in Madison Square Garden in his career …

“Yeah, this is my second time playing there so it’ll be good. Individually, I think it’ll be good just because I’m a little bit familiar with not only the Champions Classic, but like you said, the arena. It’s always good to play in the world’s, quote-in-quote, most famous arena.”

On what the team learned from the two exhibition games …

“We learned that we have to play. We played well in stretches, but in order to beat a good team like Michigan State we’re going to have to put those stretches a little bit longer. You know, play great for a little bit longer stretches in order to beat a team like Michigan State.”

On what advice he’s giving the freshmen preparing for this game …

“It’s going to be a lot of nerves. It’s going to be high energy. A high-energy game to start the game and to finish. Guys are just going to have a lot of nerves in general just because it’s a sold-out arena at Madison Square Garden. You just try to tell them to control their nerves and to have fun. Not everybody else gets to play in a game like that.”

On if he notices a change in Ashton Hagans when he prepares for a big defensive matchup …

“Ashton’s the type of guy that’s never going to back down from any challenge. We know how good Cassius is and we know how good Michigan State is – they’re No. 1 for a reason. As a team, and I’m sure Ashton can say it for himself, we all look at this as an opportunity to get better.”