How difficult is it this week to get in practices due to exams?
“By the time we play Kentucky we would have had a full practice on Wednesday and a full practice on Friday. That’s it the whole week so it has been really hard. It’s a little more…I can’t give you a reason why but it’s a little more limited than what we’ve had in the past. We do a lot of running and shooting sometimes but still get some practice time in.
"Literally, yesterday and tomorrow are the only two days we’ll practice all week. If I looked at, I might find out that the exams are only six days compared to seven or whatever. That’s just a guess on my end but it really has been much more limited practice time then we’ve ever had.”
How do you think Nate Britt has done relative to what you expected out of him this season?
“I think he’s gotten better during the process of whatever it is, eight games. It’s a heavy load for a freshman at the point guard spot and yet I’ve had Marcus (Paige), Kendall (Marshall) and Ty (Lawson) do it. I don’t think Ty started the first game but he started like game six and on or something like that but it is really difficult. Nate’s getting better and he needs to get better. We need him to improve his assist ratio, shooting percentage but yet one thing that’s really helped us is his defensive grades have been pretty doggone good. Usually, that’s what lags behind with the freshman but he’s done a nice job there.”
How do you think the perimeter play has been so far to this point?
“It’s been okay. We still have to have more distribution of guys making three point shots. You’ve heard me talk so many times about balance. You need to score inside and outside. If I have to choose I would take the inside because that also means you’re having a chance to get fouled and at the end of the game some of our best players on the other team are not in the game. Every team I’ve ever coached, it’s strange because last year the second half of the season we were out of balance completely in favor of three point shots.
"Now we’re out of balance completely in favor of the inside play. The perimeter guys have done some good things. We need to get J.P. (Tokoto) to focus a little bit more on the backboards on the offensive end because he has had some really good moments. I’d like Marcus to keep shooting at a high percentage but yet the last three games the defenses have been really aimed at him. That’s when it’s really difficult to do. Nate needs to not turn it over as much, to have a better assist ratio, make some drives and those kind of things. You know, 6-2 is about probably what everybody thought we would be. It’s just the makeup of which games you won and which games you lost wasn’t that.”
What does it mean to your team to have instant offense off of the bench with Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks?
“There’s no question. You go back to my first year, we really got a lot of defense when Jackie Manuel came off of the bench. The second year I started him because I wanted the defense intensity right from the start. We got a lot of offense when Marvin (Williams) came in but Marvin was good defensively and rebounding as well. If I had my druthers, I’d always like a guy that came off the bench and supply something in a really positive way. That usually means scoring.
"When Jackie came off that bench he came off for a purpose to try to slow down somebody on the other team. It was just his senior year that I felt we need it right from the start. We’ve had some really good players that have really helped us. The ones that come to mind quicker are the ones that supplied a lot of scoring.”
Do you like the way the starting lineup and rotation is as of now or do you look at it and say Brice Johnson or Kennedy Meeks is producing so he might need to move into the starting role?
“I’m going to leave it alone. If those guys start playing better defense then Joel (James) better start scoring more. It’s a pretty simple thing. It’s just that they’ve got to give you something. If I could put Brice and Desmond (Hubert) then oh my gosh you’ve really got something there but you can’t do that. My whole thing is when you come into the game you give us something positive. Another one was Marcus (Ginyard's) junior year, he started and I knew I’d start Danny (Green) the next year because I just felt like that team needed what Danny gave and I was going to bring Marcus off of the bench but then Marcus got hurt too.”
What impresses you about this Kentucky team this season?
“Their ability. John’s (Calipari) ability with the way he’s got them playing together. Freshmen coming in with all the hoopla that they had tend to a lot of times try to live up to that. I think John has proven for many years that he can get highly skilled players and get them to focus on the team aspect of it.
"I was just looking down here and they have 129 assists and 132 turnovers. You watch them during the course of the season. That stat is going to get a heck of a lot better because a lot of those turnovers are attributed to being freshmen but they are an unselfish bunch. That part is going to get better and better and I just think when you have gifted kids…I mean they’re a lot of guys on that list that I tried to recruit and a couple of them I tried really hard to recruit but their talent and the talent of their coach too.”
Has your optimism changed regarding your thoughts on coaching P.J. Hairston again?
“I still have the same thoughts. Just trying not to waste my time thinking about that either. I’m sure that the NCAA would like for it to be over with too. There’s no update. There’s nothing else. We’re just staying the course and I’m sure they’re trying to do everything they can too.”