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Red-White Scrimmage box score, postgame quotes

Basketball season is here.

Virginia Tech v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The U of L men’s basketball team kicked off year two of the Kenny Payne era Wednesday night with the annual Red-White scrimmage inside the KFC Yum Center.

USC transfer Tre White led all scorers with 17 points and displayed the explosiveness and mid-range precision that have led to him receiving NBA draft buzz heading into his sophomore year.

Here’s the full box score from Wednesday night as well as the postgame transcripts for Payne, White and Skyy Clark:

Kenny Payne: (Opening statement)

“I just thought today was good overall. We had some nervous guys out there to start in, which is normal, the first time playing in front of people. But overall, I’m pleased with it. I would like to tighten up on some turnovers and stuff like that, but I think you can tell that this is a competitive group. This is a together group. We got some talented young men that are going to be really good basketball players and we took a step in the right direction with this group.”

(About the defensive rotations improvement and showing more focus)

“I think the main thing you saw as at times you see Dennis Evans block two or three shots or change a shot — that makes a difference. I think on the perimeter when you see four or five guys, whether it’s the ones to twos or threes, especially those three positions can guard multiple players. They get after it and they want to they want to compete against each other. They have a toughness on the defensive end, which tonight I thought was less than what has been in practice. Practice has been a lot more physical and a lot more determination.”

(About Dennis Evans’ defensive effort)

“I like the fact that he stayed ahead of the game. In order to block shots. You can never be behind the action. you’ve got to be anticipating and ahead of the action. I thought he did a good job. You know for him. This is new. Having a move like that and having to run the floor like that having to guard on the perimeter with dribble handoffs and stuff? He did a good job. I’m very happy with what I saw. I love the fact that he called passes and dunked them. He caught the ball high and finished high. A lot of times to turnovers were bounce passes and why would we ever throw a bounce pass to Dennis Evans.

But I’m happy with what he did tonight. It’s a step in the right direction.”

(About Dennis Evans’ development)

“I think his development comes from a number of things is getting the body in enough shape and strong enough to handle getting up and down the court. In the 70s and 80s, you just stick them under the basket and say whatever comes in there and you block it. Nowadays you have five men who shoot threes. You have guys that handled the ball drive the ball and hand off or drive the ball to score. So, he’s learning to anticipate passes to catch passes. He’s learning how to get to spots and being a dunker spot to get a lob. He’s learning to be ready for the lob to be ready for direct passes. He’s learning he has to hit in order to get a rebound. He can’t just say ‘I’m seven foot two and think I can get the ball because somebody’s gonna hit him.’ So it’s a bunch of different things that I think his development entails. The greatest thing about Dennis Evans is that every single day he comes in here and tries to learn as much as possible.”

(About how much weight has Dennis Evans gained and how much stronger has he gotten and how much more can he added to that during the season)

“Well, I don’t know exactly how much weight he’s gained. But I can tell you from the first day till today, he’s made a drastic change. Probably sounds a little scary because he has a lot more in him that we got to get out. The whole key movement. We got to get his ankle stronger. We got to get his knees stronger. We got to get his hips stronger. We got to get him to anticipate things before they happen. At that length, with his feel, with his touch, he can be a force. But if he can’t move well enough, he’ll always be behind the action. The challenge is to is to make sure that we keep him anticipating things and fighting to stay ahead of the game.”

(About JJ Traynor’s progression and if he was okay after going down)

“I haven’t seen him yet. But I think JJ was okay. I’m not judging JJ on shots made or on rebounds or on assists. I’m judging JJ strictly on energy. I need to see him be an energetic basketball player. And when he is an energetic basketball player, we all can attest to, he’s pretty good. Getting out of his norm was it’s not natural for him to be energetic — he’s sort of a quiet unassuming kid – but man, when he’s energetic, and he plays with a super energy. He’s a good basketball player.

(About Ty’Laur (Johnson) Curtis (Williams) and Kaleb Glenn’s outings as freshmen)

“Ty-Laur, I think did a really good job. You see he’s talented. He’s fearless. He plays with pace. He gets after the ball. He’s learning from day one and he’s been and every day he’s made a big jump. He’s done nothing but get better. But as I say that when he gets in better shape, he’s even going to be even better. He can really shoot the ball. He can create offense. He can pass. He’s a floor general. And he’s tough. Kaleb (Glenn)? I thought he played hard. I thought he played well. I thought he crashed the boards well. I need to see him be able to handle playing on the perimeter and making good decisions both offensively and defensively. Curtis (Williams) I thought was out of rhythm offensively in the first half. I thought he played to score and which was a great lesson. He does that a little bit in practice. He’s a gifted scorer. And when you play to score in a college game, you’re out of rhythm. If you let it come to you and you play within the system, and you make you play to pass to get teammates shots. And when it comes to you, you get shots and rhythm. You play with a different pace, a different rhythm to the game. But to me overall, I thought Skyy (Clark) was good from careless turnovers but to me the guy is Tre White. Tre is a guy that fills up the stat sheet. I don’t know how many points rebounds, assists, but he was the guy that was the most unselfish player and that guy ended up getting the most points. He got assists. He played the right way. He looked to get people shots. He didn’t play for him. If we have the potential to have five or six guys to play like that. What does that look like? We’re were pretty good team.”

(About team chemistry and the brotherhood off the court)

“The major difference? I just think the chemistry of these guys comes from the fact that they’re all similar. They have the same goals same aspirations. They love basketball, they compete and they go out and play with a fight with a togetherness and they talk to each other when things are hard. I try to make things hard in practice so that I can see how they handle it without me having to talk them through it. Having them failed and bumped their heads at a time that’s great for me, because you see if there’s going to be a divide or if there’s going to be a coming together of guys. This group has come together thus far. But real adversity is coming as we all know. And they’re going to have to depend on each other for us to be a good team.”

(Tre (White) talked about being a leader? Have you seen that, and with what we saw tonight, is that what you’ve been seeing from him on a consistent basis?)

“What I saw from him tonight is the reason I brought him here. Probably didn’t see a lot of that at USC, but when I watched him and evaluated, I saw a player that can handle the ball, can pass the ball, can shoot the ball, can defend. He has a great spirit about him. Some of this I’m learning as he got here, I’m learning how he how he deals with his teammates, how he communicates. Every day he works hard that he’s on the court, and I’m expecting more. To me guys like that, that can fill up a stat sheet, if you can get two or three or four of those guys, you’ve got a good team.”

(When you look at this group when do you intend to start to implement different plays)

“We try not to run any of our plays, and I yelled a couple of times “Why are we running this play or that play?” I don’t want anybody to see our plays. Not that there were any secrets in this game, but I want them to be able to play without giving away too much. For example, shoot around this morning, all we did was work on our plays, and then we get out here today, we had a couple of things that we were running, and they started going into the bag pulling out more and more and “I’m like what are we doing?” You know, I don’t want to give out too much too early, but I want them comfortable as well.”

(In terms of cleaning things up like guys we’re talking about, do you see this group or how do you see this group as making mistakes is part of the process and learning from them, as opposed to making mistakes and being tentative and not growing?

“I think that’s the key to being a good player. I think that’s the key to being a good team. You’re going to make mistakes. I’m looking for guys to fall down. For example, Curtis (Williams). Curtis went out there and started playing and he just shot balls, and it looked like at times the way it was in practice. I’m like “Curtis, that’s not a play that’s within the concept, that’s you just trying to get a shot.” I didn’t recruit you, I didn’t evaluate you and see you play that way. You are a basketball player. Good basketball players that have a knack for putting the ball in the basket, they will find shots, but when they become really good is when they are able to get their teammates shots, and then get theirs as well. That’s an example of what you’re talking about. I needed him, and I didn’t say one word to him about it. I love the fact that he was 0-7 or whatever. I hope he shot five more shots, because he’ll learn that “I have to change. I got to make this change. I got to make this adjustment to what I’m doing so that I can have success.”

(About the Bigs)

“I thought (Emmanuel (Okorafor) was really good rebounding the ball offensively. I need him to get a couple more defensive rebounds, I think he had one or zero at halftime. Look, they have to hold the fort down against more physical players until we get Dennis (Evans) stronger. That’s just the reality of it. Every day we’re working on trying to get Dennis stronger and better and more alert to what’s going on, and he’s making strides, but let’s not get it confused: Emmanuel and Brandon (Huntley-Hartfield) are vital to what we’re doing every day.”

(Did you like how they were paired with Dennis (Evans)? You had him and Brandon (Huntley-Hatfield) paired together)

“I liked it. I liked it. I think that, you know, Brandon (Huntley-Hartfield) does things at times that coexists with Dennis (Evans). You will see him at times make a lob to Dennis, make low passes. Dennis is unselfish, so Brandon can stretch the floor sometimes and make his shot, make a jump shot, which goes well with what Dennis does. Him and Emmanuel (Okorafor) are a little different. They both are classic fives. Emmanuel’s not a scoring five, but Brandon can be so, they do play well together.”

(There were 17 combined turnovers in the first half, but how much of that do you attribute to there just being nervousness like you mentioned earlier, especially since there were only seven combined turnovers in the second half?)

“I liked the fact that they turned the ball over to be honest with you, simply because I want them to learn to play with freedom. This is early. I don’t know, 11 practices, 12 practices? I need them to be in front of people to see what it’s like. Shootaround today, we were dropping balls, we were missing dribbles and the ball was going out of bounds. I was like, “Oh my god, you guys are nervous.” I liked it. I liked it. This is your first time being in the arena, people in the arena, playing in front of a big crowd, which I thought was great for those people to come out and support us. The kids feel it, they feel it, and you’re going to have turnovers when that happens, when this is their first time in front of them, but I thought they made the adjustment in the second half and handled things well. They played with a different poise, even though the red (team) did play well in the first half.”

(The teams combined to have assists on 54% of the made baskets. How much better do you feel about being able to share the ball like that?)

“I think that’s the key. Offensively, I want to see them be a good passing team, make passes to each other. Big to big passes, we saw a couple of them. I want Skyy (Clark) to make efficient passes, at times he gets a little careless. Look, at the end of the day, the best offensive teams are going to be the best passing teams. I hope that you guys can see that we are way further along than we were a year ago at this time. We got a lot of work to do, but we have the ingredients to be a pretty good team, both offensively and defensively.”

(You divided the teams up evenly, Skyy (Clark) and Tre (White) were on different teams. How close are you in your mind to who your starting five is?)

“Not close at all. I want them to earn it. To be honest with you, I want to be able to look at this and say I got 10 starters, 11 starters, 12 starters. They can make my job easy, or they can make my job literally very hard. We have a lot of good players, but in order for them to make my job hard, they all have to play great. Then I got to make decisions. But if some guys decide, I’m not going to class today, my job just became easy. I’m not sharing the ball, my job just became easy. I don’t like my teammates, my job just became easy. I’m going to be late to something, my job just became easy. So, I like for my job to be hard, but they decide that.”

Skyy Clark and Tre White

(How did it feel to finally get out there in front of the fans and show people what you can do?)

Tre White: “For one, it’s a blessing just to get out there and see the support from the fans. I know they say the fans in Louisville were crazy, but we could actually feed off it. And it’s crazy just to have that in a scrimmage. So, I’m just excited for what’s to come.”

(Is this what you expected based on practice? What did you see with it being the first time out there in front of people?)

Skyy Clark: “Yeah, I saw a lot of good things, a lot of great things. Obviously, some things we need to work on. But for the first time showing the fans, I think we came out and showed everybody that we are going to be a really good team this year.”

(Dennis (Evans) had five blocks, how many shots did you have to reconsider based on his size?)

Skyy Clark: “A lot. Dennis changes so much in the game. Five blocks is something you guys are going to see all season. I think he should average that. Just having Dennis under the basket – for me — I look to attack downhill but I have to think. Even throwing lobs, I usually go to the basket, act like I’m going for a layup and then throw a lob. With him, I have to throw it over the backboard, open a little scoreboard up top and it just makes the game so much harder. He’s going to be amazing for us.”

(What do you think it’ll be like when you guys are on the same squad? Is that something that will take the team up to the next level? What sort of potential do you see there?)

Skyy Clark: “Tre and I have known each other since ninth-grade, early high school. So, we’ve been best friends for a long time. We are both some dogs. We both feed off of each other. So, when we both get rolling, we just feed off of each other and feed off of the team. We both love to compete on offense and defense, so only good things are going to happen.”

Tre White: “Definitely. To piggyback off that, in practice we’ve always been going against each other. So finally, we get the chance to really play with each other. I feel like it going to be special. We push each other every rep and I feel like that shows on offense and defense. So, I’m excited for what’s to come.”

(What is it like for you guys considering the struggles from last year and how much freedom do you have since you are new to the team?)

Skyy Clark: “I think this team has a whole new identity. And we have just been building off that all summer. A lot of people have been sleeping on us so we are just going to come out and hoop. We have pressure, but at the same time we have no pressure to come out and play free, play hard and just show people what we can do.”

(You said that this team has a chance to be really good, what does that look like to you?)

Skyy Clark: “Like Kenny Payne has said in the past, there’s going to be a process. There’s going to be ups and downs, but I have really high expectations for this team. Coach Kenny, the whole coaching staff, they push us like I’ve never seen before in practice. You wouldn’t even understand, but you guys are going to see for sure.”

(Speaking of process, what is that been like in terms of communicating with each other? What have been the challenges and where do you feel like you all are making progress?)

Tre White: “I really feel like we are just taking it day by day. It started in the summer. Just coming in with a new identity, just starting fresh from last year but also keeping a little bit of that as a chip on our shoulder. Now everybody’s saying we didn’t get off to a good start. So, we just feed off that every day. We have to prove people wrong and prove it to ourselves too. The hunger we have within ourselves is going to carry us a long way this year.”

(How have you adjusted since being here and what expectations do you have for yourself?)

Tre White: “For myself, I really just want to be a leader this year. I want to show that I can lead a team. But besides me, I’m just really excited to be with this group of guys. Our chemistry is crazy. Off the court, we’ll be together all day. When we play on the court, it’s not even like a game. We’re just playing for each other. It’s really the bond, the brotherhood we have is going to go a long way.”

(What are some things you need to clean up and get better at?)

Skyy Clark: “I think rebounding is one, especially stopping people from getting offensive rebounds. And then just running in transition. I think there were some missed opportunities for rim runs or kick aheads. Just continuing to work on that. But this was our first time playing a full game. We haven’t really gotten a chance to go full scrimmage like this.”

Tre White: “To piggyback off that, I feel like one of our identities this year is going to be as one of the best defensive teams in the country. So, I think we had a lot of great moments but we also had a bunch of moments where we could have picked it up. I feel like we had a great game today but that just shows us how high our ceiling is with the amount of stuff we have to clean up.”

(Do you get a lot of those fast break moments in practice?)

Skyy Clark: “Yeah. Most of the time, but really, in the summer and early on in practice we’ve been working on it. Coach Kenny wants us to really be good at knowing how to play basketball. So even if we got a fast break, sometimes he’ll have us pull it out and run something. He wants us to be basketball players.”

(You said that people are sleeping on you guys, what do you mean by that?)

Skyy Clark: “I think people just have low expectations for our team. And that’s okay. But I think we have a really good group of guys, a really great group of guys that are hungry. And they want to turn things around and make some things happen for Louisville basketball.”