By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky plays Arkansas tonight, a team it lost to earlier this season in double overtime on a putback dunk by the Razorbacks. Julius Randle shared his thoughts on the Razorbacks and other subjects Wednesday.
Question: What are your thoughts on the first game against Arkansas?
Randle: “Fast-paced game, really physical game. It was a tough environment to play, but I do remember that being kind of a little bit of a breakout game for us. It was learning how to fight, not stopping, just playing hard.”
Question: Have they have improved since that game?
Randle: “We’re just a better team overall. Just little things. We’ve watched film of how we played at the end and the difference between then and now, it’s a tremendous difference. We play harder. We play more as a team. We care about each other more. It’s little things we do on defense. We’ve made adjustments since that game. We’ve gotten better each game.”
Question: Was the LSU win an emotional breakthrough for the team?
Randle: “You could say so. We needed to win one of those games. Everybody did their job, contributed and we just needed to be in a dogfight. LSU, despite what their record is, is a really good team, has a lot of talent and we just needed a dogfight game like that. Keep fighting, keep fighting, things don’t go our way, keep fighting, eventually break through and we ended up winning.”
Question: Where are they finding passion?
Randle: “For one, we’re all getting better individually. We see we’re getting better as a team and once you see the results things start to become more fun. You may not see the results for a while but you got to stick with, stick with it, stick with it and just keep fighting, keep getting better. We see that we’re getting better. This is the fun part, the last couple games. We’ve got tournament play and it’s what we’ve been working on all year.”
Question: Did the team need an emotional moment like LSU?
Randle: “Sure, I guess. I’ve never played in a tournament-type game but it can’t be too much crazier than that.”
Question: What did he think of Calipari putting the picture of the celebration up in the practice facility?
Randle: “He didn’t tell us anything. It’s just right there, a big picture. I walked in and it was pretty cool. I’ve taken visits here. You see all the guys that have come through, to see them on the wall and you’ve got a picture of all us on the wall, it’s a pretty cool thing.”
Question: What about the team slapping the floor on defense and is that’s done by design or what?
“Heat of the moment. Just having fun. It’s all it really is.”
Question: How much of a difference can things like that make for a team/player?
Randle: “It’s just energy. Energy. We’re feeding off each other’s energy. It makes chemistry within the team. The biggest thing is just energy. You see a teammate slap the floor, you know he’s ready to go. You have no choice but to be ready to go.”